Rafed English

Miscellaneous issues in sawm - Part 3

III. Illness and restriction by a physician

1- Some physicians who are not truly committed to Islamic laws forbid their patients to fast, claiming that fasting is detrimental to their health. Should their orders be acted upon?

A: If the physician cannot be trusted and one does not have confidence in his statements, neither his statements cause one to fear of harm (in fasting), then his statements are not worthy of notice.

2- My mother was ill for a period of almost 13 years and could not fast. I know for certain that what prevented her from this duty was her need to take medicine. Please tell us if it is obligatory for her to perform the qada for these lapsed fasts?

A: If she was not able to fast due to her illness, she does not have to perform the qada for those days.

3- I did not fast since reaching the age of legal maturity [bulugh] until I was twelve years old because I was physically too weak to do so. What should I do now in this regard?

A: You should perform the qada for the days of fasting that you did not perform after becoming legally mature. And if you deliberately - voluntarily and without a legitimate excuse - did not fast, then you will have to pay the kaffarah as well.

4- An ophthalmologist ordered me not to fast due to an eye disease. But, as I was not convinced I began fasting. However, while fasting, and due to some problems, I felt no pain until the time of breakfast on some days while I felt some pain in the afternoons on some other days. With this confusion of whether I should refrain from fasting or bear the pain until sunset I confused fasting. My question: Basically, is it obligatory for me to fast? And should I maintain the fast on the days when I am not certain whether I can continue fasting until sunset or not? What should my intentions be?

A: If you feel confidence in the orders of the religious, trustworthy physician, or you fear that fasting might be harmful for your health, then you are not obliged to fast. In fact, it is not permissible for you to fast in such a situation, and the intention to fast is not correct when there is fear of harm. When there is no fear of harm, there is no obstacle to your fasting, but the validity of your fast will depend on the actual absence of harm.

5- I wear medical glasses and, at the present, my eye is physically very weak. The doctors tell me that if I do not strengthen my eye weakness, my eyesight will get weaker. If I am unable to perform the Ramadan fasts, what is my duty?

A: If fasting is harmful for your eyes, you are not obligated to fast; in fact, it is obligatory that you refrain from fasting. And if your illness does not get better until the next Ramadan, then your duty is to give one mudd (750 grams) of food to the needy for every day that you did not fast.

6- My mother is seriously sick, and my father is also physically weak. Nevertheless, both of them fast. Sometimes, it is quite evident that fasting aggravates their illness. So far, I have not been able to persuade them to refrain from fasting at least at times when their illness is serious. Please guide us concerning the rule that applies to their fasting?

A: The criterion in determining the inability to fast, or whether fasting causes illness, or complicates it, is the determination of the fasting person himself. However, if it is known that fasting is harmful for him and he still decides to fast, it is unlawful [haram].

7- Last year I had surgery on my kidneys, and the surgeon ordered me not to fast for the rest of my life. However, I eat and drink normally and do not feel any signs of illness. What is my duty?

A: If you personally do not fear any harm to fast and there is no legitimate (Islamically legal) evidence for that (fear), you are obligated to fast during the month of Ramadan.

8- Since some physicians are not aware of Islamic laws, should the patient obey a physician's order if he forbids fasting?

A: If the patient trusts the physician's statement that fasting is harmful for him or is led to believe that it is so - either on the basis of his statements or on some other reasonable grounds, then it is not obligatory for him to fast.

9- I have kidney stones and the only way to prevent them from calcifying is to take fluids continuously. As the doctors have prohibited me from fasting, what is my duty regarding fasting during the blessed month of Ramadan?

A: If the prevention of your illness requires that you drink water and other fluids during the day, it is not obligatory for you to fast.

10- Diabetics are required to take insulin injections once or twice a day. Also, their meals should not be delayed or taken at long intervals; otherwise they might go into a coma or get fits due to hypoglycemia. That is why, sometimes, physicians advise them to have four meals a day. Please give your opinion concerning their fasting.

A: If abstaining from eating and drinking form dawn to sunset is harmful to their health, fasting is not obligatory on them. In fact it is not permissible for them to fast.

Adopted from the book : "Questions & Answers About Fast Accroding to Ayatollah Khamenei's Fatwa"

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