Two Rulings Regarding Yawm al-Shakk

These are two rulings regarding Yawm al-Shakk (Day of Doubt), which is the day where one is unsure whether it is the 30th of Sha’bān or the 1st of Ramaḍān. Given that the month of Ramaḍān is coming up in a few days, I thought the ruling would be beneficial to share. These are from volume 1 of Minhāj al-Ṣāliḥīn of Sayyid Sīstānī.

#979: If on the day of doubt, one performs a recommended, Qaḍā or Nadhar fast with the intention of it being the month of Sha’ban, it counts as the fast of Ramaḍān if it happens to be so. If either before or after noon it becomes known it is indeed the month of Ramadān, the person must renew their intention.

If a person fasts on the day of doubt with the intention of it being Ramaḍān, the fast is invalid (i.e. even if one figures out during the course of the day or afterwards that it was the month of Ramaḍān).[1]

If a person fasts with the intention of it being the fast of whatever the fast for that day actually is – whether it is obligatory or a recommended – it is considered valid. If one fasts with the intention that if it happens to be Sha’bān then let it be a recommended fast, and if it happens to be Ramaḍān then let it be an obligatory fast, such a fast is also valid.

If a person wakes up in the morning with the intention to eat, but it becomes known that it is the month of Ramaḍān, then the details of the previous ruling are applied for them.

The previous ruling is as follows:

#978: If a person does not perform the intention to fast in the month of Ramaḍān due to forgetfulness of the ruling, or of the fact that it is Ramaḍān, or due to ignorance of either of the two cases and they have not done anything that breaks a fast, then they remember, or they learn in the middle of the day that it is Ramaḍān, the fast is considered valid if they renew their intention before noon.

However, after noon, it is problematic for it to be considered valid, though out of precaution the person should renew their intention and finish the fast out of hope of it being accepted, but then perform its Qaḍā afterwards.


[1] Based on the arguments I have read on this ruling from other jurisconsults, this is because the fast was a bid’āh (innovation) and was invalid to begin with. In other words, to fast on a day which is presumed to be the month of Sha’bān with the intention of it being Ramaḍān is an innovation and thus ḥarām and invalid.

That being said, I encourage all to benefit from upcoming live sessions by Shaykh Amin Rastani and Shaykh Mahdi Rastani – May 16 – June 5 2018 – where they will be going over the rules concerning the fast of Ramaḍān. These live session will also provide an opportunity for participants to ask any relevant questions on the spot.

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