What are the Ramadan fasting rules and can you drink water during the religious month?

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IT’S the holiest month in the Islamic calendar for Muslims across the globe as they observe Ramadan – when they don’t eat or drink between dawn and sunset.

Those observing the fast see it as a time for reflection, increased self-control and a devotion to prayer. Here are the rules of fasting you need to know.

Muslims break their fast with Iftar during the holy month of Ramadan
Muslims break their fast with Iftar during the holy month of Ramadan
Getty Images – Getty

Can you drink water during Ramadan?

No, you are not allowed to drink water during daylight hours.

However, the NHS recommends adults break their fast if they become very dehydrated.

On their website they warn: “Poor hydration can be made worse by weather conditions and even everyday activities like walking to work or housework.

“If you produce very little or no urine, feel disoriented and confused or faint as a result of dehydration, you must stop fasting and have a drink of water or other fluid.”

If a fast is broken, it will need to be compensated for by fasting at a later date. Or they can pay “fidyah”, a religious term for donation of food or money.

Fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam, so all adult Muslims are expected to fast.

Adult Muslims are also expected to read and reflect on the entire Koran, the holy book, while abstaining from smoking and sex.

It is thought abstaining from these activities will lead to greater “taqwa”, or consciousness of God.

People participate in a torch parade to welcome the holy month of Ramadan in Medan
AFP or licensors

Are children expected to fast?

Muslim children are expected to begin fasting once they have reached puberty, usually by the age of 14.

There is no national law that prevents young children or teens from fasting.

The NHS advises against children as young as seven or eight fasting.

Advice from the national health body read: “It’s a good idea to make children aware of what fasting involves and to practice fasting for a few hours at a time.”

Ramadan begins at sunset the first day of Ramadan - which in on May 5 in 2019
Ramadan begins at sunset the first day of Ramadan – which in on May 5 in 2019

What are the fasting hours?

Ramadan shifts according to the movement of the moon.

Islamic Relief has formed a timetable with all the significant times Muslims in London must remember from the beginning of Ramadan – which started on Sunday, May 5.


Muslims will be expected to abstain from food and drink between sunrise and sunset for 30 days.

Usually adults will have a meal just before dawn, and another after sunset.

At the end of the fast, when the sun has gone down, family and friends will get together for Iftar to break their fast.

The guide shows the time of sunrise (in London) and the time for Iftar.

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