Q&A: Types of fasting & rules according to Ayatollah Khamenei

 There are four types of fasting:
– Obligatory fast, like during the month of Ramadan;
– Mustaḥabb fast, like during the months of Rajab and Sha’bān;
– Makrūh fast, like on the day of ‘Āshūrā;
– Ḥarām fast, like on Eid ul-Fir (the first of Shawwāl) and Eid ul-Adha (the tenth of Dhi al-Hajjah).

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Obligatory fast
Obligatory fasts are as follows:
– Fast during the month of Ramadan;
–  Qaḍā’ fast;
– Kaffārah fast;
– Parents’ qaḍā’ fast;
– Mustaḥabb fast which became obligatory due to nadhr, ‘promise’, or ‘swear’;
– Fast on the third day of i’tikāf
– Fast instead of slaughtering in tamattu’ haj * .
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* If a pilgrim is not able to slaughter and cannot borrow money, he should, instead, fast for ten days, of which three days is kept during haj and seven days in his waṭan.

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  • Is it permissible to fast on the day of ‘Āshūrā?
    A: It is makrūh.

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  • I heard that silence fast is ḥarām while some say it is ḥalāl in case of nadhr, is it true?
    A: It is ḥarām.

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Conditions of Obligatory Fast

Fast is obligatory provided that:
– They are mature;
– They are wise;
– They are able;
– They are not inconscient;
– They are not travelers;
– She is not experiencing menstruation/nifās;
– It is not harmful/unbearably hard to fast.

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  • A young girl has reached the age of shar‘ī puberty. However; she cannot fast in the month of Ramadan due to her weak constitution. She is also unable to perform the qaḍā’ of the missed days of fasting until the next Ramadan. What is the ruling in this situation?
A: Not being able to fast nor to observe its qaḍā’ does not remove its obligation of performing the qaḍā’ for the missed fasts just because of weakness and inability. Rather, the qaḍā’ of the missed days of fasting in Ramadan will remain obligatory for her.
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  • What is the ruling for those girls who have recently reached maturity and find it somewhat difficult to fast? Is nine years the age when girls become mature?

A: As famous, the legal age of maturity for girls starts at the completion of nine lunar years, hence it is obligatory for them to fast. It is not permissible to forsake fasting due to some excuse. However, if fasting becomes harmful for them or involves unbearable hardship, it is permissible for them to break the fast.

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  •  A nine-year old girl, upon whom it is obligatory to fast, breaks her fast because fasting is too hard for her. Does she have to perform the qaḍā’ of the fast?

A: Yes, she has to perform the qaḍā’ of the Ramadan fast that she broke.

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  • I did not fast after reaching the age of maturity until I was twelve years old, because I was physically too weak to do so. What should I do now in this regard?
A: You should perform the qaḍā’ for the days of fasting that you did not perform after becoming ritually mature. And if you deliberately — voluntarily and without a shar‘ī excuse — did not fast, then you have to pay the kaffārah as well.
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  • A person, at the outset of the age of shar‘ī puberty, is not able to fast due to physical weakness and inability. Is it enough for him to perform the qaḍā’ of the fast, or he is required to offer the kaffārah as well? 
A: If fasting does not cause unbearable hardship for him yet he breaks the fast intentionally, then he has to perform qaḍā’ and pay kaffārah as well. If he fears he may fall ill due to fasting, he is only obligated to perform the qaḍā’ fasts.
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  • Due to one’s profession, he cannot fast because of hunger/thirst nor able to leave his job, can he break his fast at the beginning of the day or he has another duty? What about the juvenile who face unbearable hardship if they fast?
A: In the given cases, they can break their fast when they face unbearable hardship. In case of thirst, it goes with obligatory caution to suffice with necessary quantity of water and observe fast the rest of the day. However, They should perform qaḍā’ for the missed fast.