The Concern: Today I woke up after the time for suhoor (sehri) and wondering if I still have the obligation to keep my fast for Ramadan?
How does not waking up affect my Niyyah for fasting?
The instruction from the Qur’an is quite clear regarding fasting. In Surah Baqarah it says,
يَٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا۟ كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ ٱلصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى ٱلَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ
“O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous –”
There is no mention in hadith or Qur’an which says, if one does not wake up for sehri they are exempt from fasting that day.
If a Muslim does not eat suhoor, this is not a valid reason for being excused from fasting. There are only certain cases where one does not have to fast and we discuss them here.
Yes I know…
I think we would all agree that missing the window for sehri because your alarm did not go off or that you slept through it will be a more challenging test. But it’s important you keep the fast as it is a commandment from Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala.
Sawm (fasting) is the fourth pillar of Islam and a distinguishing quality of what it really means to be a Muslim. Not keeping the fast deliberately or because of forgetfulness is a sin.
If you are reading this you are likely to be healthy, strong minded, educated and not in a third world developing country. So I feel comfortable telling you going a few more hours because you missed sehri won’t harm you.
If you do worry about your health because of some underlying conditions you may be excused from the fast – I would advise consulting a doctor first.
Fun Facts About The Human Body and Spirit:
At least 60% of the adult body is made of water.
We are able to go without food for around three weeks but would typically only last three to four days without water.
True starvation only occurs after missing several consecutive days without food or water.
What About Niyyah (Intention) To Keep Fast?
In Sunan An-Nasa’i 2331 it says:
It was narrated from Hafsah that the Prophet (ﷺ) said: “Whoever does not have the intention of fasting before dawn, then there is no fast for him.”
It is true that we must have the proper niyyah (intention) before fasting. But the intention does not need to be done verbally, it can be made from the heart.
It can also be done the first night of Ramadan and be valid for the entirety of the month unless it is broken due to sickness or if he travels, or for a women if her menstruation begins. In this case the person must again make niyyah to fast for the remainder of Ramadan.
Again, niyyah comes from the heart, there is no hadith suggesting that the Prophet (ﷺ) or the sahabah used to say “I intend to keep the fast” before actually fasting.
Suhoor is not mandatory part of fasting:
The Suhoor or eating before dawn is the Sunnah of the Prophet (ﷺ). This is not actually a fardh of fasting. We want to perform the fast with excellence and to the best of our abilities. And the best way to do that is to follow the Prophet (ﷺ).
Anas (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, “Eat Suhur (predawn meal). Surely, there is a blessing in Suhur.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]. Riyad As Salihin Book 9, Hadith 1229
And in Sunan Ibn Majah 1692, “It was narrated from Anas bin Malik that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: “Eat Suhur, for in Suhur there is a blessing.”
And Allah knows best.
May Allah accept our fasting, duas, good deeds and forgive us for our sins and short comings.