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Ask your doctor, not the Islamic scholar on safe fasting: Mufti Taqi Usmani

  • “There are some extreme views that fasting is very harmful for the diabetes’ patients in all circumstances, and there are some who say fasting should be practiced (even) in worst (health) conditions but I think medical practitioners will be in a better position to explain to the patients as to how they should fast safely,” says the renowned Islamic scholar.
Published February 27, 2021
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Over 91% Muslims around the globe observed fasting in last holy month of Ramdan despite COVID-19 pandemic and despite suffering from various chronic illnesses, vast majority of Muslims would observe fast in the upcoming holy month, experts and Islamic scholars said but called for more scientific evidence and research in the area of diabetes and Ramadan to help people fast safely.

Despite COVID-19 pandemic, millions of Muslims around the globe kept fast last year and this year too, an overwhelmingly large number of people wish to observe fasting in the upcoming holy month of Ramadan but those suffering from chronic illnesses like diabetes, hypertension and heart disease should consult their doctors and physicians for safe fasting and to reap the physical and spiritual benefits of fasting, Islamic scholars and health experts told an international health conference on Saturday.

“There are some extreme views that fasting is very harmful for the diabetes’ patients in all circumstances, and there are some who say fasting should be practiced (even) in worst (health) conditions but I think medical practitioners will be in a better position to explain to the patients as to how they should fast safely”, renowned Islamic scholar Mufti Taqi Usmani said while addressing the inaugural ceremony off 7th International Diabetes and Ramadan Conference 2021.

The two-day online conference, organized by the Baqai Institute of Diabetology and Endocrinology (BIDE) Karachi in collaboration with International Diabetes Federation (IDF), Ramadan and Hajj Study Group and Diabetes and Ramadan (DAR) International Alliance.

Top health experts including diabetologists, endocrinologists, consultant dietitians and researchers from different countries of Africa, Europe, Middle East, South Asia and United States took part in the conference.

Mufti Taqi Usmai maintained that millions of Muslims in the world suffer from different chronic illnesses especially diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and other health issues but they also want to observe fasting in the holy month of Ramadan and want to know the medical facts and expert opinion whether they can fast or not. “It is very welcoming that top health experts from different countries of the world would discuss the issues like safe fasting for people with different health conditions, especially in the COVID-19 era”, he added.

President of International Diabetes Federation (IDF) Prof. Andrew Boulton said Ramadan is one of the five fundamental principles of Islam and people with diabetes really need to know how to look after their diabetes and glycemic control in the holy month of Ramadan.

“Ramadan this is year is more important as there is COVID-19 Pandemic and I hope this meeting will discuss this issue too and answer all the questions in the minds of people with diabetes about their diet, exercise and management of their medicines whether they are taking oral medicines or injectables”, Prof. Boulton said adding that international experts from different countries of the world would be presenting their research on the issue of making fasting safer for the Muslims.

Another eminent diabetologist from Norway and President-elect of the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) Prof. Akhter Hussain said studies show that over 80 percent of people with diabetes like to fast in the holy month of Ramadan while a study conducted in 2010 revealed that around 95 percent of people with type 2 diabetes fasted for 15 days while 65 percent diabetics fasted for the whole month.

“Unfortunately, one in three people with diabetes don’t get proper education as how they can fast safely in the holy month. I’m glad that research in the area of diabetes and Ramdan has increased significantly during last five years but there are still several areas where further research is required to answer questions about different populations and where food habits are different”, he added.

One of the key questions that comes into the mind of people is whether fasting is beneficial or harmful for the people with diabetes, he said adding that people also want to know the best diet they should take at the time of Sahoor and Iftaar that prevents them from hypo and hyperglycemia.

Prof. Yakoob Ahmedani said the people with diabetes and other comorbidities should visit their physician at least 6 to 8 weeks before the start of Ramadan while there is also a need to educate doctors and entire healthcare teams so that they could help people in fasting safely.

Director BIDE and renowned diabetologist Prof. Abdul Basit said in 2013, issues related to diabetes and Ramadan were discussed in Manchester, UK and since then it has been a long journey where a lot of research, guidelines and recommendations have been presented for the safe fasting.

He maintained that experts associated with their institutes have so far generated over 27 publications of international standard while efforts are underway to conduct more research and present scientific evidence on safe fasting for people with diabetes and adding thanked IDF and allied bodies for their cooperation in the conference.


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