Islamic ruling on fasting during pregnancy, differing opinions, and their evidences

In the name of Allah,



The jurists have four different opinions on this issue. First, they feed the poor without Qada. Ibn Umar and Abbas said this. Abu Haneefa, Abu Ubayd, and Abu Thawr believe they only need to perform the Qada and not feed the poor. Third, they perform Qada and feed the poor. Al Shafi believes this. The fourth view is that pregnant women do Qada but don’t feed the poor, while wet nurses do both.


The most correct belief is that a woman who is pregnant or nursing is considered to be sick, so she does not have to fast and just has to make up the days she missed, whether she is worried about herself or her child. Click here for more on this.


The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, “Allah has relieved the traveler from fasting and part of the prayer, and He has freed the pregnant and breastfeeding woman from fasting.” Hasan hadeeth (Al-Tirmidhi, 3/85).


Ibn Abbas said, “An old man may break his fast, but he must feed a needy person every day.” If he does this, he doesn’t have to make up the fasting days he missed. Ad-Daraqutni and al-Hakim affirmed this.


According to Al-Bukhari, ‘Ata heard Ibn ‘Abbas recite the ‘ayah: “And for those who can fast [but do not], there is a “ransom’: the feeding of a needy person.” [Soorah Al Baqarah185].


It has not been revoked, Ibn ‘Abbas continued. It is applicable to senior men and women who are unable to fast. Instead, they must daily feed one poor person.” Working under challenging conditions and being chronically ill is the same. Both groups must also feed one impoverished person daily. [i]


Ibn ‘Abbas reportedly told his pregnant wives, “You are in the same situation as people who can fast but don’t.” Pay the “ransom” and you won’t have to make up the days. Ad-Daraqutni says its chain is sahih.

Nafi’ stated Ibn ‘Umar was questioned about a pregnant mother afraid of her baby. She is to break the fast and give one needy person a day one madd of barley’, He replied.”[ii]


The classical Hanafi Book Al Hidaya stated:


Women who are pregnant or nursing should avoid fasting or perform the fasts as qada’ if they are fearful about themselves or their children. There is no fidya for them because the delay is because of a reason.

As Shafi disagrees with the woman’s child-related concerns, he compares this to the situation of the weak old person. We think fidyah opposes the old person’s example.

Abstaining from fasting due to the child does not come in this sense because he is unable to fast after the duty (of qada), while the fetus has no obligation.[ paraphrased] ’[iii


Simply put, pregnant and nursing women should not be compared to old weak people. Unlike the old person, the woman can fast later using Qada.


The Shafi book ‘The Ship of Salvation’ states:

If a woman is pregnant or breastfeeding and fears harm to herself or her baby, she can skip the fast and make it up later. If she skips it because she fears harm to the child but not herself, she must give fidya for each day missed in addition to making up the days[iv].


Ar-Risala, which is a Maliki book stated;


If a pregnant woman is afraid for her child, she should break the fast. She doesn’t have to feed anyone in expiation. It has also been said that she should feed people. If she fears for herself, her kid, or her health, she must break the fast. The prevailing opinion is that she simply makes it up, not feeding people[v].


Ibn Rushd summarises experts’ disagreements:


Their disagreement comes from the fact that their cases alternate between people who have trouble fasting and sick people. Those who thought they were like the ill said they only require Qada.

People who thought they were like people for whom fasting is extremely difficult said they only had to feed the poor. This opinion was based on the verse, “Those for whom it is hard is a ransom: feeding the poor (masakin)”[vi], which was read by some people.

It seems those who considered both aspects based their view on both resemblances.

Thus, they said they are bound for qada if they resemble the ill and ransom if they resemble those who find fasting difficult. Placing them on the same level as a healthy person who doesn’t fast is weak since a healthy person has no right not to fast.

Those who discern between the pregnant woman and the wet nurse associated the pregnant woman with the ill person and deemed the wet nurse’s hukm to be a mix of the sick and the person who has a problem fasting, or akin to the healthy person.


Allah knows best, those who singled out one hukm are better than those who merged the two, just as those who singled out qada are better than those who singled out feeding, as the verse on which they gave it is not mutawatir (variant). It’s clear, so think about it.

The jurists agreed that the elderly who are unable to fast should not fast. However, they differed on whether they must feed the needy if they don’t. The first was held by al-Shafi I and Abu Hanifa, and the second by Malik, except that he deemed feeding desirable.[ End quote paraphrased][vii].



[i] Tafsīr al-Qurṭubī, translated by Aisha Bewley, Diwan Press, Tafseer chapter 2:184

[ii] Fiqh us sunnah, Sayed Sabiq, Chapter Fasting, Page 249

[iii] Al-Hidayah THE GUIDANCE, Burhan Al Din Al Farghani Al Marghinani, Book of Fasting, page 328

[iv] The Ship of Salvation: A classic manual of Islāmic Doctrine and Jurisprudence In Arabic with English text, commentary, and appendices, Edited and translated by: ʿAbdullah Muḥammad al-Marbūqī al-Shāfiʿī. Page 112

[v] The Risala Ibn Abi Zayd Al Qaywarani’s Manual of Islamic Law, Translated by Aisha Bewley page 364

[vi] Al Quran Translation 2:184

[vii] The Distinguished Jurist’s primer, Bidayat al Mujtahid wa Nihayat al Muqtasid, Ibn Rushd Vol 1- page 351


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