Sunday April 19, 2020
A Muslim devotee prays during the Eid al-Fitr prayers to mark the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan in Colombo, Sri Lanka. (File photo: Reuters)
Egypt’s top Sunni Muslim authority Al-Azhar said early April it is not permissible for Muslims to avoid fasting in the holy month of Ramadan amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Al-Azhar said: “It has not been scientifically proven - up to this point - as stated on the website of the World Health Organization Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean - that drinking water is a preventive measure against infection with this disease.”It also added: “There is no evidence that the use of a mouthwash protects against infection with the emerging coronavirus... There are some brands of mouthwashes that may eliminate certain germs for a few minutes in the saliva in the mouth, but this does not mean that they prevent infection with the coronavirus.”
Therefore, it stated: “It is not permissible for Muslims to not fast in Ramadan unless it is scientifically proven that failure to drink water has a health effect as a preventive measure for contracting this disease... The decision regarding that is up to credible doctors, since they are the specialists in this matter, and their decisions are binding for every Muslim as to whether or not to fast.”
Al-Azhar, however, highlighted the fact that if a fasting Muslim wanted to wet his/her mouth, Islam has permitted gargling with water during Wudu (ablution), on condition they don’t overdo it so that water does not enter the stomach, invalidating the fast.
Ramadan is expected to start the coming Friday, depending on the sighting of the Moon.
Saudi Arabia’s Arabia’s Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz Al al-Sheikh, the highest religious authority in the country, said on Friday that Taraweeh prayers and Eid al-Fitr prayers should be performed at home if the coronavirus outbreak continues.
Egypt officially suspended all public group iftar and activities earlier this month as a precautionary measure as well.