Staying healthy during Ramadan

At Barts Health, WeCare about Staying Healthy during Ramadan. Ramadan is the month in which Muslims refrain from eating and drinking during the daylight hours from dawn to sunset.

This year, the holiest month in the Islamic calendar starts on or around 5 May 2019 and lasts until around 4 June 2019. The starting and ending dates depends on the new moon sighting. The fasting hours increase to around 17 hours as days get longer at the later part of the month. 

Muslim adults are required to fast from dawn to sunset, but those in poor health or who have deteriorating health, the very elderly and mothers who are breastfeeding are exempt from doing so.

People who suffer from any chronic illness or health complication are advised to speak to their GP to see if they can safely fast during Ramadan. If fasting is not recommended by the GP, residents should speak to their local Imam. Imam can then advise them that there are ways they may be able to get the same reward as fasting.

Yunus Dhudwala , Head of our Chaplaincy Service at Barts Health NHS Trust, said: “Ramadan is a very important spiritual month for Muslims and fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam that is practiced during the month. Although everyone will want to fast, patients who suffer from any chronic illness or health complication should consult their health professional prior to fasting, to see if they can do so safely during Ramadan.

“Remember that Islam enables you to avoid fasting if your health is likely to deteriorate and it will be un-Islamic to make your health worse due to fasting.”

Professor Tahseen Chowdhury, Consultant Diabetologist at Barts Health NHS Trust, said: “Many people in the area hope to fast during the month of Ramadan. It is important, however, that if you have significant health problems such as diabetes, heart disease or kidney problems, you consult with your GP, nurse or consultant and seek advice on whether or not it is safe to fast. Many health conditions can be seriously affected by fasting.”

The Trust aims to encourage people to fast safely, our Muslim chaplains are on hand to support, educate and advise patients and staff.   

Advice for people with diabetes on how to stay healthy during Ramadan can be found on the Diabetes UK website

Support for Muslim patients

Staff are asked to show their usual consideration and sensitivity towards colleagues and patients who wish to observe the fast. This may mean making certain practical arrangements on the wards, especially with regard to mealtimes and medication. Those fasting need a meal before the break of dawn and another after sunset. Breaking the fast with dates and/or other sweet food and water before a meal is the usual practice.

Prayer

During Ramadan, Muslims are also likely to want to spend more time in prayer, reading the Qu’ran, observing times of quiet and special rituals. For the purpose of prayer, water is required for ritual ablution. Facilities needed for patients include water for cleanliness, individual prayer mats and some quiet recesses, even at their bedsides. 

'Id-ul-Fitr

The end of Ramadan is marked by the celebration of 'Id-ul-Fitr. This is one of the most important occasions in the Muslim religious calendar and begins with a compulsory congregational prayer in a mosque or other suitable place. It is also a great social and family occasion, and some patients and staff may wish to have time away from the hospitals in order to reflect more.

Take a look at our Ramadan health factsheet for information on fasting safely

The Ramadan health factsheet is also available in local major languages:
Urdu
Arabic
Bengali
French
Gujarati
Somali

More information

If you need to speak to an Imam for specific advice, please contact our Muslim Chaplaincy Service:

  • The Royal London and St Bartholomew's hospitals on 020 3594 2070
  • Newham and Whipps Cross hospitals on 020 7363 8053