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Fasting / The fasting of a traveler if it does not involve difficulty

The fasting of a traveler if it does not involve difficulty

publish date : 2014-07-02 | Views : 1913
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Dear respected Shaykh, assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh. What is the ruling of a traveler’s fasting in modern times if there is no difficult involved in that?

صوم المسافر مع عدم وجود المشقة

Praise be to Allah, and may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon the Messenger of Allah, his family and his companions.   Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh.   As to what follows:   In response to your question, we say:     Allah the Exalted has  decreed that travelling is from the concessions that  permit breaking the fast,  as pointed out by the verses of the Qur’an. Allah says, ‘and whoever is ill or on a journey, the same number [of days which one did not observe Saum (fasts) must be made up] from other days.’ [al-Baqarah 2: 185] and the other verses says ‘ So whoever among you is ill or on a journey [during them] - then an equal number of days [are to be made up].’ [al-Baqarah 2: 184]. Thus this is a concession which Allah has granted his worshippers and made things easy for them. The proof for that is the hadith of ‘Amr ibn Hamzah al-Aslami who narrated that he asked the Prophet (peace be upon him) and said, ‘‘O Messenger of Allah! I find strength in me for fasting on a journey; is there any sin upon me (in doing that)? Thereupon the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: ‘It is a concession from Allah. He who took advantage of it, it is good for him, and he who preferred to observe fast, there is no sin upon him’ [Muslim (1121)]. Thus this indicates that leaving fasting is a concession as shown by the verses of the Qur’an and the hadith.   And what is the journey which permits breaking the fast? The scholars say, ‘The journey which permits breaking the fast is the journey which permits the shortening of prayers. Thus, link the issue of the journey which permits leaving fasting to the issue of shortening prayers, because that is the basis with respect to the traveler. Allah the Exalted stated, ‘And when you travel throughout the land, there is no blame upon you for shortening the prayer, [especially] if you fear that those who disbelieve may disrupt [or attack] you’ [an-Nisaa 4: 101]. Thus the basis with regards  to the traveler is shortening prayer, and fasting is linked to it. Thus, every distance which permits shortening prayer permits a fasting person to break fast. Is this concession general, whether fasting is difficult or not?  With development in means of transportation fasting has become easy. However, this is a relative issue, and a journey regardless of its means of transportation involves moving from one place to place, thus it is not outside the description of the journey which the Prophet stated and that is ‘Travelling is a type of torment’ [al-Bukhari (5429) and Muslim (1927)]. However, this varies and differs, and undoubtedly a journey by car is not like a journey by camel and so on. These are the different means of transport which are used by people in their journeys. Therefore,  it was allowed to leave fasting in a journey because it causes difficulty, and this means that a journey permits one to leave fasting even if it does not consist of difficulty, because if a ruling is attached to the likelihood of something, it is established in general regardless of the  presence of difficulty or otherwise. An example of that is fasting; the scholars consider it to be a nullifier of fasting, and there is no difference in the ruling concerning whether the person is certain that he nullified his ablution in his sleep or whether that did not happen. Rather, if it is sleep where a person completely lost perception , it is compulsory for him to make ablution, even if he is sure that he did not break his ablution. In any case, what I mean is that  a journey is a reason for a travelling person to break his fast, but this is not linked to difficulty, rather, this is a concession which is applicable regardless of whether or not there is difficulty in fasting, as was stated in the hadith of ‘Amr ibn Hamzah al-Aslami  that ‘‘‘O Messenger of Allah! I find strength in me for fasting on a journey; is there any sin upon me (in doing that)? Thereupon the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: ‘It is a concession from Allah. He who took advantage of it, it is good for him, and he who preferred to observe fast, there is no sin upon him’ This brings us to another issue which is: what is better for the traveler: fasting or not fasting? This is an issue on which the scholars (may Allah have mercy on them) differed. Others said: ‘He has a choice.’ Others said, ‘If fasting is difficult for him then not fasting is better for him.’ Others said, ‘Not fasting is better in general whether there is difficulty in fasting or not.  All these opinions are based on proofs. Some scholars were of the opinion that it is compulsory for a traveler not to fast based on the authentic hadith that was transmitted by Jabir that the Prophet (peace be upon him) described those who continued fasting after the Prophet (peace be upon him) had broken fast by saying, ‘These are the disobedient people, these are the disobedient people’ [Muslim (1114)]. Similarly it has been narrated in the hadith of ibn ‘Umar and Jabir that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, "It is not righteousness that you fast on a journey" [al-Bukhari (1946)].  Another narration states ‘It is not righteousness to fast when traveling" [an-Nasaai (2256)].  All this shows us that scholars differed over the texts in the issue. Others based their stance on particular text while others based their views on different  texts. The closest view to the truth and the one which combines the texts well is that leaving fast during a journey is a concession. As for the virtue; that differs with the varying conditions of people. Thus whoever finds difficulty in fasting it is better for him not to fast because of the statement of the Prophet (peace be upon him) ‘It is not righteousness that you fast on a journey" and the statement of the Prophet (peace be upon him) ‘Those who broke the fast got the reward today’. [Muslim (1119)] and the statement of the Prophet (peace be upon him) ‘Those are the disobedient people’. However, if a person can fast and it is not difficult for him to do so, and he fasts  on the journey not because he is belittling Allah’s concession, rather, he fasts because he wants to get the virtue of the time, and because he wants to quickly free himself from obligation, and to fast Ramadan at the same time with the rest of the people, and similar reasons that vary with the varying conditions of people; if that is the case, fasting is better. This is the opinion of the majority of the scholars based on that fact that it is established  that the Prophet (peace be upon him) fasted during a journey. It is stated in a hadith that the Prophet (peace be upon him) went out on a journey with his companions. He and ‘Abdullah ibn Rawaha fasted in severe heat, to such an extent that a companion Prophet (peace be upon him) said, ‘ Most of us had the cloth for shelter. There were also those amongst us who sheltered (themselves against the rays of the) sun with the help of their hands’ [Muslim (1119). This means that they were in severe heat and there was nothing to cover them from the sun, and they broke their fast (may Allah be pleased with them), and none among them was fasting except the Prophet (peace be upon him)  and ‘Abdullah ibn Rawaha. Abu Sa’id,  Anas and Jabir all said in their hadiths, ‘We went out on an expedition with the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) during Ramadan. Some of us observed the fast and some of us broke it. Those who observed the fast did not criticize those one who broke it, nor did those who broke  the fast criticize those who fasted.’ [Muslim (1116)]. This shows that there is lenience in the issue and that a person should see what is easier for him and readily practiced. What is the journey that permits breaking the fast? Is breaking fast permissible only during the time or travelling  or is it permissible  throughout the period of the journey even if the person has reached his intended destination? Breaking fast and shortening prayers – which are two concessions for a journey- are established for a traveler from the time that he goes out of his area until he returns. This means that in the journey it is not only the travelling time that is considered, rather, the journey is the whole time that the traveler spends from the time that he goes out of his area until he returns. For example if a person is traveling to Riyadh and he remains there for a period of time, his period of stay in Riyadh is part of the journey. This is also linked to another issue: is there a specific period for a journey or not? If we assume that he will remain for two days or three and so on, then he is a traveler until he returns.    

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