When a child is obligated to start fasting

References: Fataawa Ramadhaan – Volume 1, Page 238, Fatwa No.185
al-Muntaqaa min Fataawa Shaykh Saalih Ibn Fowzaan – Volume 3, Pages 132-133

Question: I was fourteen years of age when my monthly menstrual cycle began, so I did not fast Ramadhaan that year – bearing in mind this action of mine was based upon my ignorance and that of my family’s; And this occurred because we were isolated from the scholars and had no knowledge of these matters. I then fasted when I was fifteen and heard from some of the muftis that when the woman’s monthly menstrual cycle starts [this is a sign of her religious obligation to] start fasting, even if she is younger than the [legislated] age of puberty. I seek your guidance.

Response: [Regarding] the questioner who mentioned about herself that she started her monthly menstrual cycle when she was fourteen years of age, and was unaware this was a [legislated] sign of maturity, then there is no sin upon her for not fasting that year because she was [religiously] ignorant, and the ignorant one is not considered to be sinful.

However, as soon as she became aware that fasting is obligatory upon her, she is required to make up for the missed fasts of the previous Ramadhaan after she began her menstrual cycle. This is because when a woman attains maturity, fasting [subsequently] becomes obligatory upon her.

The woman attains maturity by one of the following signs:

  1. Reaching the age of fifteen;
  2. Growth of pubic hair;
  3. Secretion of sexual fluid;
  4. Beginning her menstrual cycle.

So, as soon as one of these four signs come to pass, she has attained maturity, and is therefore subsequently held religiously accountable for maintaining her acts of worship – just as it is obligatory upon the adults.

Abu 'Abdullaah

About Abu 'Abdullaah

– from London, UK. He is a graduate of the Islaamic University of Madeenah, having graduated from the Institute of Arabic Language, and later the Faculty of Sharee’ah in 2004.