The ruling for professional soccer players who refrain from fasting in Ramadan
What is the ruling for some professional soccer players who refrain from fasting in Ramadan?
A player under a contract with a club is considered a hired worker who is obligated to perform his work. It is permissible for such a person to take the dispensation to refrain from fasting if:
- The work under the terms of the contract is his source of livelihood;
- it is necessary for him to participate in a game during Ramadan;
- and it is most likely that fasting will affect his performance.
Scholars have maintained that it is permissible for a hired worker or one who performs strenuous work to refrain from fasting if the fast will weaken him and adversely affect his work. In the Hanafi school, it is permissible for a person who is hired for a determined period — as in the case of professional soccer players under contract — and whose work is affected by his fast, to refrain from fasting even if he possesses sufficient wealth.
The Hanafi scholar, Ibn Abdin, wrote in his commentary Rad Al-Muhtar 'Ala Ad-Dur Al-Mukhtar (2/420) that:
- It is impermissible for a worker to refrain from fasting if he possesses what suffices him and his dependents in analogy to the impermissibility of begging when a person has sufficient means for a living.
- It is permissible for him to work only to the extent of fulfilling his needs if he does not possess sufficient funds.
- It is permissible for him to refrain from fasting if his work conditions compel him to break his fast and he cannot find another job that enables him to work while fasting. It is also permissible for crop owners to refrain from fasting if they fear damage to or theft of their crops, they cannot find someone to harvest the crops for typical wages and are able to do the job themselves. This is based on the permissibility of interrupting prayers for less significant reasons.
- If a worker is hired for a known period that coincides with the month of Ramadan, the apparent ruling [in the school] is that it is permissible for him to refrain from fasting even if he possesses what suffices him if his employer refuses to revoke the contract. This is based on the analogy to a wet nurse who is obliged to continue nursing the child for the agreed upon period; it is permissible for her to refrain from fasting if she fears for the child's health were she to continue fasting. If this is so, then it is only with greater reason that a worker fears for his own health.
Al-Hattab, the Maliki scholar
Citing Al-Barazly in Mawahib Al-Jalil Sharh Mukhtasr Khalil (2/441) Al-Hattab said:
- The ruling for exposure to flax dust, coal dust and dust generated in barley and wheat stores [while fasting] is the same as that for exposure to gypsum dust.
- He posited the question of whether it is permissible for a worker who has been hired to harvest crops to refrain from fasting if Ramadan coincides with summer. He opined that it is permissible if the work is indispensable for his livelihood, otherwise it is disliked. There is no contention over the permissibility of a crop owner reaping his own harvest even if he would have to break his fast or else he would commit the prohibition of wasting his property.
- It is generally permissible for a woman who spins linen and thins threads with her mouth to fast when working with Egyptian linen. But, if her work involves thinning thread which leaves an aftertaste in her mouth, then the ruling for her is the same as that for workers of other industries: her work is permissible [while fasting] if she is compelled to work [due to a financial need]. Otherwise, it is considered disliked.
Ibn Hajar Al-Haitami, the Shafi'i scholar
Ibn Hajar wrote in Tuhfat Al-Muhtaj (3/429-430):
- It is permissible for the ill to refrain from fasting Ramadan and from any other obligatory fast [such as a votive fast] … (and) it is permissible for a person to refrain from fasting on account of harvesting or building for himself or for another, either voluntarily or for a fee (even if the work can be executed by another). This is similar to the ruling for a wet nurse for whom it is permissible to refrain from fasting i.e. if he fears that fasting would affect his income, it is not possible to work at night or the work executed at night does not suffice to protect the crops from damage or from sustaining a manifest deficiency. This is the apparent meaning of the opinion of Shafi'i scholars.
- Commenting on the above, Shaykh Abdul Hamid Al-Sherwani wrote that it is permissible to refrain from fasting on account of harvesting and the like. Al-Adhru'i issued a legal opinion to the effect that, every night during Ramadan, crop harvesters must make the intention to fast. He then added that whoever from among them finds that fasting under harsh circumstances poses severe hardship, may break his fast; otherwise, they are not to. In addition to this, it was mentioned in Al-I'ab that it is obvious that the ruling for any kind of strenuous work is the same as that for crop harvesters. The general nature of the ruling does not distinguish between an owner, an employee who has sufficient means and a volunteer. It is the same as the ruling for a wet nurse, whether hired or a volunteer, even if she is not the only available nurse. However, it is necessary to limit this concession by certain contingencies such as a need for a particular kind of work when a person fears severe financial losses were he to refrain from working during the daylight hours.
It is permissible for a player to refrain from fasting during Ramadan in games in which it is necessary for them to participate. Training sessions which can be easily [and conveniently] scheduled, must be held at night so as not to affect the players' ability to fast. The concerned authorities are blameworthy if they do not schedule training sessions around the fasting hours whenever possible. This is because it is known that what is permissible due to a necessity or due to something that reaches the degree of a necessity must not exceed its limits since the legal axiom states that a necessity is measured by its extent. God Almighty says: “But if one is forced by necessity, without willful disobedience nor transgressing due limits, then he is guiltless. For God is Oft-Forgiving Most Merciful” (Quran 2: 173). Therefore, God the Almighty made freedom from blame contingent upon not transgressing limits.
And God Almighty knows best.