by Shaykh Abdullah bin Bayyah | Translated and Abridged by Suhaib Webb
Question: What is obligatory upon the elderly who are unable to fast?
Answer: “If a person has reached old age and they are unable to fast, then feeding a person (for each day of fasting missed) is sufficient.” (ad-Daraqutni and al-Hakim) Allah says, “Allah does not burden a soul beyond its scope,” (Qur’an, 2:286) and “Allah intends to lighten things for you. And man was created weak” (Qur’an, 4:28). The principles of facilitation and ease are from the foundations of Islam.
I have extreme difficulty fasting, I am not elderly at all.
When I was in young, fasting came very easy. A few years later, I began getting very nauseous if I missed breakfast, and would eat something salty to alleviate this. When Ramadan came around, I spent many hours hurling over a toilet.
Now, I get migraines. I get them from things as simple as being woken when sleeping, or eating a greasy meal, or missing meals. They can become very severe, lasting hours and even days at a time. They can be incredibly painful and I sometimes end up spending the whole day in bed.
The pain is so intense, that I now do everything in my ability to avoid the chance of getting a migraine. I don’t go to a restaurant I went to if I got a migraine after eating there and so forth.
I am not sure if it is allowed or not, but I have stopped fasting and didn’t even make up my days. I feel incredible shame and guilt. I just do not know if it is allowed or not. I feel guilty because I see my elders fasting even though their bodies must be weaker. I see people fasting when they work in restaurants around food all day.
When I do fast, I drink tons of water the night before and at suhoor, I eat a balanced healthy meal and get a good night’s sleep. Even if I do make it throughout the day with no migraine, when I break my fast I get a migraine. No matter what I do, if I eat light and gradually…nothing helps. At times I would break my fast with just some water and I would instantly hurl.
The thing is now, I don’t even try fasting. I just gave up on it. I hate it. I feel shame even in front of non Muslims because they know I am supposed to be fasting.
I am really not sure if this is a sin, or if I should keep trying, or what I should do. Please tell me.
With regards to the question, “What Happens When an Elderly Person Cannot Fast” answered by Sh. Abdullah bin Bayyah. People in my family are in a similar situation. I understand that for every missed day of fast, a poor person has to be fed. My question is, should a poor person be fed just one meal or should he be fed more than one meal for that whole day?