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.
Imagine one of your ordinary days in which you go out in the morning to go to work or the university or anywhere else. You attend some gatherings. You see men and women around you interacting and greeting on different occasions and in various manners, more frequently shaking hands.
You are a member of this community too, and you also used to greet different people with whom you had interactions every day and perhaps it was not important for you if the person you shake hands with is a man or a woman. But now, as a Muslim, you must know that shaking hands in Islam with the opposite gender is forbidden. If this has raised a question in your mind, we will be discussing the issue here.
As a scientific fact, everything we do, or we say, or any other kind of action we perform via every part of our body from legs up to the eyes, or even any thought passing into our minds has energy in itself. Once we bring something into existence, such as an utterance or an action, hence its specific kind of energy, it will never go to an end; but it is transformed and transferred to different targets, leaving its influence on them and first on ourselves.
Thus in our interactions, we are producing some kind of energy. So when people from the opposite genders confront each other and shake hands or kiss or hug each other, as a kind of greeting, what kind of energy is being interchanged between them?
God has put some kind of desire in human’s nature by which the opposite sexes are attracted to each other. When women and men who are non-Mahrams, greet each other in any way involving touching their bodies or looking at one another in such a way that arises this desire, they will be leaving a negative effect on each other; although it may feel pleasant.
Once this instinct is provoked, to satisfy their sensual needs, people may go further in their relationships and may be driven into immoral and sinful acts. The final result would be regret, distrust among people and broken families and other mental and physical consequences. Because in Islam’s viewpoint, sensual desires must only be satisfied among spouses. Due to this and some other reasons we might not know, God has set some rules regarding the quality of relationships between women and men. Following these rules will make concepts like marriage and family meaningful.
One might say that we do not have any bad intentions in our relationships with those who are considered non-Mahram for us. We can control our desires when confronting them and nothing sinful happens. But the prophet Mohammad (PBUH) and his family who were the purest ones of all time obeyed these rules too.
They avoided any kind of interaction with non-Mahrams that are considered to be Haram.
When people came to the prophet for Bay’ah (to swear allegiance), he shook hands with men, and for women, a container of water was brought in which the prophet put his hand and took his hand out and then women put their hands in the water to make their pledge .
A Muslim is only allowed to touch the body of those of the same gender and those of the opposite gender who are Mahram for him/her.
A man can only look at the face and hands of a non-mahram woman if they do not have decorations and on the condition that it is not for pleasure [i].
In the Quran, we read: “Say to the believers, that they cast down their eyes and guard their private parts… And say to the believing women, that they cast down their eyes and guard their private parts, and reveal not their adornment, save such as is outward…” (24:30-31). Non-Mahrams must be careful with their speaking, too. In another part of Quran, we read: “…be not abject in your speech, so that he in whose heart is sickness may be lustful, but speak honorable words.” (33:32). In these verses of the Holy Quran, the danger of arousing sexual desires through speaking and looking has been warned. However, there are no limits to touching, looking, and talking between spouses.
And some exceptions may occur. For example, if a doctor of the same gender is not available, one can go to a doctor from the opposite gender and touching and looking is permitted in this case. But only in case of necessity and as much as needed.
Most probably it will be hard for you to find an excuse to refuse to shake hands with non-mahrams especially those with whom you had usual interactions before. Because in your society this may result in a misunderstanding about your attitude toward people.
When a non-mahram wants to shake a hand with you, if you politely say that due to religious matters you can't shake hands but you are pleased to meet them, in most cases, they will accept it from you without being offended. This would be better rather than falsely mentioning illness and other things. But if you explained your reason honestly and someone reacted badly, you do not need to bother yourself convincing that person.
To conclude, shaking hands, kissing, hugging, and every other kind of greeting and interaction between non-Mahrams which involves touching and also looking at each other on purpose, and talking with each other in a tempting manner are Haram in Islam.
[i] Refer to the article “The Islamic etiquette of looking” for more information.
- shakin hands in islam
- Mohammad ibn Jarir Tabari, “Tarikh-e Tabari,” vol.3, p.61-62.
Each year in Ramadan, millions of Muslims around the world observe one of their religion’s most sacred practices, fasting (Swam). During this month, Muslims refrain from eating any food, drinking any liquid, smoking and engaging in any sexual activity from dawn to sunset. They also try to abstain from vices in favor of spirituality and seeking closeness to Allah. Here are some spiritual and social facts about fasting, you might find new:
Wouldn’t it be easier for you to refrain from unlawful acts when you deliberately avoid doing things which are lawful for you on normal days? Despite its physical benefits, fasting is much beyond mere abstention from foods, drinks and other physical wants. In fact, we have fully observed the practice of fasting only if we also keep your tongue, ears, eyes, hands, feet and all our other organs away from sin. So, fasting would be the most helpful if our soul also refrains from worldly desires [i].
“There are many people who get nothing out of their fasts but hunger and thirst, and many more who get nothing out of their night prayers but exertions and sleepless nights.” 
Patience is one of the most important virtues in Islam. Muslims have always been advised to learn and develop this characteristic in different aspects of their life. There are many verses in the Quran and narrations about the significance of patience. the Holy Quran says: “O you who have faith! Take recourse in patience and prayer; indeed, Allah is with the patient” (2:153). It is also narrated from Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) that: “Faith is composed of two halves: One half is patience and the other is gratitude” 
As through fasting, we endure the pains of thirst and food deprivation patiently. We can also practice self-control and tolerance in other situations.
Many studies have shown that fasting can have many health benefits. These include lower blood pressure, reduced cholesterol, reduction in blood sugar levels, detoxification of the body, and brain and Alzheimer’s disease prevention, etc. . That is why fasting has now become one of the most popular diet trends around the world. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) says: “fast to be healthy” 
When fasting, we focus more on our inner self. We try to free ourselves from worldly desires, which makes us achieve contentment, happiness and inner peace.
One aspect of God’s favor upon the fasting person is that his/her request will be always fulfilled by Him. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) has said: “The invocation of the fasting person will never be rejected” . It is also narrated from Imam Ali (AS): “The sleep of the fasting person is worship, and his/her silence is deemed as glorifying, his/her prayer is answered and his/her good deeds are multiplied” .
By forbidding ourselves from eating, we begin to feel, although to a small extent, the pain of poverty a countless number of our fellow human beings suffer from. And this taste of hunger will make us feel we are all equals in one way or another. That is, when we will most probably have mercy on the poor and give in charity to support them.
What’s more, fasting, in a different sense, is a reminder of the deprivation we will undergo on the Day of Judgement.
Fasting is a manifestation of the Islamic unity. Muslims around the world start and end fasting nearly the same day. They also make visitations and gather together to break their fast, at Iftar. Inviting friends and relatives for Iftar is so recommended in Islam introducing it as one the most rewarding acts in Ramadan. “The reward of giving Iftar to a fasting person is the same as the reward of fasting.”  This enhances friendship and family ties among members of the Muslim community. It also brings them kindness, brotherhood, sympathy, compassion, and love, as well.
In a rather spiritual sense, fasting will grant us protection from the wrath of Allah and lead to salvation from hellfire in the hereafter. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) has said: “Fasting is a shield that protects against hellfire” .
There is still more to fasting than the eight above-mentioned points. fasting is actually one the most important practices the religion of Islam has been built upon. In short, it is a sign of faith, to see which one of us is sincerely obedient to Allah. It is a way to renew our faith in Allah. To be more observant of our deeds, to get in touch with our inner self and our Creator once again. What other lessons do you think we can learn from Ramadan?
[i] Imam Ali (AS): “The most advantageous form of fasting is the abstinence of soul from worldly desires” .
- Tasnif al-Ghurar al-Hikam. Wa Durar al-Kilam, p. 176, Hadith 3346
- Nahjul Balagha (Peak of Eloquence), Sobhi Saleh, p. 495, Saying. 145
- Nahj al-Fasaha, Hadith 1070
- Health Benefit
- Nahj al-Fasaha, p. 547, Hadith 1854
- Nahj al-Fasaha, p. 547, Hadith 1856
- Da’wat, p. 27, Hadith 45
- Muhammad ibn Ya'qub al-Kulayni, Kitab al-Kafi, vol.4, p.68, hadith no.1.
- ibid, p. 62.