By: Mugdha Variyar

Source: International Business Times

As a deadly heatwave has claimed hundreds of lives in Pakistan since the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan, an Islamic cleric has issued a fatwa that allows Muslims facing extreme difficulties in the heat to eat during the day.

Mufti Mohammad Naeem, who heads the Jamia Binoria Aalimiyah madrassa in Karachi, said in his fatwa that if a Muslim’s “life is threatened due to the heat” he can eat during the day despite the holy month of Ramadan.

Ramadan is a month of strict fasting wherein Muslims do not eat or even drink water from dawn to dusk.

However, the extreme heatwave in Pakistan has seen the death toll rise beyond 1,000 in the last week, and lack of water can lead to serious dehydration that can result in death.

“If an expert doctor says that your life is threatened due to the heat, or some condition you may have is going to get worse because of fasting, then you can forego the daily fast,” the cleric told NBC News.

However, Mufti Naeem added that Muslims in Pakistan must follow the fatwa responsibly and only break a fast if suggested by a doctor.

“This is conditional on your medical condition and how you react to the heat, not a free-for-all. But only a religious and qualified doctor can assess you condition,” he said.

The cleric reportedly said that those who choose not to fast during the ongoing heatwave must observe the rozas (fast) later.

Fasting during the month of Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam.

However, the elderly, the sick, pregnant women and young children have been exempted from fasting.

The heatwave in Pakistan has claimed more than 1,000 lives in the Sindh province alone, while 40,000 people have suffered heatstrokes, according to Dawn.