Tuesday, 2 July 2013

FASTING THE FEMININE WAY By Hajia Ganiyat Tijani Adenle

Yippy! It’s Ramadan again and every believer is happy for here is yet another opportunity to win the ticket to paradise, Insha Allah. But most times, our men seem to reap the benefits of Ramadan more than us because of the special and unique responsibilities conferred on us by nature. So now, I feel it’s important every Muslim woman should devise ways by which she can optimize the holy month by performing those roles while still observing a lot of highly rewarding spiritual activities. Are you curious to know how? Well, it’s called Fasting the Feminine Way. Have your fill!

Foremost, every woman should be determined to observe a lot of ibaadah in Ramadan. You need your nights for tahajjud and your days for qur’anic recitation and supplications. So the plan is to observe these ibaadaats while still performing your roles as a wife, mother and daughter. The determination is important as that is what will make you plan, organize and eventually achieve it.
After that, you need to organize yourself to avoid the time wasters during the day and night. We spend a lot of time cleaning the house and arranging things during the day. A good way to deal with this can be by clearing your house before Ramadan or early into the commencement of the month. Pack most of the things you rarely use into the store, cupboard or even under your bed! That way, there will be fewer items to clean and dust and a lot of free space to perform ibaadah. If you have visitor’s room and rooms that are not presently occupied, lock them up and you’ll have fewer rooms to pay attention to. Outside cleaning, we still need to beautify ourselves despite Ramadan so how do you go about this? Make sure you don’t make hair styles that will take long hours to make or loose. Your hairstyles and all other personal hygiene routine should be restricted to the necessary and highly important. 

 Visitors also take a lot of our time so see how you’ll receive less visitors during the day in Ramadan, unless of course the visitors who will join you in performing ibaadah because if you’re not careful, they will not only waste your time, but they will make you lose the reward of your fasting.

Don’t forget that we women like to chit-chat a lot and before you know it, you are already talking about one sister or another or even exaggerating an incident. Need I remind you of the hadith of the Prophet (S.A.W.) that "Whoever doesn't desist from speaking falsehood and acting upon it, Allah has no need that he desist from his food and drink." (Bukhari) I’m also sure you’ve not forgotten that Allah says in Suratul Hujurat verse 12 that “O you who believe! Avoid much suspicion, indeed some suspicions are sins. And spy not, neither backbite one another. Would one of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? You would hate it (so hate backbiting). And fear Allah. Verily, Allah is the One Who accepts repentance, Most Merciful.”
There’s something else that takes our time in Ramadan, it is not a time waster like some others but we need to control it or else we won’t achieve anything. It’s food preparation. Precisely, it is preparing sahur and iftar. Preparing food for our family in Ramadan is important as it is an act of ibaadah but it must not prevent us from observing other ibaadaats. The Prophet, may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, is reported by Anas (may Allah be pleased with him) to have said, "Eat a pre-dawn meal for there are blessings in it." (Bukhari and Muslim). Other traditions report the Prophet (peace be upon him) as saying, “You should eat [the] pre-dawn meal for it is a blessed nourishment" (an-Nasa'i), and "The pre-dawn meal is blessed so do not neglect it even if you only take a sip of water. Verily, Allah and His angels pray for those who have pre-dawn meals." (Ahmad) So we should ensure we sleep early so we can wake early. 

 The first thing we should do when we wake up is to observe kiyaamul layl and not rush to the kitchen. After observing your tahajjud, then you can start the food preparation. One way to be successful with this is to plan the sahur before you sleep. Decide on what to eat, prepare it or start the process at night and just finish it up at dawn for the family. That way, preparing sahur will not rob you of the great blessings accruable from observing tahajjud in Ramadan. Allah says in Q32:16 that “Their sides forsake their beds, to invoke their Lord in fear and hope, and they spend (charity in Allah's Cause) out of what We have bestowed on them.” One of the many traditions that talk on the benefits says “Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, "May Allah show mercy to a man who gets up during the night and performs Salat, awakens his wife to pray and if she refuses, he sprinkles water on her face (to make her get up). May Allah show mercy to a woman who gets up during the night and performs Salat, awakens her husband for the same purpose; and if he refuses, she sprinkles water on his face.''[Abu Dawud]. So, we should not miss our tahajjud and we should also encourage our spouses.
Ah, I almost forgot about the kids! Please maximize the time of the day when they’ve gone to school, crèche or tutorials. When they are around, occupy them with ibaadaat or school work and let them know you have to be alone. If they are toddlers, keep them busy with toys or back them; anything to give you time to worship your lord.

Shopping also takes time, so if you can’t do your shopping monthly, fortnightly or weekly, then do so.  And if you choose to do it daily or as need arise, then avoid long distance markets or shopping centres. But the advisable thing to do is to do your Ramadan shopping at least two weeks to the time as foodstuff and provisions become more expensive with the commencement of Ramadan. Talk of the law of demand and supply.

Ramadan is also an opportunity to strengthen the ties of kinship and to renew relationships that may have been broken during the year and an avenue to clear up any disputes or bad feelings with other Muslims so we can reap the benefits of the month. Ramadan is a month to strengthen the ties of kinship with our families and our in-laws as it is a meritorious deed- The Prophet said, ‘Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, should maintain good ties with relatives.’ [Al-Bukhari] He also said ‘Maintaining good ties with kinship brings love between relatives and increases wealth and prolongs life’.

Therefore, it is something that should be done especially in the month of Ramadan. However, we have to do it with wisdom. You can’t visit all your relatives so don’t even try. Call some, send messages and e-mails to some and send gifts to others. For those that must be visited, schedule the visit for when you’re likely to be on your monthly period, that way, your ibaadah may not be affected that much. Also program the reading of Islamic literature and similar acts to when you are not praying and maximize your praying period.


Do iftar in the homes of family and friends and invite people over to yours for iftar but let them be scheduled, that way, you can better organize yourself. And who says your friend who is joining you for iftar can’t come earlier to help you with preparations?

And there is the tafsir. We’re always preparing iftar around the time that most mosques organize the tafsir sessions. Let’s optimize the new media. You can listen to yours via the internet, television or radio. Download audio Qur’an on your phones so you can listen while you cook or clean the house or even while on your way to the office.

Most families make time for holiday but rarely for ‘itikaaf. Plan to observe the ten days of ‘itikaaf, it is possible. Do a thorough cleaning of your house before going for ‘itikaaf so it will be ready for ‘eid. Also ensure the ingredients you’ll need for your delicacy on ‘eid day and your clothes are also ready. That way, you can concentrate on your seclusion. Use your car or appeal to a fellow brethren who does to help you with your load, carry mattress and everything you may need. I’ve seen a mother of five who observed ‘itikaaf with her family. I’ve seen heavily pregnant women and even those with toddlers observing ‘itikaaf. You too can do it!
Above all, just be determined not to lose the benefits accruable from the Glorious month of Ramadhan because you are a wife or a mother. You too can fast the feminine way!


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