Fasting during Ramadan is a religious duty that all eligible Muslims must carry out as per Allah’s (SWT) instructions and the five pillars of Islam.
Missing a fast is very serious and is to be avoided at all costs. If you do miss a fast, there are compensations that need to be made in order to repent for it, but these differ depending on why the fast has been missed.
Missing a Fast Accidentally
Many facets of Islam boil down to intent, and breaking or missing a fast during Ramadan is no different. If you genuinely forget that it is Ramadan and you take a sip of water or nibble on a piece of food, only to later remember it’s Ramadan, your fast won’t necessarily be broken or missed. This is because there was no direct intent to miss the fast.
It is believed that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said:
“Whoever forgets that he is fasting and eats or drinks, let him complete his fast, for the One Who fed him and gave him to drink was Allah.” – Abu Hurayrah
This cements the fact that genuine errors are accepted and Allah (SWT) won’t punish you for them, though every effort must be made to abide by the Ramadan rules.
Missing a Fast on Purpose
Missing a fast on purpose may be considered a sin depending on the reasoning for it and the intent behind it. When this is the case, there are two distinct categories that you may fall into. The first is those who are exempt and cannot do the fast. Most people will know that they will be unable to do the fast, but provided they have a valid reason to do so, it may not be considered a sin.
The Qur’an permits a number of reasons you can break your fast without it being considered a sin. They are as follows:
- Not being of age (children who have yet to reach puberty)
- Not being in good health (long-term health conditions that require medication)
- Being elderly or frail as a result of age
If you fall into any of these categories, it is permissible for you to miss the fast and pay compensation through Fidya. Sometimes, issues arise during Ramadan which mean you may not be able to continue with the rest of your fast. Provided they are one of the issues below, you will also not be committing a sin and will be liable to pay Fidya:
- Being pregnant
- Starting your menstruation cycle
In comparison, if you intend to miss a fast and do so willingly without having a valid reason, this is considered a sin in the eyes of Allah (SWT). Sawm (fasting) is an integral part of Islam and is one of the core principles the religion is founded on, so to willingly disregard it is akin to willingly disregarding the wishes and commands of Allah (SWT). For this, there is a harsh compensation that must be paid that is known as Kaffarah.