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Fatwas of Shia Jurists on Fasting during Ramadan amid Coronavirus

Some Shia Jurists issued Fatwas (religious edict) in response to the Istifta (new inquiry) about questions regarding the fasting during the coronavirus outbreak.

What follows is the Istifta’at and their answers to questions regarding this issue:

Ayatollah Sistani

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 .

Ayatollah Khamenei

Question: “What is the rule for fasting in current circumstances that the coronavirus is spreading?” a person asked the Leader via his office.

Answer: “Among the effects of fasting is the emergence of spiritual state and inner purity, individual and social piety, strengthening the resistance against hardships, and its role in the health of the human body, and God has set a great reward for fasting people,” answered the Leader.

“Fasting is one of the necessities of religion and the pillars of Islamic law, and it is not permissible to abstain from fasting during the holy month of Ramadan unless one finds a rational suspicion that fasting would cause disease, aggravate a disease, or prolongs the disease’s period and postpones recovery,” he said, adding that in these circumstances, fasting is void, but it is necessary to make up for it.

If this assurance, he continued, is obtained from the words of a specialist and pious doctor, it will be enough.

“Therefore, if a person has fears and worries about the above-mentioned matters and this fear has a rational origin, there is no obligation for them to fast but they have to keep a fast after Ramadan.”

Ayatollah Wahid Khorasani

Question: If the specialist doctors say that the dryness of the mouth and the throat for long period increases the infection of the Corona illness; what is our duty about fasting in this year’s Blessed Month of Ramadan?

Answer: If rinsing the mouth is without water going down (the throat) of the fasting person, the problem is solved, and (the fasting person) can rinse; and if the water goes down unintentionally, Qadha (fasting) is not Wajib for him/her.

(But if the problem is just drinking water and such a case is proved medically) and if the person cannot prevent the danger of getting infected with illness any other way, and fasting also depends on drinking water during the day, the person must fast and (whenever his/her mouth and throat is dry) drink water to the necessary amount; and according to Wajib precaution avoid anything else which makes fasting invalidated, and later on do Qadha fasting instead.

Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi

Considering multiple questions of believers about the ruling on fasting amid Coronavirus outbreak, the answer of His Eminence is: If there is a real fear of harm due to fasting (that is confirmed by competent and religious doctors); in this case can avoid fasting. Of course individuals must not use this as excuse to break the fast in public.

Ayatollah Safi Golpayegani

Question: Considering the announcement by the Medical Sciences Academy that fasting cannot be the cause of Corona infection; in current condition, is fasting Wajib in the Blessed Month of Ramadan?

Answer: Generally fasting is Wajib for every Muslim, and breaking the fast without religious excuse, in addition to Qadha fasting, has also intentional Kaffarah (atonement). Yes, if any person has logical fear of getting infected or intensification of the illness, do Iftar, and instead do its Qadha.

Ayatollah Muhammad Ishaq Fayyadh

In response to an Istifta (new inquiry), Ayatollah Muhammad Is’haq Fayadh issued a Fatwa (religious edict) saying that fasting in the holy month is an important religious obligation in Islam.

Therefore, he said, skipping it only because of some general recommendations is not allowed unless there is real fear of contacting the virus given certain physical conditions or in certain vocations.

Those who cannot take precautionary measures like wearing masks and gloves, or stay a safe distance away from others given their working conditions given their working conditions and there is high possibility that fasting will cause them to be infected with the coronavirus can skip fasting only on the days they have such special conditions, he said.

In such cases, one should consults the doctor about his or her conditions to decide whether fasting might do harm to their health, according to Ayatollah Fayadh.

The cleric went on to stress that even if someone does not fast, Tazahor (public display- breaking the fast in the public) is not allowed at all.

He further prayed that the pandemic will soon be eradicated all over the world and that those infected with the disease will have swift recovery.

Ayatollah Bashir Hussain Najafi
Ayatollah Najafi said if a Muslim knows for sure that fasting will cause him to contract the virus, it will not be Wajib (obligatory) for him, Al-Sumaria TV reported.
However, the cleric added, there has been no definitive medical evidence showing a relation between fasting and COVID-19 infection.
He referred to a Hadith from the Holy Prophet (PBUH) that says ‘fast to remain healthy’ and stressed that fasting during Ramadan should be regarded as an opportunity for preventing diseases, including COVID-19.

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