I Can No Longer Fast; What Should I Do about My Missed Fasts from Years Ago?

Shafi'i Fiqh

Answered by Shaykh Irshaad Sedick

Question

I have a chronic illness and was not able to fast Ramadan. When I fast, I get weak and end up fainting. I pay money to make up for the fasts. However, what about the days I did not make up from my past? I have a lot of days from years prior that I have to make up. I never thought that I would get sick and wouldn’t fast.

I’m worried because I was told missing fasts are not forgiven. What can I do?

Answer

In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate. May Allah alleviate our difficulties and guide us to what pleases Him, and may He bless and forgive you for turning back to Him.

The worry you have expressed is the sign of your sincere repentance. Your state of health and inability to fast means that you owe an expiatory payment (fidya) for each day owed (if you can afford it). That would include your missed fasts because you physically can’t do them. Repent to Allah for whatever neglect you may have displayed before, and Allah forgives all sins, and Allah knows best.

Expiatory Payments (Fidya)

Allah says, “[Fasting for] a limited number of days. So whoever among you is ill or on a journey [during them] – then an equal number of other days [are to be made up]. And upon those who are able [to fast, but with hardship] – a ransom [as substitute] of feeding a poor person [each day]. And whoever volunteers good [i.e., excess] – it is better for him. But to fast is best for you if you only knew.” [Quran, 2:184]

Someone who becomes physically exhausted by fasting because of advanced years or having an illness from which he is unlikely to recover is not obliged to fast or make up missed fast-days. However, he must give 0.51 liters of food (expiatory payment or fidya) for each fast-day he misses. [Misri, ‘Umda Al-Salik]

I pray that this answer benefits and Allah knows best.
[Ustadha] Irshaad Sedick
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Irshaad Sedick was raised in South Africa in a traditional Muslim family. He graduated from Dar al-Ulum al-Arabiyyah al-Islamiyyah in Strand, Western Cape, under the guidance of the late world-renowned scholar, Shaykh Taha Karaan. 

Shaykh Irshaad received Ijaza from many luminaries of the Islamic world, including Shaykh Taha Karaan, Mawlana Yusuf Karaan, and Mawlana Abdul Hafeez Makki, among others.

He is the author of the text “The Musnad of Ahmad ibn Hanbal: A Hujjah or not?” He has served as the Director of the Discover Islam Centre and Al Jeem Foundation. For the last five years till present, he has served as the Khatib of Masjid Ar-Rashideen, Mowbray, Cape Town.

Shaykh Irshaad has thirteen years of teaching experience at some of the leading Islamic institutes in Cape Town). He is currently building an Islamic online learning and media platform called ‘Isnad Academy’ and pursuing his Master’s degree in the study of Islam at the University of Johannesburg. He has a keen interest in healthy living and fitness.