يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ
"O who believe, fasting is decreed for you as it was decreed for those before you; perchance you will guard yourselves. (2:183)
Prescribed Fasting: Details of the Fiqh
by the Azhari scholar Shaykh `Abd al-Rahman al-Jaziri (1882-1941)
Prescribed fasting in the month of Ramadan is one of the pillars of the Islamic faith. No proof is required to establish its being obligatory and one denying it goes out of the fold of Islam, because it is obvious like the prescribed prayer, and in respect of anything so evidently established both the learned and the unlettered, the elderly and the young, all stand on an equal footing. It was declared an obligatory duty (fard) in the second year of the Hijrah upon each and every one capable of carrying out religious duties, i.e. a sane adult (mukallaf) and breaking it is not permissible except for any of the following reasons:
1.1. Menstruation and bleeding following childbirthThe schools concur that fasting is not valid for women during menstruation and bleeding following childbirth.
1.2. IllnessThe Hanafi, Hanbali, Shafii and Maliki schools state that if one who is fasting (saim) falls ill, or fears the aggravation of his illness, or delay in recovery, he or she has the option to fast or refrain. Fasting is not incumbent upon that person. It is a relaxation and not an obligation in this situation. But where there is likelihood of death or loss of any of the senses, it is obligatory for the person not to fast and his fasting is not valid.
1. A Woman in the Final Stage of Pregnancy and Nursing MothersThe Hanafi, Hanbali, Shafii and Maliki schools say that if a pregnant or nursing woman fears harm for her own health or that of her child, her fasting is valid though it is permissible for her to refrain from fasting. If she opts for not fasting, the schools concur that she is bound to perform its missed days later. They differ regarding its substitute (fidyah) and atonement (kaffarah). In this regard the Hanafis observe that it is not at all obligatory. The Malikis are of the opinion that it is obligatory for a nursing woman, not for a pregnant one.
The Hanbalis and the Shafiis say that giving the substitute is obligatory upon a pregnant and a nursing woman only if they fear danger for the child, but if they fear harm for their own health as well as that of the child, they are bound to perform the fasts missed only without being required to give a substitute. The substitute for each day is the feeding of one needy person (one mudd), which amounts to feeding one destitute person (miskin).1