Recently the news has hit the mainstream media with a storm. Pakistan International Airlines have directed its flight crew, including flight attendants and pilots, to avoid fasting during their duty hours. Social Media is going nuts over the debate whether anyone can restrict their employees not too fast or is the right decision in the wake of flight safety. Well, let us put some logical points in front of you to understand both perspectives.

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Flight Crew Fasting and Flight Safety

Flying is unnatural, and it involves too many factors that affect human bodies. Countless studies suggest the human body behaves differently above 35000 feet than it does on the ground. Due to extreme and unexpected weather conditions, a flight can experience various events of turbulence and even emergencies.

Fasting, especially in the month of Ramadan, when muslims are suppose to fast from sun-rise to sun-set. For a flight crew it is considered as a safety hazard because it may effect the decision making power of the operating crew in an event of emergency. This is suggested due to the fatiuge factors, and low blood sugar levels if a the flight hours are longer.

Pakistan’s Civil Aviation Authority has defined rules in its CARS (civil aviation rules) 1994 suggests that; a person will be considered as unfit for exercising the privileges of his/her license if he is aware that his capacity to perform his duties is likely to be impaired by a decrease in medical fitness or by a period of fasting. CARS 1994 Rule 41(3)

Air Navigation Order (ANO-012) of the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority focuses the duty periods, rest periods, and fatigue management for flight crews and cabin crews. In compliance with CARS Rules 41(3), the order D11.2 of Miscellaneous Provisions restricts the crew to exercise the privileges of a license as a crew member while fasting.

Since the airlines in Pakistan need to implement all of the orders and rules directed by the regulatory authority, PIA and all private airlines and other operators must follow the regulator’s orders to ensure flight safety.

Islamic Perspective on NOT fasting while flying

Flying is a mode of transport, and it is considered under travel. We tried to research the concerned topic and found the below explanation by famous scholar Dr. Zakir Naik. The explanation is well referenced through books of hadiths. A pilot’s question is also answered in the below video in the wake of Islamic rulings.

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There are below references quoted by Dr. Zakir Naik,

  1. Abu Darda’ (Allah be pleased with him) reported: We set out during the month of Ramadan with the Messenger of Allah ﷺ in such an intense heat that one of us would place his hand over his head (to protect himself) against the excessive heat, and none among us was observing the fast, except the Messenger of Allah ﷺ and ‘Abdullah b. Rawaha. (Sahih Bukhari Hadith 2492) Source:
  2. Jabir b. ‘Abdullah (Allah be pleased with both of them) reported that Messenger of Allah ﷺ went out to Mecca in Ramadan in the year of Victory, and he and the people fasted till he came to Kura’ al-Ghamim and the people also fasted. He then called for a cup of water which he raised till the people saw it, and then he drank. He was told afterwards that some people had continued to fast, and he said: These people are the disobedient ones; these are the disobedient ones. (Sahih Bukhari 2472) Source:
  3. Fasting is for a fixed number of days, and if one of you be sick, or if one of you be on a journey, you will fast the same number of other days later on. For those who are capable of fasting (but still do not fast), there is redemption: feeding a needy man for each day missed. Whoever voluntarily does more good than is required will find it better for him; and that you should fast is better for you if you only know. Surah Bakrah (184) Source: Islamic Studies