Ruling on providing money instead of food to expiate for the delay of making up missed fasts
Fatwa No: 93960

Question

I have come across a Fatwa on your website concerning delaying making up for the days of fasting that one misses in Ramadan. I have read that delaying this requires one to feed a poor person for each day of fasting that he missed. The amount of food is estimated at a certain amount of grams of foodstuff. I have also read that it is not permissible to provide money instead of food. Now, my question is: I have already provided money instead of food for a long time to expiate for the delay of missed fasts. The money that I paid exceeds the specified amount of food that should be given for a poor person per day in value. I did not know that providing money instead of food is not acceptable. What is the ruling in this case? Does the money that I paid count as a valid expiation or should I provide food to the poor as well? I would appreciate it if you could answer my question and not refer me to another Fatwa.

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allaah, the Lord of the worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah and that Muhammad, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, is His Slave and Messenger.

According to the view of the majority of Muslim scholars, offering anything other than food is not sufficient to fulfill the respective expiation. According to Hanafi scholars and those who agree with them in this regard, it is permissible to provide money instead of food. They reason is that what is meant is to satisfy the needs of the poor and this could be equally fulfilled through food and its monetary value. Shaykh Al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah discussed this issue in detail and maintained the permissibility of providing the value of the food if this is needed and achieves the interest of the poor; otherwise, doing this is not permissible.    

He said:

Concerning providing the monetary value of zakah, expiations, and the like, the known view of Malik and Ash-Shaafi‘i is that it is not permissible. This is unlike Abu Haneefah, who maintains its permissibility. Ahmad  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him disapproves of the monetary value at some conditions and approves it at others. Some of his disciples stick to the meaning of the Prophetic text, while others assumed that there are two views concerning this issue. The apparently sound opinion, however, is that providing the monetary value is prohibited unless there is a need or an outweighing interest for the poor. This is why the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, estimated the replacement value of a zakah duty at two goats or 20 dirhams. Also, the absolute permissibility of providing the monetary value may cause the owner to choose cheap goods. ... However, providing the monetary value is permissible if it achieves justice, a specific need, or a significant interest.    

This is the overall discussion of Muslim jurists about this issue. We advise the questioner to assess the condition at which she paid the monetary value of the expiation. If the money that she paid back in those days was more beneficial for the poor and more helpful in satisfying their needs, then, according to Shaykh Al-Islam, this clears her of her liability from the obligation. If the opposite was the case, then it is safer to repeat the expiation by providing food. This ensures definitive clearance of one's liability from the expiation. In this case, you could ask Allaah to reward you for the money that you paid earlier.  

Allaah Knows best.

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