During the month of Ramadan, we sometimes have to break our continual 30-day fast for reasons like illness, travel or even forgetfulness.
Kaffara, along with fidya, is a measure prescribed for Muslims to address these breaks in fasting and help our Ramadan worship stay pure.
The meaning of the Arabic word kaffara (also spelled kaffarah) is usually translated to mean “atonement” or “expiation.”
Specifically, kaffara is a type of expiation for breaking one’s continual 30-day fast in Ramadan (via eating, drinking or sexual intercourse), with the other being fidya.
Kaffara and fidya differ in that while fidya is the expiation for breaking the Ramadan fast with a valid reason, kaffara is the expiation for breaking the Ramadan fast without a valid reason.
Valid reasons for breaking the Ramadan fast are:
Breaking the Ramadan fast for any reason other than the above would be considered “invalid” and would require a kaffara payment. It is important to note that each individual fasting day violated requires its own payment in full.
Kaffara’s meaning to us as Muslims relates to our personal accountability.
As Muslims, we strive to set the best of intentions for our acts of worship, and with this comes the responsibility to perform these acts properly. The 30-day fast of Ramadan is one of the most major acts of worship a Muslim will make in his or her year, making it crucial to perform correctly.
Through paying kaffara (as well as fidya) for our missed fasts, we work to ensure that our Ramadan worship stays sound and that we maximize the blessings we receive from it.
As mentioned previously, each day of fasting missed without valid reason requires its own kaffara payment, and the three common forms of kaffara are:
Freeing a Muslim from slavery
Fasting for a specified number of days (typically 2 consecutive Islamic lunar months)
Feeding a specified number of the poor (typically 60 people)
For those who wish to feed the poor for their kaffara, feeding 60 people for one day would be done at a rate of around $10 USD per person.
In this case, the calculation for one’s kaffara would look like this:
$600 x Days Missed = Total Kaffarah Payment
Kaffara is an important way for us to ensure our Ramadan fasting is sound as we strive to become better Muslims.
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