When literally translated from Arabic, Kaffarah is a general term which means “what is paid to redress an imbalance or to compensate for commissioning a sinful act, i.e. a kind of punishment or penalty”.
Kaffarah can be paid for many different sins, yet during Ramadan, it is a payment made when there has been a deliberate and completely avoidable failure to partake in a Muslim’s religious obligations.
In the Holy month of Ramadan, it is the obligation of every able Muslim to abstain from food and drink between the hours of sunrise and sunset. This comes to an end with the celebration of Eid ul-Fitr.
If a fast is missed or broken because it was unavoidable, Fidya must be paid. Acceptable reasons to break a fast include:
Deliberately breaking a fast for any other reason means that a Muslim must pay Kaffarah to stay holy and righteous in the eyes of Allah (SWT).
In cases of breaking the fast deliberately, there are three possible things a Muslim can do to pay Kaffarah. These are:
This comes from the Hadith-I Sharif narrated by Abu Huraira:
‘A person came to our master the Prophet and said, “O the Messenger of Allah, I am ruined.” Our master the Prophet asked what happened. He said that he had broken the Ramadan fast intentionally. Our master the Prophet told him to free a slave. When he said that he had no slave, he ordered him to fast for two months incessantly. When he said that he was unable to do so, he told him to feed poor people.’
By donating your Kaffarah with Muslim Aid, you can be absolutely sure that every last penny of your donation goes to feeding the people who need it most.
One is required to feed 60 poor people per fast missed or broken deliberately. Based on the calculation that it costs £5 to provide one meal for one person, a Kaffarah payment costs £300. This is the cost paid for breaking a single fast.
There is no specific time by which Kaffarah must be paid, however, the expectation is that it should be paid as soon as possible. Failing to fast during Ramadan without good reason is a serious dereliction of a divinely directed duty and should not be treated lightly or without reverence. Ideally, you should pay Kaffarah before the end of Ramadan.
There is no way to eliminate Kaffarah except by paying it. It will persist until it is paid, and it cannot be dealt with by any means other than the three mentioned above.
No. A single payment of Kaffarah is enough to cover several missed fasts. However, it is not in the spirit of Ramadan or Islam to take advantage of this.
A simple enough reason for the payment of Kaffarah is that it is commanded by Allah (SWT) through the scriptures. Defiance of such is a sin, and it is the duty of every Muslim to attempt to lead a life as free from sin as possible.
Another reason is that Ramadan is a special and righteous dictation in the Islamic calendar. It is the time that reminds us of the importance of charity, generosity, and the spirit of giving. It is the time of the month that reminds us all we have is ultimately a temporary gift from our Creator. Therefore, it is only apt and right that if we fail in our obedience to his commands, our recompense should come in the form of giving.
Kaffarah reminds us that we have duties both to Allah (SWT) in the form of obedience and submission, the literal meaning of the word Islam, and also duties to one another. This allows us to move ourselves to heights of holiness and righteousness, just as we are commanded to.
This year, pay your Kaffarah with Muslim Aid and help thousands of less fortunate people around the world enjoy the Holy month this Ramadan.