American Muslims observe Ramadan as US ramps up Covid-19 vaccination campaign

American doctor Nabile Safdar tells 'The National' that most Islamic scholars say vaccines do not break the fast

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American Muslims began to observe Ramadan as the US continued its Covid-19 vaccination programme.

The fasting month this year again takes place with the country in the throes of the pandemic, but widespread inoculations are bringing about greater levels of normality.

Some cities and states are reopening as US cases decrease since the worst surge experienced in the winter months, but a high number of infections led US health officials to recommend continued coronavirus precautions.

The National spoke to Muslim-American doctor Nabile Safdar of Atlanta, Georgia, who says many in the community are adapting to life during the pandemic.

"Mosque leaders and non-profit leaders are sharing their best practices, saying, 'Well, this is how we're dealing with prayers in the mosque, this is how we're making sure that vulnerable parties are not coming together, this is how we're enforcing masks and social distancing'," he said.

Dr Safdar shared how some are offering "drive-thru iftars" for when the community breaks fast, an example of the innovative and creative ways mosques are handling the pandemic.

"We've even had really clever approaches like mosques requiring QR codes before entering, almost like a boarding pass, to make sure that people have already registered and they've agreed to the basic guidelines of that facility," he said.

American Muslims are also concerned about whether being vaccinated during the fast is permissible.

Many leaders in the community, including Dr Safdar, who is part of the Islamic Medical Association of North America, said Muslims can be vaccinated during Ramadan and recommended that they do so.

"The overwhelming opinion of the experts that we've talked to [is] that the vaccines authorised in the United States are permissible to use, that none of them contain any pork products and that they've all been made allowable for Muslims to consume," he said.

Regarding the fast, Dr Safdar also said if people experience bad side effects from the vaccine, they can drink water or other fluids. He says that is permitted because they are ill.