(iiii) other occurrences of "wa
3ala allatheena (and upon those who...)" suggest this
phrasing is used to refer to a separate situation/group from
those mentioned previously, e.g. see 6:146, 16:118. Further
suggesting (2) is less likely.
already mentioned situations where one may find sawm difficult
(i.e. ill/traveling) thus it could be deemed superfluous to
who can sawm but
with difficulty' later, if it meant that. However, it
could be argued it is simply covering all scenarios, so
I do not consider this a significant point.
The verse states "whoever volunteers good/better"
and the logic implies it is "whoever volunteers better"
i.e. better than feeding the needy (e.g. in addition to that
act doing something additional, e.g. feed more, or feed and
clothe etc). The simple reason being "volunteering good" i.e.
feeding the needy is not a voluntary act but rather what is
imposed as a 'fidya'.
Also, the end of the verse states "and to abstain/fast is
better for you" clearly implying there is an option but to
fast/abstain is better, indicating the correct
rendering is indeed "those who are able to do it (but choose
not to)" rather than "those who are able to do it but with
in 2:196 we
find abstinence/fast as an exchange/ransom for being
unable to provide a hady/
offering (i.e. feeding):
2:184 no sawm --->
ransom/fidya ---> feed the
2:196 no hady/offering/animal
(i.e. no feeding) ---> ransom/fidya --->
Whilst (1) "capable of it (sawm) but
with difficulty" is a theoretically possible meaning of
"yutiqu" according to Classical Arabic dictionaries it
does seem to conflict with the following verse 2:185 which
states "God intends ease and not hardship" with regards to
fasting. Of course, it should be noted that what is deemed
difficult is subjective and varies from one person to the
next. Even if translation (1) is chosen the person undertaking
sawm/abstinence will determine if it is too difficult
or not. For example there is no need to look at Traditional
Hadith for criteria etc. There are many examples of this
self-determining, e.g. Quran 2:219 says spend the excess (in
charity), i.e. it will be the one spending who will determine
what is the excess. Or in 5:89 when it says "...expiation
shall be the feeding of ten poor from the average/equitable of
what you feed your family...", i.e. the one expiating will
determine what is the average/equitable of what one feeds
We have the following scenarios from verse 2:184:
If you do not fast due to illness –> make up from other
If you do not fast due to travel –> make up from other
If you do not fast (for whatever reason) –> exchange by
feeding a poor person (can volunteer more) however it is
better if one abstains/fasts
To end it should be noted that the primary reason for sawm/abstinence
is to help develop taqwa/conscientiousness
[see 2:183]. It is a means to an end. One of many ways to
develop taqwa, NOT the only way. The
Quran is replete with examples of taqwa
(e.g. speak truthfully/justly [33:70], seeking God's
forgiveness [3:133], keep promises [8:56], patience [3:200],
promote reconciliation [49:10] etc).
One should always remember we are only to
do what we are able as best/sincerely as we can [64:16]
and we are encouraged to listen to what is being said
(e.g. differing views) then follow the best of it [39:18].
Peace be upon you.
Traditional understandings of 2:184 openly admit that it was
common for followers to choose not to fast and fidya instead
by feeding a poor person. However many exegetes claim 2:185
abrogated 2:184 because 2:185 does not mention this exemption
thus they take this to mean it is not longer allowed and sawm is
obligatory upon all except those ill/traveling. This view was
not covered in this article as I consider the theory of
abrogation to have no validity.
This work would not have been possible
without the many people who have contributed to this
topic, and without the resources now available to anyone
wishing to study The Quran in
detail. For these stepping stones I am indebted and
work reflects my personal understanding, as of May 10th
2019. Seeking knowledge is a continual process and I will
try to improve my understanding of the signs within 'the
reading' (al quran)
and out with it, unless The God wills otherwise. All information is correct
to the best of my knowledge only and thus should not be
taken as a fact. One should always seek knowledge and
verify for themselves when possible: 17:36, 20:114, 35:28, 49:6, 58:11.
And do not follow what you have
no knowledge of; surely the hearing, the sight and the
heart, all of these, shall be questioned about that. [17:36]