Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam
Question: Assalam alaykum
An ignorant muslim didn’t know anything about the importance of fasting and didn’t fast for many years. Should he perform the expiation in addition to making up those fasts?
Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullah,
If you did not fast for many years, because of not realising the importance of the fast, you would need to make up (qada’) those fasts, yet an expiation (kaffara) would not be due from you.
The basis is that expiations are due when the violation is complete, which in this case, means that the person should have actually fasted that day, and then invalidated it deliberately without excuse. Hence, an intention not to fast requires only a makeup.
Going forward, repent from your error, express gratitude for knowledge you have gained in order to fix up your relationship with Allah Most High, and make a consistent plan to make all of the missed fasts up.
[Shurunbulali, Maraqi al-Falah with Tahtawi’s Gloss (2.341)]
And Allah Most High alone knows best.
[Ustadh] Tabraze Azam
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Ustadh Tabraze Azam holds a BSc in Computer Science from the University of Leicester, where he also served as the President of the Islamic Society. He memorised the entire Qur’an in his hometown of Ipswich at the tender age of sixteen, and has since studied the Islamic Sciences in traditional settings in the UK, Jordan and Turkey. He is currently pursuing advanced studies in Jordan, where he is presently based with his family.