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Laborers may skip fast: Scholar
By Naeem Tameem Al-Hakeem
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 18 - 08 - 2010

Laborers working in the West do not have to fast during Ramadan if the work they do weakens their strength and affects their performance in jobs that are their only sources of income, Dr. Abdullah Bin Bayyah, vice president of the International Union for Muslim Scholars and a member of the Fiqh Academy's Islamic Jurisprudence Academies told Okaz/Saudi Gazette.
“If fasting weakens a worker's physical strength and affects his productivity, he may not fast, but that is on condition that he fasts later on the days he skippped fast,” Dr. Bin Bayyah said.
Asked if workers in the West face pressures to not fast, he said, “I don't believe that there are people in the West that monitor people to see if they are fasting or not. They don't care if they eat or drink or do not do so. This explains why people in the West do not admonish Muslims if they fast.”
The issue of unusual circumstances in some countries was discussed at a recent meeting, Dr. Bin Bayyah said.
“The issue of Muslims fasting in Western countries was discussed before Ramadan at the European Council for Ifta and Research,” he said.
“The discussion addressed the fact that in some northern countries, the sun sets so late that the fast can extend to 20 hours. We have reached a conclusion that there is a need for people in those countries to not fast because it would leave them too weak to carry out their jobs, but Muslims must fast later on the days they do not fast during Ramadan.”
“If the employers force Muslim workers to not fast, they may skip the fast, but they should look for another source of income to earn their living that allows them to perform the fourth pillar of Islam,” he said.
Earlier this month, the General Authority for Islamic Affairs and Endowments in the United Arab Emirates issued a fatwa that said people who work in extreme heat and humidity can break their fasts to prevent health problems.
“It is permissible for workers in certain professions to break the fast because of severe hardship,” said the fatwa, which added that workers must fast when their days begin and only break the fast when they are unable to work.
The fatwa, which was posted on the organization's website, came in response to a worker who was concerned about potential health risks from fasting while working in the summer's heat and humidity.

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