The glorious month of Ramadan is upon us. Ramadan is an incredibly Holy month of devotion, worship and discipline. I am one of those Muslims that absolutely loves to fast. The spirituality behind giving up food- the thing that we BELIEVE keeps us alive is very powerful. We place our entire health and wellbeing in the hands of Allah (swt). We BELIEVE we need food and water to live and without it we will die, but is that really true? People around the world go for days, even weeks without food and still “live”, yet most of us spend Ramadan staring at the clock, planning our iftars and salivating over the mere thought of what we may be enjoying when we go to break our fasts. Unfortunately, we have lost touch of what Ramadan is really about. The lack of food, has caused us to turn around and make food the focus of Ramadan. There is so much more to it and until we can truly understand that and take this tradition back to how it was supposed to be practiced, we will always simplify it down to the food.
This is my second Ramadan in a row that I have not fasted. I know you just gasped! How is that possible?! How can she advertise that the world so proudly?! As I mentioned earlier, I am one of those Muslims that utterly loves Ramadan and fasting so believe me it is not easy for me to stand by and not partake. But, these last two years have brought something really wonderful to my attention. The first, Allah (swt) is very gracious and the second is that Allah (swt) is very merciful. Just before Ramadan of 2015, my husband and I were blessed to hear we would be having another baby. Therefore, I did not fast due to pregnancy. During this Ramadan elhamduallah, I am nursing my son, and therefore am not fasting for a second consecutive year.
While Allah (Swt) says in the Holy Qur’an : Oh you who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that you many learn piety and righteousness" (Q 2:183)
At the same time, his mercy is unmatched with the number of exceptions for those who do not have to follow the prescribed fast. Nursing and pregnant mothers, women who are menstruating, those who are travelling, ill, etc. If we know this and believe that Allah (swt) knows best, why do people hide the fact that they are not fasting? At a gathering with some friends, I mentioned to them that when any of them were on their “break” (the week of menstruation during which they would not be fasting), I’d love to get together for coffee or lunch. One of my friends looked at me as if I was absolutely mad! She was surprised I was suggesting we go out in public, and eat or enjoy a cup of coffee during Ramadan! But why not? I simply cannot understand that concept. I do not hide that I am not fasting. This right to not fast was granted to me by the almighty Allah (swt). He in his endless wisdom foresees that a nursing mother or menstruating woman is not fit to fast for health reasons so why should I argue with that? Why is it that if I am at the mall, I receives glares from Muslims and Non-Muslims alike because I am having a drink or sitting down to lunch in the food court? Is it really so much about the food (or lack of) that we cannot see past it?
Can we not admire the blessing that has been bestowed up the pregnant or nursing mother? Can we not feel sympathy for the ill? Why shame those who are not fasting? Why guilt them? Although I am not fasting, is it not possible that I am serving my community by helping those in need? Is it not possible, I am engaging in conversation with Non-Muslims about Islam, its beauty and its truths? Is it not possible that I am praying more, making more du’ua for YOU and the Ummah as a whole? Is it not possible I am have spent the nights in worship reading Qur’an? Is it not possible that I have spent the days teaching my daughter about Islam and Ramadan shaping her to be a better Muslim?
So I ask you; the person who feels the need to judge me; why do I have to secretly take a sip of my water while in public? Why should I avoid Arabic restaurants although they are the halal options? Why should I only make plans after Iftar in an attempt to hide the fact that I actually had dinner at 6:00pm? Why?
Abstaining from food and drink is only one part of Ramadan and each of us has their own journey, their own story and their own relationship with Allah (swt). Only he can judge us and it is only his judgement that I care about. So not, I’m no fasting and I’m not going to be made to feel guilty or pushed into hiding it