Controversy over statement on Ramadan fasting

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Ruling for whole country not to fast not permissible

KUWAIT CITY, April 11: A recent statement issued by an academic advisor to the Grand Mufti of Egypt, which said a specialized committee is studying the legal opinion on fasting this Ramadan in light of the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, has caused controversy and debate, reports Al-Anba daily. In this regard, Al-Anba took up the matter to a number of scholars and preachers in Kuwait and asked about their religious opinion on the permissibility of breaking the fast under the current global health situation. Former dean of the College of Sharia, Dr Ajeel Al-Nashmi affirmed that the Arab Republic of Egypt has scholars with scientific standing and regard but the ignorant ones in the media exceed them in number.

“In any case, it is advisable for each country to rely on the juristic efforts of their scholars and we appreciate the efforts of Al-Azhar scholars in providing religious opinion in this matter and other greater matters,” he said. In his role, Dr Rashid Al-Alimi affirmed “You must fast if you are healthy. If you feel the throat is dry, then you may rinse or rather gargle your mouth.

For a sick person on prescribed medication, he’s not supposed to fast, as fasting might complicate his condition. Therefore, a general ruling for the whole country not to fast, is of course, not permissible.” According to Dr Saad Al-Enezi, it is known in Islamic jurisprudence that five basic human necessities must be guarded and preserved, namely: “Ad- Deen” (The Religion); “An-Nafs” (Physical Safety); “An-Nasl”, or “An-Nasab” (Ancestry and Lineage); “Al-’Aql” (Intellect) and “Al- Maal” (Property).

“The discussion on these basic human necessities has been a long disagreement among scholars, knowing that some preferred the preservation of religion over the other necessities – even those who preferred a traveler or sick person not to fast during the month of Ramadan, did not make such preference due to the virtue of necessity, given that all these permissions are based on religious standing”, he noted.

He added: It is prescribed legally that the decision of whether to fast or not depends on the opinion of the physician or rather medical specialist, which means that those infected by coronavirus must break their fast during Ramadan if the doctors treating patients decide it is unhealthy for those infected to fast.

Also, Dr Jalawi Al-Jumeiyah said: It is not permissible for a Muslim to break his fast in Ramadan unless the doctors decide so, and this has to be scientifically proven that fasting will make a person vulnerable to infection and death with the coronavirus, and so far, it has not been proven. He continued: It is true that Islam urges the preservation of the soul in all ways or means in order to prevent its destruction and harm, including what the jurists stipulated in Islamic law.

This means, “prevention is better than cure”, if they decide that the harm can be avoided before it occurs, it is better and easier than finding a remedying once it has occurred. “However, there is no conclusive medical statement that indicates fasting could increase the chances of direct infection due to dryness of the throat, similar to the way it is transmitted through close contact with people,” he noted.

And, Sheikh Saad Al-Shammari said: There is no doubt that those infected with coronavirus need to take their medication regularly, which makes it difficult for them to fast; besides the fact that this virus has proven to be deadly. Hence, it is not permissible to fast under such conditions.

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