The Director of Muslim Rights Concern, Prof. Ishaq Akintola, has urged patients recovering from the Coronavirus to heed medical advice and refrain from fasting when they are told to do so.
Akintola spoke in an interview with SaharaReporters while reacting to concerns about COVID-19 patients fasting after a picture surfaced online of people in Kano Isolation centre having Iftar.
He said: “If you are sick and it is in the month of Ramadan, you are not compelled to fast. If you don’t fast, you have not sinned. If you get better, at the end of Ramadan, you can choose your time to pay the debt because it is recorded for you as a debt.
“The Quran permits sick person not to fast; the instruction is that a sick person should not fast. If a person is isolated because he is coming from a journey, he can fast because he is not sick yet and has no symptoms.
“Somebody who is already identified as a COVID-19 patient should not fast because there are certain prescriptions of drugs that he has to be given and he should follow the prescription of medical experts and authorities.”
Akintola added, “If you are a patient of COVID-19 and you say you can’t take drugs because you are fasting, then sin is being committed by you. In case you die, it is like you committed suicide and Allah is going to ask why you killed yourself. COVID-19 patients should not fast.”
Dr Kunle Olajide, a medical expert, has a slightly different view. Olajide, in an interview with SaharaReporters, says COVID-19 patients may fast as long as it doesn’t interfere with their treatment.
He said: “Professionally, they should be able to have all the nutrients they require from the meals they take as they take balanced diets. Some commentators are looking at it from the view that the patients may not have the stamina to restrict the destructive effort of the virus. I don’t think so.
“In respect of drugs, fasting does not say they should not take drugs. They need to take drugs particularly antibiotics, periodically and to ensure that the blood level is maintained.
“The physician would have to explain and analyse the reason for them. With a glass of water and a capsule, I don’t think that breaks the fasting.”
Dr Olajide also said stopping COVID-19 patients from fasting could affect their psychological and mental wellbeing, which could slow their recovery process.
He said, “For everything in life, belief and the mind is very powerful. When someone believes that during the Ramadan when he or she takes effective prayers, he might get healed, if you stop such a person from fasting, it is stopping him from orthodox medical therapy and it’s a strong and psychological component to every healing process and disease.”