Answered by Ustadh Salman Younas
Question: I am a little bit confused due to this part of response to a former question:
“As a final note, please be aware that if one begins the day (when Fajr enters) as a resident (i.e. non-traveler) then they must fast, and complete the fast of the day, even if they travel later in the day. In order to be exempt from fasting, the traveler must be in the state of travel when Fajr enters. [Ibn Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar]”
Our flight is at midday and takes more than 20 hours. Do we have to fast now because Fajr has already entered? And if yes, when and where do we have to break our fast??
Answer: assalamu `alaykum
I pray you are well.
According to the Hanafi school, in order for an individual to be excused from the fast, he would have to be deemed a traveler before the time of Fajr enters. There is no difference when it comes to this in the Hanafi school based on my knowledge. [Mawsili, Ikhtiyar; Ibn `Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar]
This is also the position of the Shafi`i and Maliki schools. [Nawawi, Majmu`; Dasuqi, Hashiya `ala Sharh al-Kabir]
The Position of the Hanbali School
The only school to make an exception to this rule is the Hanbali school. According to them, so long as a person is resident when the time for fasting begins, he must initiate the fast. However, they clearly stipulate that if a person is fasting a specific day and then initiates a journey, he may break the fast as soon as he leaves his city limits – regardless of whether this is before or after Fajr. [Hijawi, Zad al-Mustaqni`; Ibn Qudama, al-Mughni]
The Issue of Dispensations & Planning Ahead
My advice to you would be to try your best to fast the day you are traveling. You will have to initiate the fast as you will be leaving after Fajr. Despite having a twenty hour journey, it is highly unlikely that you will be fasting for twenty hours straight. You are bound to enter a time zone before the completion of your journey where the time of Maghrib would enter, thus ending your fast.
Try to have a nourishing and ample breakfast (suhur) with a lot of water. When you are in the plane and see that it is clearly getting dark outside, you may break your fast (iftar). Maghrib is perhaps the easier of the prayer times to judge while on a plane.
If you feel you are unable to fast during the journey, you may take the Hanbali position mentioned above.
Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani