Was Told Day Was First Day of Ramadan But Did Not Fast Rest of Day
Fatwa No: 122970

Question

Dear Shaykh, I am looking for a comprehensive answer for my question. Years ago, it happened that we were informed the very morning that Ramadan had actually started. We were not fasting that day (we had already eaten our breakfast) since we received the announcement late morning. Having been informed of the start of the month, all people except for me abstained from food and drink for the rest of the day. I did not do so and spent the rest of the day as normal, i.e. I ate and drank normally. Shall I offer an expiation? If yes, what type of expiation: to fast two consecutive months, or to feed sixty poor people? Shall I just make up for the fasting?

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allah, the Lord of the worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah and that Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) is His slave and Messenger.

You first have to turn to Allah in repentance.

If the Muslim comes to know of the start of Ramadan during the daytime, he is required to fast the rest of the day. This is because Allah Almighty says (what means): {…So whoever sights [the new moon of] the month, let him fast it…} [Quran 2: 185] According to the view of the majority of the Muslim scholars, a Muslim has to make up for that day later because he must have missed making the intention of fasting the night before that day.

Shaykh Al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him however, maintains that a Muslim is only required to fast the rest of the day in which he comes to know about the start of the month. This means that a Muslim does not need to make up the day later. If he abstains from whatever breaks one’s fasting at the very moment he learns of the start of the month, then he will have already done what he is commanded to do. It testifies to the authenticity of this view that the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) assigned somebody to go announce on the Day of ‘Ashoora (the 10th day of Muharram), “Whoever has not eaten yet should continue fasting, and whoever has eaten should fast the rest of the day.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim] As implied in the Hadeeth, the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) did not ask those who had already eaten or drunk at the beginning of the day to make up for the day later. However, there is no doubt that the majority's view, which is to make up for the day later in this specific case, is more likely to get the Muslim cleared of the obligation of fasting.

In Ar-Rawd al-Murbi‘ and its commentary, Ibn Qasim says about this case, in which the Muslim comes to know of the start of Ramadan during the daytime:       

If it is proven during the daytime that Ramadan is already here; that is, by the sighting of the new moon on the night before, for example, then the Muslim must abstain right away from whatever breaks fasting; in addition, the Muslim, and whoever is legally eligible to fast in this situation, must make up for that day later on, as agreed upon by the three Imams of jurisprudence. That the Muslim has to make up for the day later is because the day is proven to be Ramadan, and it has not been properly observed (given that the respective Muslim has not started the fasting from the very beginning of the day). Therefore, a Muslim has to make up for the day later; in addition, from the moment he learns of the start of the month, he must abstain from food and drink for the rest of his day since abstention is peculiar of Ramadan. Al-Muwaffaq and others state, “Muslim scholars agree that abstention from whatever breaks one’s fasting is immediately required of whoever is breaking his fast for no excuse, thinking that the dawn has not yet broken while it is already here, or the sun has set off while it has not yet, or forgets making the intention for fasting, and the like.

Shaykh Al-Islam’s (Ibn Taymiyyah’s) view about making up for the day has been mentioned earlier above. He maintains that the Muslim does not have to make up for the day in the case in hand, and so is the case if the Muslim has not learned about the sighting of the moon until after the sun sets. It should be noted that one condition for the validity of fasting is to abstain from food, drink, and sexual intercourse. This is unanimously agreed upon.

It is a great sin that the Muslim deliberately breaks his fast after he is certain that the month has already started. This is a sin that requires immediate repentance.

However, if a person deliberately eats or drinks after he learns of the start of the month, he must make up for the day later and there is no expiation due on him.

With reference to your situation, if you delayed making up for the day in hand for no excuse until the following Ramadan came over and you were aware of the prohibition of such delay, then you would have to feed one poor person in expiation.

Allah knows best.

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