4 days of Ramadan had passed and I hadn’t fasted a single fast yet.
And I had intended to fast this year eagerly awaiting its arrival.
And I did try.
I woke up, ate suhoor, prayed Fajr slept, woke up in the morning and that’s when the nausea began. I kept running upstairs to the bathroom and then back downstairs to my two little munchkins who were eagerly anticipating their breakfasts. The sounds of their cries were ringing in my ears. I couldn’t do it. The nausea was burning my stomach. I needed to break my fast.
The next day I tried again. After a night of being awake every hour or so providing milk to my little one, I woke up the next day only to be hit by a sudden migraine attack at noon. Unable to lift my head, hold my babies, even open my eyes, I lay still with tears streaming down my face, I wanted to fast this Ramadan. And I physically can’t. I can’t even take care of my babies.
I took a sip of water and grabbed a banana from the fruit basket before latching my baby on again for another breastfeeding session and messaging my friend asking for help to take care of my little ones.
So you may be wondering what exactly is wrong.Am I sick? Do I have a long term illness? Pregnant?
The answer is, I’m none of those things. But I am nursing. For the past 2 years I have spent Ramadan either nursing a baby or pregnant with another. And the constant needs of raising two small children with a close age gap whilst providing fuel for the younger one, every hour or so, has made my body become weak.
I know Allah has granted me the exemption. I’ve been taking it for the past 2 years, but this year, I craved fasting. I saw my other friends on social media fasting whilst breastfeeding and it made me feel weak and guilty.
But why. Why when the Lord of the worlds has granted me this exemption? When fasting will make me sick and unable to take care of my little ones?
SubhanAllah, I was just reflecting on this. The fact that Allah in His infinite wisdom has excused nursing mothers from fasting if they are unable. Because it’s so difficult for the body but also the mind. The mind which is constantly thinking about the needs of the baby, constantly attentive. Constantly alert. Its draining.
And so perhaps for a nursing mother, taking the exemption is more beloved in the sight of Allah than fasting and destroying ones health. Alhamdulilah for Islam. Such is the mercy of Allah.
If you’re a nursing or pregnant mother and like me are unable to fast. I know. I feel you. I get it.
The guilty. The feeling that you’re inadequate. The feeling like you’re missing out. The feeling that perhaps you are missing out on reward. But here’s a few reminders to lift your sullen heart:
Allah loves you and wants ease for you: Allah knows the exhaustion, the pain, the deteriorating health that would come as a result of fasting. He knows just the act of breastfeeding itself is a challenge itself. And so He granted you this exemption to fast in this month if you truly are unable, then to compensate, you can pay the fidya or make up the fasts at a later time (consult a scholar on the differences in opinion).
You are your own person: Perhaps that sister who has 5 kids and is nursing is fasting and you’re not, but don’t compare. Remember Allah has given different strengths to differing people. Perhaps her reward is through fasting and perhaps yours is through not doing so for the health of you and your baby and those few pages of Qur’an you recite whilst the children are occupied. Allah is just and will reward you for your sincerity and efforts.
Make a list of other good deeds you can do and make use of those times your nursing. Read a tafseer book, listen to Islamic podcasts, listen to the Qur’an, recite the Qur’an from your phone even if you have to and at the very least make adkhaar whilst you’re on the go and lots of Dua too.
Eat well: The fact that you are not fasting means you need to nourish yourself properly. Perhaps your ibadah is in choosing the tayyib foods that will grant you strength and keeping yourself hydrated. Our bodies are Amanah and Allah wants us to take care of it. So do so with Ihsan.
Finally, remember my fellow sisters that our motherhood is an ibadah. From the moment you wake in the morning after being awake most of the night, feeding, comforting or rocking, to the moment you sleep after squeezing in those 4 rakahs of quality taraweeh as the baby slept, Allah knows. From the hand made, home cooked food you provide for your husband for his iftar (you are getting rewarded for this despite not being able to fast yourself!) to the constant attention; love and care you give to your children; Allah knows. Does tweak that intention so that evry day, every moment you have Allah on your mind and are doing it for His sake.
In this month the gates of Jannah are opened and perhaps O mama the deeds that will make you worthy of Jannah are those that you did for your children; for your husband, for the well being of your home, purely to earn the pleasure of Allah.
May Allah make you and I worthy of His love and His Jannah.