Istanbul, Blue Mosque during Ramadan

Religious authorities call for precaution against coronavirus in Ramadan

Turkish religious authorities remind Muslim faithful about the obligation to fast in Ramadan, but avoiding traditional gatherings with family, friends and neighbours.

Turkey’s top religious authority called this week for maintaining precautions and social distance measures during the holy month for Muslims of Ramadan, which begins next week according to the Islamic calendar, calling for vigilance to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

In a statement, the Turkish Religious Affairs Office (Diyanet) recalled that “iftar (the daily break-fast dinner) meetings with family, neighbours and friends should be avoided,” while informing Muslims that the fast during Ramadan it is an obligation for the faithful from which they are not exempt due to the pandemic.

Citing the opinions of medical experts, religious authorities point out that fasting not only does not pose any health risk, but there is also scientific evidence that it helps to strengthen the body’s immune system.

However, COVID-19 patients are exempt from fasting if doctors determine that fasting may aggravate their situation, although Diyanet adds that they would be obliged as Muslims to recover those fasting days once their health improves; nor are health workers required to fast during Ramadan if their fasting may affect their health or work.

During this year’s Ramadan, Turkey’s mosques will be closed for traditional tarawih prayers. Since the detection of the coronavirus outbreak in Turkey, mosques have also been closed for mass prayers on Friday. Fasting during the holy month of Ramadan is one of the 5 pillars of Islam, and in Turkey it begins next Friday, April 24th.