Muslim Health Leaders Urge COVID-19 Vaccinations, Even During Ramadan
Ramadan is an annual religious celebration observed by Muslims. The holy month is marked by fasting from sunrise to sunset, and usually followed by nightly communal meals, worship and prayer.
“COVID last year stole all of that from us,” said Dr. Hasan Shanawani, president of the American Muslim Health Professionals and medical director, Medical Management and Clinical Performance Improvement, Emergent Holdings. Emergent Holdings is a separate entity contracted by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan to perform administrative services for Blue Cross’ Medicare Advantage program.
Muslims across the nation are currently observing Ramadan through the evening of Wednesday, May 12. With COVID-19 vaccinations now available to everyone 16 and older in Michigan, Shanawani is urging his fellow Muslims to get their shot, even during fasting hours. The National Muslim Task Force on COVID-19 and the National Black Muslim COVID Coalition issued a joint statement earlier this month that vaccinations should continue during Ramadan and that all available vaccines should be considered halal and permissible for Muslims to use.
“My advice to my fellow Muslims and all of my friends and anyone (is to) get vaccinated as soon as you’re able,” Shanawani said. “The risk of getting COVID is still very high. Don’t delay getting the vaccine for Ramadan.”
He said if Muslims still feel the vaccine invalidates their fast, it is permissible to make up a day of fasting at the end of Ramadan.
Other guidelines for Muslims observing Ramadan include adhering to existing COVID-19 safety precautions such as wearing masks, observing social distancing and not gathering with others outside of your household if you are not vaccinated. Shanawani said this means many Muslims will once again need to observe Ramadan without much of the joyful gathering they might be used to. He urged patience and persistence, noting that getting vaccinated will help ensure future gatherings and “better days” to come.
Ultimately, Shanawani sees getting the vaccine as putting faith into action.
“I believe that as a person of faith, one of the things that has been given to us is knowledge and science and our ability to take care of people and I believe that protecting yourself and protecting others in this way is part of charity to your neighbors,” Shanawani said. “God’s given us a chance to protect ourselves.”
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