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Some scholars say the asthma inhaler breaks the fast

And now, the NHS’s FAQ page for Ramadan.

Is fasting harmful when a woman is expecting a baby? Must pregnant women fast?
There’s medical evidence to show that fasting in pregnancy is not a good idea. If a pregnant woman feels strong and healthy enough to fast, especially during the early part of the pregnancy, she may do so.

Wtf? It’s not a good idea, but she may do so if she’s strong? Why would they say that?! That’s not medical advice – it’s contrary to medical advice. But it gets worse.

If she doesn’t feel well enough to fast, Islamic law gives her clear permission not to fast, and to make up the missed fasts later. If she is unable to do this, she must perform fidyah (a method of compensation for a missed act of worship).

That’s not medical advice at all. That’s a goddy thing, and it has nothing to do with the NHS. As far as the NHS is concerned it’s not remotely true that “she must perform fidyah.”

From what age can children fast safely?

Children are required to fast upon reaching puberty. It isn’t harmful. Fasting before this age is tolerated differently depending on the attitude of the parents and the child’s general health and nutrition.

Fasting for children under the age of seven or eight isn’t advisable. It’s a good idea to make children aware of what fasting involves and to practise fasting for a few hours at a time.

Irresponsible; bad. Giving parents permission (which is not the NHS’s to give) to force their children to do an unhealthy thing because of religious commands. That is not the job of the NHS.

And then a real shocker.

Can I use an asthma inhaler during Ramadan?

Muslim experts have differing opinions on this issue. Some say that using an asthma inhaler isn’t the same as eating or drinking, and is therefore permitted during fasting. In their view, people with asthma can fast and use their inhalers whenever they need to.

However, other scholars say that the inhaler provides small amounts of liquid medicine to the lungs, so it breaks the fast. They say that people with poor control of their asthma must not fast until good control is achieved. Some people with asthma may opt for longer-acting inhalers so that they can fast. See your GP for further advice.

Oh good god. I find that hard to believe.

There’s plenty more garbage – this is written absolutely from the point of view of taking the supposed rules of Ramadan as completely binding and beyond question.

Can I swim during fasting?

Yes, but do not drink the water. A bath or shower, or swimming, has no effect on the fast. However, no water should be swallowed during any of these activities as that would break the fast.

See what I mean?

Does a breastfeeding woman have to fast?

No. Islamic law says a breastfeeding mother does not have to fast. Missed fasts must be compensated for by fasting at a later date, or fidyah, once breastfeeding has stopped.

Can a Muslim patient take tablets, have injections or use patches while fasting?

Taking tablets breaks the fast. However, injections, patches, eardrops and eyedrops do not break the fast as they are not considered to be food and drink (though there are differences of opinion among Muslim scholars on these issues). Islamic law says sick people should not fast.

Could dehydration become so bad that you have to break the fast?

Yes. You could become very dehydrated if you do not drink enough water before the fast. Poor hydration can be made worse by weather conditions, and even everyday activities such as walking to work or housework.

If you produce very little or no urine, feel disoriented and confused, or faint due to dehydration, you must stop fasting and have a drink of water or other fluid. Islam doesn’t require you to harm yourself in fulfilling the fast. If a fast is broken, it will need to be compensated for by fasting at a later date.

No it won’t “need” to be compensated for by fasting at a later date. That’s a religious “requirement” and it’s nothing to do with the NHS.

What a chaotic mess.

Comments

  1. Blanche Quizno says

    What an asinine religion. Just how stupid do people have to be to accept that bullshit??

  2. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    You expect bullshit from religions. But Jesus H Christ, Britain. That genuinely surprised me, which is hard to do.

  3. Silentbob says

    I look forward to the NHS’s next publication on how to safely chop the hands off thieves while minimising the chance of infecting the stump. What exactly is the halal way of sterilising your amputation instrument? What do the Muslim scholars say?

  4. Brian E says

    @Blance Quizno

    What an asinine religion. Just how stupid do people have to be to accept that bullshit??

    I think John Wilkins has a good explanation.

    This might help explain why it is that no amount of reasoned argument with evidence can sway such folk. Think of this as a kind of investment: one spends a long period developing one’s beliefs and social connections. If you are challenged in your beliefs, you put at risk your social networks with those who use the silly beliefs you hold as a test of inclusion, and therefore risk your social connections. To start again will cost you time, effort and resources that could be better spent. It takes a real crisis of faith to be forced to reconsider these core beliefs. Few people will find themselves challenged when they are honest, costly and hard to fake signals of community inclusion.

    TL;DR It’s proof that you’re for real, and can be trusted in the community. The sillier, the better.

    http://evolvingthoughts.net/2014/01/why-do-believers-believe-silly-things-the-function-of-denialism/

    Honest signalling
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Signalling_theory

  5. Blanche Quizno says

    Good points all, Brian E (5). I believe that this is why urbanization is tolling the death knell of organized religion, and why organized religions are in decline worldwide. Their only hope of keeping their numbers up lies in their members’ reproduction rates, as none of the established religions has shown any ability to recruit educated adults or expand outside of its territory of origin.

    Now, more people live in urban areas than in rural areas – for the first time in the history of the US. When people live in a rural community, they have to integrate into an established social order, typically centered upon the local church. Join or be an outcast – those are your choices. But when people move to a city, they’re suddenly surrounded by strangers, with many different beliefs and preferences, and there are multiple opportunities to socialize. You can go down to the nearby sports bar and watch the boxing match (or soccer!); you can join a gym; you can go to the dog park with your dog or the neighborhood park with your children; you can find a book club through your local library; get involved with charity and social activism via Rotary; volunteer at the animal shelter or facilities for the elderly or at an art museum or the library or whatever – soooo many opportunities! And with each, you have a better chance of meeting people who share your preferences. In these locations and groups, you’re more likely to find people with whom you have something in common, as opposed to simply joining a church and hoping you might meet someone you have something other than church in common with (good luck).

    Against this tapestry of preference-oriented communities and social groups, churches have little to offer. Increasingly, they are populated by zealots or unidimensional people (whose only interest and identity is their religion). Nobody wants to be around that!

    Plus, with the Internet within arm’s reach, it’s very easy to check out different religions – AND find out what their apostates have to say about what’s REALLY going on under the cheery surface.

    Given that religions such as Christianity and Islam cannot survive without coercion (forcing everyone to join under pain of death), this smorgasbord of socializing options (no longer depending upon the church!) coupled with the unprecedented availability of information means religion is toast. Let’s face it – religion is simply a means of enforcing conformity and controlling groups so as to maximize the leadership’s exploitation of the masses.

    The quote attributed to Cardinal Wolsey in the 15th Century is spookily prescient – it refers to the newfangled Gutenberg printing press, but applies to the Internet even more so: “If we do not destroy this dangerous invention, it will one day destroy us.

  6. Omar Puhleez says

    “‘If she doesn’t feel well enough to fast, Islamic law gives her clear permission not to fast, and to make up the missed fasts later. If she is unable to do this, she must perform fidyah (a method of compensation for a missed act of worship)’.
    “That’s not medical advice at all. That’s a goddy thing, and it has nothing to do with the NHS. As far as the NHS is concerned it’s not remotely true that “she must perform fidyah.”

    Oh, I dunno.
    Would they kidya
    About that fidyah?

    Blanche @#6: Excellent post.
    Wolsey was obviously no fool, and aware of the power of information control. Even the Gutenberg Bible was a dangerous book. It started Protestant sects all over Europe and America, and finished up on the Pope’s Index of banned books.

  7. AndrewD says

    Ophelia, I think you are being unfair on the NHS, If competent, well informed adults wish to fast for Ramadan that is their perogative. The NHS is attempting to ensure the “well informed ” bit. It is also sensible proactive public health to address concerns and prevent problems before they arise.
    I live in a city with many observent muslims and have no problem with Ramadan, many muslim food shops are shut, but Indian and English ones are open but do not trumpet the fact. It is a matter of common courtesy not to shove eating or drinking into the faces of observent muslims at this(or any other) time.

  8. John Morales says

    AndrewD @8, your first point is a good one; the second, not so much.

    Blanche @6,

    Let’s face it – religion is simply a means of enforcing conformity and controlling groups so as to maximize the leadership’s exploitation of the masses.

    Some types of religion are that, but no type of religion is simply that.

  9. =8)-DX says

    Um, seems to me to be more of a “We have to cater to people of all religions, so we’re going to try to make sure they behave in a safe manner during their religious observance.”

    If the alternative is muslim patients rejecting treatment due to Ramadan, or putting themselves and their children in risk due to their religious observance, I’m not really sure what’s wrong with providing simple, science-based health information alongside explanations from their actual tradition.

    “Just don’t fast it’s not healthy and your religious tradition is stupid!” coming from the NHS, would be not only rude and insensitive, but also possibly lead to worse outcomes for British muslims and their children.

    (Not that I’m for the “marrying” of state and Church, but this kinds of outreach and inclusivity should be the basic approach of any public institution).

  10. says

    Good for the NHS, glad to see they are giving people sensible advice in regard to their religious customs.

    Just how stupid do people have to be to accept that bullshit??

    Oh wait, I see we are following the venerable atheist tradition of puffing ourselves up and berating others for their “stupidity” for believing things we don’t happen to believe. Go, go atheists! We are smart, they are dumb…. I’m sure we can do better though, why limit to Islam?

    http://www.waht.nhs.uk/en-GB/Our-Services/Non-Clinical-Services/Chapel/Faith-and-Culture/Judaism/

    Yay, those stupid Jews fast as well, oh wait a lot of them are secular Jews, some even atheist, so that would create some splash damage on the clever atheist ones. Forget about that tradition of fasting …

    How about those travellers? Issues with continuous care as they are nomadic, trouble matching up records due to this and naming issues. Ha, how daft of them to be born into a culture different to the norm. The NHS shouldn’t be wasting time on their issues!

    Let alone all these language concerns, this is ENGLAND, speak ENGLISH you dirty foreigners!

    Fairly obvious, but /sarcasm … The NHS is tasked with their primary objective of do no harm. Giving people sensible advice when following their cultures traditions is part of their remit. I know a few atheistic Muslims who love Ramadan, it’s fun for them and they have great memories of it as kids. I know a lapsed Sikh who follows his traditions, more than a few atheistic Hindus who love Diwali. Much like I follow the ridiculous tradition known as Christmas, that also involves some activities that are far from good for my health. More so than fasting to be honest, you try eating that much food and drinking that much booze in one and a bit weeks off work, it takes real dedication to my cultures irrational traditions! Thank godDawkins that the NHS is there to be non-judgemental about it and fix me up regardless :D

  11. Donnie says

    As an asthmatic who needs pills in order to stay out of the hospital, this pisses me off. I assume that I am allowed to drink water to take my pills, but probably “only enough to swallow”….3 tablespoons? but 4 tablespoons is way out! Bullocks on the NHS. Why are they giving out medical malpractice advice? Sounds a little dodgy.

  12. krambc says

    Mordecai Richler wrote in “Solomon Gursky was here” about – among many other adventures – an evangelical rabbi who converted a tribe of Inuit to judaism. That worked out fine until the year that the sabbath fell on the first day of arctic darkness in the northern winter and subsequently the whole tribe perished.

    In a case of life imitating fiction, there are fish processing plants in Alaska with many Muslim workers who this year started their Ramadan fast just after summer solstice. That gives them 18+ hours of daylight. Although the sun sets below the horizon, it doesn’t really get completely dark. It will be worse for the next couple years.

    It seems this Judeo-Islamic god ‘forgot’ to mention, in his most merciful benevolence, that on a spherical planet with axial tilt his chosen peoples just shouldn’t live north of 60 degrees latitude.

    Allah-Elohim-Adonai -YWHW ; the Rick Perry of deities.

    Oops.

  13. says

    Andrew D @ 8

    I think you are being unfair on the NHS, If competent, well informed adults wish to fast for Ramadan that is their perogative. The NHS is attempting to ensure the “well informed ” bit. It is also sensible proactive public health to address concerns and prevent problems before they arise.
    I live in a city with many observent muslims and have no problem with Ramadan, many muslim food shops are shut, but Indian and English ones are open but do not trumpet the fact. It is a matter of common courtesy not to shove eating or drinking into the faces of observent muslims at this(or any other) time.

    Of course if competent, well informed adults wish to fast for Ramadan that’s their prerogative. I never said it wasn’t. But it’s not the NHS’s job to order them to. Of course it’s good proactive public health to address concerns and prevent problems before they arise, but doing that is not the same as issuing religious commands.

    I’m not sure what the relevance is of the fact that you have no personal problem with Ramadan because some of the restaurants near you are open. This post wasn’t even a little bit about my personal “problem with Ramadan” or my inability to find an open restaurant. It also wasn’t about having the courtesy not to shove eating or drinking into the faces of observant Muslims at this(or any other) time. That was an earlier post, the one about the US military (in which I agree that it’s common courtesy not to shove eating or drinking into the faces of observant Muslims during Ramadan).

  14. deepak shetty says

    However, other scholars say that the inhaler provides small amounts of liquid medicine to the lungs,
    WTF? When did the lungs get involved with eating/fasting?

  15. says

    =8)-DX @ 10

    I’m not really sure what’s wrong with providing simple, science-based health information alongside explanations from their actual tradition.

    The NHS on this page provides more than “explanations”; it provides commands. It says “you must” make it up later.

    Also, what’s wrong with providing even “explanations” is that they are medical experts and authorities, with all the weight of the state behind them. Mashing religious “explanations” and commands in with the medical information gives the impression that the religious content is authoritative in the same sort of way as the medical content.

    “Just don’t fast it’s not healthy and your religious tradition is stupid!” coming from the NHS, would be not only rude and insensitive, but also possibly lead to worse outcomes for British muslims and their children.

    Yes indeed, which is why I didn’t suggest that.

  16. Shatterface says

    Oh wait, I see we are following the venerable atheist tradition of puffing ourselves up and berating others for their “stupidity” for believing things we don’t happen to believe. Go, go atheists! We are smart, they are dumb…. I’m sure we can do better though, why limit to Islam?

    http://www.waht.nhs.uk/en-GB/Our-Services/Non-Clinical-Services/Chapel/Faith-and-Culture/Judaism/

    I take it you are one of those idiots who drifts into this blog by accident, sees a post critical of Islam, assumes the site is only critical of Islam, then posts a link to some other religion behaving stupidly in the belief you are playing a trump card?

  17. ema says

    Ha @ 15,

    That jumped out at me right away, too.

    All your intestines belong to the respiratory system so, clearly, using an inhaler breaks the fast.

  18. Pen says

    This anti-Ramadan fever over on this blog is just getting weird. It’s going beyond the rational and failing to fine tune to address any real issues with the practice which might exist. It’s gone beyond reasonable criticism of Islam and its practices into full-blown anti-Islamic meltdown.

    Personally, I think it’s excellent that if the NHS has a page addressing issues around Ramadan they address those points Muslims are concerned about using the terms that seem relevant to them. As a national public service it’s their job to act preventively and that includes addressing people on their own terms. An official NHS statement to the effect that Ramadan fasting is bad when people ARE going to do it would amount to a failure to safeguard people in practice. The page is also within the range of their usual tone. Ophelia has a focus on Islam, so naturally she’s forgotten to go and see how the NHS addresses other similar issues. Their sexual health pages don’t have an abstinence focused orientation . Ditto, their pages on drinking alcohol, which is basically just not good for you but they don’t tell you to stop and they do address the issue in terms of the sort of drinking that takes place in Britain. You should see their pages on fireworks, used in national festivals which cause plentiful harm. It doesn’t say STOP doing this, it tells you how to buy them and set them up!!!

  19. John Morales says

    Pen @19, the OP refers to the apparent accommodationism of the NHS (that Ophelia suggests exceeds its public health remit) towards a medically-dubious practice; but the idea of religiously-mandated ritual fasting is of course rather unsavoury to atheists and freethinkers and it’s hardly surprising that it’s seen as primitive and barbaric by such.

  20. Decker says

    As a national public service it’s their job to act preventively and that includes addressing people on their own terms. An official NHS statement to the effect that Ramadan fasting is bad when people ARE going to do it would amount to a failure to safeguard people in practice.

    Ramadan is NOT about fasting. It’s about depriving yourself of any food and drink during daylight hours, and then gorging yourself when the sun sets.

    People generally DON’T lose weight during Ramadan; they GAIN it.

    Fasting, TRUE fasting in the style of Lent, involves reducing your overall daily caloric intake for period of several weeks, after which you understand what hunger is and after which you’ll most certainly have lost a few pounds.

    Ramadan fasting, especially at higher latitudes during the mid-summer, is far more akin to bulimia than anything else.

    Bulimia IS unhealthy, and so if the NHS had any sense of responsibility, they’d have counseled against it.

    Seriously, since when has the NHS issued dietary recommendations to Christians during Lent? After all,starving yourself every year for forty straight days, particularly if you’re a child or adolescent, is pretty much as bad as bulimia, isn’t it?

    To hell with all religiously mandated dietary diktats!

  21. says

    Pen @ 19 – that’s such bullshit. It ignores all the particulars of what I actually said (and what the NHS actually said). You ignored the part about the NHS saying “you must make it up later” if you break the fast for health reasons.

    But you won’t pay any attention to this, either, you never do. You just do drive-by rants and then ignore all replies. You ignored my reply to you above.

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