Ramadan has come to you. (It is) a month of blessing, in which Allah (swt) covers you with blessing, for He sends down mercy, decreases sins and answers prayers … In it, Allah looks at your competition (in good deeds), and boasts about you to His angels. So show Allah goodness from yourselves.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)
Ramadan is a month of reflection, prayer and fasting.
During the month, observers gain a better understanding of and appreciation for the suffering of impoverished and hungry people around the world. Ramadan also serves to remind Muslims of the importance of charity, and their obligation to be charitable during the month and all throughout the year.
What if I am/was unable to fast in Ramadan?
In some circumstances, a Muslim is not able to fulfill his or her religious obligation to fast during the month of Ramadan, or may want to recompense for a broken oath. Fidya and kaffara are two solutions offered that can help a Muslim compensate for not fasting or breaking other obligations – the paying of fidya or kaffara also benefits members of the community who live in impoverished conditions.
“Fidya” is a donation type within the Islamic tradition paid by individuals who cannot fulfill the obligation of fasting due to illness or old age.
Fidya payments are meant to feed a person in need for each of the fasting days missed, and are equivalent to the price of one meal each for two people or two meals for one person. The estimated cost is $10 for each day missed or $300 for all of Ramadan. That price is based on the average cost of a basic meal throughout the country. Of course, if, on average, you spend more per meal, it is permissible to adjust the price accordingly. In addition, if the donor is from a low-income family, he or she should then care for the family’s needs first before considering giving a separate fidya donation.
“Kaffara” is also a donation type within the Islamic tradition that provides individuals who deliberately miss or break a day of fast during the month of Ramadan without a valid reason.
Beyond Ramadan, kaffara may also be given to recompense for broken oaths or promises. In these cases, 10 underprivileged people should be fed for each occurrence. The amount paid should be about the average you would pay for a meal. The estimated cost is $10 per person for 10 people, which equals $100 per broken promise. If the donor is from a low-income family, and cannot afford the payment, it is recommended that he or she should fast for three days, and make sure to “protect your oath,” meaning he or she should stay true to his or her word going forward.
Please remember, the prices noted are listed on guidance from the Fiqh Council of North America, and are calculated based on an average. If you typically spend more on a meal, you can adjust the price accordingly.