(16) for a traveller to be allowed to break his fast, certain conditions must be met. his journey should be lengthy, or else be known as travelling (although there is a well-known difference of opinion among the scholars on this matter), and should go beyond the city and its suburbs. (the majority of scholars say that he should not break his fast before he passes the city limits. they say that a journey has not really begun until a person passes the city limits, and a person who is still in the city is “settled” and “present”. allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): “… so whoever of you sights (the crescent on the first night of) the month (of ramadaan, i.e., is present at his home), he must observes sawm (fasts) that month…” [al-baqarah 2:185].

he is not counted as a traveller until he has left the city; if he is still within the city, he is regarded as one who is settled, so he is not permitted to shorten his prayers). his journey should also not be a journey for sinful purposes (according to the majority of scholars), or for the purpose of trying to get out of having to fast.

(17) the traveller is allowed to break his fast, according to the consensus of the ummah, whether he is able to continue fasting or not, and whether is it difficult for him to fast or not. even if his journey is easy and he has someone to serve him, he is still permitted to break his fast and shorten his prayers. (majmoo’ al-fataawaa, 25/210).

(18) whoever is determined to travel in ramadaan should not have the intention of breaking his fast until he is actually travelling, because something may happen to prevent him from setting out on his journey. (tafseer al-qurtubi, 2/278).

the traveller should not break his fast until he has passed beyond the inhabited houses of his town; once he has passed the city limits, he may break his fast. similarly, if he is flying, once the plane has taken off and has gone beyond the city limits, he may break his fast. if the airport is outside his city, he can break his fast there, but if the airport is within his city or attached to it, he should not break his fast in the airport because he is still inside his own city.

(19) if the sun sets and he breaks his fast on the ground, then the plane takes off and he sees the sun, he does not have to stop eating, because he has already completed his day’s fasting, and there is no way to repeat an act of worship that is finished. if the plane takes off before sunset and he wants to complete that day’s fasting during the journey, he should not break his fast until the sun has set from wherever he is in the air. the pilot is not permitted to bring the plane down to an altitude from which the sun cannot be seen just for the purposes of breaking the fast, because this would just be a kind of trickery, but if he brings the plane down lower for a genuine reason, and the disk of the sun disappears as a result, then he may break his fast. (from the fataawa of shaykh ibn baaz, issued verbally).

(20) whoever travels to a place and intends to stay there for more than four days must fast, according to the majority of scholars. so if a person travels to study abroad for a period of months or years, then according to the majority of scholars – including the four imaams – he is regarded as one who is “settled” there and so he has to fast and pray his prayers in full.
if a traveller passes through a city other than his own, he does not have to fast, unless his stay there is longer than four days, in which case he must fast, because the rulings that apply to those who are settled apply also to him. (see fataawa al-da’wah by ibn baaz, 977).

(21) whoever begins fasting while he is “settled” then embarks on a journey during the day is allowed to break his fast, because allaah has made setting out in general a legitimate excuse not to fast. allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): “… and whoever is ill or on a journey, the same number [of days on which one did not observe sawm must be made up] from other days…” [al-baqarah 2:185]

(22) a person who habitually travels is permitted not to fast if he has a home to which he returns, such as a courier who travels to serve the interests of the muslims (and also taxi drivers, pilots and airline employees, even if their travel is daily – but they have to make up the fasts later). the same applies to sailors who have a home on land; but if a sailor has his wife and all he needs with him on the ship, and is constantly travelling, then he is not allowed to break his fast or shorten his prayers. if nomadic bedouins are travelling from their winter home to their summer home, or vice versa, they are allowed to break their fast and shorten their prayers, but once they have settled in either their summer home or their winter home, they should not break their fast or shorten their prayers, even if they are following their flocks.(see majmoo’ fataawa ibn taymiyah, 25/213).

(23) if a traveller arrives during the day, there is a well-known dispute among the scholars as to whether he should stop eating and drinking. (majmoo’ al-fataawa, 25/212).

but to be on the safe side, he should stop eating and drinking, out of respect for the month, but he has to make the day up later, whether or not he stops eating and drinking after his arrival.

(24) if he starts ramadaan in one city, then travels to another city where the people started fasting before him or after him, then he should follow the ruling governing the people to whom he has travelled, so he should only end ramadaan when they end ramadaan, even if it means that he is fasting for more than thirty days, because the prophet (peace and blessings of allaah be upon him) said: “fast when everyone is fasting, and break your fast when everyone is breaking their fast.” if it means that his fast is less than twenty-nine days, he must make it up after eid, because the hijri month cannot be less than twenty-nine days. (from fataawa al-shaykh ‘abd al-‘azeez ibn baaz: fataawa al-siyaam, daar al-watan, pp. 15-16)

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