What do I do if I intentionally skip a fast? Do I have to pay a penalty?
Fasting in the month of Ramaḍān is an obligation upon every sane adult Muslim, unless they have a valid excuse such as travelling or an illness. To intentionally skip a fast without a valid excuse would be considered sinful and a person should seek forgiveness from Allah ﷻ and repent. Remember, Allah ﷻ is the Most Forgiving the Most Merciful. The Prophet ﷺ told us, “One who repents from a sin is like one who has no sin at all.” There is no monetary penalty for skipping a fast. The skipped day of fasting still remains an obligation and will have to be made up after the month of Ramaḍān.
What does a person do if they are unable to fast because of a chronic illness or old age?
If a person has a chronic illness that prevents them from fasting or if they are extremely old and unable to fast, then they are excused from fasting. Instead of fasting they will give fidya (expiatory payment) for each missed day. The fidya is 2.2kg of wheat or its equivalent monetary value, which should be given to someone needy. As of today (6/11/2017) the approximate price of 2.2kg of wheat is $12.70.
Ṣadaqah al-Fiṭr (Zakāh al-Fiṭr)
Ṣadaqah al-Fiṭr literally translates as the charity of breaking the fast. This is a type of charity that is given at the end of the blessed month of Ramaḍān to mark the celebration of ʿId al-Fiṭr. This type of charity is also referred to as zakāh al-fiṭr in many aḥādīth.
There are two main objectives behind this special type of charity; one spiritual and one economic. The spiritual purpose is for a person to spend some of their wealth for the sake of Allah ﷻ as an expiation for one’s mistakes and deficiencies in the month of fasting. The economic purpose is to allow those who are less fortunate to enjoy the celebration of ʿId al-Fiṭr.,
Paying ṣadaqah al-fiṭr is mandatory (wājib) upon every sane adult Muslim who possesses the niṣāb (minimum amount of wealth that makes ṣadaqah al-fiṭr mandatory) in excess of their basic personal needs. Within a household the husband should pay on behalf of himself and his minor children. He does not have to pay on behalf of his wife or adult children, as they are obligated to do so themselves. However, if he pays it on their behalf it is still valid.
The amount due is 2.2kg of wheat or flour or 4.4kg of dates, raisins or barely or their equivalent monetary value. As of today (6/11/2017) the approximate value of 2.2kg of wheat is $12.70.
Paying ṣadaqah al-fiṭr becomes mandatory at the time of fajr on the day of ʿId al-Fiṭr and should be paid before ʿId prayer. It is recommended to pay ṣadaqah al-fiṭr as soon as possible so that the funds can be properly distributed to those in need.