Thursday, September 18, 2008

Ramadan 18: Rest

Ask any young Muslim woman if she fasts all of Ramadan.

If she says she does, then she's probably mistaken.

How do I know?

Allah, who indeed is The Most Merciful, ordained that in any woman, who is experiencing her time of monthly weakness, must rest from fasting and perfoming the ritual prayers. She can, of course, go to Allah with du'a, or supplication, any time. Those missed days during Ramadan must be made up before the next or she can pay money to feed the poor.

Pregnant women are allowed to fast if it does not complicate their condition. When I learned I was pregnant with Mr. Boo, alhumdulillah, it was during Ramadan, 2004. I remember how on Election Day, I had just been feeling so sick to my stomach, but I thought it had to do with Bush. I simply wasn't able to eat suhour. A few days later, I took the pregnancy test and learned the real reason. Since I had been fasting while pregnant, I thought I could maybe keep going. Wrong! After a couple of days, as I was teaching while fasting, I had to call the office to send someone, as I was feeling very dizzy. I broke the fast with some mango juice in the staff room. Pregnant women do have to make up their days as well.

In addition to that, a nursing mother must not put the life of her child at risk by attempting to fast. Fasting with no liquid intake definately does decrease the milk supply. Since the milk is not hers, but her baby's, she also must take a break from fasting. The Quran recommends breastfeeding for two years, so that is one long break! Those days missed must be made up as well, or money given.

Years ago, I was at the masjid with a mom from Yemen, who had a baby born the same time as Mr. Boo. The two baby boys were about three months old. We were very happy to see each other again, now that we were both carrying babies in arms, instead of bellies. I asked how her Ramadan was going. She was fasting every day and being at the masjid every night until midnight. She was exhausted but proud.

I asked her if she was breastfeeing and she was. For a moment, I felt badly about not fasting and just making it to the masjid once. I knew that I got more hasanet (good deeds) for praying at home. I knew that I was not fasting so my milk supply would remain stable. But her? By comparison, I was not in the same league; she was like a Superwoman

A couple of weeks went by, before I went to the masjid again for iftar. I asked her this time how things were going.

"Alhumdulillah, but I lost my milk."

I never felt badly again about not fasting and not saying prayers at the masjid.

There are times of necessary rest.

It's sad how many Muslim men don't fast or pray and without any excuse. The worst thing you can ever say to those men is, "Oh, because you're having your period?" I've only said that to my then-husband. I wouldn't recommend saying that around town, unless you want to die.

Even men, however, are given a time of rest when they should not fast. If they are too ill or too elderly, they are exempt. And since the fasting is a special time, everyone is mandated to rest from fasting right before Ramadan starts and the time right after, when we celebrate Eid.

Taking a rest is part of the experience as a whole; as much as there is day, there is also night.

My mind, now made up to go to Egypt, needs a rest.

At the same time, AbuBoo is living big drama with his first/current wife threatening to divorce him if Mr. Boo's grandma houses us. What's it to the first/current wife? She says the neighbors will talk...miles and miles away...the neighbors will talk. She thinks she will lose her dignity. This is so ironic.

She put up with haram of the highest order in August, but stood by her man.

She hears that AbuBoo is trying is best to provide shelter for his son, which is admirable, and she won't have any of it.

Deep cleansing breath. No. Not my drama. I didn't create it. I didn't have any bad intentions involved. This is halal. Khalas. Stop.

This is a poem I've always loved. I'll share it with you and hope that you'll love it also:

All Is Well

Whate'er you dream, with doubt possessed,

Keep, keep it snug within your breast,

And lay you down and take your rest;

And when you wake, to work again,

The wind it blows, the vessel goes,

And where and whither, no one knows.'

Twill all be well: no need of care;

Though how it will, and when, and where,

We cannot see, and can't declare.

In spite of dreams, in spite of thought,

'Tis not in vain, and not for nought,

The wind it blows, the ship it goes,

Though where and whither, no one knows.

~Arthur Hugh Clough
(1819 - 1861)


rahma said...

Or, the sister could have very irregular periods, or she could no longer have her period due to menopause or a hysterectomy. Don't forget to give your fellow believers 70 excuses ;-)

I went digging through my old files to find some resourses on moving to egypt:

Laila said...

Asalalamu alaikum yosra,
As you know already the plan of Allah is better than our own. So if you move to Egypt, stay in MN or move to China, may Allah make you pleased and at peace with his plan.

Also in regards to the fasting, my understanding is you can only give money in replace of your fast if you are not able to actually make up the days and fast. Otherwise if you are healthy and able to make the days up, then you must do so.

Shabana said...

With my first son, Ramadan fell when he was still nursing a lot, so I didn't fast because of my milk supply. With second son, I am fasting since he is no longer exclusively nursing. It's important to keep yourself hydrated by drinking a lot of water during sahoor and then after your break your fast in the evening. I wonder if that sister knew that. but if her child was that young, she shouldn't have risked it either way. I guess she learned her lesson the hard way.

You know, your post reminded me of how merciful Allah is to us. Even though fasting is fard, He never burdens anyone beyond what they can bear. In fact, if I am not mistaken, it is actually wrong for a person to force themselves to fast if it will be detrimental to their health.

Yosra said...

Asalamalaykom Rahma,

I did take your comments to heart and toned down the beginning. Thanks for you easy reminder. It was soooo much better than hitting me over the head.

I'll take a look at the links, so thanks for that too. :)

Asalamalaykom Laila,

Ameen to your dua'a.

China?! I just started to think about India, however. That's the thing about talking with mind-blowing people, you start to see the possibilities as endless. Allah's plans are inded so much better than anything on TV.

What you say about making up the fasting days is a more well-rounded statement. It's better to make up those days BUT if it becomes too much of a hardship, then you can pay. That's one of the beauties of Islam.

I mean, if I'm starving and a pig roast comes in sight, I can dig in. There is truly an understanding, forgiving and merciful God.

Asalamalaykom Shabana,

Thanks for your input. Liquid is the key to nursing. Liquid and rest. If you aren't drinking enough AND staying every night at the masjid doing extra prayers for taraweah, well that could cut your supply or end it.

One big problem for breastfeeding moms in the U.S. is that there isn't enough support. La Leche is GREAT and I really recommend their website and their meetings. I learned so much through them.

I had thought to become a Muslim La Leche leader. The only problem is that I'd be dealing with nursing problems all day and night. A lot of it would be returning to work stuff...or when to start the bottle...or thrush. I never had any of those issues, so I thought that it would be better to leave that leadership role to someone who can address the hot topics.

What about you? Somebody could really run with that role in the ummah. Promoting breastfeeding for Muslim moms would get SO MUCH hasanet, inshahallah :)

Thanks again!

Yosra said...

Asalamalaykom EgyptChick,

You always seem to say MORE than others LOL! You actually named the haram, which I wasn't going to do. So...I'm not going to print your comment.

But, to answer your question: yes. August caused some bristling but not threats of divorce. Me going to Egypt? Now, THAT was some serious upset.