In Islam, fasting in the month of Ramadan is compulsory on any sane Muslim who has attained puberty. Parents should encourage children to practice fasting before they attain puberty so they are prepared for their religious obligations. Although fasting is compulsory, there are people who are excused from fasting during Ramadan. Islam is a perfect religion that does not burden its people beyond their capabilities.
The month of Ramadhan [is that] in which was revealed the Qur’an, a guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and criterion. So whoever sights [the new moon of] the month, let him fast it; and whoever is ill or on a journey – then an equal number of other days. Allah (swt) intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship and [wants] for you to complete the period and to glorify Allah (swt) for that [to] which He has guided you; and perhaps you will be grateful. [2:185]
The first and most common one is women in menstruation or post natal bleeding are exempted from fasting but has to pay it later. Dear sisters, be reminded not to play with the shariah of Allah (swt). When your menstruation ends, you may feel lazy and think that you can delay the fast by not performing the ghusl. Allah (swt) knows when your menstruation finish so it is already obligatory for you to fast the next day. Even if your menstruation finishes 5 minutes before Fajr, you should already fast that day. So always monitor your menstrual cycle.
The Prophet (saw) said about menstruation, “Verily this is a matter Allah (swt) has written upon the girls of Prophet Adam (as)…” [Bukhari]
Those who think that menstruation is a punishment or a burden because one cannot perform acts of worship are severely mistaken. Allah (swt) has commanded menstruating women and women in a state of post-natal bleeding to refrain from praying (salah) and fasting (sawm). If a menstruating woman fulfills the command with the intention to submit to Allah’s order, then it is already a form of worship (ibaadah.) There are many forms of worship that a woman can do while menstruating.
Ill person (not terminally ill)
Allah (swt) has reduced the burden for the one who is sick and has allowed him not to fast in Ramadan, so long as he makes up the days when he did not fast after the sickness is over. The kind of sickness which makes it permissible not to fast is that in which a person will be harmed by fasting, or fasting will delay his recovery.
This does not refer to merely being sick, for the sick person who will not be harmed by fasting is not allowed to break the fast; here sickness is mentioned as a metaphor for any situation where fasting when sick may cause harm. This is what is meant by sickness here.
Permanently ill or old age
If the sickness is permanent, chronic and there is no hope of recovery, and that you cannot make up the fasts then you have to feed one poor person for each day that you did not fast in this Ramadan and in the previous one, because Allah (swt) says (interpretation of the meaning):
“And as for those who can fast with difficulty, (e.g. an old man), they have (a choice either to fast or) to feed a Miskeen (poor person) (for every day)” [2:184]
Ibn ‘Abbaas said: This refers to the old man or old woman who cannot fast, so for each day they should feed one poor person. This was narrated by al-Bukhaari, 4505.
Person who takes medication
Taking medicine is not an excuse unless it is not possible to take it at any time other than the day of the fast. If the sick person can take the medicine at the time of sahoor and after Maghrib, and fasting does not harm him, then it is not permissible for him not to fast. If he needs to take the medicine during the day, then there is no sin on him if he breaks the fast and makes up the days that he missed.
In order for traveling to result in a concession excusing one from fasting, the following conditions must be met:
a- The journey must be long enough that prayers may be shortened.
b- The traveler must not intend to settle in the place to which he travels.
c- His journey must not be for any sinful purpose, rather it should be for a sound purpose, according to the majority of scholars. (Source: IslamQA)
Pregnant and breast-feeding women
The fuqaha’ agreed that pregnant and breastfeeding women may break their fast in Ramadan, on the condition that they think there is a risk that they or their children may become ill or more ill, or be harmed or may die.