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Kaffarah and Fidya’s Rules according to Ayatollah Sistani

As fasting is obligatory for all Muslims in the Blessed Month of Ramadan, there are a number of orders enjoined upon the believers by the Islamic Jurisprudence in this regards, the atonement (Kaffarah) and alms-related ones would be reviewed in the following based on the fatwas issued by Grand Ayatollah Sistani.

For the readers’ ease of access, this paper regarding the orders and rules of fasting would be presented in the following order:

  1. Types of invalidators (thins which render fasting religiously invalid)
  2. Atonement (Kaffarah) rules
  3. Alms Rules
  4. Rules regarding miscalculation of the down and/or Iftar time
  5. Rules on copulation when fasting
  6. Terms and Generalities
  1. Types of invalidators

Based on whether they simply require belated accomplishment of the obligatory fasts missed during the month of Ramadan or the required payment of atonements as well, the invalidators of fasting are divided into two distinct types.

  1. Belated accomplishment only: The invalidators which are mentioned here simply require the belated accomplishment of the fast(s) missed and the payment of atonement is not needed.

If a person sleeps before Adhan for Fajr prayers in Ramadhan or any other day fixed for an obligatory fast without making a niyyat, and wakes up before Zuhr to make a niyyat of fast, his fast will be in order. But if he wakes up after Zuhr, as a precaution, he should continue with the abstinence with the niyyat of Qurbat and then give its qadha also.

If a patient recovers from his illness in the middle of a day in the month of Ramadhan, before Zuhr, and if he has not done anything to invalidate the fast, he should make niyyat and fast. But if he recovers after Zuhr, it will not be obligatory on him to fast on that day.

        2: Belated accomplishment together with payment of atonement (qadha and Kaffarah)

Should any of following types of invalidators ever occurs, payment of atonement, in addition to the belated accomplishment of the fast(s) missed, would be obligatory.

In the following situations, both qadha and Kaffarah become obligatory, provided these acts are committed intentionally, voluntarily and without any force or pressure, during the fasts of Ramadhan:
Eating Drinking Sexual Intercourse Masturbation Staying in the state of Janabat till the time of Fajr prayers
And as a recommended precaution, invalidating the fast due to reasons other than those mentioned above, should also be recompensed with Kaffarah, besides the obligatory qadha.

2- Atonement (Kaffarah) Rules

In this part of the paper the rules regarding the atonement are elaborated on

2-1- The role of knowledge on the obligation of atonement

One of the main questions asked over the necessity of paying Zakat is the role of one’s knowledge over the cases where the payment of atonement would be obligatory. In what follows this question would be discussed.

As a recommended precaution, invalidating the fast due to reasons other than those mentioned above, should also be recompensed with Kaffarah, besides the obligatory qadha.

And if a person commits any of the foregoing acts with an absolute certitude that it does not invalidate fast, Kaffarah will not be obligatory on him.

2-2- The amount and type of atonement

The amount and type of atonement varies according to different factors involved. Here the amount and type of atonement for deliberate breaking of one’s fast is mentioned.

If a person breaks his fast with something haraam, whether it is haraam in itself, like, wine or adultery or has become haraam due to some reason like, any food which is normally permissible but it is injurious to his health, or if he has sexual intercourse with his wife during Haidth, he will have to observe all the three Kaffarah, as a recommended precaution. It means that he should set free a slave, fast for two months and also feed sixty poor to their fill, or give one mudd of wheat, barley, bread etc. to each of them. If it is not possible for him to give all the three Kaffarah, he should perform any one Kaffarah which he can possibly give.

Note: Should a believer intends to pay the price of the food designated as the atonement for his/her missed fast(s) to the needy instead of giving them the food itself, he/she is required to get a poor person as his/her agent so as he/she may provide for and possess the food on their behalf. However, if the person responsible for the atonement is not certain that the poor person would perform the same as he/she has been asked to do, he/she would be absolved from the atonement (Minhaj-al-Salehin, Vol.3, p 776).

2-3- Repeating the same invalidator or carrying out several invalidators in a day

What follows is an elaboration on how many atonements a responsible person should pay in the event that he/she repeats the same invalidator or carries put several invalidators in one day.

If a fasting person repeats an act which invalidates fast of Ramadhan other than sexual intercourse and masturbation, one Kaffarah will be sufficient for all.

2-4- Atonement Payer

The atonement and alms must be paid by the responsible person himself/herself, and it is not required of another person (such as one’s father or wife/husband) to pay the same. However, there are some exceptions to this rule which are as follows:

If a man who is fasting in the month of Ramadhan has sexual intercourse with his wife who is also fasting and if he has compelled her for that, he should give Kaffarah for his own fast and as a precaution, also for his wife’s. And if she had wilfully consented to the sexual intercourse, a Kaffarah becomes obligatory on each of them.

2-5- Cases when fasting becomes optional (non-obligatory) following the perpetration of an invalidator

Considering a case when someone has done something which would render his/her fasting invalid and entitles him/her to atonement, what would be the judgment of his previously required atonement if he/she faces something such as illness and/or an unexpected trip which makes an obligatory fasting optional?

If a person who has intentionally invalidated his fast travels after Zuhr or before Zuhr to escape the Kaffarah, he will not be exempted from the Kaffarah. In fact, if he has to proceed unexpectedly on a journey before Zuhr, even then it is obligatory for him to give Kaffarah. But if a person invalidates the fast intentionally and then an excuse like Haidth, Nifas or sickness arises, the recommended precaution is that he/she should give a Kaffarah.

And if a person was certain that it was the first day of Ramadhan and invalidated his fast intentionally, and it transpired later that it was the last day of Sha’ban it would not be obligatory on him to give Kaffarah.

2-6- Delay atonement

What would be the duty of a responsible person who does not perform the belated fast(s) he/she missed during the last month of Ramadan until the beginning of next Ramadan?

What follows elaborates on the reasons behind such procrastinations and the judgments which apply on each. 

If a person deliberately ignores observing qadha till the time left is short, and during that short time he develops an excuse, he has to give qadha and as a precaution, give one mudd of food to poor for each day. Similarly, if after the excuse is over, he firmly decides to give qadha, but is unable to do so because of some fresh excuse during that short time, he will follow the above rule.

2-7- Fasting of pregnant and/or breast-feeding women

What are the duties of pregnant women and/or breast-feeding mothers in the month of Ramadan over fasting? Are they allowed to break their fasts? If they do, what are its relevant judgments?

To find answers for these questions, please refer to the following.

Fasting is not obligatory on a woman in advanced stage of pregnancy, for whom fasting is harmful or for the child she carries. For every day, however, she should give one mudd of food to poor. In both the cases, she has to give qadha for the fasts which are left out.

3- Alms payment rules

In some cases, the responsible person is required to pay alms for not fasting. Paying alms here means that the person is obliged to provide the poor with 750 gr of food (as designated by the Islamic Jurisprudence) for each day he/she deliberately refused to fast.

3-1-Annual Alms (Illness)

Cases where the payment of the alms would be obligatory for a person only after the next Ramadan month begins. Any such payment before the date would not be valid.

If a person does not fast in the month of Ramadhan due to illness and his illness continues till next Ramadhan, it is not obligatory on him to observe qadha of the fasts which he had not observed, but for each fast he should give one mudd of food like, wheat, barley, bread etc. to poor. And if he did not observe fast owing to some other excuse, like, if he did not fast because of travelling and his excuse continued till next Ramadhan, he should observe its qadha fasts, and the obligatory precaution is that for each day he should give one mudd of food to poor.

3-2- Daily Alms

Cases where the payment of alms is possible at the end of each day. However, in some cases this type of alms would replace the fast(s) missed, and in others the belated accomplishment of the fast(s) would also be required.

Fasting is not obligatory on a person who suffers from a disease which causes excessive thirst, making it unbearable, or full of hardship. But in the latter case, that is, of hardship, he should give one mudd of food to poor, for every fast. At the same time, as a recommended precaution, such a person may not drink water in a quantity more than essential. If he recovers later, enabling him to fast, then as a recommended precaution, he should give qadha for the fast. And also, Fasting is not obligatory on a woman in advanced stage of pregnancy, for whom fasting is harmful or for the child she carries. For every day, however, she should give one mudd of food to poor. In both the cases, she has to give qadha for the fasts which are left out. And If a woman is suckling a child, whether she is the mother or a nurse, or suckles it free, and the quantity of her milk is small, and if fasting is harmful to her or to the child, it will not be obligatory on her to fast. And she should give one mudd of food per day to poor. 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.

4- Judgmentsonthe miscalculation of the time of down and Iftar

What would be the duty of a person who cannot make certain about the time of down (to start his/her fast) and/or Iftar (to break his/her fast) after trying such ways as investigation and or referring to the testimony of others? What would be his duty if he/she makes a mistake in this regard?

The orders for such problems are discussed below.

If in the month of Ramadhan, a man without investigating as to whether Fajr has set in or not commits an act, which invalidates a fast, and it becomes known later that it was Fajr, he should as a precaution and with the Niyyat of Qurbat, refrain from committing any further acts which invalidate the fast, and give its qadha also. But if a fasting person breaks his fast when someone unreliable informs him that Maghrib has set in, and he later learns that Maghrib had not set in, or doubts whether it had set in or not, it is obligatory on him to give qadha and Kaffarah.

Note: By investigation the Grand Ayatollah Sistani means looking at the horizon to see the true down. Relying on the watch/clock, radio and like would not suffice and does not equal to looking at the horizon to see the true down.

5- Judgmentson copulation when fasting

Deliberate copulation is one of the things which invalidate fasting. What follows refers to the judgments on copulation in different cases.

If a man who is fasting in the month of Ramadhan has sexual intercourse with his wife who is also fasting and if he has compelled her for that, he should give Kaffarah for his own fast and as a precaution, also for his wife’s. If she had willfully consented to the sexual intercourse, a Kaffarah becomes obligatory on each of them. And if the woman compels her fasting husband to have sexual intercourse with her, it is not obligatory on her to give Kaffarah for her husband’s fast. And if a man who is fasting in Ramadhan compels his wife for sexual intercourse, and if the woman expresses her agreement during the intercourse, the man should, on the basis of obligatory precaution, give two Kaffarah and the woman should give one Kaffarah. If a man who is observing fast in Ramadhan has sexual intercourse with his fasting wife who is asleep, one Kaffarah becomes obligatory on him. But the wife’s fast is in order and she will not give any Kaffarah.

Throughout this paper there are some terms and rules that are worth mentioning here. It should be noted that in cases where there are no difference between the fatwas of the two Ayatollahs discussed here, their names are not mentioned.

Food means wheat, bread, flour, macaroni, lentil, beans, meat; but raisin and barley are not accepted in our time”.

Mudd: each mudd equals 750 gr

Food drive: a person who is required to food drive 60 poor men/women could do the same for less than 60 poor people. In other cases, the atonement or alms of several days could be given to only one poor man/woman.

The poor: it refers to a person who cannot afford his own costs and those of his/her family (if there is any) and does not have any profession or vocation to make his/her ends meet by his/her income. The difference between a poor and a destitute person (Miskin) is that the destitute has a more difficult life and is living in a worse situation than the poor, i.e. he cannot even afford his/her necessary daily costs.

Deadline of the atonement payment: atonement is not required to be paid immediately. However, it should not be so delayed that could be regarded as negligent in performing an obligatory religious act.

Delay in the payment of atonement: nothing would be added to the amount set for the obligatory atonement should the responsible person fail to pay/accomplish it for several years.

Taking turn for belated accomplishment and atonement: It is not required to take any turn for accomplishing belated fast(s) and paying/ accomplishing atonement.

The Article was Compiled by Motahara Malmir and translated by Ijtihadnetwork.

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