Is it permissible for a healthy person who lacks a valid excuse that would warrant them to break their fast in the days of Ramadan, to not fast Ramadan this year so they can drink plenty of water in order to protect themselves from Coronavirus (COVID-19)?
Is it permissible for a healthy person to not fast Ramadan this year so he can drink plenty of water in order to protect themselves from Coronavirus (COVID-19)?
In responding to your question, the Resident Fatwa Committee (RFC) of AMJA states:
The AMJA committee has sought counsel with a great many specialized Muslim medical doctors and they have provided us with the following information:
1- There is no conclusive scientific evidence that proves fasting can either contribute to or harm one’s immunity to the coronavirus (COVID-19).
2- There has been no conclusive scientific evidence that proves hydrating one’s throat contributes to their immunity to the coronavirus (COVID-19).
3- There is plenty of research, recognized by various research institutes, which proves that fasting, in its varying forms (and not necessarily in the manner practiced by Muslims), does strengthen one’s immune system.
4- There is no scientific evidence to prove that fasting can harm or benefit someone who has been diagnosed with Coronavirus (COVID-19). However, each case must be looked at on an individual basis.
So, based on this ample medical research that the AMJA committee has before it, our ruling in this matter is the following:
It is mandatory for the sound, healthy individual to fast the month of Ramadan, and the fear of possibly contracting the coronavirus is not a valid excuse that would warrant someone a concession to break his/her fast. However, the concession remains available for the one who is physically harmed by fasting, to not fast Ramadan. In this case, the person’s primary physician can take his/her other health factors into consideration and advise them on whether or not they should fast this year.
Muslims must act with prudence when it comes to matters of their religion, bearing in mind that fasting the month of Ramadan is one of the pillars of Islam. Allah the Almighty has said, “Fasting has been prescribed for you, as it was prescribed for the nations before you, so that you may attain piety.” (Al-Baqarah 2:183)
In addition, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said, “Islam is built upon five (pillars)…’ and he mentioned “fasting Ramadan” as being one of them. (Al-Bukhari)
This decision, which was reached by the Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America (AMJA), is in line with the decision reached by the Fiqh Committee for Islamic Research in Al-Azhar’s Center for Islamic Research, at the conclusion of their 13th Emergency Meeting, which discussed the ramifications of the coronavirus (COVID-19) and the extent of its effects on fasting the month of Ramadan.
This meeting was also attended by recognized medical professionals, members from the medical community with specializations in various fields of medicine, and representatives from the World Health Organization, as well as many scholars of sharia from Al-Azhar University.
In the end, the Committee has decided that there is no scientific proof, as of now, that demonstrates any correlation between fasting and its effects relating to contracting the novel coronavirus.
Based on that, we maintain the default Islamic ruling which obligates fasting upon all Muslims except for those not obligated to fast due to a valid excuse.