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Fasting can be complicated, but disabled Muslims find alternatives this holy month

May 7, 2019

The holy month of Ramadan has begun. Muslims from across the globe are going to be fasting throughout the month from sunrise to sunset. The ninth month of the Islamic calendar is considered sacred by Muslims because they believe that the holy Quran was revealed to Prophet Mohammed during this time. Undoubtedly, it takes so much will-power and determination to go without food and water for many hours. When you are a disabled person who is observing fasting, challenges can be many.

Many Muslims, who have a disability, believe in fasting throughout the holy month. While some others have to make adjustments in order to suit their body requirements and needs. You can always find ways to observe the holy month without fasting maybe spend more time at the mosque or donate food and money to the needy. It is all about the choices that you make to get closer to God and become more spiritual, and is very personal. Like how, Arman Ali, Executive Director, National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP) puts it. Ali, who is a wheelchair user, believes that fasting is an extremely personal thing.

I do not fast every year. This year, I won't be able to do it because I'am travelling a lot for work. Hence, it is difficult to establish a routine. Fasting is a very personal thing. It is up to the person and how he or she wants to connect to God and their religion. You cannot determine any alternatives for not fasting. It depends from person to person-Arman Ali, Executive Director, NCPEDP

For parents who have disabled kids, things can be quite challenging this month, especially when they have to be taken to mosques for prayers. The child might become restless and unmanageable inside the mosque premises causing inconvenience to other people who are there to attend prayers. Parents can always choose to pray from home which is yet another way to get closer to God.

Fathima Sheikh, whose son Usaid Sheikh has autism says that her son takes occasional breaks, but ensures to fast during this month.

"Usaid has been fasting ever since he was 12 years old because he sees his elder brother doing it. Now he is 19 years old, and has been doing it according to his routine. When he is out playing sports or has other physical activities, I tell him not to fast. But if he has decided to do it, he does it without anyone pushing him to. Fasting is all about testing your will-power. I let him do it if he feels like, says Fathima.

Fasting can bring numerous health challenges to a disabled person that needs to be closely monitored and cared for.

Dr Lyse Bin Muhammad, who is an ayurvedic doctor from Kerala, is the President of All Kerala Wheelchair Rights Federation (AKWRF). Muhammad says that fasting doesn't always have to be going without food or water. There are alternatives that can be followed.

"I'am unable fast due to my health conditions. My body demands a lot of water. Hence, I have to keep drinking it and stay hydrated as much as possible. Or else, it will end up in urinary infections. But Quran has given us alternatives if you are unable to fast. For instance, you can feed a poor person for 30 days throughout the month which is what I have been doing for the past many years. To those who have health problems, be careful when you fast. People who are paralysed and so on must drink a lot of water so that your body is hydrated in this weather. Or else, you will end up with bed sores and other health problems, says Muhammad.

This is indeed a month to celebrate and be joyful. Every person can choose how they fast or whether they want to take alternatives for fasting. Eventually, it is all about putting in your best to get closer to God.

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