Fasting is valid even when coerced into breaking it


From Yasir Qadhi:

Yesterday, a brother from Xinjiang, China, who is working in my city came up to me with a question. He told me that his relatives back home were asking: would their fast count if they were forced to eat and drink by the government during the day?

I asked him how the government does this. He replied that there is a public luncheon (for example, his relative is a schoolteacher) and the Muslims are monitored to see if they eat or drink. So there are people whose job it is to check whether Muslims are eating or not.

I said, “Is there any way for them to pretend to eat but not actually eat?” He replied, “Not really, since the government monitors are checking to see if they are actually eating.”

I asked what were the consequences if they refused. He said that best case scenario is that they would eventually lose their jobs, and worst case scenario, jail and imprisonment and fines. He told me that he had called his mother a few days ago to wish her Ramadan Mubarak, to which his mother, a very elderly lady, became agitated, changed the topic, and hinted at him not to even mention the word ‘Ramadan’ over the phone for fear of repercussion and harassment.

I told him that in such a case, a Muslim who is forced to eat and drink by a tyrant will not have his fast broken, and that he should continue the fast for the rest of the day and break it at its proper time, since Allah forgives that which someone has been forced to do. And losing one’s livelihood, or threat of torture, is a legitimate excuse in the Shariah to make the impermissible (in this case, breaking the fast) permissible.

The brother thanked me profusely and left. But I felt such an intense feeling of emptiness. I just sat there in a whirlwind of emotions. Thankfulness that I am able to fast without such pressure. Anger at such tyrants for forcing people to break their fast. Sympathy with those Muslims that have to live under such harsh conditions. Bewilderment at how any human could be so full of hatred towards another religion that he would want to force others to break their fasts. Anxiety at the state of the Ummah: Gaza, Syria, Myanmar, Xinjiang…and the list goes on.

O Allah! To you we complain of our weakness and inability to protect those in need of protection! Forgive us for our own shortcomings and sins, and accept whatever meager good we have done.

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