Answered by Shaykh Faraz A. Khan
Question: If a woman has to make up many days of fasting due to illness or due to the known natural physical circumstances of a woman, and if a great number of days to make up have accumulated in the course of various years because making up was hard in her demanding job situation, is it allowed to feed the poor instead?
Answer: Assalamu alaikum warahmatullah,
I pray this finds you in the best of health and states. May Allah reward you for your concern for your religious practice and for your desire to please Him Most High.
The ruling for feeding the poor as a substitute for makeup fasts applies only to someone with a chronic illness that prevents one from fasting and that is not expected to improve for the rest of one’s life. This is to the extent that, were one in such a state to donate to the poor for missed fasts and then later improve in health (such that able to fast), one would have to make up those missed fasts. [Ibn Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar]
From your question, it would seem that, by Allah’s infinite grace, you do not have such an illness. Hence you would actually have to make up your missed fasts. This may seem daunting, as fasting is by no means an easy act of worship, but do not feel overwhelmed. These do not have to be made up before the coming Ramadan. Take your time and space out the makeups such that you perform them in a slow yet consistent manner. This could be once a week, or even once every two weeks — whatever you are able to do consistently, however little.
Ask Allah to make it easy for you, and try your best for His sake. This is true spiritual struggle (mujahada) for the sake of Allah, and the fruits of such struggle are innumerable. There is nothing more beloved to Allah than our obligatory duties, and performing these duties is the very foundation of drawing near to the Divine.
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said that Allah says, “When My servant draws near to Me by a handspan, I draw near to him by an arm’s length, and when My servant draws near to Me by an arm’s length, I draw near to him by two arms’ length, and when he comes to Me walking, I rush towards him.” [Bukhari]
If you take on this struggle for Allah, Allah Most High will rush to you — with His concern, with His favor, with His acceptance, with His good pleasure, and with His love. You will find unforeseen and unexpected provision and gifts in your life, not to mention what will await you in the afterlife.
He (peace and blessings be upon him) also said, “Do what is correct, try your best, and rejoice!” [Bukhari]
Notice how the Prophet ended with the command to rejoice, yet didn’t mention what to rejoice over, as an indication of the immense vastness and greatness of the blessings of doing what is correct and trying one’s best. [Ibn Hajar, Fath al-Bari]
Finally, specifically bear in mind Allah’s love for fasting itself, as He Most High states, “Fasting is Mine, and I shall grant reward for it. The fasting person has two delights: a delight when breaking the fast, and a delight when meeting his Lord.” [Muslim]
May Allah make this easy for you and grant you its fruits in both abodes, amin.
And Allah knows best.
Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani