Fasting and Breaking Fast while Traveling
It was narrated on the authority of ‘Aa’ishah that she said:“Hamzah ibn ‘Amr Al-Aslami asked the Prophet, ‘Should I fast while traveling?’ as he used to fast frequently. The Prophet replie:,‘You may fast if you wish, and you may not fast if you wish.’” [Al-Bukhaari and Muslim]
Ibn ‘Abbaas was reported to have said, “The Messenger of Allaah traveled in Ramadan and he fasted until he reached (a place called) ‘Usfaan, then he asked for a tumbler of water and drank it by daytime so that the people might see him. He broke his fast till he reached Makkah.”Ibn ‘Abbaas used to say,“The Messenger of Allaah fasted and broke his fast while traveling, so one may fast or may not (while traveling).” [Al-Bukhaari and Muslim]
Anas ibn Maalik said, “We used to travel with the Prophet and never did the fasting person criticize the one who was not fasting, nor did the person who was not fasting criticize the fasting one.” [Al-Bukhaari and Muslim]
It was narrated on the authority of Abu Sa‘eed Al-Khudri that he said, “We set out on a battle with the Messenger of Allaah in Ramadan. Some of us observed the fast and some of us broke it. Neither did the one who observed the fast have any grudge against the one who broke it, nor did the one who broke the fast have any grudge against the one who fasted. They knew that the one who had enough strength (to bear its rigor) fasted and that was good, and the one who felt weakness (and could not bear the burden) broke it, and that was also good.” [Muslim]
It was also narrated on the authority of Abu Sa‘eed Al-Khudri that he said: “We set out with the Messenger of Allaah to Makkah while we were fasting. We halted at a place. There the Messenger of Allaah said:‘You are approaching your enemy and breaking your fast would give you greater strength’, and that was a concession (given to us). Some of us continued fasting and some of us broke it. We then stopped at another place and he (the Prophet ) said: ‘You are going to encounter your enemy in the morning and breaking your fast would give you greater strength, so break your fast.’As it was a point which was stressed, we broke the fast. We fasted with the Messenger of Allaah while traveling after that.” [Muslim]
Benefits and rulings:
- First: Islam is tolerant and the Sharee‘ah (Islamic legislation) is easy and gives due consideration to the varied conditions of Muslims who are capable of performing their religious duties. So, all perfect praise is due to Allaah.
- Second: The traveler may either fast or break the fast, and to comply with the Sunnah (tradition), he should do what is easier for him. TheseHadeeths (narrations) indicate giving him that option.
- Third: People who find it extremely difficult to fast are advised to break their fast. If making up for the missed days is difficult for some people, and fasting while traveling is not difficult, it is better for them to fast while traveling to be free from the liability and relieve themselves from that hardship.
- Fourth: It is better for those who travel frequently because of their work and the like, to fast the obligatory days if the fast will not harm them or be difficult for them, so as to be free from liability. They must fast even while traveling if they have no time to make up for the missed days.
- Fifth: Those who are capable of fulfilling their religious obligations should free themselves from liability as much as they can.
- Sixth: The Prophet, was reported to have fasted and broken his fast during his travels according to what was considered more beneficial, warded off harm and removed hardship. Muslims are required to follow the guidance of the Prophet, .
- Seventh: The Hadeeth of Hamzah Al-Aslami includes evidence for asking about the ruling on every act that is performed by a Muslim, in order to know whether this act is permissible and virtuous or not. This approach was followed by the Companions .
- Eighth: The Muslim ruler may command people to adopt a religious concession, which would then be a fundamental ruling. They must not oppose him, because obeying him is obligatory and they are not disobeying Allaah by obeying him in this case.
- Ninth: The Muslim ruler must be lenient with his subjects and consider the conditions of the weak people. In this regard, the Prophet, , commanded all the Companions to break the fast in order to be strong while facing their enemies, although some of them would not be negatively affected by the fast because they were accustomed to fasting. However, there were people who would be weakened by fasting. Hence, the Prophet, , commanded them all to break their fast in consideration of those who would be weakened by fasting.
- Tenth: The rulings that include options for those who are capable of fulfilling their religious obligations are broad in scope, and thus any option should not be disapproved of. Also, the controversial issues where there is no clear evidence should be treated with tolerance.
- Eleventh: The Muslims’ differences in adopting the Sharee‘ah-approved concessions or in understanding texts should not be a cause of disunity or mutual enmity.
- Twelfth: These Hadeeths indicate the brotherhood and love that existed between the Companions and how they understood religion. Those who adopted the concession and broke their fast did not denounce the attitude of those who fasted and vice versa.
- Thirteenth: It is permissible to travel in Ramadan because the Prophet, , traveled in Ramadan in the year of the Conquest of Makkah.
- Fourteenth: It is impermissible for anyone who wants to travel the next day to intend to break the fast on that day. This is because he cannot be considered to be traveling merely by having the intention for traveling, but by actually starting the journey.
- Fifteenth: Anyone who expects to travel is not permitted to break the fast until he sets out on the journey or boards any means of transport.