Photo by Sydney Territo.
Ramadan is a special month for Muslim families. It is a time to get together and celebrate their religion for a month while also self-reflecting on how they can self-discipline in the coming months. This year, Ramadan will be celebrated during the COVID-19 quarantine, and since fasting may cause health problems, families should take precautionary measures to avoid getting the virus.
During the month of Ramadan, Muslims will pray in mosques, read the Qur’an and fast from sunrise to sunset to reflect on themselves as people and as a community. After the sun has set, extended family and friends get together to have a fast-breaking meal and pray again in the evening before sleep. This happens every day starting on the first day of the month. This year it is from April 24 to May 23.
When fasting occurs during Ramadan, it can cause minor problems during the month, such as hormone spikes, minor organ problems and fluctuations in contents in the urine.
“As you’re fasting, it increases the consumption of amino acids. Eventually, that replaces glucose. This means your ketone levels go up. Ketones are hard for your kidneys to deal with,” Anatomy and Physiology teacher Elizabeth Good said. “You can also see a fall in insulin and a fall in your thyroxine levels, which is a type of metabolizing hormone.”
Since the virus was first announced and precautionary measures were taken, the whole world has started to do research and learn about how the body is affected by COVID-19. According to National Geographic, it starts and ends with the lungs, especially since it is a respiratory disease, but it can also cause a lot of other problems within the body while it is there. It, much like the similar viruses SARS and MERS, can easily invade cells in the small intestine and large intestine and flourishes there, multiplying easily and effectively. It also takes down cells in your blood, can cause injury and cell death in your liver, and can penetrate your kidneys and infect them as well.
While healthy kidneys can easily recover from fasting after Ramadan, any unhealthy kidneys or kidneys of older people may not recover as quickly or easily. Especially since kidneys have become a little weaker during and after Ramadan, they can be more prone to becoming infected by any disease, most of all COVID-19.
Muslim students like senior Mustafaa Munir have to make accommodations for Ramadan this year to work around the quarantining against COVID-19. His family plans on celebrating exclusively at home without getting together with friends or praying at mosques.
“This will most likely mean that it’ll become a family and self-centered Ramadan as opposed to a whole community, which can be seen as a blessing in disguise for many Muslim families who can become closer as a family unit,” said Munir. “We’ll actually be a lot better off as we wouldn’t need to stock up as much on food compared to outside Ramadan due to having fewer meals and no snacking.”
Anyone who has any problems that will prevent them from properly fasting will also be exempt from the fast since it is such a physically taxing thing to do. This can prevent anyone with physical health issues from being immunocompromised during the month and should help them fight off diseases like COVID-19 easier.
The quarantine will make it harder for Muslims to have a traditional Ramadan, but that does not mean that they will stop celebrating altogether. Ramadan is about self-reflection and coming together as a community, and while the quarantine will hinder the physical aspect of it, it cannot erase the connections they make or the work they put into the month.
“My favorite part has got to be the community emphasis it really brings to Muslims in the area,” Munir said. “You end up…having a unified identity throughout the month with a billion other Muslims in the world.”