Preparing for fasting the holy month of Ramadan, UK Islamic organizations and medics have issued warning ahead of Ramadan, as Muslims gear up for 19 hour fasting during the holy month.
“In 2014, the fasting hours for Ramadan will be some 19 hours long. With some five hours only available to eat, drink, sleep and pray, Ramadan in the UK will be tough,” the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) said in a statement cited by Al-Arabiya on Saturday, June 29.
Muslims in UK and most Muslim countries will start fasting on Sunday, June 29, on the first day of the holy month of Ramadan.
Ramadan, the holiest month in Islamic calendar, is expected to start on Saturday in North America according to astronomical calculations.
In Ramadan, adult Muslims, save the sick and those traveling, abstain from food, drink, smoking and sex between dawn and sunset.
This year, Muslims in the UK will have to abstain for food and water from dawn to dusk, for a period that reaches 19 hours a day.
Worried about people who suffer from diabetes and dehydration, the MCB leaflet included some advices to fasting Muslims.
“Long fasts put you at higher risk of low blood sugar levels and dehydration. If the weather is hot you can also become dehydrated without drinking, which can make you ill,” an MCB leaflet said.
“High blood sugar levels can also occur if you become dehydrated and/ or if you eat excessively at Suhoor or Iftar.”
“In accordance with Islamic teachings, all those who are ill, frail, pregnant, menstruating or are travelling are exempt from fasting,”
Sheikh Hamid Khalifa, the former Imam of the London Islamic Center, noted that Muslims should abide by the Islamic teachings and not to fast if their health faced any risks.
“If they are able to, these people may make up the fast at a later date, perhaps during the winter months with a shorter daylight period, such as November, December or January,” Sheikh Khalifa told Al Arabiya News.
“But if they cannot fast at all, in either summer or in the winter months, they can complete their duties by offering charity or providing food to the poor.
“There should be no change in fasting times for countries such as the UK or even Egypt, where fasting will be up to 16 hours. Last week, it was up for debate that a fatwa [religious edict] could be issued to reduce fasting times, this should never be the case,” Sheikh Khalifa added.
With about 325,000 British Muslims having diabetes, Britain’s North West Ambulance Service rushed to issue a statement insisting that balanced food and fluid intake between fasts is essential.
“If during this Ramadan period you start to feel unwell, disorientated or confused, our advice as supported by Islamic principles is to stop fasting and have a drink of water or other fluids,” the statement said.
“This is especially important for older adults, and for those with controlled medical conditions such as low/high blood pressure, diabetes and those who are receiving dialysis treatment.”
Also, local British councils have also issued warnings, among them Buckinghamshire County Council which also warned of the dangers of dehydration.
“When Ramadan falls in the summer months it’s really important to take extra care to drink enough before the fast to keep your fluid levels up during the day and avoid dehydration,” Buckinghamshire’s director of public health Jane O’Grady was quoted as saying by a local newspaper.
“Do watch out for more vulnerable members of the community, especially if the weather is very warm, to make sure that they stay healthy during the holy month.”
Britain is home to a Muslim community of nearly 2.7 million.
Muslims dedicate their time during the holy month to be closer to Allah through prayers, self-restraint and good deeds.