As 30 days of fasting for Ramadan begins, the Canadian Muslim COVID-19 Task Force is encouraging the Muslim community to not prolong getting their vaccine.
“Ramadan is for a lot of people like a beacon of hope, where they can reset, rejuvenate and every day counts,” explained Rufaida Mohammed, co-chair for the task force.
“For some, when they get that vaccine, the fear is if (they) get a high fever, if (they) have symptoms for two to three days, maybe (they’ll) react in not a positive way and be out for a week, like (they’re) going to miss out on that fasting.”
Mohammed said while the Muslim community might not want to give up the vaccine, they’re also worried about missing out on their fasting.
“It’s a rock and a hard place. The vaccine is really about saving lives, keeping people out of the hospital or getting to that really critical stage.”
However, she assured, COVID-19 vaccinations do not interfere with fasting for Ramadan. The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are also both halal.
“Having the injection does not break your fast in any way because nothing is being ingested. It’s an injection in the arm,” Mohammed noted.
“That, I think, is quite clear, it perhaps just the symptoms that might be felt after having the vaccine that might cause people to not be able to fast because they might have a fever… or they’re in pain and their body is aching for a day or so.”
Mohammed said that even when Ramadan is over if people haven’t completed their month of fasting, they still have time.
“Even if Ramadan finished and you completed, let’s say, 25 of those fasts – because you weren’t well for those five because it’s 30 days of fasting – when Ramadan finishes, you can continue fasting and make that up and it’s still considered quite valid.
”That’s what we’re trying to encourage people, there’s still that opportunity.”
Ramadan, which begins on Tuesday (April 13), continues for 30 days until May 12.
Mohammed said at this time of year, it averages about 15 hours of fasting.
“The fasting itself is absolutely no food, no water, no gum, just nothing. Nothing is allowed to go into your mouth. With that in mind, you are also fasting with that physical aspect, but you’re fasting … with all of your senses.”
She said it’s “really about going inward.”
“During COVID, the social isolation that we’ve all experienced in relation to this whole idea of shutting down, locking down, every community has experienced that.”
“Fasting is very much parallel to that. When you remove the food when you are in a different mode of thinking, you are forced to examine other aspects of your life,” Mohammed said.
“So, you question what is the greater purpose here and it is about having good relations with people around you and doing as much as you can for others as you would want them to do for yourself.”
The Canadian Muslim COVID-19 Task Force, which is based out of Ontario, was started as a partnership between the Canadian Council of Imams and the Muslim Medical Association of Canada.
Mohammed said the two organizations began reaching out to “small pockets of people” during the first wave last year and then started weekly meetings to establish guidelines and “how to keep people safe but mindful” during the pandemic.
The task force then moved on to “traversing barriers,” including issues with language.
“Sometimes (the restrictions are) being developed at a higher level than layman’s terms, or even in ways that our refugee communities or low-income communities or vulnerable populations who may not speak the language can’t understand.
“We saw that as being a barrier for knowledge translation, for sure.”
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