Ramadan is a time of not only staying away from food and water but also of increased blessings and ibada, and showing restraint in every aspect of life. There is no distinction in how this ibada or restraint is to be observed by men and women. Yet, women feel they are unable to fully take advantage of this time like men do. Is it right to think that? How can women maximize the time they have and what can they do during the non-fasting days? What are the various spiritual and physical benefits of fasting? And finally, how can we make Ramadan about fasting and not feasting?
These and more such questions were part of an elaborate panel discussion organized by SFL Muslim Federation at Islamic Foundation of South Florida this past Sunday for the benefit of sisters in the community. An effort to strengthen and bring closer sister groups in SFL, it also brought together sister groups from Masjid Al-Ansar, IFSF, Masjid Jamaat Al-Mumineen, ICOSF and MWO.
The panelists included Dr Aisha Subhani, Vice President Zaytuna College, Sr Rabia Khan, Principal STEMS at IFSF, and Sr Patricia Salahuddin, Miami-Dade Representative of SFL Muslim Federation, while Sr Aisha Bashir of YM moderated the session. They each took one aspect of the discussion and explained ‘How Women can Enhance their Spiritual Practices in Ramadan’.
Talking about women feeling not being able to perform as much ibada as men, Dr Subhani explained how both men and women have different roles and responsibilities assigned by Allah (SWT). Instead of feeling discouraged, women should try to understand that Allah has assigned each if us these roles and he knows our individual struggles. For instance, pregnant and menstruating women or nursing mothers, cannot fast, and this has been allowed by Allah (SWT) as it takes a lot of mental and physical toll on them. They can see it as a blessing from Allah and be thankful for his Mercy.
Speaking on the physical and spiritual benefits of fasting, Sr. Patricia explained how it has now been scientifically proven how beneficial fasting is for the human body. At the same time she cautioned that we need not only show restraint in eating and drinking all day, but also in what and how much we eat during the non-fasting hours. On the spiritual perspective, she quoted how it has been mentioned in the Holy Quran and Hadith of the Prophet (PBUH) that fasting is for Allah (SWT) and we may not be aware of it, but its reward is with Him as well.
Sr Rabia spoke about the non-fasting days for women in Ramadan. While elaborating on the topic, she advised women to be mindful that the restraint expected of a believer during Ramadan or while fasting is not just for this month only. It is to be practiced through out the year. Fasting or not fasting, a Muslim should avoid doing anything that may displease Allah (SWT). Referring to the elaborate feasting and grand iftar parties, she said that Allah (SWT) does not approve of extravagance of any kind. Maintaining a simple and healthy lifestyle not only pleases Allah (SWT) but also keeps the household budget in control. She stressed that as household decisionmakers, women should take decisions that are beneficial for the family from spiritual, physical and financial points of view.
Watch full version of this engaging discussion here.
Some of the glimpses from the Sunday’s ‘Women and Ramadan: How to Enhance our Spiritual Practices’ panel discussion: