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IslamQA: Making up fasts after repentance, missed due to lack of knowledge

AO, what is the verdict for covering missed fasts? I grew up a Muslim but was never taught to pray & when I was young my parents discouraged me to fast bc they thought I couldn't handle it. Also they use to think swallowing saliva broke the fast so it felt impossible for me. For these reasons I missed a few years of fasting. Do I have to count and make them all up. Also I fasted before I started praying regularly. Idk if those technically counted. I feel it may be hundreds at this point. JZK

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

If your missed years of fasting happened after reaching puberty, then those fasts have to be made up according to the majority view. But if they happened before puberty, they do not need to be made up.

As for whether the fast is accepted of a person who does not pray, the general view is that it is not accepted. But I cannot find opinions on how this applies to someone who did not pray due to a lack of knowledge.

However, Ibn Taymiyya’s view is that a person who abandons the prayer or fasting and then makes repentance and starts doing them again, such a person does not need to make up any missed prayers or fasts. His view is that since becoming Muslim causes a non-Muslim to have all their sins erased and does not require them to make up any missed duties before Islam, a Muslim should also enjoy the same privilege when they repent, otherwise repenting becomes torture for them. I believe that Ibn Taymiyya’s view is at least as valid as the other views, and since it makes life easier, it may be the best one to follow. So if you follow Ibn Taymiyyah’s view, you do not need to make up any fasts or prayers that you missed before you started practicing Islam correctly.

I am not a mufti so I cannot tell you which view to follow. Just to be extra safe you could start fasting Mondays and Thursdays until you make up all the fasts you may have missed after puberty, but my own view would be that those fasts do not need to be made up (following Ibn Taymiyya’s view).

References

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