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FAQ

ramadhan edition 134

Question:

Assalamualaikum SS Dato’ Seri, I am a businessman who often travels in and out of the country. I choose to fast even while I’m travelling in this month of Ramadhan. My question is, when should I break my fast; am I supposed to follow Kuala Lumpur time zone, or the time zone of the place I am heading to, or the country in which the airplane is currently passing?

 

Answer:

Alhamdulillah, praise and thanks to Allah for the countless blessings He has blessed us all with. Blessings and salutations to the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his wives, his family, companions and all those that follow his teachings to the day of judgement.

In answering the question, we stated here a verse from the Quran that comes after the verse of the commandment of fasting.

أَيَّامًا مَّعْدُودَاتٍ ۚ فَمَن كَانَ مِنكُم مَّرِيضًا أَوْ عَلَىٰ سَفَرٍ فَعِدَّةٌ مِّنْ أَيَّامٍ أُخَرَ ۚ وَعَلَى الَّذِينَ يُطِيقُونَهُ فِدْيَةٌ طَعَامُ مِسْكِينٍ ۖ فَمَن تَطَوَّعَ خَيْرًا فَهُوَ خَيْرٌ لَّهُ ۚ وَأَن تَصُومُوا خَيْرٌ لَّكُمْ ۖ إِن كُنتُمْ تَعْلَمُونَ

“[Fasting for] a limited number of days. So whoever among you is ill or on a journey [during them] - then an equal number of days [are to be made up]. And upon those who are able [to fast, but with hardship] - a ransom [as substitute] of feeding a poor person [each day]. And whoever volunteers excess - it is better for him. But to fast is best for you, if you only knew.”

Surah al-Baqarah (184)

Imam al-Tabari upon commenting on this verse stated that whoever is included in the term ‘mukallaf’, but is sick or travelling, then it is permissible for him to break his fast and replace it on the other days after the passing of Ramadhan. Refer Jami’ al-Bayan fi Takwil al-Quran (2/138).

Hence, as stated above, the Shari’a gives freedom for those who are travelling to choose either to break their fast or continue fasting.

The next question is related to the time of breaking fast for those who choose to continue fasting; either it is according to a country they are coming from, or the headed country, or the one which the airplane is currently passing. In this issue, it is important for us to understand Allah’s saying in the Quran:

ثُمَّ أَتِمُّوا الصِّيَامَ إِلَى اللَّيْلِ

“Then complete the fast until the sunset”

Surah al-Baqarah (187)

According to this verse, it can be understood that the time for breaking fast is when the sun sets. This matter is made clear by the hadeeth narrated by Saidina ‘Umar bin al-Khattab RA, in which the Prophet PBUH said:

إِذَا أَقْبَلَ اللَّيْلُ مِنْ هَا هُنَا، وَأَدْبَرَ النَّهَارُ مِنْ هَا هُنَا، وَغَرَبَتِ الشَّمْسُ، فَقَدْ أَفْطَرَ الصَّائِمُ

"When night falls from this side and the day vanishes from this side and the sun sets, then the fasting person should break his fast."

Sahih al-Bukhari (1954)

Imam al-Nawawi then stated:

يَنْقَضِي الصَّوْمُ وَيَتِمُّ بِغُرُوبِ الشَّمْسِ بِإِجْمَاعِ الْمُسْلِمِينَ

“The completion of fasting is by the setting of the sun as being agreed upon all Muslims”. Refer al-Majmu’ (6/304)

This matter was also mentioned by Egypt’s Dar al-Ifta’ in answering the question of people breaking fast in the air, stating that:

الصائم المسافر جوًّا يفطر عندما تغيب الشمس عنده وفي النقطة التي هو فيها، ولا يفطر بتوقيت بلده أو البلد التي يمر عليها، بل عند غروب الشمس بكامل قرصها في عينه هو

“One who is fasting while travelling by air (airplane) may break his fast when the sun sets according to his own vision, at the place he is at, neither according to the place he was coming from, nor a place he is heading to, but when the sun fully disappears from its horizon based on his own vision.” [1]

Hence, it is clear that the time of breaking fast is in accordance with the current location of the one who fasts. Neither according to the place he was coming from nor a place he is heading to even if the time is displayed accurately in the airplane.

As for that, the one who fasts should observe the time and make sure that the sun clearly sets. The jurists even explained the methods of determining the night time on certain situations especially when the airplane passes a region in which the sun is unseen. This is explained by Ibn Daqiq al-‘Aidh:

وَالْأَمَاكِنُ تَخْتَلِفُ، فَمَا كَانَ مِنْهَا فِيهِ حَائِلٌ بَيْنَ الرَّائِي وَبَيْنَ قُرْصِ الشَّمْسِ: لَمْ يَكْتَفِ بِغَيْبُوبَةِ الْقُرْصِ عَنْ الْأَعْيُنِ ، وَيُسْتَدَلُّ عَلَى غُرُوبِهَا بِطُلُوعِ اللَّيْلِ مِنْ الْمَشْرِقِ

“And the location (of the one who observes the sun sets) is different. If there is a hindrance between the person and the sun rays, then it is not enough to only observe the disappearance of the sun from its horizon, (the person hindered should) take into account the signs (of reaching Maghrib prayer time) by observing the coming of the night time from the east.” Refer Ihkam al-Ahkam (1/166)

Conclusion

Referring to the above evidences and judgements, we would like to state that the time of breaking fast for those in airplanes is referred to the night time seen by their own eyes or what is announced by the flight attendants according to the current time. It is important to be assured by our own eyes that the sun has set and the day has turned into night.

May we always be in His guidance in practicing this religion. Amen.

 

End Notes:

[1] http://www.dar-alifta.org/ar/ViewFatwa.aspx?ID=12934&LangID=1&MuftiType=0