Fasting and Modern Medications


Professor Amtul Razzaq Carmichael, UK

The Holy Qur’an claims that all types of guidance for mankind are contained in this Divine scripture. The Holy Qur’an says, ‘This day have I perfected your religion for you and completed My favour upon you and have chosen for you Islam as religion.’[1] In this Qur’anic verse, the use of the words ‘I have perfected’ signify that the doctrines and commandments relating to the physical, moral and spiritual development of man are embodied in the Qur’an in their most perfect form; while the words ‘I have completed’ show that nothing which was needed for the development of man has been left out from this holy scripture.[2]

It could be viewed with astonishment that in this modern-day and this age of technology and progress, Muslims still follow guidance, which is over 1400 years old. It can be argued that following such an old scripture is backward-looking and medieval. Given the immense technological advances in the world today, one may question, how can a book of guidance encompass all these developments centuries before their discovery and invention?

1400 years ago there was no concept of medications that can be delivered in the form of slow-release skin patches, ointments, and gels that change the local temperature of the skin for pain relief, depot injections, and medicinal products that can be placed inside the body which are released slowly over a period of time. With the holy month of Ramadan approaching, I sought the guidance from the Fifth Caliph and Worldwide Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, His Holiness, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad (aba) regarding the use of some ultra-modern medications such as skin patches, pessaries, depot injection and some skin preparations while fasting during Ramadan. What is the Islamic guidance about their use during Ramadan?

The kind and detailed answer of our beloved Caliph provided the perfect evidence that the Holy Qur’an gives the fundamental principles that are totally applicable to modern living.  His Holiness explained that the basic Islamic principle is that it is forbidden to fast if one is unwell. However, one with minor ailments that do not get worse by fasting, is allowed to fast. The fundamental principle of fasting is abstention from food and drink from dawn to dusk. Therefore, when fasting, Muslims are not allowed to eat, drink or inject anything. However, gels or sprays which act on the surface of the skin and do not penetrate deeper into the body are permitted during fasting. 

With regards to modern medications that are administered in the body or are injected under the skin, His Holiness explained that the Islamic guidance is that we are not permitted to have these medications injected or inserted during the hours of fasting. These can be administered outside the hours of fasting and then these medications become a part of the body, and hence their continued use is permissible. 

I found this a very powerful example of how Islamic guidance remains relevant and pertinent in this modern age.The provision of such forward looking guidance in a scripture is a miracle in itself. Such clear guidance regarding modern day scenarios given in the Holy Qur’an is powerful evidence that the Holy Qur’an is revealed by an All-Knowing Superpower or God. 

Indeed, the Holy Qur’an is a book of guidance so comprehensive that it provides principles and moral guidance to encompass all modern developments. 

About the Author: Professor Amtul Razzaq Carmichael MD, MEd, FRCS (Gen Surg.), MBBS, is a consultant. She qualified in 1987 with gold medals for academic excellence and undertook her surgical training at major teaching hospitals in London, Edinburgh, and Philadelphia. She has authored many articles for major peer-reviewed scientific journals. She is a senior member of The Review of Religions Editorial Board as well as Assistant Manager.


[1]The Holy Qur’an; Chapter 5; verse 4