The Elderly and Fasting

Since 2012-11-19

The elderly represents an age group including a number of different generations. Old age is not a disease but is a normal stage of life more vulnerable to diseases.


In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful, the most Gracious

Allah Almighty says in His Holy Book, {Allâh is He Who created you in (a state of) weakness, then gave you strength after weakness, then after strength gave (you) weakness and grey hair. He creates what He wills. And it is He Who is the All-Knowing, the All-Powerful (i.e. Able to do all things).} [Surat Ar-Rûm 30:54]
{اللَّـهُ الَّذِي خَلَقَكُم مِّن ضَعْفٍ ثُمَّ جَعَلَ مِن بَعْدِ ضَعْفٍ قُوَّةً ثُمَّ جَعَلَ مِن بَعْدِ قُوَّةٍ ضَعْفًا وَشَيْبَةً ۚ يَخْلُقُ مَا يَشَاءُ ۖ وَهُوَ الْعَلِيمُ الْقَدِيرُ} الروم: 54
Transliteration:Allahu allathee khalaqakum min daAAfin thumma jaAAala min baAAdi daAAfin quwwatan thumma jaAAala min baAAdi quwwatin daAAfan washaybatan yakhluqu ma yashao wahuwa alAAaleemu alqadeeru

The elderly represents an age group including a number of different generations. Old age is not a disease but is a normal stage of life more vulnerable to diseases.

The verdict of the inability to fast due to old age or sickness

Whoever is unable to fast because of old age or sickness must feed a poor person for every day. Allah almighty has said, {And as for those who can fast with difficulty, (e.g. an old man), they have (a choice either to fast or) to feed a Miskîn (poor person) (for every day).} [Surat Al-Baqarah 2:184]
{وَعَلَى الَّذِينَ يُطِيقُونَهُ فِدْيَةٌ طَعَامُ مِسْكِينٍ} البقرة: 184   
Transliteration:waAAala allatheena yuteeqoonahu fidyatun taAAamu miskeenin
Ibn Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, said, “a permit (not to fast in Ramadan) was given to the old man and the old woman who are unable to fast, so for every day they feed a poor person.” [Reported by Al-Bukhari]
«هو الشيخ الكبير، والمرأة الكبيرة، لا يستطيعان أن يصوما، فيطعمان مكان كل يوم مسكينا» رواه البخاري

- There are certain physiological changes occurring with old age. They distinguish the elderly from other age groups in terms of readiness to diseases. The original symptoms of the disease differ from the elderly to the younger patients.

- The elderly can observe fasting if there is no inhibitor of fasting such as an illness or common fatigue. The doctor can adjust the dose of medication if there is a need for that.

- Dehydration is one of the most serious problems for the elderly; and that is because of their lack of the sense of thirst and consequently the lack of drinking water. We advise the elderly to drink water and fluids in abundance and at frequent intervals after breaking the fast.

- The Breakfast meal must be balanced in its content of different nutrients, preferably of low-calorie, easily digestible and low fat ingredients. Excessive fat hinders digestion in addition to causing many complications to the liver and blood vessels.

- It is preferable that the breakfast meal be thoroughly cooked, to be easy to digest and swallow; because as we know, the elderly may be losing some of their teeth.

- Eating green salad is essential to provide the elderly with vitamins, minerals and the necessary salts. It provides the necessary fiber to avoid constipation in addition to its content of liquids.

- The elderly can walk (as a kind of sport) in the period after breaking the fast. Such sport has many benefits, such as activating the blood circulation and relaxing the muscles.

- The Sahur is important for the elderly. It provides the body with the necessary food and energy and helps them to endure the long periods of fasting.

- Delaying having the sahur is better than taking it early as it diminishes the feeling of hunger or thirst.

- The sahur must contain fluids and dairy products such as yogurt and cheese as well as a kind of fruit.

- The elderly may complain of headaches, especially during the first days of fasting, when the body tries to adjust and adapt to the requirements of fasting. We must differentiate between the headaches originating from illnesses which may occur due to the change in the pattern of treatment or as a result of the patient’s inattention to treatment, and that which often occurs as a result of fasting.

- One of the causes of headaches associated with fasting is the drop of the level of blood sugar as a result of longer periods of fasting. This syndrome disappears when the body adapts to fasting.

Teeth health in Ramadan

The teeth are a mirror of the human health... When neglected, they turn into a place for launching microbes and germs that attack the body. Neglecting dental hygiene leads to the formation of festering pockets which launch infectious agents. They infect the tonsils, pharynx, ears and other organs. The infection may even reach the digestive system itself.

There is no doubt that taking care of dental health must not be neglected in Ramadan. The teeth are affected by the length of the fasting period which leads to the decomposition of food remains in the mouth leaving the unpleasant smell coming from it. We must differentiate between this smell and the smell of the mouth of the fasting person mentioned by the Messenger of Allah, prayers and peace of Allah be upon him. He has said, “And the breath (of an observer of fast) is sweeter to Allah than the fragrance of musk.” [Reported by Al-Bukhari 7492 and Muslim 1151] 
«ولخلوف فم الصائم أطيب عند الله من ريح المسك» رواه البخاري ومسلم
Here are, O my Muslim brother, some tips that will help you on taking care of the health of your mouth and your teeth during Ramadan.

- Reducing carbohydrates and sugars in the sahur and at the same time increasing fruits and vegetables.

- It is preferable to eat fruits or vegetables at the end of each meal. The fiber in fruits and vegetable always clean the teeth from the remains of the carbohydrates and sugary foods. It is usually advised to eat a piece of dry bread to perform the same purpose.

- Brush the teeth very well after taking breakfast and sahur.


Siwak (Arak toothbrush) in Ramadan

The fasting person is permitted to use the siwak during the day in Ramadan and on any other day when one is fasting. Siwak is from the Sunnah. It is reported in the authentic Hadith that it is purification for the mouth and a way of seeking Allah’s pleasures. It is affirmatively legitimate during ablution and before performing prayers. It does not spoil fasting unless the siwak has a taste that affects your saliva. If so, do not swallow the taste. In addition, if, because of using a siwak, there is blood from your gum, do not swallow it. If you are cautious of that, so nothing affects the fasting. [Sheikh ibn Uthaymeen, may Allah have mercy on him]

The verdict of using toothbrush with bleeding

There is nothing wrong in using toothbrush after starting fasting. As for using the toothpaste, the more apparent opinion is that it is undesirable because it has a smell and a taste that may be mixed with saliva and it is not ensured that it will not be swallowed. This who needs it can use it after the sahur and before the starting time of fasting. If he uses it in the morning and be cautious of not swallowing anything of it, so there is nothing wrong in that if there is need. If there is a little blood coming out from the teeth during rubbing them with the brush or the siwak, it does not cause breaking of the fast. Allah knows best. [Sheikh Ibn Jibrin, may Allah have mercy on him]

Seize the chance… smoking and fasting

If the fasting person is able to quit smoking during his fasting, the psychological value of this is not to be ignored... Smoking is a kind of sick habit or psychological dependence, which is held by some under the umbrella of addiction. This is due to the association of smoking to many of the situations that are repeated daily in their normal lives, such as meeting with others, reaching an important point in a discussion or entering to the car or office... These things are repeated during fasting, but the fasting person does not resort to the smoking, which he has used to for many years.
Everyone who is related to people suffering from addiction or dependence on drugs knows how difficult it is to break this association, even by modern treatment methods which aim at helping to quit these sick habits. This behavior of the fasting person shows the great value in accomplishing what is difficult to reach by other methods, but unfortunately, after finishing the fast, most smokers do not cling to the gain they have achieved while they were fasting... However, to reach mental health, it is important that the fasting person persists in holding the mental stimulant dose which is achieved by fasting, all through the year.

There is tranquility and comfort in fasting for the internal organs and the reflex nerves. It is dangerous to the integrity of these nerves that the individual starts the activity of the digestive and respiratory systems by a dose of nicotine in the breakfast time.

The smoker who breaks his fast on a cigarette irritates the nervous system while it was in a state of tranquility; it is like someone who throws icy water on a sleeping person. When the empty stomach breaks the fast on the saliva contaminated with tar, nicotine and the products of tobacco combustion, it will be subject to infections and will not be capable of functioning.

So, let the month of Ramadan be an opportunity to get rid of smoking and to prevent the body from its destructive effects. Whoever is unable to quit smoking during Ramadan, the least he can do is to reduce smoking as much as possible and not to smoke before breakfast or immediately after it.

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