COVID-19: Can healthcare workers be exempted from fasting Ramadan?

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be
upon His Messenger.
In this fatwa:
1- If the Muslim medical personnel can function without harming
him/herself or falling short in their duty to save lives during any
pandemic, then they should indeed fast.
2- If he/she assessed that there will be harm to him/her or their
patients in any way, then they could break their fasting and make up
for the days later.

Answering your question, Dr. Jasser Auda, Professor and Al-Shatibi
Chair of Maqasid Studies at the International Peace College South
Africa, states:
Fasting is one of the pillars of Islam and it is an obligation of
every adult Muslim to fast every day of the month of Ramadan. Breaking
the fast for one day intentionally and without a good reason has to be
compensated by 60 days of fasting – if possible, as is well known.

Can a person break their Ramadan fast to avoid coronavirus?
However, there are reasons stated clearly in the Quran as to why a
Muslim would be allowed to break his/her fasting and makes up for the
days later. Allah says:
{O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was
decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous –
[Fasting for] a limited number of days. So whoever among you is ill or
on a journey [during them] – then an equal number of days (are to be
made up).
And upon those who are able [to fast, but with hardship] – a ransom
[as substitute] of feeding a poor person [each day]. And whoever
volunteers excess – it is better for him. But to fast is best for you,
if you only knew.
The month of Ramadhan [is that] in which was revealed the Qur’an, a
guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and criterion. So
whoever sights [the new moon of] the month, let him fast it; and
whoever is ill or on a journey – then an equal number of other days.
Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship and
[wants] for you to complete the period and to glorify Allah for that
[to] which He has guided you; and perhaps you will be grateful.}
(Al-Baqarah 2:183-5)
By way of analogy, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), his
Companions after him, and scholars of Islam throughout history in
various contexts have allowed other forms of “hardship” to be reasons
for breaking the fasting.
On the other hand, saving lives is a collective duty on every society
and on the Muslim community particularly. Medical professionals under
the current circumstances of Coronavirus (COVID-19) have a heavier
burden and a greater responsibility when it comes to the duty of
saving lives.
Therefore, it is not permissible for Muslim medical staff to take
their vacations under these circumstances so that they would be able
to fast.
On the other hand, it is now a medical fact that fasting is a tool of
boosting one’s immune system and not to the contrary as some might

Can doctor delay breaking fast due to surgery?
Therefore, if the Muslim medical personnel can function without
harming him/herself or falling short in their duty to save lives, then
they should indeed fast.
Otherwise, that is if he/she assessed that there will be harm to
him/her or their patients in any way, then they could break their
fasting and make up for the days later during the year. Allah does not
ask of a believer what puts them in hardship.
Almighty Allah knows best.

Doctor’s note: Fasting during Ramadan can boost your immunity
This year, the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan will be like no other;
it will occur in the middle of a global pandemic.
Ramadan, which began on the evening of April 23, will see a month-long
period of fasting, worship and devotion to Allah. It commemorates the
Quran being first revealed to the Prophet Muhammad.
Muslims who are fit enough to do so are expected to fast (not eat or
drink fluids at all) between the hours of sunrise and sunset for four
weeks. As well as being a month of reflection, Ramadan traditionally
brings people together in the evening for food and prayer.
Mosques around the world are usually at their busiest during this
month, but many now remain closed and social distancing and
self-isolation to prevent the spread of coronavirus have become
mandatory in many countries. As a result, this year Ramadan will feel
very different for a lot of Muslims around the world as families are
But what about the health implications of observing Ramadan under
lockdown and during a viral pandemic?
Can fasting affect a person’s chances of contracting the coronavirus?
In fact, fasting is believed to be beneficial to the body in a number
of ways, including through the effect it has on boosting our immune
systems. It is possible that our ancient ancestors recognised the
benefits of fasting: As well as during the month of Ramadan in the
Muslim calendar, fasting is also observed in the month of Lent in the
lead-up to Easter for Christians, and during Yom Kippur in Judaism.
There is also evidence that the ancient Egyptians fasted for long
periods to purge their bodies of ailments and disease.
Perhaps they were all on to something?
More recently, studies have shown that fasting can actually have
beneficial effects on the immune system by reducing the amount of
general inflammation that can occur in cells around the body.
Fasting is thought to put the body into an “energy conservation mode”
due to the lack of nutrients coming in. In an effort to save energy,
the body recycles many of its old or damaged immune cells, which later
promotes the generation of new, healthier immune cells when the
fasting period ends.
These new cells are quicker and more efficient at fighting infections
so overall immunity improves.
The key thing that sets a religious Ramadan fast apart from diets that
promote weight loss through intermittent fasting regimes is the
abstinence from drinking water. This may make all the difference.
While a study has shown that prolonged water fasting beyond 12 to 24
hours can have a slight detrimental effect on the immune system,
putting you at a slightly increased risk of catching any kind of
infection, it also showed that immunity returned to a better state
soon after eating and drinking again.
Granted, these studies were not looking at the specific fasting that
takes place in Ramadan but separate studies show that the religious
fasting of Ramadan has comparable health benefits to other types of
fasting. This comes with the caveat of having a healthy diet in the
periods between fasting: We all know there is a tendency to
overindulge in fried foods such as samosas and pakoras during the
breaking of the fast, and that certainly will not help the immune
Fasts will vary in length depending on where a person lives in the
world and what time of year the month of Ramadan falls in, but the
evidence suggests that abstaining from both food and water for up to
12 hours can have an overall beneficial effect on your immune system.
It is important to stress that the Muslim faith only expects fasting
from those who are healthy enough to do so, and fasting must not be
used simply as a way to boost your immune system.
As this will be our first Ramadan during a coronavirus pandemic, it is
impossible to know whether fasting may offer some level of protection
against getting the illness itself and, although it is not beyond the
realms of possibility, it is important to stick to the things that we
do know work: social distancing, hand-washing, hygiene and

Source: Al Jazeera

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