Can I Break My Fast If My Job Makes Fasting Too Difficult?

Shafi'i Fiqh

Answered by Shaykh Omar Qureshi

Question: I am currently working in a Dry Cleaners and it gets very hot inside, when its 90F its like it is 110F inside the store.  I was wondering would it be permissible if i didn’t fast when it gets this hot inside? I get lightheaded and dizzy due to the heat. I hear from my family that Allah does not demand us to do anything that we cant handle? Is this true? Please give me the Shafi’i ruling for this.

Answer: Assalamu ‘alaikum.

It is correct that Allah the Exalted has not imposed on us an obligation that we cannot bear. I would have to know more details regarding your situation to give an answer that I am comfortable with. In the meantime, however, Shafi’i jurists state that a person who has an occupation that makes fasting unreasonably difficult (shugl shaqq), or is in a state of extreme thirst or hunger, may break their fast that day. If they are certain that it will cause them harm then a person must break their fast. A baker working under hot conditions is an example of an occupation that is unreasonably difficult to fast under hot conditions. Notice that it is qualified by work under conditions of high temperature. (Jurdani, Fath al-‘Allam vol. 4, pg. 22)

One should keep in mind that a person needs to make the intention to fast that day  (meaning before the time for Fajr sets in) and only break the fast when continuing to fast will entail harm to oneself. A headache or feeling lightheaded one hour before the fast does not, in my understanding, allow one to break their fast. One should rather take a break from work and rest. Keep in mind that you must make up the days of fasting that you miss.

I would recommend speaking to your supervisor and explaining your situation to him/her. Request to make any necessary arrangements that you will need to work comfortably while fasting. It is expected that a person will feel lightheaded, tired, and some weakness when fasting. Remember that the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) and his Companions fought wars when fasting during the month of Ramadan.

So without knowing the details of your condition, inshaAllah, what has been provided will give you the necessary guidelines where you can assess your situation and come to a conclusion.

Allah the Exalted knows.
Omar Qureshi

Shaykh Omar Qureshi completed his Bachelor’s degree at the University of Missouri – Columbia in Microbiology in 1995 and later obtained a M.Ed. in Science Education – Curriculum and Instruction from the same institution. As a teacher in Saudi Arabia, he also studied various Islamic Sciences with Sh. Salman Abu-Ghuddah. He continued his Islamic studies in Damascus, Syria at Ma’had al-Tahdhib wa-l-Ta’lim and privately with local Damascene scholars such as Sh. Hussain Darwish. Currently Omar serves as the Dean of Academics and Instruction at Islamic Foundation School located at Villa Park, Illinois. In addition to teaching, he is pursuing a Ph.D. in Philosophy of Education and Comparative Education at Loyola University in Chicago, where he is focusing on Muslim moral educational philosophy.