Challenges of a woman in Ramadan
By Ustazah Wan Nadia
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
الحمد لله رب العالمين والصلاة والسلام على أشرف الأنبياء والمرسلين, سيدنا وشفيعنا محمد وعلى آله وأصحابه أجمعين
My beloved sisters, the ultimate purpose in this life is to draw ourselves closer to Allah (swt). The other purpose is to get shelter, to clothe and feed ourselves. We usually call that work. Unfortunately, we have put other purpose as the ultimate goal in life and we have marginalized worship: the only goal, actually.
The blessed month of Ramadan is a perfect time to reorient this. This is the month where all acts of worship are being multiplied (it also includes leaving what is prohibited. That is an act of worship too, you know!).
In Surah al-Baqarah, 183 which means:
“O ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that ye may (learn) self-restraint.“
Ramadan teaches us self-restraint and reliance on Allah (swt). With hunger pangs and extreme thirst which sometimes take up our energy to function effectively, Ramadan is when we either: communicate with Allah (swt) more often than usual, or nag more often than usual.
The first thing we should do to have a fruitful meaningful Ramadan is that we must switch our way of thinking: that our life has been set according to how Allah (swt) plans it, not how we want it to be. When this crucial part is resolved, everything else will fall into place, insha Allah.
We must learn to depend on al-Samad, The Self-Sufficient Master, Whom all creatures need; because depending on our own will and power, will only exhaust our body, emotion and intellect.
About work. Ask Allah (swt) to make your day at work productive with His Grace and Mercy. Jot down your tasks on a memo so you can visibly see which items have been completed. It gives you a sense of satisfaction and productivity. Else, you will only end up feeling dispirited and unappreciated. Always articulate “alhamdulillah” when a task is complete. Do it often. Make it a habit. It will be life changing. Give charity with your money even if it is relatively small. Allah (swt) and His Messenger (saw) love those who spend their wealth on His path. Just like Sayyidatina Zainab (ra), one of the Prophet’s (saw) wives, who used to tan and sew leather, sell them and give sadaqah from her earnings.
About food. It can be exhausting to prepare food during Ramadan, especially after a long day at work. Do not frown while cooking. Humans release energy which affects the environment. If you cook in a good mood while reciting salawat or any wirid, insha Allah the food will taste better than usual.
Remember, cooking for others and serving food for those who are fasting are significant deeds. The Prophet (saw) mentioned that whoever feeds a person breaking his fast will earn the same reward as him without anything being lessened from the reward of the fasting person.” (Sunan Tirmidhi)
You can absolutely buy food if you do not have time to cook. However, ensure the food you purchase is free from doubtful sources if you want to attain wara’. Sayyidina Abu Bakar (ra), the companion of the Prophet (saw), once regurgitated the food he consumed after he found out it came from a source which was doubtful. As Allah (swt) says in Surah al-Baqarah, 168, which means, “O you mankind! Eat of what is on earth, lawful and good; and do not follow the footsteps of the devil, for he is to you an avowed enemy.”
When enjoying your meal, make du’a that the food you eat become witness for you as you praise Him. Ask Allah (swt) to make the food as a source of strength for you to perform your ‘ibadah.
About strength. Everyone feels drained out during Ramadan, and for sisters in particular, here’s the perfect supplement for you. Recite 33 Subhanallah, 33 Alhamdulillah and 34 Allahuakbar which total up to a hundred before you call it a day. This is called the Tasbih of Fatima. The Prophet (saw) presented this to Sayyidatina Fatima (ra) when she requested for a helper. The Prophet (saw) responded that these awrad is far better than what she (ra) requested. May Allah (swt) bless you with energy the following day.
About ‘ibadah. Ramadan is when al-Ghaniy al-Mughniy bestows gifts to His servants. Tarawih is one of them. But we do not seem to appreciate it. Why? Well, in the masjid, we pray 20 raka’ah, almost swaying with eyes closed, yawning countlessly and in our hearts we say,
“When is this going to end…?”
“Why must the Imam recite the long Surah…?”
“Just ruku’ already, I have to work tomorrow…”
Most of us are guilty of this. No doubt we are tired weak human beings, which is exactly why we have to depend on Allah (swt) for everything. You cannot depend of coffee. Drinking five cups of it may not keep you awake if He does not allow it.
If you are tired to go to the masjid, you can always do it at home. If you cannot follow any jama’ah, it is okay to perform it by yourself. At least perform eight raka’ah tarawih with consciousness that Allah (swt) is watching you. This bears more sweetness. Ask Allah (swt) to provide you with energy and focus. In your sujud, beg Allah (swt), make a plea to Him, like how a child begs his mother for a toy. Ask Allah (swt) for help; at work, at home or even for your own personal problems which you are too scared to share. Call Allah (swt) by His Magnificent names for Allah (swt) loves to hear His servants calling Him.
And when He responds, you will lose your sleepiness and lethargy. Your body will feel rejuvenated and a smile will be carved on your face. You will be surprised with these drastic changes, at the same time grateful for your tiny plea has been answered.
Believe me, you will want to repeat that moment again.
By the way, do not fret if you are having your cycle. It is not the end of the world. Transform everything else into ‘ibadah by simply modifying your intention (e.g., preparing iftar to serve those who are fasting.) It is that simple. Indeed, Allah (swt) is that Merciful.
Essentially, it is all about communicating with Allah (swt). Let us put correct intentions in our routine so that they will be rewarded too, insha Allah.
We ask Allah (swt) to make us dependent on Him and make us better servants in this blessed Ramadan. We ask Allah (swt) to strengthen our relationship with Him. We ask Allah (swt) to be pleased with us, and we too, are pleased with His plans.
وصلى الله على سيدنا محمد وعلى آله وصحبه وسلم
Imam al Ghazali’s magnum opus, “The Revival of the Religious Sciences” (Ihya Ulumuddin), is one of the greatest classical Islamic texts of all time. Overflowing with gems of spiritual wisdom and Light, the Ihya has been singled out as the book that, after the Quran, suffices for the spiritual guidance of the Muslims today.
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