“Not fasting during Ramadan is not permissible due to coronavirus, and fasting is a duty and a must for Muslims,” Al Azhar said, as reported by Gulf News.
The holy month of Ramadan is two weeks away and due to the coronavirus outbreak, the celebrations, festivities, and prayers during it will be different than the previous years. Here’s a recap of the restrictions that have been put in place by the UAE government:
· The pre-celebrations have already been put to rest. According to Gulf News, “The traditional custom of Emirati children celebrating Hag Al Laila was spent indoors after the Ministry of Health and Prevention urged residents to avoid family gatherings, children’s visits to neighbors, and spending time in the streets.” Hag Al Laila is a traditional festivity during which children go from door to door to collect sweets.
· As per the curfew set, individuals in the UAE cannot leave their houses between 8 pm to 6 am. Moreover, only one family member can go out for errands. This means that the entire list for Ramadan needs to be made and shopped for in one go because multiple trips during the month are not favorable.
· The General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Awqaf has suspended prayers in the mosque until further notice. Taraweeh prayers this Ramadan may have to be offered in the house. This suspension will be reviewed before Ramadan starts.
· With some food delivery and take-out options available, dine-in restaurants have been closed until further notice which means no suhoor and iftar outside. Social distancing and other preventive measures put in place mean no inviting relatives and friends to house lunches and dinners either.
Ramadan in the UAE is expected to start on Thursday, 23rd of April and end on the evening of Saturday, 23rdMay. This year, Dubai residents will be fasting for 14 hours and 48 minutes.
Will fasting make me more vulnerable to the virus?
Exposing yourself to an infected person or a contaminated place, and not washing your hands, will make you vulnerable to the virus. You cannot get the virus if none of these conditions are met. So fasting has little to do with making you vulnerable to the respiratory tract infection.
What does the research say?
According to Insider, intermittent fasting is a ‘bad idea’ because it stresses out the body and during such stressful times, it is not recommended. Further, it was said that “Fasting can also be mentally taxing, especially for people with eating disorders.” As per their article, there is not enough scientific research to suggest that fasting helps boost the immune system.
However, the Gulf News contradicts the above-given statements by quoting research by the UK-based National Institute on Aging, which states that intermittent fasting can help individuals lead a healthier life. Fasting can lead to improvements with health conditions such as obesity, diabetes, cancer, and neurological disorders.
What does our religion say?
According to Dr. Ali Ahmad Masha’el, Grand Mufti at the Dubai Department of Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities, “Fasting is the fourth pillar of Islam, and nothing can excuse one from not fasting except for ailing people who are on medication and fasting may complicate their health condition.” Our religion excuses sick people from fasting only if doing so can risk their health and cause further complications.
In terms of the coronavirus, it was said that if the doctor thinks that fasting will have a toll on the infected person’s condition, and if taking medicine, drinking water and staying hydrated is a must for him, then he is permitted to not fast. But if he is making excuses that not fasting might make him sick, and he is not yet sick, then it is not allowed for him to miss his fast.
Furthermore, religious scholars have argued that drinking water is good for the body but it does not prevent the virus from infecting the human.
In conclusion, the theories vary, and no two individuals are the same. Ramadan is a month of blessings and forgiveness. Muslims all over the globe are praying with the hope that the pandemic will end in this holy month of togetherness.
Recommended read: How and When will the Coronavirus End?
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