Answered by Ustadh Salman Younas
Question: I was recently asked this question: if an individual cannot fast during Ramadan due to health issues but is too poor to donate the requisite amount to the needy, are they exempt from both fasting and the charity? What should they do?
Answer: assalamu `alaykum
I pray you are well.
In the Hanafi school, the expiatory payment (fidya) for missed fasts during Ramadan only applies to someone who has a sickness that prevents him from fasting and he does not have any hope of recovering from such a sickness. [Ibn `Abidin, Hashiya]
In determining the above, one should consult a reliable, Muslim physician as well as local scholars aware of the legal details pertaining to this issue.
Chronic Illness, Fasting, & Fidya
If such a chronic illness from which recovery is not expected is established, one is obliged to pay expiatory payments (fidya) for every missed Ramadan fast.
The expiatory payment is the monetary equivalent of 2.2 kg of wheat per fast. Again, one should consult a reliable local scholar to determine how much the monetary value of this would be.
A condition for this is that one possess sufficient wealth to actually pay these expiatory payments. If one is considered poor and unable to pay the expiatory payment then he should seek Allah’s forgiveness and have remorse for the non-fulfillment of such an obligation. [Haskafi, Durr al-Mukhtar; Ibn `Abidin, Hashiya]
However, it should be noted here that the expiatory payment is a very meager sum. One should take all means to try and pay it or some of it, even if it means spreading out such payments or attempting to save some wealth over a duration of time. Resorting to the ruling mentioned previously should only be done as a last resort when one is certain that one simply does not have the means to fulfill such payments or if such payments would lead to hardship in one’s life.
For further details regarding the expiatory payment, please see:
Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani