Is this a major sin, a minor sin, or does it even make you a disbeliever when you fail to make up the missed days of fasting until the next Ramadan starts?

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allah, The Lord of the worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah and that Muhammad SALLA Allah alaih wasallam is His slave and Messenger.

If a person delays making up for the days of fasting that he had missed in the previous Ramadhaan until the next Ramadhaan came, then there are two cases for this:

1- The first case is that the delay is due to an excuse, such as sickness; then such a person is not sinful, but he must make up for the days in which he broke his fast.

2- The second case is when the delay was without a valid excuse. Such a person is sinful according to most scholars, but we are not aware of any scholar who considered this as a major sin, let alone making one a disbeliever. The Hanafi School are even of the view that he is not sinful at all.

The Kuwaiti Fiqh Encyclopedia reads:

“In principle, one should hasten to make up for the missed days of fasting in Ramadhaan, and it is permissible to delay the making up as long as the time is not tight such that only the number of days that he must make up remain until the next Ramadhaan; in which case it is obligatory to make up for it in that time according to the majority of the scholars. If he does not make up for it in that time, then the Shaafi’i and the Hanbali Schools stated that he is sinful for the delay if the time of making up has passed without a valid excuse, as ‘Aa’ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, said, “I had to make up for days of fasting which I had missed in Ramadhaan, and I could not make up for it except in Sha‘baan due to the status of the Prophet salla Allah alaih wasallam (his rights upon her as her husband).”

The scholars said:“Had it been permissible for her to delay it [the days which she had missed until after the second Ramadhaan], then she would have done so, but fasting is a recurrent act of worship, so it is not permissible to delay the first one until after the second one, just like the obligatory prayers.

The Hanafi School are of the view that it is absolutely permissible to delay the making up [without any restrictions], even if the next Ramadhaan has arrived. But they are of the view that it is desirable to make up as soon as possible in order to fulfil the obligation.”

Delaying the fast of Ramadhaan until the next Ramadhaan (without a valid excuse) will result in the obligation to pay an expiation (Fidyah) for every day if the delay was not due to forgetfulness or ignorance of the ruling.

Ibn Hajar Al-Haytami said in Tuhfat-ul-Muhtaaj, “Al-Athra’i said, ‘If he delays it due to forgetfulness or ignorance, then he does not have to pay an expiation, as understood from the statements of the scholars. What is meant is ignorance of the prohibition of delaying it, even if he mixes with scholars, because this is something that is not readily known.’”

There is another saying of some scholars that if someone breaks the fast in Ramadhaan without a valid excuse, then delaying the making up is considered a major sin.

Az-Zawaajir ‘an Iqtiraaf Al-Kabaa’ir, authored by Ibn Hajar Al-Haytami, reads:

“The one hundred and forty-second grave, major sin: delaying the making up of the missed days of Ramadhaan in which one deliberately broke the fast without having a sound excuse. He considered this as a major sin, and though I do not consider it so, it is a considerable view, because it is established that if he broke the fast without a sound reason, then he is a dissolute person, and he must repent immediately in order to come out of dissoluteness. Repentance is not valid unless he makes up for the missed days, so if he delays it without a sound excuse, then he is persisting in dissoluteness. Persisting in dissoluteness is another kind of dissoluteness; so it is obvious that the delay in this case is dissoluteness, so one must be heedful of this.”