Q: When expatriates travel home at the end of Ramadan and rejoin their families, they are at great stress to keep up the fasting. Is there any exemption for them that allows them not to fast on arrival and to compensate for that later?
A: Fasting is meant to be hard. It is certainly not an easy thing. It involves abstention from the most desirable things in life, food, drink and sex. Yet it earns great reward from God, who says in a Qudsi, or sacred, Hadith: “All actions done by a human beings belong to him, except for fasting which is done purely for My sake, and I reward it accordingly.” This is a great promise by the One who is the Most Generous and Most Compassionate. When we consider that a proper fasting month ensures the forgiveness of all past sins, the reward is great indeed. Hence, we put up with any hardship or inconvenience which fasting involves, because we covet that great prize, forgiveness.
It is obviously harder to maintain fasting for a young man who meets his wife after an absence of several months or a year. But then, Islamic fasting is not meant as a torture. Hence, God has allowed us to have normal family relations at night, in the same way as he has allowed us to eat and drink between sunset and dawn. So, a young man who finds himself in such a situation should take precautions, so that he may be able to maintain his fasting. He can absent himself from home during the day, until the end of the fasting day is near. He will be able then to be with his family. Moreover, it is only a couple of days before the month is over. Seeking an exemption in such circumstances betrays a weakness which fasting is meant to overcome. No exemption may be given in such a situation. The onus is on the individual to seek the arrangements that could enable him to fast and be with his family in the way allowed in the fasting month.