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Trying to Fast When Seriously Sick: Permissible?



Reply Date

Jun 01, 2019


Hello I am a 46 years old revert. I don't know or have contact with any Muslims. I reverted in 2013 but due to a lot of health problems I have not tried to fast but this year I really want to. So, I will give my health problems and hope and pray you can help as all my doctors tell me to stop being silly as fasting for anyone is dangerous [they need to learn about Islam] MEDICAL CONDITIONS: 1] type 1 diabetic unstable just changed to knew insulin I inject novo rapid 3 x day and the new one tresiba 1x a day 2] epilepsy 3] restless leg syndrome 4] fibromyalgia 5] severe depression with suicidal tendencies [yes I know its a sin] 6] under-active thyroid 7] low vitamin B-12 8] excessive menstrual bleeding [can bleed for 2 -4 weeks gap says because I'm peri-menopausal] 9] anemia 10] high cholesterol 11] itchy skin caused by fibro 12] insomnia ... On the 9th of June, is the first time in my life I have tried to fast even against advice which was going OK, but need to ask you a few things: A] what time do you break fast? I thought it was sunset, but I asked someone online on pinterest and they said it is Asr prayer???? B] my medication I know can do injections although did not just let sugar go up but without tablets pain is so bad I cannot move come 5 PM today it was hard not to cry as pain in arms legs, but mainly back was so acute I could not move. How can I sort this out as not allowed to take medication by mouth when fasting? I can try to cope, but really do not know if I am strong enough?



Trying to Fast When Seriously Sick

Short Answer: Muslims are not supposed to fast when sick. Being an unstable Type I diabetic makes you very high risk for fasting and can lead to severe consequences. Anyone with chronic medical conditions (especially insulin-dependent diabetes) that are uncontrolled or requiring multiple medications are high risk do not need to fast. You need to pay the equivalence in money to the poor by feeding one needy person for each day missed.


Salam Sister and Ramadan Mubarak,

Thank you for your question and for contacting Ask About Islam.

Initially, I sent your question to a Muslim Family Physician who prefers to remain anonymous.

The doctor’s conclusion is that it is actually dangerous for you to fast.

Therefore, you should not be observing the fast since Muslims are not supposed to fast when sick.

We read in the Quran what means:

{[…] And whosoever of you is sick or on a journey, (let him fast the same) number of other days.} (Al-Baqarah 2:185)

Since you have a serious chronic condition, you should not be fasting at all and replacing the same number of days does not apply to you.

However, you need to pay the equivalence in money to the poor by feeding one needy person for each day missed.

This will account for 30 needy Muslims or the equivalence in money of 30 average meals for the entire month of Ramadan.

Now, if you are needy yourself, paying to feed 30 Muslims does not apply to you.

I recommend that you try to find the closest mosque to you and make acquaintances there.

Doctor’s Recommendations

Please find below the doctor’s recommendations:

I commend your efforts for wanting to fast in Ramadan with your medical conditions, may Allah reward you for your intentions and efforts.

As a Muslim physician who teaches other physicians about caring for Muslim patients in Ramadan and who takes care of many diabetics, I can tell you that being an unstable Type I diabetic makes you very high risk for fasting and can lead to severe hypoglycemia (which can cause seizures), blood clots from dehydration, and even diabetic coma.

It is generally recommended that anyone with chronic medical conditions (especially insulin-dependent diabetes) that are uncontrolled or requiring multiple medications are high risk do not need to fast both from a medical and religious perspective, and this is a consensus in the medical literature from Muslim countries and worldwide.

You are welcome to read this short article about fasting in Ramadan from the American Academy of Family Physicians, there is a specific section on diabetes included: Caring for Muslim Patients Who Fast During Ramadan.

Unfortunately, taking anything orally, including medications, is not permitted while fasting. If you are requiring pain medications and are in severe pain because you are not able to take them while fasting, this is your body’s way of telling you that it cannot handle fasting.

You shouldn’t have to bear severe pain or discomfort in order to fast because this would defeat the purpose as fasting is not meant to be an excessive difficulty on you.

Taking all of your medical conditions into account, I would highly recommend not fasting in your case because the risks for your health are much higher than the benefits.

I would also recommend continuing your medication regimens as prescribed during Ramadan, especially your insulin regimen, and meeting with your doctor regularly to keep things under control.

You may also let your doctor know that there are many medical articles out there on how to care for other Muslim patients who fast during Ramadan so that they become more aware about this subject.

Who is Exempt from Fasting?

This is an extract from the above-mentioned article telling us again that a sick person should not be fasting:

The Quran exempts the sick from fasting.

According to Islamic scholars, persons exempt from fasting include individuals with illnesses that might be exacerbated by fasting (e.g., diabetes), women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, prepubertal children and adolescents, and those on medication regimens that would be affected by fasting.

Other groups exempted from fasting include those with disabling mental illness or developmental disabilities, menstruating women, women with postpartum bleeding, older persons, and travelers.

According to Islamic law, it is definitely not permissible for you to fast at all.

Based on that, some of your questions become irrelevant because they pertain to a person who is observing the fast.

I hope this helps answer your question.

Salam and please keep in touch.

(From Ask About Islam archives)

Please continue feeding your curiosity, and find more info in the following links:

Fasting for Diabetic Patients During Ramadan

Life Difficulties Are Rewarding (15 Hadiths)

What Can a Non-Fasting Muslim Do in Ramadan?


About Maen Khalifa

Maen has many years of experience in dawah work. He formerly worked as the Ask About Islam Editor and a consultant.

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