How to Include Others During Ramadan (Part 3)
Pregnancy and Nursing:
While you are exempt from fasting if you are pregnant or nursing, some women feel pressured by other women to continue to fast. For pregnant mothers, proper nutrition is crucial for the optimal development of the fetus, and just as important for mama. For nursing mothers in particular, the Ramadan fast may serve as a means for others to impose personal opinions or societal judgements on your body and how you raise your children.
While the World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding for two years or more, this advice may be in contradiction to messages mother’s receive by individuals who may pressure her to wean her baby earlier, offer formula as a primary source of nutrition, or forgo breastfeeding altogether.
- Encourage pregnant and nursing mothers to consume healthful and plentiful calories for themselves and their children. If you feel up to it, make them a snack and give them a glass of water.
- Support and empower other women to nurture their babies in the way that choose.
- Do not impose your own experiences or expectations surrounding motherhood during Ramadan on others.
So you can’t fast during your period, but there are so many ways in which you can remain engaged with your fast during Ramadan. Check out this Muslim Girl article on Taking on Your Period During Ramadan!
- Be there for others during this time — menstruation is a shared experience across half of the global population — help a sister (inclusive of non-binary or transfolx who menstruate) out! Pass the pad, talk about how awesome periods are (even if it doesn’t feel like it at the moment), and be sure to respect your body through proper hydration and nutrition.
- De-stigmatize menstruation! Your period is awesome! Your vagina is awesome! Breaking fast because of your period is halal.
- Do not feel embarrassed, inconvenient to others or burdened by your biology. Altering devotion while bleeding during Ramadan, is just as valid and “part of” the fast as anyone else.
Muslims who choose not to fast:
Ramadan is an obligation. Yes. A compulsion as one of the Five Pillars of Islam. Yup, got it — thanks. Muslims are not a monolith and while Ramadan and fasting may hold a special place in your heart, this may not be the case for everyone. While some Muslims were raised in Muslims communities and experienced visibility and positive representation in public spaces or school, other Muslims may have been very isolated in their upbringing.
Muslims are not a monolith and while Ramadan and fasting may hold a special place in your heart, this may not be the case for everyone.
Many immigrant communities are culturally Muslim, but due to various circumstances during their immigration experience, they have not maintained proximity to their faith or a mosque community. Some second-generation Muslim-Americans who were not necessarily “raised” Muslim may be exploring their spirituality as an act of resistance to a status-quo that paints Muslim’s exclusively as terrorists, barbarians, and public enemy number one.
This exploration may not currently, or ever, include an observance of Ramadan. Some Muslims simply do not fast because it does not speak to them. They may in the future, or not. Whatever their experience or reason for not fasting, judging others is a burden of sin you impose upon yourself.
- Support their decision and do not create a hostile or judgemental environment that makes them feel “less than.” Identities are complicated, just because something satisfies you spiritually, does not mean that others will have the same experience.
- Serve as a welcoming resource if they approach you with questions about faith or fasting.
- You’re not “more Muslim” for fasting or “less Muslim” for not fasting, these are personal choices in relationship to God and only God, so let’s spare the drama.
This page was written by Sepideah Mohsenian-Rahman.