Quran's Tafhim ( explanation)

*186). Whether a person should or should not fast while on a journey is left to individual discretion. We find that among the Companions who accompanied the Prophet on journeys some fasted whereas others did not; none objected to the conduct of another. The Prophet himself did not always fast when travelling. On one journey a person was so overwhelmed by hunger that he collapsed; the Prophet disapproved when he learned that the man had been fasting. During wars the Prophet used to prevent people from fasting so that they would not lack energy for the fight. It has been reported by 'Umar that two military expeditions took place in the month of Ramadan. The first was the Battle of Badr and the second the conquest of Makka. On both occasions the Companions abstained from fasting, and, according to Ibn 'Umar, on the occasion of the conquest of Makka the Prophet proclaimed that people should not fast since it was a day of fighting. In other Traditions the Prophet is reported to have said that people should not fast when they had drawn close to the enemy, since abstention from fasting would lead to greater strength. (See Ahmad b. Hanbal, Musnad, vol. 3, p. 329, and vol. 5, pp. 205 and 209: Darimi, ' Sawm', 41; Muslim, 'Siyarn', 92; Nasai, 'Siyam', 47; Bukhari, 'Maghazi', 71; Muslim, 'Siyam', 102; Ahmad b. Hanbal, Musnad, vol. 3, pp. 21, 35, 46; Tirmidhi, 'Sawm', 18, Nasa'i. 'Siyam', 52; Bukhari , 'Jihad', 29; Muslim, 'Siyam', 98; Abu Da'ud, 'Sawm' 42; Muslim, 'Siyam', 102, 103, 105; Ahmad b. Hanbal, Musnad vol. 2, 99; Tirmidhi, : 'Sawm', 19 - Ed.)
The duration of a journey for which it becomes permissible for a person to abstain from fasting is not absolutely clear from any statement of the Prophet, (cf. relevant Traditions Abu Da'ud, 'Sawm', 46, 47; Nasai , 'Siyam', 54, 55; Malik, Muaatta', 'Siyam', 21, 27 - Ed.) In addition the practice of the Companions was not uniform. It would seem that any journey which is commonly regarded as such, and which is attended by the circumstances generally associated with travelling, should be deemed sufficient justification for not fasting.
Jurists agree that one does not have to fast on the day of commencing a journey; one may eat either at the point of departure or after the actual journey has commenced. Either course is sanctioned by the practice of the Companions. Jurists, however, are not agreed as to whether or not the residents of a city under attack may abstain from fasting even though they are not actually travelling. Ibn taymiyah favours the permissibility of abstention from fasting and supports his view with vcry forceful arguments.
*187). This indicates that fasting need not be confined, exclusively, to Ramadan. For those who fail to fast during that month owing to some legitimate reason God has kept the door of compensation open during other months of the year so that they need not be deprived of the opportunity to express their gratitude to Him for His great bounty, in revealing the Qur'an.
It should he noted here that fasting in Ramadin has not only been declared an act of worship and devotion and a means to nourish piety but has also been characterized as an act of gratefulness to God for His great bounty of true guidance in the form of the Qur'an. In fact, the best way of expressing gratitude for someone's bounty or benevolence is to prepare oneself, to the best of one's ability, to achieve the purpose for which that bounty has been bestowed. The Qur'an has been revealed so that we may know the way that leads to God's good pleasure, follow that way ourselves and direct the world along it. Fasting is an excellent means by which to prepare ourselves for shouldering this task. Hence fasting during the month of the revelation of the Qur'an is more than an act of worship and more than an excellent course of moral training; it is also an appropriate form for the expression of our thankfulness to God for the bounty of the Qur'an.
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