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Ayatollah Sistani’s Fatwa on Fasting during Ramadan in the Shadow of Coronavirus

In reply to a question about fasting in the Month of Ramadan in the shadow of the Coronavirus outbreak, the Grand Ayatollah Sistani emphasized that fasting as an individual duty is Wajib, and whoever has the conditions it is obligatory to fast regardless of it being Wajib for others or not.

what follows is the full question and answer:

In the Name of Allah, the Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful

The Office of His Eminence, the leading religious authority, Al-Sayyid Ali Al-Seestani, long may he live.

As-Salamu alaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatoh

The holy month of Ramadan is approaching, and the Corona virus continues to spread in various regions, and doctors recommend drinking water in close intervals to reduce the risk of infection from this dangerous virus, because the lack of water in the body reduces its immunity, and the dryness of the throat, should the virus reaches it, allows it to move to the respiratory system, while drinking water helps to bring it down to the stomach and eliminate it.

For this reason, is fasting the month of Ramadan, this year, waived for Muslims?


In the Name of Allah, the Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful

The obligation of fasting the month of Ramadan is an individual one. Everyone who fulfills the conditions of [this] obligation must fast, regardless of whether or not it is obligatory for others. When this month of Ramadan comes and a Muslim fears that he will contract Corona, even if he observes all precautionary measure, his obligation is waived for each day he remains in fear of catching Corona – if he were to fast. However, if he can reduce the degree of probability of catching the infection such that it becomes reasonably insignificant – even by staying at home and not mixing closely with others, using a mask, medical gloves, performing continuous disinfection and so on – such that it does not cause unbearable difficulties for the individual, his obligation to fast is not waived.

As for what is mentioned that doctors recommend drinking water in close intervals to avoid the lack of water in the body and dryness of the throat, because that increases the possibility of Corona virus infection, this does not prevent the obligation of fasting – except for one who is afraid of catching the virus if he fasts and has not found a way to reduce the probability of catching the virus, such that fear is no longer a factor, even if he stays at home and takes other advanced precautions. As for others they must fast.

Note that it is possible to avoid the lack of water in the body when fasting by eating vegetables and fruits rich in water like cucumbers and watermelons before dawn. Also, by chewing sugar-free chewing gum – providing that its bits do not crumble and go down the throat. Chewing [sugar free] gum increases the secretion of saliva in the mouth and there’s no problem in swallowing it [the saliva] when fasting.

It appears that those who can leave work during the month of Ramadan and stay at home so that they are safe from contracting the virus cannot waive their obligation to fast. As for those who, for any reason, cannot afford to leave their jobs – if they are afraid of contracting the virus should they avoid drinking water at close intervals during the day and they cannot adopt other measures to be safe from infection, they do not have to fast – even though it was not permitted for them to be open about breaking the fast in public. It is obvious that fasting the month of Ramadan is one of the most important Shar’i duties, and it is not permissible to avoid it except for a real reason, and each person knows about his own condition and whether he has a real reason for not fasting .

Wassalamu alaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatoh

17 Sha’ban 1441
Office of Al-Sayyid Al- Seestani (long may he live)
Al-Najaf Al-Ashraf

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