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Ramadan during COVID-19 (for people with PCD)

Nov 28, 2023

What is Ramadan?

Ramadan is a month within the Islamic calendar. The importance of Ramadan is that it is the month in which the Quran was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Ramadan also has significance for many Muslims as Ramadan is seen as the month of forgiveness, patience and charity.

The most important act of this month is fasting. Any healthy and able adult Muslim is obliged to fast during the month of Ramadan. The reward of fasting in Ramadan is far greater than any other month and Muslims believe fasting increases an individual’s piety and empathy with those in need.

Ramadan and PCD

Ramadan can be difficult for some people with PCD even during normal times, but this may prove harder still during the coronavirus pandemic. This year Ramadan will take place during April/May time, meaning long fasts of more than 17 hours. Fasting when you have PCD can be difficult for some patients (dependent on severity of PCD), as fasting for prolonged periods can cause the mucus to become thicker due to dehydration (lack of water).

As a support group we cannot tell you whether you should fast or not (as this depends on each individual) but we can share some tips on how to be more careful when fasting during these hard times. I think the most important thing is you need to do is to try and stay as well as possible to avoid going into hospital, and so you might only decide to fast if you have done it before and know that you were ok. Make sure that you do regular physio too, as you will need to counteract the lack of physical activity you may be doing now you are in isolation.

I have PCD – can I fast?

We understand that choosing to fast is a very personal decision for many Muslims, due to the significance of fasting in Ramadan. However, for some people with PCD this can be very dangerous for your health. People with certain health conditions (like PCD) can be exempt from fasting, especially if they have regular medication and nebulisers which need to be taken at certain times of the day. The same goes for those with severe bronchiectasis, as this can result in further infections, as mucus becomes thicker (due to dehydration) and therefore may be harder to clear.

Remember, if you have PCD, you may fall under one of the categories which are exempt from fasting. People can be exempt from fasting if they are:

  • children
  • elderly
  • have a health condition which will become worse if they fast
  • travelling
  • pregnant, breastfeeding or menstruating/post-natal bleeding

If you’re not able to fast, there are several options:

If you have a permanent illness which you won’t recover from and the fasting will make your condition worse e.g. diabetes, you are exempt and are not obliged to take up your fast. Instead, you are encouraged to give to charity and feed a needy person for the entire month of Ramadhan.

As Allah says in the Quran:

“And as for those who can fast with difficulty, (e.g. an old man), they have (a choice either to fast or) to feed a Miskeen (poor person) (for every day)”

[al-Baqarah 2:184]”

If you have a temporary illness or an illness which you will recover from, then you can make up the fasts at another time in the year, perhaps during the winter months when the length of the fasts is shorter. As Allah says in the Quran:

“and whoever is ill or on a journey, the same number [of days which one did not observe Sawm (fasts) must be made up] from other days”

[al-Baqarah 2:185]

You should speak to your local imam for more information in regard to this and make sure that you check with your medical team for their advice.

What types of food should I eat at Suhoor (Sehri)?

For the morning meal (suhoor) you should eat starchy carbohydrates which release energy slowly, such as multigrain bread and oat-based cereals, together with beans, pulses, lentils and fruits such as bananas, watermelons, and dates.

As with all meals, eat sensibly, don’t overeat and remember to drink plenty of water.

What types of food should I eat at Iftar?

Remember to eat sensibly and healthily all year round but also in Ramadan. Eating too much fried food and food high in fat will make you thirsty (as eating too much fried food can dehydrate you). Try to eat moderate portion sizes. Remember that Ramadan is also about self-control and discipline.

Fasting can put you at risk of dehydration with long hours of fasting. Drink plenty of sugar-free fluids, such as water at Suhoor and after Iftar. If you do not eat and drink properly during Suhoor, your fast may become more difficult, as you may become dehydrated throughout the day, and this can cause mucus to become thicker and harder to bring up.

Can I pray Taraweeh?

Taraweeh is an optional prayer so it is not essential. If you fear picking up an infection, you can pray at home. Please remember to follow all COVID-19 guidance and remember that adults (and some children) with PCD should follow the advice for the ‘Clinically Extremely Vulnerable’.

Taraweeh can be a tiring activity so you can also pray sitting if it is too exhausting. You may become dehydrated so ensure you drink plenty of water following iftar and take a bottle of water with you to Taraweeh.

Ramadan and the COVID-19 vaccine?

According to majority of Islamic scholars receiving the COVID-19 vaccine whilst fasting does not invalidate the fast. The 2nd dose should be administered after 11-12 weeks, which we would advise the PCD community not to delay.

If an injection is given through the intramuscular or intravenous route it is permissible (if given for non-nutritional purposes), as this is something which has no nutritional value but regarded for health reasons. If the injection is given for nourishment during the month of Ramadan this is impermissible.

If for any reason you are unclear, please speak to your PCD doctors and reach out to the Imam of your local mosque for further advice.

Quick Tips:

  • Include more starchy carbohydrates and slow energy releasing foods
  • Try not to have too many sugary and fatty foods
  • When you break your fast, make sure to drink plenty of water and decaffeinated drinks to avoid dehydration
  • Most importantly, if you start to feel unwell or disorientated, please stop fasting and have a drink of water

About the author: Abdullah Ihsan

Abdullah was diagnosed with PCD (Kartagener’s syndrome) at the age of 9 and he has been involved with the PCD Family Support Group since July 2019. Since joining the committee, he has attended various events to promote PCD and has volunteered much of his time in raising awareness of this rare genetic disorder.

Abdullah is currently a data analyst at a transport and logistics company called Maersk, where he started as an apprentice. His hobbies include going to the gym, watching movies, cooking and eating out as he loves trying new foods.