Skip to content

“Kidney disease means we observe Ramadan differently to other Muslims”

05 April 2024

With no cure for kidney disease, patients and their families often need to find ways to adapt their lives to accommodate their illness and treatment. At just 16 years old, Rayhan, from Blackburn, has been receiving home haemodialysis for the past six months after being diagnosed with IgA nephropathy in 2022. For Rayhan and his mother, Amina, several changes have become necessary in the way they study, work, eat, drink, socialise and practice their religion.  

Amina, 52, says: “Rayhan’s kidney disease meant I had to leave my job as a teaching assistant. I’m a single mum and I need to support him to dialyse at home for five hours at a time, four times per week. It’s not feasible to work, as Rayhan often needs additional care unexpectedly.” 

“Our lives are different now in many ways and this is also true in how we’re able to practice our religion. As always, we’re observing Ramadan this year – just in a different way.” 

What is Ramadam?

Ramadam is a significant time in the Islamic calendar, during which Muslims are required to reflect spiritually, fast, give to charity and strengthen relationships with their family, community and God.

In 2024, Ramadam began on Monday 11 March and is predicted to end on Tuesday 9 April, at the sighting of the new moon. Celebration of the Eid al-Fitr festival will follow as families gather to mark the occasion and eat together as fasting comes to an end. 

Table with Ramadan sign on it

Fasting is not possible for everyone

Fasting Ramadan is one of the Five Pillars of Islam and during this period most Muslims do not eat or drink anything until after sunset each day. Exemptions are made for those whose health could be adversely affected – including those living with kidney disease – but it can still be a difficult decision not to participate. 

Amina says: “If Rayhan wasn’t dialysing, he’d be able to freely come home from school and go to mosque with his friends. They’d be able to go for late night prayers and learn more about their religion. He’d also be able to fast.” 

“We do other things to replace what Rayhan isn’t able to do. For example, we give money to charity to feed people in need for each fast missed (Fidya). We’ve done that for the duration of Ramadan. He can do his prayers from home, and we listen to Islamic talks online. When he’s not dialysing, we visit family too. We’re going to make adaptations for Eid, so we don’t dialyse on that day.” 

“There’s no hard rule as a Muslim to say we must be at the mosque every day during Ramadan or that we must fast. It does depend on people’s circumstances.” 

Kidney disease has changed our lives

Spreading awareness of kidney disease and its impact is important to Amina. She says: “Rayhan just looks like a normal child and people may not realise what we go through.” 

“It all came out of the blue. Rayhan had a headache in May 2022 and was a bit lethargic, so I took him to the doctors. They took hs diagnosed with IgA nephropathy, but we knew in the back of our minds that it was going to decline further.” 

“Rayhan was so determined to do well in his GCSEs and managed to get a place at the same school to study for his A levels. The day after collecting his GCSE awards his kidneys failed, and he has needed dialysis ever since. We were a working family, and it has been hard giving up everything overnight. I do miss it, but Rayhan comes first.” 

Muslim boy, during a stay in hospital
Rayhan, in hospital

Adapting to a new normal

Support from Manchester Renal Hospital in Rayhan’s care, to enable him to dialyse at home, has been important for the family. Rayhan has been able to attend college and persevere to use his days dialysing at home to study for his A level qualifications with the support of his school.  

Amina says: “Rayhan’s school have been so supportive in his studies. They’ve also made sure there were no problems with other children who are fasting for Ramadan. His friends have been amazing at making sure he’s eating and drinking.” 

Rayhan during dialysis
Rayhan during dialysis

“My closest friends and family have seen Rayhan on the haemodialysis machine, so I’ve had a lot of emotional and moral support from them. I’ve tried to share on social media about how our lives are different and how we observe Ramadan.” 

“Being able to dialyse at home, we have been fortunate to join family to participate in Iftar – the meal at sunset which follows a day of fasting. It has also given us the chance to partake in spiritual activities which would have been more difficult if we needed to travel for treatment.” 

“We’re observing Ramadan in the best way we can for now and are hopeful Rayhan may be able to participate more fully again once he receives a kidney transplant. His dad is being tested as an organ donor, so we hope to get some normality back soon and go back to life and work.” 

Read more about people living with kidney disease

Why not make a donation now?

(Every £ counts)

Scroll To Top