Fasting or Ṣawm, is one of the most important obligatory rituals in Islam. Muslims must abstain from a number of activities including eating and drinking from dawn to dusk to obey God’s command. But can a woman fast during pregnancy and breastfeeding according to Shia Maraji’?
What follows is the answer of Ayatollah Sistani and Ayatollah Khamenei to this question:
Ayatollah Sistani’s Fatwas
Question:I am pregnant and would like to know whether I should fast or not.
Also, if a woman who is not in an advanced stage of pregnancy but fasting is harmful or unbearably difficult, fasting is not wajib on her. She must keep the qadha later and there is no kaffara on her.
In both case, if a woman fails to observe the Qadha of the missed fast until next Ramadhan, she must, as an obligatory precaution, give another kaffara because of delaying the Qadha.
Question:There is a woman who is breastfeeding her child and the child is dependent on the milk it is receiving from its mother. Can the mother break her fast since she fears for her child? Is it permissible for her not to fast?
In both the cases, she will later give qadha for the fasts left out. But this rule is specifically applicable in a circumstance where this is the only way of feeding milk to the child – (as an obligatory precaution). But if there is an alternative, like, when more than one woman offer to suckle the child, then establishing this rule is a matter of Ishkal.
Ayatollah Khamenei’s Fatwas
Question:A pregnant woman does not know whether fasting will harm the baby or not. Does she have to fast?
Answer: If she has reasonable grounds to fear that fasting would harm her baby, then, it is not obligatory for her to fast, otherwise she must fast.
Question:A woman was pregnant during two consecutive Ramadans and could not fast during those two years. Now that she is able to fast, what is her duty? Does she only have to perform the qaḍā’ for the two months, or does she have to carry out the twofold kaffārah as well? What is the rule concerning her delaying the fasting?
Answer: If she did not fast during the month of Ramadan due to a shar‘ī excuse, she is only liable for their qaḍā’. However, if she did not fast because she feared it might harm the fetus or the baby, she has to give fidyah, i.e. one mudd (750 grams) of food for each day, in addition to making their qaḍā’. And if she delayed the qaḍā’ beyond the following Ramadan without a shar‘ī excuse, another fidyah is obligatory for her as well, i.e. she should give one mudd [750 grams] of food to a poor person for each day.
If her excuse was fearing of harm for herself, rules of other cases of fearing of harm are applied, i.e. if the fear continues to the next Ramadan, she is not to perform qaḍā’ and she is only required to pay one mudd (750 gm.) of food as fidyah.