According to Islam, all those suffering from a chronic disease are exempt from fasting.They must, however, make up for it by feeding one poor person for every day they do not fast, said Dr Ahmed Al Haddad, Grand Mufti of Dubai and head of the fatwa department.

When it comes to the elderly, there are two categories, Dr Al Haddad said. This includes those who are able to fast and will not be harmed by it, and those who are too frail and must be exempt because their well-being is at stake.

Other exemptions include those who cannot fast temporarily, such as travellers, pregnant women and those with curable illnesses. However, those individuals must fast the same number of days they missed once the reason for their exemption is no longer valid.

Travellers are only exempt if they have travelled at least 77 kilometres from the city suburbs, the purpose of the trip must be religiously permissible and the traveller’s destination must be definite.

Those who are fasting but preparing iftar for their families are permitted to taste their food, provided that nothing is swallowed. However, this is discouraged, Dr Al Haddad said.

The debate that the benefits of fasting are not earned unless one is meeting other religious obligations is a misconception, Dr Al Haddad said.

“Fasting is a fard. If one fasts, one gets the reward for fasting; if one does not pray, one will face the punishment for not praying. The validity of the fasting is not affected,” he said.

“The same applies to women who pray and fast but do not wear hijab. They earn the reward of the first two and the ithm of the latter.”

Ithm is the Arabic word for sin.