What is the ruling on how a pregnant or nursing woman can make up for the missed fasts if the days were missed on account of fear of harm to her baby?

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One opinion and what is the evidence:

  • Some scholars say that she only needs to make up for the missed days. By analogy with the one who broke his fast due to his illness, he makes up for the days he did not fast, and he does not have to pay the fidya. This is the opinion of mainly the Hanafi and Maaliki schools. The evidence is in the Qur’an, “O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous – [Fasting for] a limited number of days. So who among you is ill or on a journey [during them] – then an equal number of days [are to be made up]…” [Al-Baqara, 2:183-184]. Fasting is an obligation on everyone who is healthy, unless a temporary circumstance prevents them from fasting. No fidya is mentioned for that person, so we cannot add two acts of worship in order to replace one act of worship.

Second opinion and what is the evidence:

  • The woman only needs to pay a fidya. This is the opinion of ibn Omar and ibn ‘Abbas. The evidence is in the Qur’an, “O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous – [Fasting for] a limited number of days. So who among you is ill or on a journey [during them] – then an equal number of days [are to be made up]. And among those who are able [to fast, but with hardship] – a ransom [as substitute] of feeding a poor person [each day]…” [Al-Baqara, 2:183-184]. These scholars considered pregnant and nursing women to be in the same category as the chronically ill and the very elderly. They based their ruling on the culture of that time. It was normal for a woman to have several back to back pregnancies, with not much time in between the pregnancies and the nursing periods. It would be almost impossible for her to make up all the missed fasts once her child bearing years were over.

Third opinion and what is the evidence:

  • The woman needs to both make up for the missed days and pay a fidya. This is the opinion of Imam Shafi’i and Imam Ahmad. These scholars considered pregnant and nursing women in the same category as the sick and those encountering difficulty in fasting. People in this category need to pay the fidya in addition to making up the days. Their evidence is the actions of the sahaba.

Fourth opinion and what is the evidence:

  • The woman does not have to make up the days and she does not have to pay a fidya. This is the opinion of Imam ibn Hazim. He states that there is no clear proof that a pregnant or nursing woman has to make up the missed days or pay a fidya. In the case of a traveler, the fast is broken due to convenience, unlike the pregnant or nursing woman.

Fifth opinion and what is the evidence:

  • The pregnant woman needs to make up the missed days without paying a fidya; the nursing woman needs to make up the missed days and she needs to pay a fidya. This is the opinion of Imam Maalik. The ruling for the pregnant woman is based on the ruling of one who is sick, regardless of whether it’s due to her own health or that of the baby. They are both one entity. The ruling for the nursing woman is based on the premise that the reason she broke the fast was not due to her own health, but only out of fear of harming her baby.

To sum it up, the most cautious view to follow concerning this matter is that pregnant and breastfeeding women who fear harming themselves or their babies if they fast, may break the fast and they only have to make up the missed fasts without paying any fidya due to the following evidence:

“but if any of you is ill or on a journey, the same number (should be made up) from other days”
[Al-Baqara, 2:184]

Pregnant and breastfeeding women are likened to those who are sick, and do not come under the ruling on old men who are unable to fast. Rather they come under the rule of those who are sick, so they should make up the fasts when they become able to do so.

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