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who is exempt from fasting during Ramadan?

Who is Exempt from Fasting During Ramadan and Why?

Fasting during the month of Ramadan is one of the Five Pillars of Islam, an essential practice for Muslims worldwide. However, Islamic teachings from the Quran and Hadith recognize that not everyone can fast and provides exemptions for various reasons. This article delves into who is exempt from fasting during Ramadan according to these primary sources.

The Quranic Perspective

Verse References

  1. Surah Al-Baqarah (Chapter 2, Verses 183-185): These verses lay the foundation for fasting during Ramadan. However, they also mention that those who are ill or on a journey can skip their fasts and make them up later.


1. Illness: The term ‘illness’ here is broad and includes both minor and severe conditions. The key factor is whether fasting exacerbates the condition or delays recovery.

Why are they exempt from fasting: The exemption for the sick is based on the Islamic principle of not imposing undue hardship on individuals. Fasting while ill can worsen health conditions or delay recovery. Islam places a high value on health and well-being, and this exemption ensures that individuals do not harm themselves through religious observance.

2. Travel: Travelers are exempt due to the hardships and challenges associated with journeys, especially in historical contexts.

Why are they exempt from fasting? During travel, individuals may face fatigue, discomfort, and other challenges. Historically, travel was especially arduous. The exemption for travelers is an acknowledgment of these hardships and a provision to ensure that the physical strain of fasting doesn’t compound the difficulties of travel.

Hadith and Scholarly Interpretations

Specific Exemptions

1. Pregnant and Nursing Women: Hadiths and scholars suggest that pregnant or nursing women who fear harm to themselves or their child are exempt.

Why are they exempt? Pregnancy and breastfeeding are physically demanding and require additional nutrition. Fasting could compromise the health of both the mother and the child. The exemption acknowledges these unique nutritional needs and the importance of safeguarding the health of mother and child.

2. Elderly and Chronically Ill: Older adults who cannot endure fasting and those with chronic illnesses that prevent fasting are exempt, as fasting could pose significant health risks.

Why are they Exempt? Elderly individuals or those with chronic illnesses may find fasting overly strenuous or even harmful. This exemption is a recognition of their physical limitations and the Islamic principle of not causing harm to oneself.

3. Children: Before the onset of puberty, children are not required to fast. However, they are often encouraged to practice in preparation for adult responsibilities.

Why are they exempt? Children are exempt because they are not yet physically and mentally mature enough to endure the rigors of fasting. The period before puberty is viewed as a time for learning and gradual introduction to religious practices, without the full responsibilities that come with adulthood.

4. Menstruating Women and Those in Post-Childbirth Period: Women during their menstrual cycle or in the post-childbirth period are not allowed to fast, but they must make up for the missed days later.

Why are they exempt? Women during their menstrual cycle or in a post-childbirth state are exempted due to the physical and emotional strain these conditions can impose. This exemption also respects the cleanliness and purity rituals associated with Islamic worship.

5. Mental Health Considerations: 

Modern interpretations also consider severe mental health issues as a valid exemption, given the individual’s capacity to understand and adhere to the practice is compromised.

You also might like to read: Top 10 Health Benefits of Fasting in Ramadan

How to Make up for Missed Fasts in Ramadan?

Making up missed fasts, particularly those missed during Ramadan, is a well-outlined aspect of Islamic teachings. This process, guided by the Quran and Hadith, involves specific steps and considerations. Here’s an in-depth look:

Basis in Quran and Hadith

  1. Quranic Reference: Surah Al-Baqarah (2:184-185) mentions that those who are temporarily unable to fast due to illness or travel should compensate by fasting later.
  2. Hadith: Numerous hadiths provide guidance on making up missed fasts, emphasizing their importance and the manner in which they should be completed.

General Guidelines for Making Up Missed Fasts

Intention (Niyyah)

  • Setting Intention: As with all Islamic acts of worship, making up a fast requires the intention to do so. This should be set in the heart before dawn (Fajr) of the day of fasting.


  • No Specific Time Frame: There is no prescribed time frame within which the missed fasts must be made up, but it is recommended to do so before the next Ramadan.
  • Flexibility: Missed days can be fasted consecutively or intermittently, depending on the individual’s capacity and circumstances.

Sequential Order

  • Non-Consecutive Fasting: If multiple days are missed, they do not need to be made up consecutively unless the individual prefers to do so.

Special Considerations

Pregnant or Nursing Women

  • Delayed Fasting: They can delay making up their fasts until they are no longer pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • Multiple Ramadan Missed: If multiple Ramadans are missed, they still need to make up the same number of days missed.

Chronic Illness or Old Age

  • Fidya (Compensation): Those who cannot fast due to chronic illness or old age should provide fidya, which is generally feeding a poor person for each day missed.

Menstruating Women and Post-Childbirth

  • Making Up After Purity: They should wait until their period or post-childbirth bleeding stops and they have performed the ritual purification (ghusl) before making up missed fasts.

Making Up Fasts for the Deceased

  • On Behalf of Deceased: If a person dies and had missed obligatory fasts, it is recommended that their guardian or close family members fast on their behalf or pay fidya if the deceased had a valid reason for missing the fasts.



Ramadan is a time of spiritual reflection and self-discipline, but Islam acknowledges individual circumstances. Certain groups, including the ill, elderly, pregnant or nursing women, travelers, and children, are exempted from fasting. This exemption, grounded in compassion and practicality, ensures that the observance of Ramadan remains a meaningful, yet safe, practice for all believers.


Hafiz Ikram Ullah

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