On Call: The Trials of Being a Muslim Doctor during Ramadan


by Ahmed Zaafran

Originally published in August 2010

77745389_5dc2b84dd6_oWith Ramadan rapidly approaching, the time has come to prepare mentally, spiritually, and physically for one of the most important times of the year in Islam. The month of Ramadan comes at the height of summer this year, bringing unique challenges.

The focus of this particular article is geared towards those who are medical professionals: physicians, students, nurses, technicians. However,  as people from all lines of work deal with time management issues, in sha’ Allah (God willing) those who do not work in the healthcare industry  may still benefit from this advice and can work collectively to implement it.

Making a Plan

Making a plan is a useful way to get things moving in the right direction.  List out the objectives you aspire to meet for the day. For example, as a resident physician in Anesthesiology at the busiest trauma center in the country, I anticipate being in the operating room for many hours at a time, often without a break.  Knowing that, sometimes I have to use lunchtime or break time to fulfill my obligatory prayers and may even be forced to combine my prayers in unusual situations.

Many hospitals provide prayer areas within chapels for Muslims to pray or even have a masjid (mosque) within the hospital. However, this may not always be the case. Whatever the situation, try to find a spot where you can reflect on your prayer, reconnect with Allah and your intentions for fasting, and reenergize yourself.  In time, you’ll find many unexpected gifts from Allah peppered throughout your day, giving you a firsthand view of the fruits of hard work and good intentions. Remember that Allah knows your circumstances even more than yourself. You may become discouraged that because of your time constraints, you cannot fulfill your desire to be fully engaged with Allah during your Ramadan. Don’t allow yourself to fall into that rut; your two rak`at (units of prayer) are worth more than you think.

Establishing the Right Mindset

Establishing the right mindset is half the battle. I can’t tell you how many times throughout medical school my Muslim peers would make excuses as to why they don’t need to fast during Ramadan. The most common excuse I heard was, “How could I possibly concentrate on my studies if I’m fasting?”  Another common cop-out was, “Bro, I’ll just make it up later once finals are done with.”

To many of you, this may sound outlandish or even blasphemous, but it is commonly seen in people who deal with the physical and emotional demands of being a medical student or physician, which brings me to the point of this section. Establishing the right mindset means more than just telling yourself that you will fast during Ramadan. It means training yourself that your “starvation” is in fact the easiest part of Ramadan. The real challenge lies in your remembrance of Allah, making all of your actions a form of worship, and fulfilling your role as a representative of Islam in the midst of a watchful environment.

To be honest, Ramadan is the best time to showcase the beauty of our religion and its focus on self-control. For example, how many times, in any occupational platform, have people come up to you, after finding out that you are fasting from food AND water (for some reason they are always impressed with the water part),  to inquire more about your fast and your faith? This is the perfect time to explain to them what fasting during Ramadan really means, that abstaining from our material desires, including food, sexual relations, backbiting, and slander, are only the physical vehicles that allow the spiritual self a viable platform to elevate itself. People in the healthcare industry understand what it means to make sacrifices. It might sound like clockwork to you, but for many of your colleagues, it is the most profound thing they will ever hear.

Time

Amongst medical students and physicians, a quite broad category in and of itself, a high demand on time handcuffs their abilities to have an effective Ramadan. The amount of information required of medical students to learn, memorize, digest, and apply is quite daunting, and they often find themselves missing out on prayers entirely, whether during Ramadan or other times of the year. The key is to prioritize your time around your prayer by redistributing it. The epicenter of your day is your prayer, and you should make everything else the ornamentation to that foundation. As hard as it many seem at the time, you’ll eventually find yourself both excelling in your prayers and concentrating on patient care as well. Keep in mind that the workday has its gaps and moments when you can take quick breaks. For the student, study breaks are a part of the daily routine. Rather than rushing to the TV for a break, take a moment to reconnect with the Qur’an, even if it is just for a few minutes. Ramadan comes only once a year. Don’t let the month leave without cashing in on those precious moments that usually go wasted.

Spiritual Connection

Finally, put your work into perspective. The type of work you do in medicine exposes you to various situations that challenge your mind and your soul. You are given the task to heal people’s ailments, whether physical or mental, and are able to provide them with a service that nurtures and improves the thing most precious to them: their health. Personally, I can relate to the spiritual challenges faced by physicians on a daily basis at the hospital. Just a few weeks ago, I took care of a young man in his early 30s who seemed to have the world ahead of him. A minor ailment initially brought him to the hospital, but his health deteriorated quite rapidly.

2:156

“Who, when disaster strikes them, say, “Indeed we belong to Allah, and indeed to Him we will return.” [Qur'an, 2:156]

The team working to save his life moved quickly and diligently, doing everything humanly possible to resuscitate him. The exact moment Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He) took his soul was quite evident, and the organized chaos in the room instantly transformed into a deafening silence. Despite exhaustive measures on my part and on that of the medical professionals around me, we were not able to save his life. Muslims and non-Muslims alike had to deal with that situation, and the fear can choke the air out of your throat. Moments like these can shake one’s faith if he is not prepared, but it can also strengthen one’s resolve and solidify his love for Allah.

Use Ramadan to strengthen yourself. Seek refuge from Allah from all your insecurities. Use the training that Allah has blessed you with to fulfill His commandments. Take every opportunity to show Allah that more than anything else, you are trying to purify yourself and humble yourself under His Presence. Medicine is a field that carries much responsibility and much prestige. Use your status amongst your peers as a pedestal to serve your Lord and as a mechanism to eradicate arrogance.  The Qur’an gives us pearls every time we read it, and perhaps the verse that can be used by medical practitioners the most to correct their intentions and set the tone for their daily work lies in Surat al-Ma`idah,  entitled  “The Table Spread.”

5:32

“Whoever kills a soul unless for a soul or for corruption [done] in the land – it is as if he had slain mankind entirely. And whoever saves one – it is as if he had saved mankind entirely.” [Qur'an, 5:32]

With this verse in mind, we can truly use the month of Ramadan as a springboard not only to serve our fellow human beings in need of medical treatment but also as an opportunity to use our skills  as a means to please our Creator, Allah, exalted is He.

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42 Comments

  1. My take is to be able to establish ibadah during duty is a big blessing from God.

  2. maryam says:

    SUBHAN ALLAH THIS IS SUCH AN AMAZING POST. JAZAK ALLAHU KUL KHAYRAN I BENEFITED FROM THIS LIKE NO OTHER. BARAK ALLAHU FIKUM. May Allah ‘azza wa jall use you for His Sake and bless you with the sweetness of Ramadan in every second of this upcoming month and beyond. Please keep us in your dua!

  3. Abubakr says:

    Barakallahu feek wa jazaakum allahu khair for the reminder. May Allah help us implement it and keep us steadfast in the coming weeks. Ameen.

  4. Abubakr says:

    *This is not a post, but a request.*
    Is there a way to get in touch with Bro. Zaafran. As an aspiring doctor myself, I would like to get some Muslim-oriented advice?

  5. Arif says:

    Asalamu alaikum,

    Jazakullahu khairan for the words of advice brotha. I remember the days when the brothers would finally be done with exams during the month of Ramadan, and while our colleagues were eager to go celebrate with a night of drinking and clubbing we would say to each other “finally we can go for taraweeh tonight!”

    Subhanallah, what a relief it was to have the opportunity to go to the masjid. I remember that moment when I entered the masjid feeling like a complete stranger. It was a very sad feeling for sure.

    Once you get into rotations, though, your time is a little more manageable depending on the rotation you’re in. The best thing to do is set up a lighter rotation in the month of Ramadan. This will allow you to really enjoy the month.

    The other thing med students should do is go into Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation! :) Even during residency you take call from home, so no missing salah and you can sleep in your own bed :) Sorry just had to throw in a plug in.

    salaamz

    • Love that plug about PM&R Arif. I’m a fourth year medical student planning to go into that field inshaAllah. It’s a lesser known field but alhumdulillah I think it’s a great option!

      May Allah give us the tawfiq to become the best doctors we can be!

  6. Ahmed says:

    Like Br. Abubakr – I am an aspiring doctor (well in one year insha’allah) who is currently studying. I too, would like some advice. While I have fasted during the school year a few years back, now that Ramadhan is during the summer months, there is that added challenge as well. I have to admit that it is difficult being home and trying to study at times (I go to school on the opposite side of the globe from home, thus I do want to enjoy home a bit) and I am just worried about my work during the Holy Month. As of now, things are going well, and now I am doing more intense reviewing/revision. Sometimes, even my mother or others discourage me from fasting (saying that Allah will Understand my situation, etc), knowing that I have this difficulty described above and last year, I had some do-or-die type of exams . . . . so I wasn’t able to participate, much to my own disappointment and heart-break to say the least. Now that the month is approaching once again, I am torn – I know we are allowed to disobey our parents when it comes to obeying Allah (swt), but I also don’t want to let down when it comes to my studies. I really need some advice.
    Also, in the past, in my early teen years, my late father wouldn’t let me fast, because I had not yet had my Imaan and Salah in the right and strong place in my life, but now that I’m older and I’ve learned so much and put it into practice as much as I can, I think I should be able to “move on” and really make my Islam more complete, more consistently, which really comes to the forefront during the Holy Month.

    Also, just wanted to say that I showed this article to my mother, who thought it was very nice and since I only read it now, I hadn’t realize Br. Zaafran was in Anesthesiology, as my mother herself has been an anesthesiologist for about 30 years. So I pass on her “well done/written!” to Br. Zaafran.

    • Conscience says:

      Assalamu Aleykum brother. It takes some courage to humble oneself and ask some advice when in need just like you did. So I will tip off my hat to you.

      During College, I had faced a situation where I needed to make a choice between taking a course that was scheduled during Friday Prayer hours or delay my graduation by taking this course another semester and go to attend Friday prayer.

      Alhamdulillah, when faced with that particular challenge, I chose Allah and he rewarded me in ways I could never imagine.

      I don’t know any person or any muslim who do not face these challenges on a regular basis. At the end of the day. It is a choice your make between Allah and something else you feel is important.

      The importance of Ramadan is such that if you intentionally miss a day of fasting without a valid excuse (And your excuse is not valid), you cannot make up for that day even if you fast for the remainder of your entire life.

      My advice to you is simply choose Allah in any situation, you will not regret it.

      • Manal says:

        You actually can, you have to fast 2 months in a row and feed 60 poor wallah a3lam ( god knows best)— don’t preach when you don’t read your book.

        Ramadan Karim

  7. Arif says:

    I thought it would be tough studying during Ramadan too, but alhumdulillah I did quite well. My methodology was a little different however, so it may not apply to you. Instead of going to classes I would study at home. ALhumdulillah my med school provided me with all class notes which were pretty much books themselves. So for most classes I was able to skip out and study at home. Since I was able to do this, I was able to either study 1ST thing in the morning (when fatigue and hunger hadn’t kicked in yet) or the hours right before iftar (so I would be able to open my fast while I was studying). Then I would continue studying during the night.

    Another method is to attend class during the day, go home around 5ish and sleep until iftar. Then study from maghrib till about midnight. That is a solid 4-5 hours of studying (which is pretty decent if you attend class).

    I would literally have 3-4 exams per week, EVERY week for the entire semester. So there were very few breaks from studying.

    There are thousands of Muslim doctors who have gone through what you are going through. You are not alone. We are all struggling with you. But I will tell you this…everyone attains reward from Allah according to the level of struggle and sincerity. So, take this as an OPPORTUNITY to gain MORE reward than anyone else!

    Want to know something else? I am pretty sure it was your habit to go for taraweeh outside of medical school, and it is your sincere desire to be with the community now. If you are not able to attend the taraweeh because of a need/difficulty you will STILL be rewarded as though you were there. So while you are studying for your exams feeling sad that you are not at the masjid with everyone else, know that you are receiving the same reward as everyone else!

    So keep your head up and struggle hard…it will be well worth it!

    Summary:
    1. You are receiving MORE reward than anyone else who isn’t struggling as much as you during the fast, even though they may be at the masjid all-day long.

    2. You will be receiving the reward of Quran, taraweeh, qiyaam ul layl so long as this was your habit before medical school and you have a sincere desire to perform such actions now!

    3. Personal advice: Even though you may not be able to attend the communal gathering and acts of worship take some time for yourself at night (after isha) to pray a couple of rakah of salah. Utilize this time to review Quran in your prayers, and make dua in your sajdah. So this way with this single act of worship you can maximize your usage of time by allowing you to combine multiple acts of worship in one! Haven’t you wondered why Salah is the best worship? BECAUSE of this! It combined almost EVERY act of worship in one! This will be a nice stress reliever aswell!

    I pray the best for you…trust me it gets better! atleast a little bit :)

    salaami
    Arif

  8. zeina says:

    أنا بحب جدا جدا.. الجزء فيما يتعلق ب
    “من أجل ذلك” .. أشعر وكأنه خطاب فيه عزة من القوى العزيز
    ….
    سبحان الله

  9. Ahmed Zaafran says:

    Assalam Alaykom all,
    I’m so honored and excited to see these replies and responses. I think there are many resources out there that gear towards self improvement and Islamic knowledge, but SuhaibWebb.com has really shown a commitment to excellence. I hope we all continue to support each other, answer questions, and give insight from our own personal experiences. May we all have a blessed Ramadan insha’Allah, full of baraka, love, community, and devotion to Allah. Ameen.

  10. Shereen says:

    May Allah SubhanahuwaTa’la reward you abundantly for every second you took to write this article to the web. This is accessible and very useful. May Allah SWT have mercy on you and bless you with spaciousness, peace, more profound knowledge, health, and wisdom. RAMADHAAN KAREEM. Was Salaam.

  11. Maryam says:

    It is amazing how much faith alone can do. I have never felt strong pangs of hunger during Ramadan because I know that what I am doing is for a good cause, and is obligatory in Islam. In this way, I have never thought that I am exerting pressure on myself, or felt weak. Focusing on the positives will keep you strong. Great post!

  12. Fauzia says:

    Does anyone have tips for staying awake/alert while fasting?

    • Conscience says:

      I hear you, that is the million dollar question. I have tried several technics including going to work right after Fajr like 6 am so that I can stay fresh for at least for 4 hours. That did not work. I was out gas by 8 am. I have tried going to work late around 9:30 after sleeping couple of hours after Fajr. That didn’t work either.

      Now one thing that I found helpful is taking a 30 mins or 1 hour nap in the middle of the day and wash ing my face with some cold water afterwards.

      Eating habits also play a huge role in maintaining your energy level. Making sure to eat food that is healthy and rich in nutrients certainly go a long way in being able to energize yourself throughout the day. And most importantly, wake up in the morning to eat breakfast. As hard as it is to do especially when the Azhan and cut off time for eating will probably be around 4:30 am, it is highly recommended.

      Hope that helps.

    • Suhair says:

      تسحروا فان في السحور بركة و هى لله
      The feeling that you are doing it for Allah sake, will give you the power and energy to overcome all the difficulties.
      To feel anything easy, just think of something more difficult, sister when you fast you know that at the sunset time you will find food to eat and water to drink, but imagine some of our humanity fellows on the daily routine don’t know whether they will food to eat or no!! even for their kids!! All praises to Allah.

    • seef says:

      I am a dedicated caffeine addict. One way to get through is to have a big mug as the last part of suhoor, then pray Fajr and hit the sack before it kicks in, then you wake refreshed and ready to go in an hour or two. It doesn’t last all day, but what is fasting without occasionally feeling like imminent death and loss of consciousness? Giving up caffeine completely, for me, is a recipe for disaster and withdrawal headaches.

  13. sanah says:

    i wish i had seen this article a little earlier – i’m a med student who started year three rotations on the fifth day of ramadan and so the last couple weeks have been a blur of aching feet, sleepless nights, and ramadan-regret. i’ve definitely tried to make the most of the brief moments of free time i’ve had, but i was still devastated because i felt that i wasn’t *maximizing* my ramadan. i think that your advice about constructing the experience of medicine as an act of worship is excellent – jazakallahu khairan – i’m already feeling better when i look back on the month, and inshallah the next time ramadan comes around i’ll be able to handle it with a little more grace. thank you again!

  14. fez says:

    MAshallah very nicely written article.

    It would be useful to know about the time limitations for an average fast as in some places the total daylight hours are now approaching 19-20 hours. I think this is an important issue for scholars which is being neglected. For a busy on-call you can be running along hungry and dry non-stop for several days at a stretch. This is pretty heavy especially as there isnt really the chance to eat or re-hydrate completely before the next upcoming day!!!

    • abdul haqq says:

      The Economist Magazine did a great article on this very topic.

      “Al Azhar Mosque in Cairo, one of the world’s most respected Islamic institutes, has ruled that Muslims should not fast for more than 18 hours a day. “We are not supposed to starve to death,” says Salman Tamimi, head of the Muslim Association of Iceland. Some communities, like the 1,000 or so Icelandic Muslims, therefore follow a fatwa (Islamic ruling) which recommends observing the fast times of the 45th parallel. Others, in Alaska and Sweden for example, instead observe the times of Mecca, since that is the place to which the Koran’s verses originally referred, a ruling backed by the European Council of Fatwa and Research. Yet another group of scholars suggests fasting for 12 hours irrespective of the time of year, because an average day offers 12 hours of sunlight.”

      http://www.economist.com/blogs/economist-explains/2013/06/economist-explains-6

      • Ahmed Zaafran says:

        This is a great article you posted from The Economist. A friend of mine recently asked me a question about the 18 hour rule, and this is a good resource for all of us. Jazakum Allah Kheir.

  15. Yasmin says:

    Jazakallah khair for this beautifully written and very beneficial post! This post is inspirational and beneficial to everyone regardless of our professions!

  16. ZAI says:

    Brothers and sisters,
    It is all about discipline and proper preparation.
    As many of the docs here have attested to and which I will also attest to having also been through it, it can be done.

    Medical school, rotations, and residencies are a trial…but hardly more of a trial than what many of our prophets or the sahaba experienced or even millions of other people around the world go through today. That perspective is a part of discipline and key.

    A lot of the hardship comes from the fact that many of us don’t eat properly to begin with. Many of us overeat or eat junk, therefore the bodies are not able to adapt to Ramazan, let alone Ramazan with a trying schedule/itinerary.

    First, find out how many calories you SHOULD be eating. I assure you, you can fit those calories into sahri and iftar.

    Second, start eating the PROPER foods. Ditch processed junk and refined carbohydrates for nutrient dense and low GI foods. Incorporate things like oatmeal, low GI fruits and vegetables into your sahri. They take longer to process and will keep you going throughout the day. For those of you who are NOT lactose-intolerant, a low sugar casein protein shake can also do wonders.

    I was involved in competitive martial arts during both my undergrad and med school years and a healthy diet I adopted year round to train kept me sleeping well and avoiding the dreaded weight gains of college life both during Ramazan and throughout the rest of the year.

    Br. Siraaj at Muslim Matters has written a couple of GREAT articles in a lot of detail for bodybuilders and athletes who want to keep active during Ramazan, similar to the one I’ve had success with…It is also a GREAT resource for anyone who is a student or works a very demanding job. Please visit the website and take advantage of his detailed nutritional suggestions and outlines.

    Finally, let us keep things in perspective. Sacrifice is a part of Ramazan and the test in general. ANYONE can pass a test that requires no sacrifice. It’s sacrifice that tests your mettle.

    Rather than make excuses and exceptions for yourself, something we are all susceptible to from time to time, resolve to challenge yourself instead and ask Allah to make you successful in your trial and give you strength to succeed. Refer to the Qur’an and hadith. See the example of Ibrahim(AS), Yusuf(AS), Muhammad(S), the sahaba and take inspiration from them.

    Not only them, but take a look at the blessings we all enjoy in comparision to some of our other brothers and sisters around the world, or some of our poor neighbors right here. They are deprived ALL the time, not just in Ramazan. Look at our brothers and sisters who have hard PHYSICAL jobs, sometimes working right out under that 90 degree sun….medical school or a residency is a cake walk compared to that.

    Finally, to some of the brothers I’d say take some inspiration from Muslim WOMEN. You’re hungry or hot? They wear the hijab 24/7/365, handle pregnancy, handle nursing…usually in addition to the same study or work you’re doing.

    Prepartion. Discipline. Du’a. Salah. Contemplation. Perspective. You will be fine, inshallah. May Allah protect us all from shaytan scaring us with poverty or making us fearful of trials.

  17. Nida says:

    JazakAllahu khairan!!! THIS ARTICLE TRULY CAME OUT AT THE RIGHT TIME, subhanAllah!! Thank you for posting :)

  18. abdul haqq says:

    Not fasting for reasons of health is not a “cop out.” it is specifically allowed. Piety has its place, but Allah gave us this blessing for a reason. Doctor, please do not operate on me during a summer fast, and please do not criticize a Muslim doctor who breaks fast so that he or she may concentrate fully to remove my brain tumor. Thank you.

  19. Ahmed Zaafran says:

    Abdul Haqq,

    You are correct. Not fasting for health reasons is not a “cop-out” and the individual should not fast. This is a blessing in our deen as you suggested. But I did not say that people should fast if their health status does not permit it.
    Thank you for your input and comments.

  20. Ahmed Zaafran says:

    Abdul Haqq,

    I’m not sure if you were speaking about yourself when you said, “…concentrate fully to remove my brain tumor.” Whether it is you or somebody you know and love, I pray God gives them/you health, shifa, a successful surgery, and a speedy recovery. Ameen.

  21. Sister Fawziya H says:

    Once again suhaibwebb.com provides such insightful articles catered to everyone-jzk! Reflects our very diverse communities we have Alhamdulillah. I’ve taken a year out after 2 years as a doctor (in the UK we call it foundation years) so I’ll be taking Ramadan off alhamdulillah, but unfortunately will be starting my first day back in training on/day before Eid :( I’ll be thinking of you all working and striving to help your patients in such a noble month. But most importantly Allah will be remembering and recording all your good deeds inshaAllah. Have a blessed Ramadan.

  22. Samya says:

    A salaam alaikoum,
    It’s a beautiful article.
    May Allah accept our prayers and forgive our sins. Ameen.

  23. Abdullah says:

    Salam Imam,

    Is it okay to not fast during the MCAT exam I am taking this Ramadan? The test lasts for several hours, and I am afraid that if I fast, it may impact my ability to concentrate.

    Jazak Allahu khayran

  24. Naureen H. says:

    I’m on rotations for the first time and as Ramadan is approaching I’ve been getting nervous because of the crazy hours. I have been worried about having time for reciting Quran, dua, dhikr, etc. Glad to know I’m not alone. Jazakallah khair for this post.

    • Ahmed Zaafran says:

      Naureen,

      You can do it. Challenges will come your way but know that you are striving to excellence amongst your peers, your patients, and for your own goals. May Allah assist you and all of us this Ramadan, insha’Allah. Clinicals are a special time. Enjoy them.

  25. muhammad khairul says:

    Salam from Hospital Kajang Malaysia.

  26. hope says:

    Assalamu Alaikum,

    I can understand the struggles of healthcare providers not only in the month of ramadhan but also everyday. In a 12 hour shift, I feel guilty that I cannot do my prayers. I try to make up the missed prayers once at home but I do not know if Allah will accept them.

    At my work place we do have a chapel however I never went to pray because my phone never stops ringing even during my 3o minutes lunch break. Alhamduli Allah, I do my fasting, but I do not know what to do to pray at work when I have to attend to the needs of my patients?

    I hope Allah will forgive me for all my missed prayers. May He help us make worship easy for all of us.

  27. Hujrah Wahhaj says:

    Subhanallah! I was just watching a video from Nouman Ali Khan who was speaking about our foundation, prayer, fasting, and remembrance of Allah.If a building has 5 beams supporting it, you would have to walk around the beams to get to your destination but if you physically move those 5 beams to get to your destination the entire building will collapse. Likewise obligatory Ibadah such as prayer and fasting is the foundation we must construct our life around, not the other way around. I will pray for all the students/professionals who struggle in this area. Excellent article and beautiful reminder.

  28. Wu Bee says:

    Salam,

    Subhanallahi, I am a new nurse and I have never fasted while working before because I work for 12 hours. A day ago, I decided to give it a try, so I fasted during one of my day shifts. I wont lie, it was hard at first. I had caffeine withdrawal; my head didn’t stop aching, but I enjoyed every bit of it. During my break, instead of wasting time on food and talk, I went to the chapel to pray.To sum it up, Allah doesn’t place a burden on a person, more than he/she can bear. We are all hard-wired for struggle. If we try and put our efforts into worship passionately, we will surely achieve success.

  29. Mohamed Ali says:

    Ahmed,

    You are a model for the working American muslim. Jazakullah for your insight. May Allah shower you with unexpected gifts this Ramadan.

  30. Gatsby says:

    I am a Surgeon. I often have to perform 8 hour operations that can go on into the night if things do not go well requiring extended periods of intense concentration under an operating microscope. I also have to do 24 hour plus oncalls in which I could be up the whole night operating.

    For an 18 hour fast in which I am the primary operating surgeon and hence the care of the patient rests with me could I not be causing harm to an individual/not performing at my best if I cannot concentrate/fatigued/headache? I try and take leave during Ramadan but am unable to take the whole month off.

    • Bushra says:

      Gatsby:
      That must be difficult for you indeed.
      And that is probably one reason why I dont like living in a non-Muslim country (where the leaders are not Muslims). Other people dont understand. If it was an Islamic land (or where the rulers and the majority of the people are Muslims), then everyone will understand this difficulty and a possible shift may be given,,or some non-Muslim doctors be appointed during critical times. I am not a religious scholar so I cannot really answer your doubt about fasting (and in my case, I am not having a heavy duty as much as you do). So in my case, fasting is for Allah alone and even if I have to stay hungry, I keep my mind off food. And that is why I am not feeling that fasting is a burden at all (I am used to it).
      Anyway if possible (though this may not be easily applicable), I would recommend you to move out of that land and live in a country where you can perform your ibadah more easily. I am not saying this out of mere feelingless words but I just came across the Qur’anic verses and hadith regarding emigration:

      “….”We were weak and oppressed on the earth.” They (angels) say “Was not the earth of Allah spacious enough for you to emigrate therein?”…) [Al-Qur'an 4:97]

      Narrated Samurah bin Jundub (R.A.): Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) said: Anybody (from among the Muslims) who meets, gathers together, lives and stays (permanently) with a Mushrik (disbeliever) and agrees to his ways, opinions, etc and (enjoys) his living with him (Mushrik) then he is like him. (This Hadith indicates that a Muslim should not stay in a non-Muslim country, he must emigrate to a Muslim country, where Islam is practised.)” [The Book of Jihad, Abu Dawud].

      And Allah knows best.

      PS. I live in Thailand. And I really want to go out from here. No because the people are not nice, but they question everything and (may) condemn you for not joining them in parties, blabla. And there is no holiday for Eid or no one to understand us if we want to ask for leave and postpone some exams to other days. Even if they allowed us one day, the other times they would talk among themselves that we are just too religious, etc etc. All in all, these people just hinder us from practising our good deeds.
      May Allah guide you to the best.

  31. Jibril says:

    Jazak Allahu khayran. This is a helpful post. May Allah reward you.

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