“If Allah were to punish men for their wrong-doing, He would not leave, on the earth, a single living creature” (16:61). Mistakes, failures, not reaching our best; it happens to everyone. But as he is just, he is also merciful. He puts in place systems for how to deal with our moments of weakness, even in the holiest of times.
There are certain forms of compensation that Muslims are liable to pay for not fasting - due to various reasons - during the month of Ramadan. However, these penalties fall into two very different categories called Fidya and Kaffarah.
As both Fidya and Kaffarah donations are all in response to specific situations, rather than general obligation, these do not count towards your overall annual Zakat payment. Instead, let us see these donations for what they are: generous provision based on the recognition of our own weaknesses offered in mercy and with grace.
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Intentionally missing a fast carries a higher penalty than an unintentional breaking of the fast. Where Fidya is enough to feed one person, Kaffara is enough to feed ten people; this comes from the notion that the promise to fast in Ramadan is an oath made to Allah (SWT).
“God does not hold you accountable for your casual oaths, but He holds you accountable for the oaths which you make binding. The atonement for violating an oath is by feeding ten needy people”
The daily rate for Kaffara is $480 for each fast missed during Ramadan. This payment is enough to cover the cost of feeding 60 people in need or repaying 60 fasts as a forfeit for each fast missed.
Fidya is owed when a Muslim cannot keep a fast due to various unavoidable factors. Fidya donations comprise of a donation to feed someone in need for each day of fasting missed. Should a fast be missed due to illness or travel, where you are able to make up for it after the month of Ramadan, then this should be repaid.
A Muslim would be justified in donating Fidya if they can’t fast because of: