FRIDAY FOCUS|Ramadan: rationale for fasting

... Specially circumstanced are exempted
FRIDAY FOCUS|Ramadan: rationale for fasting
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Fasting in Ramadan is based on a rationale. One, it isprescribed for a fixed number of days. Two, specially circumstanced areexempted. Specially circumstanced could be the persons suffering illness, orthe ones on a journey. It may also include persons bound to face hardship, werethey to fast, such as the ones in advanced age. The exemption granted in suchinstances is nevertheless conditional, as enshrined:

 ''(Fasting) is for afixed number of days; but anyone of you is ill or on a journey, the prescribednumber of days (should be made up) from days later. For those who can do it(with hardship), is a ransom, feeding of one that is indigent. But he that willgive more, of his own free will—it is better for him. And it is better for youthat ye fast, if ye only know.'' (2:184)

The person suffering an illness during the period of Ramadanmay make up the number of days; he did not fast, later. Same holds true for theones on journey. The exemption granted for journey is commented upon in avaried manner by different commentators. While some say three marches, othersmake it more precise by making it a journey of 16 farsakhs (48 miles). Howeverthis is again open to varied interpretations, subjected to whether a journey isundertaken on foot, on an animal ride, such a camel, or on modern means oftransportation, such as an automobile or aircraft. Hence it is related to, whatthe case might be, and how could it be determined. In such circumstances, aperson has to be their own judge.

Persons with advanced age, for whom it is hard to undertakea fast, may feed one indigent person instead. But as the Holy Verse lies down,he may do more, of his free will. Exemption is granted also for a lady, who iscarrying or lactating a baby, however some schools of thought suggest that itmay be made up later.

Having made a provision for persons with advanced age andspecially circumstanced, the principle holds, as noted in the conclusion—''Andit is better for you that ye fast, if ye only know.'' 

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