Most of you probably already know that travellers have a dispensation not to fast during Ramadan, and to make up these fasts later in the year. What follows inshaAllah will be a clarification of some important details that you’ll probably want to keep in mind before taking this dispensation.
I want you to recall a very important point that was made in the first instalment of the series.
Remember that it’s very important that we don’t get mixed up between the conventional usage of the word “travelling” and the specific legal “fiqh” usage of the word.
By travelling we mean exiting your city’s limits while intending a journey of 77 kilometres (48 miles) or more.
A traveller is someone who has done the above, and hasn’t yet intended to settle for 15 days or more in another location.
So, you’re going to board your flight today noontime outbound towards Marrakech.
You’re going to be a traveller today, so the first thing you tell yourself is that you don’t have to fast right? Hold that thought!
The day of fasting begins at Fajr, so if you’re not a traveller yet (i.e. by exiting the city limits) then it’s still a must that you fast.
And if we take a moment to reflect on this, it really makes sense. What if you had plans to travel, but it didn’t work out? Or you missed your plane?
You would have missed an important day of fasting for travel that didn’t even eventuate.
Now what if you’ve done this before? The first thing to do is to repent. It’s a grave sin to miss a day of fasting without a valid reason!
The second step is that you make up for that day by fasting another day outside of Ramadan. In this scenario, there is no need to perform a 60 day expiation fast.
If you’ve started fasting because you weren’t a traveller yet at Fajr time, but now you’ve just become a traveller.
The plane’s taken off, and you’re airborne, dhikr beads in hand, praying for a safe flight, and the thought comes to mind – can I now break my fast?
The answer is still a no. You’ve already started fasting so it’s obligatory that you complete it.
Yes, there are examples of excuses that allow you to break your fast midway, such as illness, but travelling isn’t one of them.
We’ve come to an important principle: The dispensation of not fasting is only available to you if you begin travelling before Fajr.
If you start travelling after Fajr, you must fast, and you don’t have the option to break your fast.
Generally speaking, to leave the dispensation and fast is more praiseworthy.
However, if your travel will be a cause of hardship or difficulty, or if you are travelling in a group and most of your fellow travellers are not fasting, then it would be better not to fast.
If you do end up fasting, then remember to break your fast according to Maghreb wherever you are at that point in time.
The bottom line – just look out for the sunset and you’ll be fine.
The article has been edited. To see the full article, please visit www.amust.com.au
Abdul Hadi Shah Idil is the founder and Principal Instructor at SanadArabic.com. He is a continuing student of the Hanafi School of Islamic Law and has permission to teach it at an Introductory level.
Traveller’s Fiqh was initially published on Wayfarer’sCompass.com, a website dedicated to Muslim travellers.