Can we fast it? Yes, we can!
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
A non-Muslim trying to understand the concept of Ramadhan may well find it daunting! Trying to imagine themselves in the shoes of a Muslim, several alarming issues could come to mind:
Aren’t Muslims worried about not eating or drinking for a whole day while they fast?
Isn’t bad breath and a grumbling tum embarrassing in front of colleagues?
How can you care for your children if you’re exhausted?
How can you concentrate on studies when you’re hungry?
I ask you all to read the story of Weheleey Osman Haji here.
There are people in this world who go without food and water, day in day out. Not only without sustenance in the desert, but with hungry children, no shelter and no aid. This sister gave birth, under a tree, after walking for weeks and having had only water for 22 days.
In comparison, sacrificing our huge fridges and bursting cupboards for just the daylight hours this Ramadhan suddenly seems so much less daunting. Alhamdulillah, we, unlike some, can make up our calorie intake after Maghrib (when the daily fast comes to an end), take supplements if we need to and drink plenty at night.
If it is daunting for a non-Muslim to imagine a generally fit and healthy person fasting, it must seem doubly so imaging those in special circumstances, such as pregnant and breastfeeding sisters. A pregnant or breastfeeding lady fasting? Did I just say that?!
Sickness leaves little choice in the matter, but sisters who are pregnant or breastfeeding but otherwise well may face extra pressure to leave fasting this year. Unless facing undue hardship or genuinely fearing for the health of mother or baby (the only two circumstances making an expectant or nursing woman exempt from fasting), I encourage us all to please try to give it a go for a week if we are able to, so that we can be of those who will have our fasts intercede for us on the Day that we meet our Lord:
“Fasting and Qur’an will intercede for the slave on the Day of Resurrection. Fasting will say: ‘O My Lord! I prevented him from food and desires, so accept my intercession for him.’ And the Qur’an will say: ‘I prevented him from sleep during the night, so accept my intercession for him.’ He (s.a.w) said: ‘And they will intercede.'” (Ahmad)
On that Day standing before Allah, when we see our sins like mountains, we will truly wish that we had at least tried to fast. That slight headache, which we may well have experienced had we not been pregnant or nursing, would on that day cause pangs of regret that it was used as an excuse to refrain from at least trying to fast.
To encourage us to try, and to share with non-Muslims the strength that our desire to please our Lord gives us, we have a beautiful collection of personal accounts from sisters like ourselves. They’ve shared their experiences of fasting when pregnant or breastfeeding, including a gem of a story of a sister who gave birth to her daughter on ‘Eid day mashaAllah!
Those who are unable to fast due to unbearable hardship or because they truly fear for the health of their babies or themselves, and are therefore exempt from fasting, can still attain the rewards of fasting by having the desire to fast for Allah. By knowing that if Allah gave us the strength and ability to fast, we certainly would, and dearly wishing that we could fast, we guarantee the reward of a perfect fast whilst eating all day! For those of us for whom it might be slightly harder but it is nevertheless possible, there is everything to gain and inshaAllah nothing to lose from at least trying to fast this Ramadhan. May Allah make it easy for all of us, aameen.
*Contributed by Umm Hassan*