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CRESCENT MOON IMAGERY: ALLAH AS MOON-GOD


CRESCENT AND STAR: Flag of the Islamic Republic of Turkestan.svg The Quran clearly emphasises that the moon is a sign of God, not itself a god. Muslim scholars cite the 37th verse of the Sura Fussilat as proof against the Moon-God claim:  وَمِنْ آيَاتِهِ اللَّيْلُ وَالنَّهَارُ وَالشَّمْسُ وَالْقَمَرُ لَا تَسْجُدُوا لِلشَّمْسِ وَلَا لِلْقَمَرِ وَاسْجُدُوا لِلَّهِ الَّذِي خَلَقَهُنَّ إِن كُنتُمْ إِيَّاهُ تَعْبُدُونَ  "And of His signs are the night and day and the sun and moon. Do not prostrate to the sun or to the moon, but prostrate to Allah, who created them, if it should be Him that you worship"  READ FULL STORY FROM BEGINNING...

ALSO: The Crescent Moon And Islam


Turkish flags showing the crescent symbol. Photo: zz77
The Turks adopted the crescent symbol after conquering Constantinople. For many people the image of the crescent moon and Islam go hand-in-hand. The two have become so entwined in the popular imagination that it’s lead some to believe that Muslims worship a moon god, which isn’t true. Muslims worship Allah who they believe is also the god of the Jews and Christians. But how did the two, the moon and Islam, become so closely associated? It all goes back to the Ottomans. READ MORE...

ALSO Moon-sighting panel: Astronomers expect Ramadan to begin on June 19, Thursday


Sultan bin Saeed Al Badi, UAE Minister of Justice, has issued a decision to set up the moon-sighting committee for the Holy Month of Ramadan in Hijri 1436, corresponding to 2015. (File) EMIRATES 24/7 
Sultan bin Saeed Al Badi, UAE Minister of Justice, has issued a decision to set up the moon-sighting committee for the Holy Month of Ramadan in Hijri 1436, corresponding to 2015.
The committee, chaired by the Minister of Justice, includes Sultan Saeed Al Badi, the Under-Secretary of Abu Dhabi Judicial Department, along with a number of officials. The decision called on all the Sharia Courts nationwide to detect the crescent moon and inform the committee. The committee will hold a meeting after Maghreb prayer on Tuesday, 29th of Sha’aban, Hijri 1436, corresponding to June 16, 2015, at the Judiciary Department in Abu Dhabi. READ MORE...

ALSO: Ramadan fasting imposes difficult choice on diabetic Muslims


In this Sunday, June 14, 2015, photo, a nurse takes blood from a patient at Jordan's National Center for Diabetes in Amman, Jordan. The center is particularly busy ahead of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan when diabetics seek advice on whether they can observe the sunrise-to-sundown Ramadan fast. (AP Photo/Khaled Al Odat) 
AMMAN, Jordan — For years, diabetic Shawkat al-Khalili ignored his doctor's orders not to fast during the holy month of Ramadan when most of the world's 1.6 billion Muslims abstain from food and water from sunrise to sunset.
Islam exempts the sick from fasting, but the 70-year-old al-Khalili said he couldn't bring himself to violate one of the five pillars of his religion, even after he lost a toe to diabetes. Like the retired teacher in Amman, tens of millions of diabetic Muslims struggle each year with such stressful choices. Increasingly, physicians team up with preachers or look for new methods to educate and protect the faithful. The stakes are rising, particularly in the Arab world, where diabetes is spreading rapidly because of growing obesity caused by a more sedentary lifestyle and easy availability of processed food. READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS:

Allah as Moon-god

MANILA, JUNE 22, 2015  (WIKIPEDIA) Allah as Moon-God is a claim put forth by some critics of Islam that the Islamic name for God, Allah, derives from a pagan Moon god in local Arabic mythology.

The implication is that "Allah" is a different God from the Judeo-Christian deity and that Muslims are worshipping a "false god".

The claim is most associated with the Christian apologist author Robert Morey, whose book The moon-god Allah in the archeology of the Middle East is a widely cited source of the idea that Allah is a moon-god.

It has also been promoted in the cartoon tracts of Jack Chick. The use of a lunar calendar and the prevalence of crescent moon imagery in Islam is said to be the result of this origination.

In 2009 anthropologist Gregory Starrett wrote, "a recent survey by the Council for American Islamic Relations reports that as many as 10% of Americans believe Muslims are pagans who worship a moon god or goddess, a belief energetically disseminated by some Christian activists."

Islamic and Western scholars have rejected these claims, one even calling them "insulting".

It is argued that "Allah" is just the word for "God" in Arabic, which ultimately derives from the same root as the Hebrew words "El" and "Elohim", both used in the Book of Genesis.

Sociologist Lori Peek writes that, "Allah is simply the Arabic word meaning God.

In fact people who speak Arabic, be they Christians, Jews or Muslims, often say 'Allah' to describe God, just as God is called 'Gott' in German and 'Dieu' in French."

While other gods were certainly referred to using this epithet, this is equally true of the Hebrew words.

The Biblical commandment You shall have no other gods before me uses the same word, "Elohim", to refer to the "other" gods that is used for the creator god.

It is also true of the English, French and other European-language words for God. Indeed the English word "God" evolved from pagan Germanic terms for invocation; the Latin word Deus, from which "Dieu" derives, can be traced to the same root as Dyeus, which gives the names of the ancient Indo-European divinities Zeus, Jove and Dyaus Pitar.

Ibrahim Hooper of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) calls the Moon-God theories of Allah evangelical "fantasies" that are "perpetuated in their comic books".

Etymology

The word Allah certainly predates Islam. As Arthur Jeffrey states,

"The name Allah, as the Quran itself is witness, was well known in pre-Islamic Arabia. Indeed, both it and its feminine form, Allat, are found not infrequently among the theophorous names in inscriptions from North Arabia".

The 19th-century scholar Julius Wellhausen also viewed the concept of "Allah (al-ilah, the god)" to be "a form of abstraction" originating from Mecca's local gods.

Alfred Guillaume notes that the term "al-ilah" (the God) ultimately derives from the Semitic root used as a generic term for divinity.

"The oldest name for God used in the Semitic world consists of but two letters, the consonant 'l' preceded by a smooth breathing, which was pronounced 'Il' in ancient Babylonia, 'El' (Eloh,Elohim) in ancient Israel.

The relation of this name, which in Babylonia and Assyria (Alaha,Eloah) in Aramaic syriac became a generic term simply meaning ‘god’, to the Arabian Ilah familiar to us in the form Allah, which is compounded of al, the definite article, and Ilah by eliding the vowel ‘i’, is not clear."

Guillaume notes that some scholars have argued that the epithet "the god" was first used as a title of a moon god, but this is purely "antiquarian" in the same sense as the origins of the English word "god".

"Some scholars trace the name to the South Arabian Ilah, a title of the Moon god, but this is a matter of antiquarian interest...it is clear from Nabataean and other inscriptions that Allah meant 'the god'."

The word "Allah" was used by Arabic-speaking Christians and Arab Jews before the lifetime of Muhammad as the word for God. It was also used by pre-Muslim Arab monotheists known as hanifs.

Crescent moon imagery


Flag of the Islamic Republic of Turkestan.svg

The moon plays a significant role in Islam because of the use of a lunar Islamic calendar to determine the date of Ramadan.

The crescent moon, known as Hilal, defines the start and end of Islamic months.

The need to determine the precise time of the appearance of the hilal was one of the inducements for Muslim scholars to study astronomy.

The Quran clearly emphasises that the moon is a sign of God, not itself a god. Muslim scholars cite the 37th verse of the Sura Fussilat as proof against the Moon-God claim:

 وَمِنْ آيَاتِهِ اللَّيْلُ وَالنَّهَارُ وَالشَّمْسُ وَالْقَمَرُ لَا تَسْجُدُوا لِلشَّمْسِ وَلَا لِلْقَمَرِ وَاسْجُدُوا لِلَّهِ الَّذِي خَلَقَهُنَّ إِن كُنتُمْ إِيَّاهُ تَعْبُدُونَ

"And of His signs are the night and day and the sun and moon. Do not prostrate to the sun or to the moon, but prostrate to Allah, who created them, if it should be Him that you worship"

The crescent moon symbol used as form of blazon is not a feature of early Islam, as would be expected if it were linked to Pre-Islamic pagan roots.

The use of the crescent symbol on Muslim flags originates during the later Middle Ages.[13] 14th-century Muslim flags with an upward-pointing crescent in a monocolour field included the flags of Gabes, Tlemcen (Tilimsi), Damas and Lucania, Cairo, Mahdia, Tunis and Buda.

It has been suggested that the star-and-crescent had been adopted from the Byzantines. Franz Babinger suggests this possibility, noting that the crescent alone has a much older tradition also with Turkic tribes in the interior of Asia. Parsons considers this unlikely, as the star and crescent was not a widespread motif in Byzantium at the time of the Ottoman conquest.

Turkish historians tend to stress the antiquity of the crescent (not star-and-crescent) symbol among the early Turkic states in Asia.

In Turkish tradition, there is an Ottoman legend of a dream of the eponymous founder of the Ottoman house, Osman I, in which he is reported to have seen a moon rising from the breast of a Muslim judge whose daughter he sought to marry. "When full, it descended into his own breast.

Then from his loins there sprang a tree, which as it grew came to cover the whole world with the shadow of its green and beautiful branches." Beneath it Osman saw the world spread out before him, surmounted by the crescent.

Islamic flags containing the calligraphy of the Quran were commonly used by the Mughal Emperor Akbar, it was the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, who is known to have inlaid the Crescent and Star symbol upon his personal shield, his son Aurangzeb is also known to have used similar shields and flags containing an upward Crescent and Star symbol.

Various Nawabs also preferred to utilize the Crescent and Star symbols such as the Nawab of the Carnatic.

Hubal and Allah


A 1315 illustration from the Persian Jami al-Tawarikh, inspired by the story of Muhammad and the Meccan clan elders lifting the Black Stone into place when the Kaaba was rebuilt in the early 600s

Before Islam, the Kaaba contained a statue representing the god Hubal, which was thought to have powers of divination.

Robert Morey's book The Moon-god Allah in the Archeology of the Middle East claims that Allah is identical in origin to Hubal, who he asserts to be a lunar deity.

This teaching is repeated in the Chick tracts "Allah Had No Son" and "The Little Bride". It has been widely circulated in Evangelical and anti-Islamic literature in the United States.

In 1996 Janet Parshall, in syndicated radio broadcasts, asserted that Muslims worship a moon god.

In 2003 Pat Robertson stated, "The struggle is whether Hubal, the Moon God of Mecca, known as Allah, is supreme, or whether the Judeo-Christian Jehovah God of the Bible is Supreme."

Farzana Hassan sees these views as an extension of longstanding Christian Evangelical claims that Islam is "pagan" and that Muhamamad was an impostor and deceiver,

Literature circulated by the Christian Coalition perpetuates the popular Christian belief about Islam being a pagan religion, borrowing aspects of Judeo-Christian monotheism by elevating the moon god Hubal to the rank of Supreme God, or Allah. Muhammad, for fundamentalist Christians, remains an impostor who commissioned his companions to copy words of the Bible as they sat in dark inaccessible places, far removed from public gaze.

Scholarly views

These claims draw to some extent on historical secular scholarship about the origins of the Islamic view of Allah and the polytheism of pre-Islamic Arabia, which date back to the nineteenth century.

These concern the evolution and etymology of "Allah" and the mythological identity of Hubal. On the basis that the Kaaba was Allah's house, but the most important idol within it was that of Hubal, Julius Wellhausen considered Hubal to be an ancient name for Allah.

In 1905 David Samuel Margoliouth wrote that "Between Hubal, the god whose image was inside the Ka'bah, and Allah ("the God"), of whom much will be heard, there was perhaps some connection", but argued that Wellhausen's equation of the two was merely hypothetical.

The claim that Hubal is a moon god derives from the speculation of the German scholar Hugo Winckler in the early twentieth century.

Recent authors do not identify Hubal as a god of the moon. David Leeming describes him as a warrior and rain god, as does Mircea Eliade.

Islamic sources make no mention of the moon in connection with Hubal. Hisham Ibn Al-Kalbi's Book of Idols describes the idol as a human figure with a gold hand (replacing the original hand that had broken off the statue). He had seven arrows that were used for divination.

More recent authors emphasise the Nabataean origins of Hubal as a figure imported into the shrine, which may have already been associated with Allah.

Patricia Crone argues that "If Hubal and Allah had been one and the same deity, Hubal ought to have survived as an epithet of Allah, which he did not. And moreover there would not have been traditions in which people are asked to renounce the one for the other."


Islamic Republic Flag

Islamic views

Many of these theories are consistent with mainstream Islamic thought, which holds that worship of Allah was passed down through Abraham and other prophets, but that it became corrupted by pagan traditions in pre-Islamic Arabia.

Before Muhammad, Allah was not considered the sole divinity by Meccans; however, Allah was considered the creator of the world and the giver of rain.

The notion of the term may have been vague in the Meccan religion. Allah was associated with companions, whom pre-Islamic Arabs considered as subordinate deities.

Meccans held that a kind of kinship existed between Allah and the jinn. Allah was thought to have had sons and that the local deities of al-ʿUzzā, Manāt and al-Lāt were His daughters.

The Meccans possibly associated angels with Allah. Allah was invoked in times of distress. Muhammad's father's name was ʿAbd-Allāh meaning "the slave of Allāh".

Hubal versus Allah

Islamic scholars argue that Muhammad's role was to restore the purified Abrahamic worship of Allah by emphasising his uniqueness and separation from his own creation, including phenomena such as the moon.

The alleged miracle of the splitting of the moon shows that God is not the moon, but has power over it.

Whether or not Hubal was even associated with the moon, both Muhammad and his enemies clearly identified Hubal and Allah as different gods, their supporters fighting on opposing sides in the Battle of Badr. Ibn Hisham notes that Abu Sufyan ibn Harb, leader of the defeated anti-Islamic army, called to Hubal for support to gain victory in their next battle;

When Abu Sufyan wanted to leave he went to the top of the mountain and shouted loudly saying, 'You have done a fine work; victory in war goes by turns.

Today in exchange for the day (of Badr). Show your superiority, Hubal,' i.e. vindicate your religion. The apostle told ‘Umar to get up and answer him and say, God [Allah] is most high and most glorious. We are not equal. Our dead are in paradise; your dead are in hell.

Likewise, Sahih al-Bukhari clearly differentiates between the worshippers of Allah, and the worshippers of Hubal, referring to the same event.

Abu Sufyan ascended a high place and said, "Is Muhammad present amongst the people?" The Prophet said, "Do not answer him." Abu Sufyan said, "Is the son of Abu Quhafa present among the people?"

The Prophet said, "Do not answer him." Abu Sufyan said, "Is the son of Al-Khattab amongst the people?" He then added, "All these people have been killed, for, were they alive, they would have replied." On that, 'Umar could not help saying, "You are a liar, O enemy of Allah! Allah has kept what will make you unhappy." Abu Sufyan said, "Superior may be Hubal!"

On that the Prophet said (to his companions), "Reply to him." They asked, "What may we say?" He said, "Say: Allah is More Elevated and More Majestic!" Abu Sufyan said, "We have (the idol) al-‘Uzza, whereas you have no ‘Uzza!" The Prophet said (to his companions), "Reply to him." They said, "What may we say?" The Prophet said, "Say: Allah is our Helper and you have no helper."

In Islamic fundamentalism

In 2001, Osama bin Laden called America the modern Hubal.

He referred to allies of America as "hypocrites" who "all stood behind the head of global unbelief, the Hubal of the modern age, America and its supporters"

Al-Qaeda's then-number two, Ayman al-Zawahiri, repeated the phrase ("hubal al-'asr") in describing America, during his November 2008 message following Barack Obama's election to the presidency.

According to Adnan A. Musallam, this use of Hubal as a symbol of the modern worship of "idols" as un-Islamic gods can be traced to one of the founders of radical Islamism, Sayyid Qutb, who used the label to attack secular rulers such as Nasser.

It may have been passed on to bin Laden by one of his teachers, Abdullah Azzam.


MUSLIM VOICES BLOG

The Crescent Moon And Islam By Rosemary Pennington Posted February 4, 2009


Turkish flags showing the crescent symbol. Photo: zz77

The Turks adopted the crescent symbol after conquering Constantinople.

For many people the image of the crescent moon and Islam go hand-in-hand. The two have become so entwined in the popular imagination that it’s lead some to believe that Muslims worship a moon god, which isn’t true.

Muslims worship Allah who they believe is also the god of the Jews and Christians. But how did the two, the moon and Islam, become so closely associated? It all goes back to the Ottomans.

READ MORE...

The Muslim Ottoman Empire controlled large swaths of the Middle East and North Africa when, as any empire builders, they decided they wanted to expand and the territory they wanted was in Europe – eventually they would come to control Greece, much of the Balkans and portions of eastern Europe.

On the Ottoman flag was the crescent moon – a symbol the Turks adopted from the city of Constantinople after conquering it. Because the crescent moon was the symbol for the Ottomans, it also became the symbol for Muslims in general for many in the West.

It has since been adopted by some Muslim nations – finding its way onto the flags of countries as diverse as Malaysia, Pakistan and Algeria. Although some in the Muslim community reject the crescent moon because it can be seen as a pagan symbol.

THE AUTHOR: Rosemary Pennington Rosemary Pennington Program Coordinator for Voices and Visions is a graduate student in the School of Journalism at Indiana University.


EMIRATES 24/7 BLOG

Ramadan moon-sighting panel: Astronomers expect Ramadan to begin on June 19, Thursday By Staff Published Sunday, June 14, 2015


Sultan bin Saeed Al Badi, UAE Minister of Justice, has issued a decision to set up the moon-sighting committee for the Holy Month of Ramadan in Hijri 1436, corresponding to 2015. (File) EMIRATES 24/7

Sultan bin Saeed Al Badi, UAE Minister of Justice, has issued a decision to set up the moon-sighting committee for the Holy Month of Ramadan in Hijri 1436, corresponding to 2015.

The committee, chaired by the Minister of Justice, includes Sultan Saeed Al Badi, the Under-Secretary of Abu Dhabi Judicial Department, along with a number of officials.

The decision called on all the Sharia Courts nationwide to detect the crescent moon and inform the committee.

The committee will hold a meeting after Maghreb prayer on Tuesday, 29th of Sha’aban, Hijri 1436, corresponding to June 16, 2015, at the Judiciary Department in Abu Dhabi.

READ MORE...

Saudi to start Ramadan moon-sighting Tuesday, June 16.

Saudi Arabia has called on Muslims to sight the moon on Tuesday night to decide whether the fasting month of Ramadan will begin on Wednesday or Thursday.

The Supreme Court said on Tuesday June 16 would be the 29th of the lunar month of Shaaban and urged citizens to report to any court in case the moon is sighted.

“All Muslims in the Kingdom are invited to sight the moon on Tuesday night. Those who sight it by naked eye or by telescope should go to the nearest court and testify to the sighting,” the Court said in a statement carried by local newspapers.

Saudi astronomers have ruled out moon-sighting on Tuesday and expect Ramadan to begin on Thursday June 18.


PHILSTAR

Ramadan fast imposes difficult choice on diabetic Muslims By Karin Laub (Associated Press) | Updated June 16, 2015 - 5:38pm


In this Sunday, June 14, 2015, photo, a nurse takes blood from a patient at Jordan's National Center for Diabetes in Amman, Jordan. The center is particularly busy ahead of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan when diabetics seek advice on whether they can observe the sunrise-to-sundown Ramadan fast. (AP Photo/Khaled Al Odat)

AMMAN, Jordan — For years, diabetic Shawkat al-Khalili ignored his doctor's orders not to fast during the holy month of Ramadan when most of the world's 1.6 billion Muslims abstain from food and water from sunrise to sunset.

Islam exempts the sick from fasting, but the 70-year-old al-Khalili said he couldn't bring himself to violate one of the five pillars of his religion, even after he lost a toe to diabetes.

Like the retired teacher in Amman, tens of millions of diabetic Muslims struggle each year with such stressful choices. Increasingly, physicians team up with preachers or look for new methods to educate and protect the faithful.

The stakes are rising, particularly in the Arab world, where diabetes is spreading rapidly because of growing obesity caused by a more sedentary lifestyle and easy availability of processed food.

READ MORE...

The Middle East and North Africa, which are overwhelmingly Muslim, have the world's highest comparative prevalence of diabetes, according to the International Diabetes Federation.

In 2014, some 38 million people in the region, or one in 10, were diabetics, a figure expected to double in a generation, the federation says. Another 18 million suspected sufferers have yet to be diagnosed.

In recent years, the fast has also become more challenging for diabetics and their physicians as Ramadan — a lunar month that moves through the seasons — now takes place in summer. In many parts of the Mideast, temperatures exceed 40 degrees Celsius (100 degrees Fahrenheit) and daylight lasts for 15 hours, increasing risks of low blood sugar and dehydration.

This year, Ramadan is to begin on Wednesday or Thursday, depending on the sighting of the crescent moon.

Despite the hardships, compliance with Ramadan rules is widespread.

Those who don't fast usually eat and drink in seclusion out of respect.

Ramadan is also a time of increased religious observance and socializing, with families sharing rich meals after sunset, followed by gatherings with friends or neighbors.

In this climate, devout Muslims with diabetes say it's very difficult to be the odd one out.


In this Sunday, June 14, 2015, photo, Shawkat al-Khalili, a 70-year-old diabetic, is examined by Dr. Nayef Khalayla at Jordan's National Center for Diabetes in Amman, Jordan. Al-Khalili observed the sunrise-to-sundown fast of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan for years against doctors' orders, even after losing a toe, and only two years ago began heeding their advice. Tens of millions of diabetic Muslims struggle each year with the stressful choice between faith and health. (AP Photo/Khaled Al Odat)

Al-Khalili said he was diagnosed with Type II diabetes 30 years ago and kept fasting. About 10 years ago, doctors told him he had to stop, but he wouldn't.

He kept ignoring his doctors even after his left toe was amputated four years ago. Finally, two years ago, he stopped fasting.

"I don't feel good because I'm not practicing a major pillar of Islam, but it's ... necessary for protecting my health and stop the deterioration," al-Khalili said during his pre-Ramadan checkup Sunday at Jordan's National Center for Diabetes, Endocrinology and Genetics. "I hope God will forgive me."

Dr. Nahla Khawaja, an endocrinologist, said it's the busiest time of the year at the center, with most patients asking for Ramadan guidance.

Under the center's rules, Type 1 diabetics — whose bodies don't make the blood-sugar regulating hormone insulin — should not fast. For many Type 2 diabetics, or those whose bodies don't make enough insulin, the no-fasting recommendation also applies.

This includes those with uncontrolled blood sugar levels, those suffering from frequent sharp drops in blood sugar and those with advanced complications, such as damage to eyes, kidneys or limbs, Khawaja said.

Those who ignore the advice can face a range of risks, from fainting and dizziness to a diabetic coma and stroke.

"It's a great struggle" to persuade patients to not fast, particularly the elderly who often become more devout with age, Khawaja said.

However, other Type 2 diabetics can fast safely under supervision, and some, including recently diagnosed obese patients, might actually benefit from fasting, said Egypt-based Dr. Adel el-Sayed, the MENA chair of the International Diabetes Federation. He said diabetics who insist on fasting need to have their treatment adjusted and blood sugar closely monitored to mitigate the risks.

Sawsan Abu Amireh, a patient at the Jordanian center and a Type 1 diabetic, said she stopped fasting in 2010 on her doctor's orders. "I'm very upset when I see my children fasting and I'm not fasting," said the 46-year-old. "I even take my medication out of sight of my children (during Ramadan)."

In some areas outside the Middle East, physicians have teamed up with imams to get the message across.

A leading diabetes charity, Diabetes UK, publishes information on fasting and Ramadan on its website, including talking points for Muslim preachers.

Newham University Hospital, in a heavily Muslim neighborhood of London, offers pre-Ramadan programs where diabetics can hear the religious and medical views on safe fasting. They also are counseled to avoid the common excesses of Ramadan, such as consuming large amounts of fatty and sweet foods in the evening.

The hospital's imam, Yunus Dudhwala, said his job is to make sure doctors and nurses understand the religious importance of the fast.


In this Sunday, June 14, 2015, photo, Dr. Nahla Khawaja speaks to a patient at Jordan's National Center for Diabetes in Amman, Jordan. The center is particularly busy with diabetics seeking advice about fasting ahead of Ramadan, the holy month that begins later this week and requires devout Muslims to fast from sunrise to sunset. "It's a great struggle" to persuade patients to not fast, particularly the elderly who often become more devout with age, Khawaja said. (AP Photo/Khaled Al Odat)

"If medics don't understand that, the only advice they will usually give is that, 'Oh, you've got diabetes, don't fast,'" he said. "I think that's the wrong message." Still, he added: "Islam does not say you should fast and become a martyr."

El-Sayed is trying to persuade mobile phone companies to help him target diabetes patients and deliver information through text messages. He's also working with international experts on detailed guidelines, to be published next year, on who can and cannot fast.

Doctors said they don't have detailed figures about the health damage suffered by diabetic patients because the most severe cases end up in emergency rooms, not in specialty clinics. But some patients won't be deterred.

Nayel Thnaibat, 65, has failed to manage his diabetes since being diagnosed in 1982. He has lost most of his sight and is bedridden, with one leg amputated above the knee.

Still, he says he'll fast again this year, despite the risks.

"God will protect us," said the retired civil servant who lives with his 60-year-old wife Nofeh, also diabetic, in the southern Jordanian town of Karak. "I will not violate the fast even if I die."


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