Baha’i Fast: Exemptions

I received a call yesterday from a beloved friend who do to health reasons is unable to fast. It was her first time not being able to participate. She was so upset and felt she had fallen short. I will share with you what I shared with her.

“In clear cases of weakness, illness, or injury the law of the Fast is not binding. This injunction is in conformity with the precepts of God, eternal in the past, eternal in the future. Well is it with them who act accordingly.”

“The law of the Fast is ordained for those who are sound and healthy; as to those who are ill or debilitated, this law hath never been nor is now applicable.”-Baha’u’llah

There are several other reasons laid out in the writings why and under which circumstances the fast should not be practiced…travelers, women who are pregnant, nursing or during their menses. It is personal and individualized. Be gentle and patient with oneself. It isn’t so rigid. Participate in the reading of the prayers if you can not do the physical part. It is no ones business but your own. Just drink fluids or cut back. You are in charge. My friend and I read a couple of the fasting prayers together over the phone and began to sob. We had reached a spiritual understanding of the fast…we were both uplifted and filled with His love. She understood that it was an inward journey…although the physical body couldn’t participate, the inward spirit could.

“Regarding your question concerning the Fast: Travellers are exempt from fasting, but if they want to fast while they are travelling, they are free to do so. You are exempt the whole period of your travel, not just the hours you are in a train or car, etc. If one eats unconsciously during the fasting hours, this is not breaking the Fast as it is an accident. The age limit is seventy years, but if one desires to fast after the age limit is passed, and is strong enough to, one is free to do so. If during the Fast period a person falls ill and is unable to fast, but recovers before the Fast period is over, he can start to Fast again and continue until the end. Of course the Fast, as you know, can only be kept during the month set aside for that purpose.”

(Shoghi Effendi: Principles of Bahá’í Administration, pp. 9-10)

“In the ‘Aqdas’ Bahá’u’lláh permits certain exceptions to this general obligation of fasting, among them are included those who do hard work, such as workers in heavy industries.

“But while a universal obligation, the observance of the nineteen day fast has been made by Bahá’u’lláh the sole responsibility of the individual believer. No Assembly has the right to enforce it on the friends, or to hold anybody responsible for not observing it. The believer is free, however, to ask the advice of his Assembly as to the circumstances that would justify him to conscientiously break such a fast. But he is by no means required to do so.”

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 9, 1937)

Lynette Wilson, Publisher
Author: Lynette Wilson, Publisher

Lynette grew up in the small Wisconsin town of Boscobel, home of the Gideon Bible. After attending college at the University of Wisconsin, Madison and Platteville achieving an A.A. degree she decided a break was needed n order to figure out which academic discipline she wanted to pursue. While contemplating intensely on her choices she met and married Fernando. Lynette returned to college and studied Small Business Management and Bookkeeping. After several years of working in management she found herself once again meditating on her future. The powers that be answered and she returned to the academic life in pursuit of a double major in Physical and Occupational Therapy. She found time to assist in the Special Resource Center helping quadriplegics and the legally blind in the classroom setting as well as reading for the blind. In the midst of her professional goals she had a difficult pregnancy which temporarily (...so she thought) would interrupt her coursework. She attempted to return to her studies, but the stork visited a second time. After the birth of their daughter, an unwelcomed visitor arrived a year and a half later, Brain Cancer. After 7 years of fighting, Fernando passed away. (2003) This experience...

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