The Types of Sickness During Ramadhaan & Their Rulings

 

Regarding the exemption from fasting during the month of Ramadhaan due to sickness as well as the types of sickness which warrant the permissibility to eat and drink during Ramadhaan the Scholars state the following:

Ibn Qudaamah Al-Maqdisee (rahimahullaah) mentioned (Sharh Al-Kabeer vol 7 p.367):

The people of knowledge are unanimous over the permissibility of the consumption of food by the sick person – in general. The basis in this being His saying, The Most High:

{وَمَن كَانَ مَرِيضاً أَوْ عَلَى سَفَرٍ فَعِدَّةٌ مِّنْ أَيَّامٍ أُخَرَ}

((And whosoever is sick or upon a journey then they [the days] are to be made up from other days…)) (Al-Baqarah: 185)

 

So the sickness which allows for the taking of food is the one which is increased due to fasting or that the recovery from it is delayed. It was said to Ahmad (bin Hanbal): “when does a sick person take food?” he said: “when he is unable” it was said: “like in the case of fever?” he said: “and which sickness is worse than fever!”

 

Imaam An-Nawawee (rahimahullaah) said (Al-Majmoo’ vol 6 p. 258):

It is not a stipulation that it should end in a state whereby he is unable to fast due to it. Rather our companions say: the condition for the permissibility of eating is that he is met in his fast with a hardship which makes the tolerance of it hard to bear. As for a lighter form of sickness which is not met with an apparent difficulty then eating for such a person is impermissible – this is held without differing amongst us, rather the difference is for the Dhaahiree people.

 

Ibn Juzzi (rahimahullaah) from the Scholars of the Maalikee madhab summarized the circumstances of the sick person in regards to fasting when he said:

The sick person has circumstances:

The First:

That he is unable to fast or that he fears for his demise due to fasting or weakness if he fasts – thus eating is obligatory upon him.

 The Second:

That he is able to fast but with difficulty, so eating for him is permissible. Ibn Al-‘Arabi said: it is recommended.

The Third:

That he is able to fast despite difficulty; however he fears an increase in his sickness. In the case of him eating there are two statements (opinions).

The Fourth:

That it is not difficult for him, neither does he fear an increase in the sickness. The majority of Scholars hold that he does not eat, contrary to what is held by Ibn Sireen.

The Shaafi’ee Scholars hold that if a person awakens in a state of sound health and so fasts, thereafter becoming sick. Then without any difference of opinion it is permissible for him to eat since eating is permissible for him only out of necessity, and the necessity has arisen and so it is permissible for him to eat.

(See: Mawsu’ah al-Fiqhiyyah al-Kuwaitiyyah vol 28 p.46-47)

 

Shaikh Muhammad bin Saalih Al-‘Uthaimeen (rahimahullaah) mentioned (Sharh al-Mumti’ vol 6 page 341-342):

The one who is sick has certain circumstances:

The First:

That he is not affected by the fast, such as having a light fever or a light headache or toothache and the like of that. This does not make it allowable for him to eat, even if it be that some of the scholars have said that it is permissible for him due to the generality of the aayah:

{وَمَن كَانَ مَرِيضاً }

 ((…and whosoever is sick…)) (Al-Baqarah: 185)

 

However we say, this ruling is warranted with a reason and that is that taking food is more compassionate for him in which case we say to him to eat.

As for if he were not to be affected then it is impermissible for him to eat and instead obligatory upon him to fast.

The Second:

If the fast becomes difficult upon him yet does not harm him, then in this case it is disliked for him to fast, and it is allowed for him to eat.

The Third:

If the fast becomes difficult upon him and proves to be of harm to him. Such as a man who is afflicted with kidney disease/problems or with diabetes and the like of that then fasting is forbidden for him.

However, if he fasts whilst in this state is he rewarded for his fast?

Aboo Muhammad Ibn Hazm (rahimahullaah) said:

“His fast is of no reward to him, this is because Allaah, The Most High gave an allowance to the sick folk to make up their fasts on other alternative days. Thus if he fasts during his sickness then he is like the one who is able bodied who fasted in Sha’ban instead of Ramadhaan and so he is not rewarded for it and is obligated to make up for them.”

The statement of Abee Muhammad is based upon a well-known principle, which is that, that which one has been prohibited from due to its very essence is not rewarded for implementing it. If we say it is prohibited then it encompasses the principles in that if he fasts he is not rewarded for it. This is because he fasted whilst being prohibited from it such as fasting in the days of Tashreeq (days immediately following ‘Eid) and the two days of ‘Eid themselves which is not allowed and neither correct.

With this we come to recognise the error of some of those that strive from the sick folk upon whom fasting creates difficulty and could possibly harm them. However they refuse to eat – so we say; these people have erred in that they have not accepted the Nobility and Generosity of Allaah, The Mighty and Majestic and have not accepted His exemption. Instead harming themselves, and Allaah, The Mighty and Majestic says:

{وَلَا تَقْتُلُوا أَنْفُسَكُمْ}

((And do not kill yourselves…)) (An-Nisaa: 29)

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