Women: Pregnancy and other situations for fasting

Q694 :Recently my husband heard a teacher saying that a pregnant woman may avail herself of the concessions not to fast in Ramadan only if she fears for her health. If she fears for her baby and does not fast, she is required not only to compensate by fasting a day for a day, but also for feeding ten poor people as well. This seems to me a very stringent measure while the case may be a genuine worry for the well-being of an unborn baby. Please comment.

A694 : There is certainly some mistake, either by the teacher or by your husband. No scholar mentions a compensation of feeding ten poor people for a day of fasting when the fasting is not observed. When the compensation of feeding is required for any purpose, it takes only feeding one poor person two meals for every day when the duty of fasting was not observed for a legitimate reason. So it could be a mistake of reporting on your husband's part. Or the teacher could have confused the requirement of feeding ten poor people in atonement of an oath that has not been honored, with the requirement of feeding one for not fasting. Be that as it may, scholars have different views on what a pregnant or breast feeding woman need do in compensation for not fasting during Ramadan on account of her respective situation. The differences are the result of how scholars view the situation of these women. If you take their condition as similar to that of an ill person, then you come up with a requirement that differs from that defined by a scholar who considers the condition as similar to that of a person who is too weak to fast. If we take the case of a pregnant woman similar to that caused by illness, then she is required to fast a day for a day when she has given birth and regained her strength. While on the other hand, if we consider her case similar to that of a person weakened by old age and unable to fast then the requirement is that she should compensate by feeding one poor person for each day when she does not fast. Some scholars find her situation having similarity to both conditions and require the compensation required of both. Considering all views, it is perhaps more valid to say that the initial requirement of compensation that applies to a woman who does not fast because of pregnancy or breast-feeding is that she should fast a similar number of days after Ramadan is over and she is in a position to do so. However, a woman may find herself pregnant this year and breast feeding next year, then pregnant again the following year, then breast feeding the year after that. She may not find herself able to fast for several consecutive years. In such a situation, she may take advantage of compensating by feeding one poor person two meals for each day she has not fasted. It is not necessary to feed the same poor person. She may feed any number of persons, provided she keeps a proper count and ensures that for each day she feeds one poor person two meals. I hope I have clarified the question for you. You will appreciate that there is nothing stringent about such a requirement. Indeed the concession given by God to those who are traveling and those who are unwell, including pregnant and breast feeding women and elderly people, which exempts them from fasting and replaces it with appropriate compensation has a clear purpose outlined by God in the Qur'an: "God wishes to make things easy for you and He does not want to afflict you." It is human beings who make things difficult and hard to follow, while God wishes to make them easy.

Our Dialogue ( Source : Arab News - Jeddah )