It is agreed upon that pregnant women and nursing mothers (in fact, other categories of people like the ill, the old and the traveller) could skip fasting in Ramadan, if they find it difficult, but to make it up or not, that’s where the dilemma comes in for mothers.
There are 3 major opinions about pregnant and nursing mothers fasting Ramadan and making up missed fasts.
1. To feed the poor for each fast missed.
This is the opinion of Ibn Abbas (may Allaah be pleased with him).
2. To pay back the fasts only.
Ali bn Abi Taalib (may Allaah be pleased with him) and Abu Hanifah held this view. Ibn Uthaymeen and Ibn Baaz (may Allaah have mercy on them) subscribed to the opinion of Ali being the strongest when the evidences of each opinion is considered.
3. To pay back the fasts if they fear for themselves and feed the poor for each day missed, if they fear for their child/foetus.
This is the opinion of Ibn Umar (may Allaah be pleased with him), Imam Shaafi’i and Imam Ahmad (may Allaah have mercy on them).
⚫The school of thought supporting making up fasts only;
1. Quoted this hadith: “Allaah has waived half of the prayer for the traveler, and fasting, and for those who are pregnant and breastfeeding.” Classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Nasaa’i.
2. And likened pregnant/nursing mothers to the sick who only had to pay back fasts when his health gets better.
But if any of you is ill or on a journey, the same number (should be made up) from other days” [al-Baqarah 2:184]
⚫Those who hold the view that they only have to feed the poor likened them to old people.
Those who can fast with difficulty” [al-Baqarah 2:184] refers to old men and women
If women choose to feed the poor only, they wouldn’t be wrong. And if they choose to make up fasts, they wouldn’t be wrong too. But I’ve always hold the strongest view of making up fasts. And I’ve always feared that the other opinions could be wrong. So I followed the hadith: Leave that which is doubtful for that which is not.
And when I remember the hadith that if a woman prays her five, fasts her Ramadan and obeys her husband, she could enter Jannah from whichever gates she chooses, I hold on to the ‘making it up view’ more. I do not want to find out what the correct opinion actually is on the Day we meet Allaah, so I make them up. And I fear for my sisters as well.
I even heard the mothers of the believers used to make up their fasts in Sha’ban. To add more to my reasons, Allaah said conclusively: But to fast is best for you, only if you knew [al-Baqarah: 184].
So, if you can fast or make up missed fasts, please go ahead. But to fast is best for you, if you only knew. [al-Baqarah: 184]. The strong believer is better than the weak believer [Hadith].
But what of those whom fasting has been a big weakness of theirs even before motherhood?
So maybe this checklist would be useful for you when making a decision.
Ask yourself, why do you choose that view. Is it because it’s the easiest thing to do; to ‘hide’ under a scholars view as shield or an escape route? Or because you truly do think that opinion is the strongest? Or you really find it too difficult to make it up and Allaah does not burden a soul more than it can bear? Then, marhaban! Actions shall only be judged according to intentions. Check your intentions well, sister.
But remember, shaytan may make it seem so difficult until you’ve tried making it up. I’ve seen a first-time mum of a month old baby paying up more than 20 fasts before Dhul-Qa’dah— the second month after Ramadan.
But then, not everyone can do that. But have you even tried to? Maybe you can, maybe not. Allaah burdens not a soul more than it can bear, and all actions shall be judged according to intentions. Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship [al-Baqarah: 185].
Do you make up your fasts or feed the poor? How did you choose one and why? As always, we love to hear your thoughts.
DISCLAIMER: This post us not a fatwa and I am not a religious scholar nor anywhere near being one. The post is only to review why women choose either of the available options and to help purify our intention and make an appropriate choice.
References: 1. https://islamqa.info/en/49794- For pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers who do not fast
2. Translation of the Glorious Qur’an- Sahih International.