I am 24 years old, and I owe many days when I broke the fast in Ramadan and I have not fasted them. What I mean is: I did not fast due to circumstances for 8 days each year from the age of 12 to the age of 24. And I swore many vows to Allah, saying that I would never do that again, but I did not fast. I am in poor health and fasting exhausts me. I am able to fast Ramadan but I do not know what I should do with regard to the days I owe, and I do not have any income with which to feed the poor; my family are the ones who spend on me. I hope you can help me. I worked it out and found that I have to offer more than 100 fasts other than in Ramadan, and this is very difficult for me because of my health.
You should realize that Allah, may He be glorified and exalted, has enjoined fasting Ramadan upon His slaves, as He says (interpretation of the meaning):
“O you who believe! Observing As-Saum (the fasting) is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become Al-Muttaqoon (the pious)”
And He has forbidden not fasting, except for those who have legitimate shar‘i excuses, such as those who are sick, travellers and menstruating women. Allah, may He be exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning):
“and whoever is ill or on a journey, the same number (of days which one did not observe Sawm (fasts) must be made up) from other days”
It is not clear from your question what the excuse is for which you have stopped fasting in Ramadan, but one of two scenarios must apply:
1. That it is because of a legitimate shar‘i excuse such as menses, sickness, travel and the like, for which Allah has permitted breaking the fast. In that case there is no sin on you for not fasting, because it is breaking the fast for a legitimate reason according to sharee‘ah. But you should have made up those days and not delayed it until the next Ramadan came without you having made up what you owed from the previous Ramadan.
Based on that, you have to repent from what you have done and make up those days that are required from you. They do not have to be done consecutively; you can divide them however you want so that it will not be too difficult for you. You also have to feed one poor person for each day, because you delayed making up the days you owed until the next Ramadan came. If you do not have anything with which to feed poor persons or to offer as expiation, then you do not have to do anything.
2. That there was no legitimate shar‘i excuse for it, and it was carelessness or negligence on your part. If a person breaks the fast in Ramadan deliberately, with no shar‘i excuse, then it must be one of two things:
(i) He did not fast at all on one or more days during Ramadan, so he did not start to fast in the first place. In this case he is sinning by not fasting, and he has to repent but he does not have to make it up according to some of the scholars, because if a person deliberately delays acts of worship that are connected to a particular time until that time is over, Allah will never accept them, and there is no benefit in making them up. What he has to do is repent from what he did of transgressing the limits set by Allah, may He be glorified and exalted. All he has to do is repent sincerely and do a lot of good and righteous deeds.
(ii) He started to fast one day in Ramadan, then broke the fast during the day, deliberately and with no excuse. In this case, he has to repent to Allah and make up that day.
Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allah have mercy on him) was asked about the ruling on breaking the fast during the day in Ramadan with no excuse.
Breaking the fast during the day in Ramadan with no excuse is a major sin and the one who does that is regarded as a faasiq (rebellious evildoer). He has to repent to Allah and make up that day. That is, if he starts to fast and during the day he breaks the fast with no excuse, then he has incurred sin, and he has to make up that day when he broke the fast, because when he started it, it became binding upon him to complete it, and he started it on the basis that it was obligatory. Therefore he has to make it up, like a vow.
But if he deliberately did not fast at all with no excuse, then the more correct view is that he does not have to make it up, because it will not benefit him at all, as it will never be accepted from him. The basic principle with regard to the act of worship that is connected to a specific time is that if it is delayed until that specific time has ended with no excuse, it will not be accepted, because the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: “Whoever does an action that is not part of this matter of ours will have it rejected.” And because he has transgressed the limits set by Allah, and transgressing the limits set by Allah is wrongdoing, and good deeds are not accepted from the wrongdoer. Allah, may He be exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning):
“And whoever transgresses the limits ordained by Allah, then such are the Zalimoon (wrong-doers, etc.)”
And just as if he did this act of worship before the time for it began, it would not be accepted from him, by the same token if he does it after the time for it has ended it will not be accepted from him unless he had an excuse.
End quote from Majmoo‘ Fataawa ash-Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen, 19/89
If a person is not able to make up what he owes of Ramadan, because his excuse is ongoing, such as sickness for which there is no hope of a cure, then he has to feed one poor person for each day.
Shaykh Muhammad ibn Saalih al-‘Uthaymeen (may Allah have mercy on him) was asked:
There is a woman who did not fast during Ramadan because of giving birth, and she did not make up that month. That was a long time ago, and she cannot fast. What is the ruling?
What is this woman has to do is repent to Allah from what she has done, because it is not permissible for a person to delay making up Ramadan fasts until the next Ramadan except with a legitimate shar‘i excuse. So she has to repent, then if she is able to fast, even if it is on separate days, then she should fast. If she is not able to fast, then it depends. If it is for an ongoing reason, she should feed one poor person for each day; if it is for a temporary reason which it is hoped will come to an end, she should wait until that reason no longer applies, then make up the days she owes. End quote
19/answer to question no. 361
What the Muslim should do is guard his oaths and not make too many vows. Allah, may He be exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning):
“And protect your oaths (i.e. do not swear much)”
If he breaks his oath, then he must offer expiation. Allah, may He be exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning):
“Allah will not punish you for what is unintentional in your oaths, but He will punish you for your deliberate oaths; for its expiation (a deliberate oath) feed ten Masakin (poor persons), on a scale of the average of that with which you feed your own families; or clothe them; or manumit a slave. But whosoever cannot afford (that), then he should fast for three days…”
It is not valid to offer expiation by fasting, except for one who cannot afford to feed or clothe ten poor persons, or to free a slave.
See the answer to question no. 45676 for detailed information on expiation for breaking an oath (kafaarat yameen).
If a person is unable to offer expiation, in that he cannot make up the days when he did not fast in Ramadan, or feed the poor for that, or he is unable to offer expiation for breaking an oath altogether, then the obligation to feed the poor and offer expiation is waived in his case, because of the shar‘i principle that obligations are waived when one is unable to fulfil them.
Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allah have mercy on him) said: If a person is required to offer expiation for breaking an oath, but he cannot afford to feed poor persons and he is not able to fast, then it is waived in his case, because Allah, may He be exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning):
“So keep your duty to Allaah and fear Him as much as you can”
“Allaah burdens not a person beyond his scope”
And the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: “If I command you do a thing, then do as much of it as you can.”
And he does not have to do anything, because one of the established principles (in Islam) is that obligations are waived if one is unable to do them, and one should then move to the alternative, if there is an alternative, or to something else if there is no alternative. If the alternative is not possible either, then it is waived altogether.
End quote from Fataawa Noor ‘ala’d-Darb
We should point out here that there is a difference between real inability to fast and simply fearing hardship. Whatever a person decides, he will be questioned about that, so he should fear Allah regarding that and realise that Allah, may He be glorified and exalted, can see into his heart and knows how he really is; He knows whether he is really incapable or is using that as an excuse not to do what Allah has enjoined upon him of offering expiation. Allah, may He be exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning):
“Say (O Muhammad SAW): Whether you hide what is in your hearts or reveal it, Allah knows it, and He knows what is in the heavens and what is in the earth. And Allah is Able to do all things.”
[Aal ‘Imraan 3:29]
And Allah knows best.