Can a Pregnant Woman Break Her Fast in Ramadan in Shafi‘i School?

Answered by Shaykh Dr. Muhammad Abu Bakr Badhib


Is it permissible for a pregnant woman to break her fast during Ramadan in Shafi‘i School? And what is required of her if she does break her fast?


In the name of Allah, and all praise is due to Allah, and blessings and peace be upon our master Muhammad, the Messenger of Allah, his family, his companions, and those who follow him.

Fasting the month of Ramadan is an individual obligation upon the legally responsible person. It is obligatory to complete it and to be diligent in performing it without neglecting any of its sunna acts and voluntary deeds; as Allah (Most High) says,

“So whoever is present this month, let them fast.” [Quran, 2:185]


However, there may arise situations of weakness for the fasting person, in which excuses for not completing the fast due to certain contingencies that the wise Lawgiver has permitted.

Among these is the issue of a pregnant woman breaking her fast if she fears for herself, or for the nursing infant, or for both of them. It is permissible for her to break her fast in these three situations, as is established in the Shafi‘i School, based on what Abu Dawud narrated from Ibn ‘Abbas,

“(Regarding the verse,) ‘For those who can only fast with extreme difficulty, compensation can be made by feeding a needy person (for every day not fasted).’ (He said): It was a concession for the old man and the old woman who are able to fast, that they may break their fast and feed a poor person for each day, and for the pregnant and nursing (woman) if they fear for themselves or their children.” [Abu Dawud]

Anas ibn Malik al-Ka‘bi, a man from Bani Abdullah ibn Ka‘b, said: The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) allowed a pregnant woman who fears for herself to break her fast and a nursing mother who fears for her child. [Ibn Maja]

Tirmidhi said, “The hadith of Anas ibn Malik al-Ka‘bi is a good (Hasan) hadith, and we do not know of any other hadith from Anas ibn Malik about the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) other than this single hadith, and this is what is acted upon by the people of knowledge. Some of the people of knowledge said that the pregnant and nursing woman should break their fast, make it up, and feed (the poor), and this is the view of Sufyan, Malik, Shafi‘i, and Ahmad.” [Tirmidhi]

The criterion for fear, as established by the jurists of the Shafi‘i School, is that the harm resulting from fasting must be clear harm, such as the harm that arises for a sick person from their illness. [Husni, Kifayat al-Akhyar]

Related Rulings

The rulings associated with her breaking the fast have been summarized by the Shafi‘i jurists as follows:

The first case: If she breaks her fast due to fear for herself, or her fear for herself and her child combined, fearing that her milk may decrease or she may become too weak to nurse, resulting in harm to the child, then she is obligated to make up for the day she broke her fast only. [Nawawi, al-Rawda]

The second case: If she fears for her child that the quantity of breast milk may decrease due to her fasting, she is obligated to make up for the fast, and there are different opinions regarding the obligation of expiation on her. Imam Nawawi mentioned these opinions in “al-Rawda,” the most apparent of which is that it is obligatory, and this is the relied-upon opinion in the school. It is said to be recommended, and it is said it is obligatory on the nursing mother but not on the pregnant woman. Imam Nawawi said, “So according to the most apparent opinion: The expiation does not multiply with the multiplicity of children, according to the most correct opinion, and this was decisively mentioned in ‘al-Tahdhib.’” [Ibid.]

Therefore, based on the foregoing, a pregnant woman must learn the rulings of her fasting, what she is permitted to do and what she is not, and not embark on her worship unless she is knowledgeable, aware, and insightful of the legal ruling. This is a demonstration of the magnanimity of Islamic law and its compassion for those with excuses. We ask Allah (Most High) to accept the fast and worship of the fasting individuals, and with Him lies all success.

May peace and blessings be upon our master, Prophet Muhammad, his Family, and Companions.
[Shaykh] Dr. Muhammad Abu Bakr Badhib

Shaykh Dr Muhammad Abu Bakr Badhib is a prominent Islamic scholar from Yemen born in Shibam, Hadhramaut, in 1976. He received his degree in Shari‘a from Al-Ahqaf University, a master’s degree from the Islamic University of Beirut, and a PhD in Usul al-Din from Aligarh Muslim University (AMU).

He studied under great scholars such as Shaykh al-Habib Ahmad Mashhur al-Haddad, Shaykh Fadl Ba‘ fadl, Habib Salim al-Shatiri, Habib Ali Mashhur bin Hafeez, and others. He has served as the Director of Publications at Dar al-Fiqh, the former Deputy Director of Cultural Relations at Al-Ahqaf University, a former Assistant for Employee Affairs at Atiyah Iron Company, a researcher at the Sunna Center affiliated with the Dallah al-Baraka Foundation, and a researcher at Al-Furqan Foundation’s Makka al-Mukarrama and Madina al-Munawwara Encyclopedia branch.

Currently, he is a researcher at Al-Furqan Foundation’s Makka al-Mukarrama and Madina al-Munawwara Encyclopedia branch, teaches traditionally through the Ijaza system at Dar al-Fuqaha in Turkey, supervises the Arabic department at Nur al-Huda International Institute (SeekersGuidance), and is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Manuscript House in Istanbul.

His works include “The Efforts of Hadhramaut Jurists in Serving the Shafi‘i School,” “Contributions of Hadhramaut Scholars in Spreading Islam and its Sciences in India,” “Hada’iq al-Na‘im in Shafi‘i Fiqh,” in addition to verifying several books in Fiqh, history, the art of biographies, and Asanid (chains of narration).