Huge Expiation to Pay for Broken Fasts. What to Do?


Answered by Ustadh Salman Younas

Question: Assalam aleykum

A Muslim is making up 22 years of missed fasts. That is not a problem for him, but he is also calculating the fidya and the kaffara he owns for breaking his fasts without a valid reason and not for not having make them up before the following Ramadan. He’s following the Maliki school and, according to his calculations, he should fasts continuously for more than a century (!!!) or feeds thousand and thousands of poor people, with an average cost of 5£ each according to major charities like the UK National Zakat Foundation or Islamic Relief. He cannot afford such a sum without putting a very big financial burden on his family. What shall he do in order to fulfill his religious duty?

Answer: assalamu alaykum

In this situation, I would recommend the following:

In the Hanafi school, someone who breaks his fast repeatedly in a manner requiring expiation (kaffara) only has to expiate once for all of his previous contraventions. If the Maliki position is different, I would recommend following the Hanafi position on the issue.

Similarly, in the Hanafi school, there is no monetary penalty (fidya) for delaying a make-up fast. However, I cannot see how in the Maliki school you would be required to pay “thousands and thousands” of poor people. Rather, you have to pay fidya for every delayed make-up fast, which is to feed one poor person a mudd, or what you have been told is the equivalent of £5. If you have 22 missed Ramadans that equals a possible maximum of 660 fasts. If you delayed making-up all of these 660 fasts in a manner necessitating fidya (there are several conditions here), you would have to feed one person per fast, which is 660 people. This would mean 660 x £5 = £3300, which can be paid gradually keeping in mind you personal situation and finances.

You should note that there are several details regarding when one is liable to pay fidya for delaying a make-up fast. I have used the 660 number above as merely a maximum estimate for the purpose of illustration. You should consult a reliable Maliki scholar on the specifics of your case.

(Ibn Abidin, Hashiya; al-Dardir, Sharh al-kabir)

[Ustadh] Salman Younas

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadh Salman Younas  graduated from Stony Brook University with a degree in Political Science and Religious Studies. After studying the Islamic sciences online and with local scholars in New York, Ustadh Salman moved to Amman where he spent five years studying Islamic law, legal methodology, belief, hadith methodology, logic, Arabic, and tafsir. He is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Oxford and continues his traditional studies with scholars in the United Kingdom.