Question: Are pregnant and nursing women required to fast?
Bismi Llahir Rahmanir Rahim
Assalamu alaykum wa rahmatuLlahi wa barakatuhu
As a general ruling, pregnant and nursing women are required to fast Ramadan.
Exception To The Rule
However, an exception is made for a woman who fears that the act of fasting will harm her or her baby. Yet, her fear must be reasonable, meaning that it must have a genuine basis.
Reasonable fear is known by:
- manifest signs,
- a relevant past experience,
- or the notification of an upright, Muslim doctor/expert who is familiar with the limits of the Sacred Law.
If a woman does not have access to an upright, Muslim doctor, then she listens to her doctor’s medical opinion, asks a Muslim scholar for guidance, and makes her own decision based on what she understands about her situation and the limits of the Sacred Law.
Every woman’s circumstance will be different and there is no clear-cut answer for everyone.
Try To Fast First
When in doubt, it is best to try to fast first and see how easy or difficult it may be. One is encouraged to take all of the necessary steps available to make fasting easier, like eating a nutrient dense pre-dawn meal (suḥūr), sleeping during the day, using baby formula/goat’s milk, drinking lots of fluid during the night, consuming healthy fats, and taking it easy overall.
Please read our collection of advice on our website from mothers who successfully fasted a past Ramadan while pregnant or nursing.
Alternative Ways To Fast
Despite taking these steps, if fasting will be harmful, then a pregnant/nursing woman is not required to fast Ramadan. Some women may find it easier to fast every other day or every few days, instead of stopping the fast all together. This also ensures that a lesser number of days will be required for makeup in the future, which can be daunting for some once the reality of the amount of missed days sinks in.
Making Up Missed Fasts
If any Ramadan fasts are missed due to pregnancy or nursing, a woman is required to make them up once Ramadan has ended at a time when she is able. There is no expiation for a person who delays making up her missed fasts, although it is superior to make them up immediately if one is able, especially if the delay will overwhelm one in the future.
Check out our courses for more details about the general rulings of worship.
Jazak Allah khayran
- Imam Shurunbulali, Maraqi al-Falah
- Imam Tahtawi, Hashiyya al-Tahtawi
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