Subject : Fasting is Incumbent on the Old who is Capable of it.
Fatwa Number : 2929
Date : 02-07-2014
Classified : Conditions of Fasting
Fatwa Type : Search Fatawaa

Question :

Is there a room for Ijtihad (juristic opinion on a matter on which there is no explicit text from the Quran or the Sunnah) in Islam to review the permissibility of exempting a Muslim from fasting once he becomes sixty years old?

The Answer :

All praise is due to Allah, peace and blessings be upon Prophet Mohammad.

The most important characteristic of Islamic Sharia is that it is based on ease and imposing no difficulties on Muslims as regards acts of devotion and transactions. Allah, The Almighty, Says in this regard: “and has imposed no difficulties on you in religion.” {Al-Hajj/78}. Aisha (May Allah be pleased with her) narrated: “Whenever Allah's Apostle was given the choice of one of two matters, he would choose the easier of the two, as long as it was not sinful to do so, but if it was sinful to do so, he would not approach it.” {Muslim}.

An example on ease in performing acts of devotion-fasting- is considering sickness and old age exemptions from fasting in Ramadan. Allah, The Almighty, Says: “So every one of you who is present (at his home) during that month should spend it in fasting, but if anyone is ill, or on a journey, the prescribed period (Should be made up) by days later. God intends every facility for you; He does not want to put to difficulties.” {Al-Baqarah/185}.

Muslim scholars are so meticulous and realistic that they placed restraints on the sickness and the hardship that allow a Muslim to break his/her fast. This also applies to old age which allows the old to give a ransom in return for not fasting. They have also made it mandatory that the sick who fears death, or deterioration of their health condition, or a delay in their recovery, to break their fast.

These restraints aren`t confined to a particular age since the young may suffer a chronic disease that hinders them from fasting, and the old may enjoy good health and be able to fast.

We frequently come across old people who are able to give more, do hard work, get married, travel and communicate with others. Therefore, not every sixty-year-old is incapable of fasting, and we can`t consider this age as a limit for deciding who fasts and who doesn`t. We can`t also assume that fasting makes the sixty-year old more vulnerable to certain diseases. Such a principle is hard to establish since each sick, or old person has their particular condition.

Finally, we would like to stress that when someone`s health is at stake if they fast, based on doctor`s opinion, they are prohibited from doing that regardless of their age. And Allah knows best.



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