Can you pay charity instead of fasting sixty days for Kafarah?

ⓘ Supported by Al Medina 313.



Islamic Text

You cannot pay charity instead of fasting sixty days for Kafarah unless you are incapable of fasting.

عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُ، قَالَ: أَتَى النَّبِيَّ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ رَجُلٌ، فَقَالَ: هَلَكْتُ، قَالَ: «وَلِمَ؟» قَالَ: وَقَعْتُ عَلَى أَهْلِي فِي رَمَضَانَ، قَالَ: «فَأَعْتِقْ رَقَبَةً» قَالَ: لَيْسَ عِنْدِي، قَالَ: «فَصُمْ شَهْرَيْنِ مُتَتَابِعَيْنِ» قَالَ: لاَ أَسْتَطِيعُ، قَالَ: «فَأَطْعِمْ سِتِّينَ مِسْكِينًا» قَالَ: لاَ أَجِدُ، فَأُتِيَ النَّبِيُّ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ بِعَرَقٍ فِيهِ تَمْرٌ، فَقَالَ: «أَيْنَ السَّائِلُ؟» قَالَ: هَا أَنَا ذَا، قَالَ: «تَصَدَّقْ بِهَذَا» قَالَ: عَلَى أَحْوَجَ مِنَّا يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ، فَوَالَّذِي بَعَثَكَ بِالحَقِّ، مَا بَيْنَ لاَبَتَيْهَا أَهْلُ بَيْتٍ أَحْوَجُ مِنَّا، فَضَحِكَ النَّبِيُّ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ حَتَّى بَدَتْ أَنْيَابُهُ، قَالَ: فَأَنْتُمْ إِذًا

(Sayidina) Abu Hurairah (May Allah Most High be pleased with him) narrated that a man came to the Prophet ﷺ and said, l am destroyed. He ﷺ asked, ‘Why?’ He replied, ‘I had relations with my wife (whilst fasting) in Ramadan. He ﷺ said, ‘Free a slave.’ The man said, I do not have one. He ﷺ said, ‘Fast for two consecutive months.’ He said, I am incapable. He ﷺ said, ‘Feed sixty poor people?’ He said, I do not have (anything to feed them with). A large quantity of dates was brought to the Prophet ﷺ and he said, ‘Where is the questioner?’ He said, here I am. He ﷺ said, ‘Give this as Sadaqah (charity).’ The man said, ‘To someone who is poorer than us? I swear by the one who sent you with the truth, there is no family between its volcanic rocks (al-Madinah) who is poorer than us. The Prophet ﷺ laughed until his cuspid teeth could be seen and said, ‘In that case, you.’ (Sahih al-Bukhari, 5368).

If a person starts a fast in Ramadan, and then nullifies it, with something desirable, without any valid reason, then Kafarah is required. Kafarah is often translated as penance or expiation. It refers to the fact that a person must go beyond simply making Towbah. Rather one must engage in further acts of worship. When it comes to the Kafarah for fasting then one must fast sixty days, and if that is not possible then one feeds sixty poor Muslims.
Some people misunderstand the Hadith above and think that one can choose between fasting sixty days or feeding sixty poor people. However, this understanding is incorrect. Rather one must fast sixty days and if that is not possible then one feeds sixty poor people.

لَعَلَّهُ لِكِبَرِ سَنٍّ أَوْ ضَعْفِ بَدَنٍ. (مرقاة المفاتيح)

It may be that he was old or weak. (Imam Ali al-Qari, Mirqaat al-Mafateeh).

Imam Ali al-Qari addressed this concern in the Nass above and clarified the Hadith was mentioned in the context of a person who was unable to fast. Thus, one cannot pay charity instead of fasting sixty days for Kafarah, unless one is incapable of fasting.

And Allah Most High Knows Best.

-Answered by Shaykh Noorud-deen Rashid (18.04.2022)

See also:
Is it true that Ramadan is a name of Allah (Most High)?

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