Fasting is one of the most important rituals of Islam, and Muslims are required to fast during Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar.
“O you who have faith! Prescribed for you is fasting as it was prescribed for those who were before you, so that you may be God wary” (2:183).
Now, as Ramadan is around the corner and the novel Coronavirus is continuing to spread globally, many Muslims worldwide are wondering if fasting could pose a higher risk of catching the COVID-19 virus, due to dehydration. They may raise some more questions, as is it safe to fast during this global pandemic? Doesn’t it weaken our immune system? And some wonder if they could be exempted from fasting to prevent catching this disease and remain healthy.
Let’s have a look at this question -to fast or not to fast? - from two different aspects: Science-based and religion-based.
According to the WHO and health experts’ recommendations, people are advised to drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration and stay healthy. Still, it will not prevent anyone from catching the new Coronavirus.
“Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious-diseases expert at Vanderbilt University, said the claims are incorrect. While medical professionals typically recommend keeping up fluid intake, Schaffner said drinking more water will not keep anyone from catching the virus. “We always caution anyone healthy and people who are sick to keep up the fluid intake and keep mucus membranes moist,” he said. “It makes you feel better; there is no clear indication that it directly protects you against complications.” 
No, in fact, many scientific studies have shown the wide-ranging health benefits of intermittent fasting in boosting our immune system and living a longer life. The New England Journal of Medicine has recently published a review of research on the beneficial effects of intermittent fasting on health, aging, and disease:
“Evidence is accumulating that eating in a 6-hour period and fasting for 18 hours can trigger a metabolic switch from glucose-based to ketone-based energy, with increased stress resistance, increased longevity, and a decreased incidence of diseases, including cancer and obesity.” 
Even more interestingly, although some study claims that prolonged water fasting could have a slightly detrimental effect on the immune system, it also shows that immunity returns to a better state soon after eating and drinking again. 
First of all, the obligation of fasting during the holy month of Ramadan is an individual duty, and anyone who has the conditions to do so must fast, regardless of whether it is obligatory for others or not. According to Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Sistani, one of the well-known Islamic jurists, if a Muslim fears that he/she will catch Coronavirus, even if he/she takes all precautionary measures, he/she will be relieved of the obligation for each day he/she remains in fear of catching the disease – if he/she were to fast. However, if he/she can reduce the probability of catching the disease so that it becomes reasonably insignificant – even by staying at home and not mixing closely with others, using a mask, medical gloves, frequent disinfection and so on – such that it does not cause unbearable difficulties for the individual, his/her obligation to fast is not waived. 
Another Islamic jurist follows the same line and adds that if a doctor forbids someone from fasting, due to the high risk of getting this virus, that person is not allowed to fast. But this should not lead to disrespecting others that fast and eating in public . Many other Islamic jurists also confirm the fact that one should decide if fasting is risky for him/her or not. If “an individual has a reason to believe that fasting will cause illness, intensify or prolong an illness, or delay one’s recuperation,” he/she is not obliged to fast. But he/she should make up for the missed fastings later in the year . However, some other Islamic jurists consider fasting an obligatory practice whose obligation is not lifted in this period, except if one thinks there is a high probability of getting the disease by fasting .
After all, it is essential to note that fasting in Islam is expected of those who are healthy enough to do so: “Allah desires ease for you, and He does not desire hardship for you” (2:185)
And sick people who fear that fasting may make them worse, risk their health or slow down their recovery are permitted not to fast:
“But should any of you be sick or on a journey, let it be a [similar] number of other days. Those who find it straining shall be liable to atonement by feeding a needy person” (2:184).
In conclusion, regarding the feedback received from the World Health Organization, fasting has nothing to do with the possibility of an increased risk of catching coronavirus. On the other hand, it is not easy to say for sure whether fasting offers some level of protection and immunity against the COVID-19 virus during this global crisis, so we’d better stick to the things we know would work: social distancing, avoiding gatherings, performing rituals separately, hand-washing, hygiene, and self-isolation.
The taste of water is the taste of life.
Mohammad-Baqer Majlesi, Bihar al-Anwar, vol.49, p.99.
Cleanliness is among the manners of prophets.
Mohammad-Baqer Majlesi, Bihar al-Anwar, vol.78, p.335.
Any food that benefits the body and brings energy to it is allowed (Halal), and whatever harms the body and drains its energy is forbidden (Haram).
Baqir Sharif al-Qurashi, Al-Fiqh al-Radawi, p.254.
Try to divide your day into four parts; a part for praying to Allah, one for providing your livelihood, one for spending time with your friends and the ones you trust to tell your mistakes and love you sincerely, and a part for enjoying Halal pleasures which gives you the ability to fulfill the other parts.
Baqir Sharif al-Qurashi, Al-Fiqh al-Radawi, p.337.
The one who puts aside his/her world [ultimately] for the sake of his/her religion, or vice versa, is not among our followers.
Mohammad-Baqer Majlesi, Bihar al-Anwar, vol.78, p.346.
Observe your manners in your relations with the ones older or younger than you.
Mirza Husayn Nuri, Mustadrak al-wasa'il, vol.8, p.354.
Whoever washes away a believer's grief, Allah will save him/her from despair on the Day of Judgment.
Muhammad ibn Ya'qub al-Kulayni, al-Kafi, vol.2, p.200.
Allah has commanded to express gratitude toward Himself and your parents; therefore, if you don't give thanks to your parents, you are not grateful to Allah.
Al-Shaykh al-Saduq, Al-Khisal, p.156.
Reason is your best friend and ignorance, your worst enemy.
Ibn Shu’bah, Tuhaf al-Uqul, p.443.
You are ridiculing yourself if you ask for Allah's help, yet don't make any attempts [to reach your goal].
Muhammadi Reyshahri, Mizan al-Hikmah, hadith no.2790.
The one who greets a poor Muslim differently than a rich person will face Allah's wrath on the Day of Judgement.
Al-Shaykh al-Saduq, Uyoun Akhbar Al-Ridha, vol.2, p.59.
From the two groups who face each other, victory belongs to the one that shows more generosity.
Mohammad-Baqer Majlesi, Bihar al-Anwar, vol.71, p.452.
Modesty has different manifestations; one is for those who know their limitations, accept their position contently, like to treat people the way they expect to be treated, confront insult with benevolence, control their anger and forgive people. Allah loves the righteous.
Muhammad ibn Ya'qub al-Kulayni, al-Kafi, vol.2, p.124.
Allah will treat the one who holds an optimistic view toward Him, the same as his/her approach.
Muhammad ibn Ya'qub al-Kulayni, al-Kafi, vol.8, p.347.
Eating less and refraining from excessive use of food will protect your body against various diseases.
Al-Ma’mun ,al-Risa’la al-Dhahabiya fi al-Tibb, p.270.
Two groups are always sick; A healthy person who abstains from food and a sick person who does not abstain.
Baqir Sharif al-Qurashi, Al-Fiqh al-Radawi, p.340.
Whoever respects Allah's sanctuary, he/she will be respected, and whoever obeys Allah, will be obeyed.
Muhammad ibn Ya'qub al-Kulayni, al-Kafi, vol.1, p.137.
A generous person eats from other people's food [if invited], for people to eat from his/hers, and the ungenerous does not eat from other's food, to not offer his/her own food to others.
Al-Shaykh al-Saduq, Uyoun Akhbar Al-Ridha, vol.1, p.15.
Respect the elderly, be kind to children, and pay a visit to your relatives.
Al-Shaykh al-Saduq, Uyoun Akhbar Al-Ridha, vol.2, p.265.
Allah delays granting the request of a believer, since He is eager to listen to him/her praying, saying, "This is the voice I love listening to" and hasten in granting the request of a hypocrite, saying, "This is the voice I loathe hearing."
Baqir Sharif al-Qurashi, Al-Fiqh al-Radawi, p.345.
Whoever knows his/her value will never be devastated.
Mohammad-Baqer Majlesi, Bihar al-Anwar, vol.72, p.66.
Fitr has been appointed as Eid for Muslims to come together as a community on this day in the presence of the Lord and thank Him for His blessings.
Ibn Qūlawayh, Kamil al-Ziyarat, p.522.
Visit each other regularly to create more love between yourselves, and hold each other's hands and wipe anger away from your hearts.
Mohammad-Baqer Majlesi, Bihar al-Anwar, vol.78, p.347.
The one who borrows something with the intention of giving it back is under Allah's protection until he does so. However, if he doesn't have the intention of paying the debt back to its owner, he is considered a thief.
Baqir Sharif al-Qurashi, Al-Fiqh al-Radawi, p.268.
Patience, knowledge, and silence are signs of awareness. Silence is one of the gates to wisdom. It endows human beings with tenderness and guides them toward virtues.
Muhammad ibn Ya'qub al-Kulayni, al-Kafi, vol.2, p.113.
Wearing perfume is one of the manners of prophets.
Muhammad ibn Ya'qub al-Kulayni, al-Kafi, vol.6, p.510.
The one who repents from sin and repeats doing it seems like a person who is ridiculing his/her Lord.
Muhammad ibn Ya'qub al-Kulayni, al-Kafi, vol.2, p.504.
The value of worshipping does not depend on the number of prayers or fasts. Instead, true worship is pondering deeply on Allah and everything related to Him.
Ibn Shu’bah, Tuhaf al-Uqul, p.442.
The first step in serving Allah is knowing Him.
Al-Shaykh al-Saduq, Al-Tawhid, p.34.
Whoever smiles at his/her fellow believer, will win Allah's reward.
al-Shaykh al-Saduq, Kitāb muṣādaqat al-ikhwān, vol.1, p.157.
The one who doesn't gratify a kindness received by others has not given thanks to Allah Almighty.
Al-Shaykh al-Saduq, Uyoun Akhbar Al-Ridha, vol.2, p.24.
Insignificant sins lead into great sins and the one, who doesn't have any fear of Allah while committing the insignificant ones, won't feel any fear in doing the great ones.
Mohammad-Baqer Majlesi, Bihar al-Anwar, vol.73, p.353.
You are not a devout worshipper if you do not seek forbearance.
Muhammad ibn Ya'qub al-Kulayni, al-Kafi, vol.2, p.11.
If your neighbor is not safe from your harm, you are not among our followers.
Al-Shaykh al-Saduq, Uyoun Akhbar Al-Ridha, vol.2, p.24.
The one who breaks promises is prone to unfortunate incidents.
Mohammad-Baqer Majlesi, Bihar al-Anwar, vol.67, p.186.
Verily, relief, and success comes after despair.
Mohammad-Baqer Majlesi, Bihar al-Anwar, vol.52, p.110.
Faith includes knowing by heart, confessing by the tongue, practicing by all parts of your body.
Ibn Shu’bah, Tuhaf al-Uqul, p.422.
A believer does not leave aside what is right, when in anger, and does not go astray, in happiness, and does not take more than he/she deserves, while in power.
Mohammad-Baqer Majlesi, Bihar al-Anwar, vol.75, p.355.
There is no peace for the stingy, no pleasure for the envious, no guarantee for the rulers, and no conscience for the liar.
Ibn Shu'bah, A Summery of Tuhaf al-Uqul, hadith no. 500249.
Doubt the faith of the one who shows off with his/her worships to Allah, since Allah Al-mighty abhors bragging about worship and appearance.
Mohammad-Baqer Majlesi, Bihar al-Anwar, vol.70, p.252.
The religion of Islam is profoundly concerned with the social life of human beings, and its rules are set to be practiced on a large scale and in all aspects of humans’ life. Therefore, it is inseparable from the financial and political organization of society. So, Islam has built a system of economy compatible with any society  and practical at any given time.
Islam considers the economy as one of the most important aspects of social life, but not its sole purpose which has to be taken into account at the expense of ignoring or harming other aspects of human life. The typical and well-known economic concepts in Islam are Khums, Alms tax (Zakat), Usury (Riba), Mortmain property (Waqf), etc.
A healthy economy according to Islam is one that is vibrant and growing, advantageous for all kinds of people in the society, and free from favoritism and injustice. This is an economy in which a fair amount of income is earned through a sufficient amount of work which is beneficial both for the individuals and society.
Therefore, a Halal source of income -that is the money earned through acceptable ways in Islam- in Islamic society is earned through a job, which is compatible with public interests based on the sharia of Islam. On the contrary, the income earned by any demand regardless of its nature or its effect upon society is not considered Halal according to Islam. In other words, the demands must be for the benefit of humankind -not just materialistically but also spiritually- to result in a healthy and desirable income .
Despite many misunderstandings, Islam never condemns being wealthy or having a prosperous way of living[i]. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “Worshiping has seven parts and its best part is lawfully earning money”. Contrarily, producing wealth in lawful ways, legal trading, and spending money for personal matters without extravagance and prodigality -which is strictly forbidden in Islam- have been highly recommended .
However, it condemns putting financial needs and concerns above other things, living for the sake of gathering money and piling it up, not earning money to have a better life, which is apparently not achieved just by money. On the other hand, if money becomes a means for work, activity, and productivity, then it will result in a more satisfactory and peaceful life .
To conclude, the practical religion of Islam is in favor of a lively economy in which welfare is not restricted to a particular group in society, a typical feature of capitalistic societies. Moreover, wealth is distributed fairly but not equally and regardless of the amount and quality of the work they undertake - characteristic of a communistic economy- among all kinds of people in the society.
It is a system that is continually developing, and each individual has an opportunity to put his or her talents into practice. In other words, social justice is the crucial factor of the Islamic financial organization. A perfect example of this kind of society can be easily depicted in the reign of Muslims’ great religious leader after Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), Imam Ali (AS) [ii].
[i]. Money has been directly called “Kheir” which means “goodness” in the Quran (2:180).
[ii]. On the second day of his reign, Imam Ali (AS) told his people as an announcement of his way of distributing the commonwealth among the society that: “the wealth is God’s property. Thus it will be distributed equally betwixt you, and no one is regarded above the other in this distribution, and there will be the best reward for God-fearers on the Day of Judgement”. Also, he was severely criticized by the upper-class groups in society for his careful observance of neglected people and his similar behavior with all kinds of people from any economic background.
- Sheykh Al-Saduq. Savab al-Aamal va Iqab al-Aamal.
- Morteza Motahhari. Nazari bar Nezame Eghtesadye Islam (An Overview of Islamic Economic system). Tehran: Sadra Publication.