Essentially, Fidya is the compensation for fasts missed during Ramadan, But who is eligible for Fidya, and how is it calculated? This article explains everything you need to know!
Fasting during the blessed month of Ramadan is fardh on every Muslim. Soum (Fast) during Ramadan is the fourth pillar of Islam. It is a tough act of worship, one that teaches us patience and tolerance and allows us to submit ourselves to Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى) fully.
It is stated in the Holy Quran:
“Believers! Fasting is enjoined upon you, as it was enjoined upon those before you, that you become God-fearing”. (2:183)
However, some Muslims cannot fast due to circumstances beyond their control, such as long-term health conditions or old age, and may be unable to make up for these fasts later. In these cases, Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى) has allowed Muslims to compensate for their missed fast. This act of mandatory compensation for missed fasts is called ‘Fidya.’
The concept of paying Fidya is that you relieve the hunger of someone fasting by providing them with funds or eatables for Suhoor and Iftar. However, many people need to become more familiar with calculating Fidya and confuse it with Kaffara, another type of compensation for Fasting.
So, read on to find out what Fidya is, its importance in Islam, and how it is calculated.
What is Fidya in Islam?
The proper definition of Fidya in Islam is the compensation (monetary or meal) a Muslim offers in Ramadan to the needy for every fast that they miss due to:
- Hazardous thirst or hunger
Who Can Pay Fidya?
Fidya must provide sufficient food for a single person for one day. Moreover, Fidya can be paid by someone who:
- Cannot fast throughout Ramadan
- Cannot make up for the missed fasts
- Is unlikely ever to regain the strength to make up for these fasts
Implying that if someone misses their fasts during Ramadan but will be able to make up for them later, they should preferably fast rather than give Fidya.
In Surah Baqarah, Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى) Says:
“[Fasting for] a limited number of days. So, whoever among you is ill or on a journey [during them] – then an equal number of other 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 good [i.e., excess] – it is better for him. But, to fast is best for you, if you only knew”. (2:184)
NOTE: Fidya is only acceptable for genuinely missed fasts during Ramadan and is not applicable for deliberately skipping fasting days.
Who is Eligible for Fidya, and How Does it Help?
Fidya fundamentally involves feeding one impoverished individual to compensate for one day’s missed fast. Muslim scholars consider Fidya to be similar to Zakat. Therefore, those eligible to receive Zakat are also entitled to Fidya.
Giving Fidya helps because it provides needy people funds to fulfill their basic needs or food to satisfy their hunger and thirst. This means that a single person’s Fidya will significantly help someone who cannot afford a proper, nutritional meal during Ramadan.
Although it is debatable, certain Muslim scholars state that Fidya can also be given to religious organizations such as a Madrisa or Islamic learning institution where underprivileged students are provided Suhoor and Iftar.
How is the Type and Amount of Fidya Determined?
If Fidya is given as food items or a meal, it must include commonly consumed items instead of novel and unique eatables that people in need might need to be more familiar with or find hard to adjust to.
Fidya Calculation in Islamic History
In Islamic tradition, the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) established the amount of Fidya as a provision of wheat or grains. The latter were weighed using two measuring instruments: a Sa’ (a small container that could hold four double-handfuls of grains) and a Mudd (a container that could hold one double-handful of grains).
The Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) fixed the rate of Fidya as a Mudd, half a Sa‘, or a Sa’ of foodstuff for every missed fast per day.
Since these instruments are not used today, the measurement of Fidya is an estimated translation of the amount of grain contribution from these scales to grams/kilograms. Even though there are varying opinions among Muslim scholars about the exact equivalent weight, these are the three most commonly suggested measurements:
- Mudd (One Double-Handful) = 0.650 kg and 0.675 kg
- Half a Sa’ (Two Double-Handfuls) = 1.3 kg and 1.35 kg
- Sa’ (Four Double-Handfuls) = 2.6 kg and 2.7 kg
Fidya, according to Local Currency
Most Muslims prefer to pay the amount of Fidya according to their local currency. However, the amount calculated must be equal to or sufficient for the required food measurement, and the funds must be distributed among the underprivileged.
This means that the sum of Fidya will vary in every country, according to the currency and the market price of staple food. Hence, to simplify this calculation, the amount of Fidya can be calculated using this mathematical formula:
Number of Missed Fasts x Price of Food (Kilograms) = Amount of Fidya
According to today’s currency, Fidya for each missed fast amounts to $5. This will be sufficient to provide a single person with two meals a day or two person’s a single meal a day.
Similarly, if someone is paying Fidya for the entire month of Ramadan, they would pay $150.
Note: $5 is not a fixed amount; in some countries where foodstuff is cheaper or more expensive, the amount could b less or more. Calculate according to your country’s rate. May Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى) accept our Ibadah.
When Should Fidya be Paid?
Most Muslims wait until the middle or end of Ramadan before paying Fidya. In addition, some people wait to pay Fidya in the last ten days of Ramadan or, more specifically, until the Laylatul-Qadr with the idea of receiving greater rewards. However, this is different from the prescribed way according to Islamic tradition.
It is ideal to pay Fidya as early as possible in the month of Ramadan rather than delaying the contribution till later. This ensures that it will help someone with their Suhoor and Iftar during the blessed month. Alternatively, it can be paid as soon as it becomes due. i.e., when you skip a fast due to a valid reason, pay the Fidya immediately.
Fidya vs. Kaffarah: What is the Difference?
As we’ve explained, Fidya is paid by an individual who misses some fasts or the entire 30-day Fasting of Ramadan and cannot make up for these fasts afterward for the above reasons. So the purpose of Fidya is to help someone in need have a reasonable Suhoor and Iftar.
On the other hand, Kaffarah is the compensation required for intentionally breaking a fast during Ramadan without a valid reason, i.e., by drinking, eating, or engaging in sexual intercourse. Similar to Fidya, every intentionally broken fast requires separate Kaffarah.
The three common types of Kaffarah are:
- Freeing a Muslim from slavery (not applicable nowadays)
- Giving (typically 60 people) food for a day
- Fasting for a fixed number of days
Most Muslims opt for feeding the poor as Kaffarah. According to today’s currency, feeding 60 people for a day (2 meals) amounts to approximately $10 per person. Hence, the calculation for an individual’s Kaffarah would be:
$10 x 60 x Days of Fasting Compensated = Total Kaffarah Payment
Conclusion for What is Fidya?
Proper knowledge of Islam’s basic rules and regulations plays a significant role in how we practice our faith as Muslims. For example, Fasting is an important pillar of Islam that teaches us patience and self-righteousness.
However, many people might not be able to fast for various reasons during the blessed month of Ramadan. So, understanding why and how to compensate for missed fasts is very important.
After reading this article, we hope you understand the importance of paying Fidya and how it helps the underprivileged fulfill their monetary and nutritional needs during Ramadan. Furthermore, it is extremely important to understand that Fidya is applicable to those who have missed fasts and cannot make up for them later due to valid reasons. If this is not the case, it is ideal that one makes up for the fasts later.
If Fidya is given as currency, it must be sufficient to feed a single person twice a day or feed two people one meal a day. If Fidya is given as food, it must include nutritious and commonly eaten items.
May Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى) give us the strength to practice Islam righteously and fast with patience and conscientiousness during this month of Ramadan, Ameen!