All Muslims must observe a month-long fast during Ramadan, pay fitrah, and keep their promises. Violating any of these rules or guidelines or deviating from the right path is considered a sin. To make up for sinning, Muslims are required to pay kaffara as a compulsory donation. It is the only way of sincere repentance and seeking forgiveness from Allah. There are set rules on who all can pay kaffara and how much needs to be paid by an individual.
Kaffara is derived from the Arabic root word kafar, which means to cover. In Islamic law, it is a term that means expiation of sin or compensation for an offense. Those who violate an Islamic rule or guideline must make up for their sin through Kaffara. It serves as a means of worship to pray to Allah for forgiveness.
Who has to pay Kaffara
The holy Quran and Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) specify five violations for who all are required to pay kaffara. These five violations include:
- Breaking fast during one or more days of Ramadan
- Breaking an oath
- Violating the sacred ihram restrictions during the holy Hajj pilgrimage
- Committing either involuntary or voluntary manslaughter
- Zihar, which refers to the practice of unlawfully falsified estrangement of a wife
Kaffara for breaking fast
Ramadan fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam and holds immense importance amongst Muslims worldwide. Kaffara must be paid by all adult Muslims who either miss or invalidate their fast during Ramadan without a valid reason. The holy Quran establishes that any adult Muslim who is mentally sound and still knowingly breaks a Ramadan fast without a justifiable cause will be committing a grave sin. It also says that this sin will expose the Muslim to divine torment and displeasure in this life as well as in the Hereafter.
As per a renowned Islamic scholar, intentionally violating a Ramadan fast ranks on the sixth position in the list of the top 70 gravest sins in Islam. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) described hell as:
“People hung [upside down] by their Achilles tendons, the corners of their mouths rent and dripping blood”.
When asked about who these people were, he replied:
“Such are the ones who used to break the fast before its permissible time”.
Following is a list of violations that can make a fast invalid:
- Intending or planning to miss one or more fasts intentionally
- Intentionally drinking or eating anything during the fasting hours
- Engaging in activities like masturbation and sexual intercourse during fasting
- Intentionally hurting themselves, someone else, or an animal
- Deliberately making themselves throw up
Suggested Read: Ramadan 2022: Dates, Traditions, Significance And Guidelines
How to pay Kaffara for breaking fast
The prescribed kaffara for breaking fast on one or more days during the month of Ramadan comes in three different forms. One cannot choose between the three penalties of kaffara. It is obligatory to perform the first form of expiation unless it is impossible to do so due to either unavailability or lack of means. In case performing kaffara’s first prescribed act isn’t possible, one can switch to the second prescribed form. Similarly, only if complying with the second form is impossible can one move to the third form of kaffara. Muslims must perform one of the three prescribed forms of expiation to fulfill their kaffara for breaking fast.
1. The first form
The first form is freeing an enslaved Mulsim. Those who cannot find an enslaved Muslim or don’t have the means to free one can perform the second form of kaffara.
2. The second form
The second prescribed act is fasting for two consecutive lunar months. For Ramadan’s each fasting day deliberately violated, one must fast for two months without taking a break. Moreover, while performing the second form of kaffara, if one deliberately breaks the fast at any time, they must start the expiating fast of two months all over again.
3. The third form
Those who cannot fast for two consecutive months due to a justifiable reason can perform the third form, which is feeding 60 people in need. A Muslim must feed 60 poor individuals for each fasting day of Ramadan deliberately violated. One can do this by feeding 60 meals to one needy person or providing 10 poor people with six meals each or any other combination as long as a total of 60 meals for each day of fasting are given to the poor. Also, a Muslim can choose to pay their kaffara to a charitable organization that will provide 60 people with meals on their behalf.
How is Kaffara for breaking fast measured
Muslims often pay kaffara in terms of money. They can choose to make a payment to the needy, which is equivalent to the value of 60 sa’a of food. Sa’a is a measurement unit used during the time of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and is equal to 4 double handfuls of grain. At that time, the people of Madinah had a volume measurement unit for 60 sa’a known as a wasq, which weighed 130.56 kg in modern measurement units. The food to give as kaffara should include something that the people consider a staple that can be easily stored without a refrigerator, such as wheat, rice, and dried fruits.
Difference between Kaffara and Fidya
kaffara and fidya are two very different kinds of repentance in Islam. While their purpose is to compensate for missed or broken fasts, there is a crucial difference between them.
Fidya is for fasts broken or missed out of necessity, and the individual is unable to make up for it afterward due to a justifiable cause. For example, fidya is applicable for those who could not fast due to pregnancy, ill health, or old age. Kaffara, on the other hand, is for fasts violated or skipped unnecessarily without a valid reason.
Kaffara for breaking promise to Allah
Apart from Kaffara for Roza, there are several other situations where one must pay Kaffara to repent for their sins. One needs to be responsible while making promises or swearing in the name of Allah. If the promise made is for a noble cause, the individual should perform it regardless of their challenges. However, if one swears on Allah to commit a sin or harm others, they should not commit that sin. In case one does sin, the individual must offer sincere repentance. Whichever is the case, the individual is bound to pay kaffara, including kaffara for breaking oath with Allah for noble deeds or finding the audacity to commit the crime in the name of Allah.
All Muslims should practice their religion wholeheartedly and always keep Allah in mind. They should strive to walk on the right path as commanded by Allah and not be swayed by the temptation of violating any rules or guidelines of Islam. Those who violate these laws must pay kaffara for not fasting or making up for their sin and beg for Allah’s forgiveness. This is the only way they may ever find redemption.
Does one have to fast on Eid to make up for kaffara?
Fasting is strictly prohibited on the days of Eid. If a Muslim kaffara falls on the day of Eid, they can skip fasting on Eid and resume the fast on the next day.
What is the kaffara for breaking an oath?
One can pay kaffara for breaking an oath by feeding 10 poor people, clothing 10 poor people, freeing an enslaved Muslim, or fasting three days (not necessarily on three consecutive days)
When should one pay Kaffara?
There is no fixed date for kaffara. However, it is advisable to pay it as soon as possible as it is a means of repenting for sins.
Does one have to pay kaffara for breaking fast due to illness?
No, in such cases, one needs to pay fidya.
Is there any Kaffara for missed prayers?
Yes, in case of missed prayers, one must donate a certain amount of wheat or similar grain for each prayer missed.