Can Ramadan fasting be postponed due to Coronavirus epidemic?

The Details of the Question

Some people claim that Ramadan fasting should be postponed because they say that the Muslims gather together in Ramadan regularly and worship; therefore, they say it will be good for humanity to postpone the month of Ramadan until the epidemic ends.
Some people claim that fasting decreases the resistance of the body, increases the risk of catching diseases and disrupts the immune system; therefore, Ramadan fasting should be delayed until the risk of coronavirus epidemic ends. They show the verse "but if anyone is ill, the prescribed period (should be made up) by days later" as evidence. They even say since the Quran says allows making up fasting later, it is necessary not to act disrespectfully to teach Allah the religion.
Accordingly, are those who are not affected by the epidemic disease and who can perform fasting not allowed to perform fasting in Ramadan, or should they not perform fasting in Ramadan?
Will you please explain the issue in the light of verses of the Quran and hadiths? Muslims are confused today; and such statements cause more confusion. We want to know clearly what way to follow.

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

The verses and hadiths regarding the issue and the detailed decrees deduced from them through ijtihads state the following: “It is permissible for those who will become ill in case of fasting to postpone fasting just like the people who are ill.”

The people who definitely will not be ill or are unlikely to be ill when they fast cannot postpone fasting because they are not ill and they are unlikely to be ill.

Those in the second part start fasting; if the possibility of getting ill occurs, they can postpone fasting. (Prof.Dr. Hayreddin KARAMAN)

According to the principles of our glorious religion, the time, place and conditions of each deed of worship was determined by the revelation. It was rendered fard by Allah's command for every healthy believer to perform fasting in the month of Ramadan (al-Baqara, 2/183-185). It is not possible to postpone this deed of worship as a whole.

​According to the information obtained from the specialists in this field, fasting by healthy individuals does not pose a special risk for the spread of the disease. Besides, there is no evidence-based medical finding indicating that fasting affects the immune system adversely; on the contrary, there are scientific publications indicating that fasting has beneficial effects on the immune system.

The religion of Islam holds people responsible based on their strength related to fulfilling the orders and avoiding prohibitions; Islam introduced facilitating decrees related to cases that are beyond their power or that cause distress. According to this general principle, some permissions were given to postpone Ramadan fasting depending on certain conditions.

In case of illness, which is one of the main excuses that makes it permissible not to perform fasting in Ramadan mentioned in the Quran, a person is allowed to perform fasting later as qada (al-Baqara 2/185).

Islamic scholars have regarded the possibility of becoming ill, the lengthening or worsening of the disease in case of fasting as a case of illness.

Accordingly, the following people are allowed to postpone fasting as long as their excuses are valid:
- Those who were diagnosed with Covid-19 and whose doctors think it is unfavorable for them to fast.  
- Those whose doctors state that their disease will worsen if they fast.
- ​Those who are too old to fast.
- ​Those who have chronic diseases that prevent fasting.
- Health workers who are concerned that their health will go bad and health services will be harmed if they fast.
- ​
Pregnant or breastfeeding women.
- ​Those who do hard and tiring work and are concerned that their health will go bad if they fast.

Those whose health conditions will never allow them to make up fasting later have to give the poor a certain amount of money (enough money or food to feed a person in a day) for every day that they have not fasted.

It is important for believers to make this decision with loyalty and sincerity by consulting doctors and without losing the consciousness of worshipping Allah and to avoid arbitrary evaluations while fulfilling religious duties.

​As long as the epidemic continues, we should avoid contact with others within the framework of social isolation rule; we should definitely avoid organizing iftars (dinners) with relatives, neighbors and friends.

It is both a civil responsibility and a religious duty for Muslims to abide by the rules set up by the officials responsible for protecting public health and to avoid attitudes and deeds that can endanger the lives of themselves and others.

When new problems that may arise during this difficult process we are experiencing are considered, it will enable us to fully experience Ramadan, which is the month of charity, and to keep our consciousness of sharing alive if we deliver our donations to our needy brothers and help them.

Nowadays, when we are sad because of staying away from mosques, it will help us to benefit from the spirituality of the month of Ramadan to perform tarawih prayers, to read the whole Quran, to pray to our Lord and to ask forgiveness from Him together at home. (High Board of Religious Affairs)

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