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Women and Ramadan

Sep 5, 2008, 6:33 AM | Article By: By Sarata J-Dibba

What every good Muslim was awaiting is here. Ramadan to my knowledge is the month of fasting for every mature and healthy Muslim, but on the side of women there seems to be some misunderstanding, because people say different things concerning the fasting of breast-feeding and pregnant women. Though it's quite true that they (breast feeding and pregnant women) should not be hungry due to their condition, but this many do take for granted, because after this period expires women fast again as stated in the Holy Qu'ran. For some people it is due to ignorance but some take it as a tradition, which is against Islam. I think we need to know more about the reason why God gave us this excuse for not observing the fast during these periods. Likewise too women who are menstruating are not to fast till they are clean. On this account since most of us (the women) are not well versed in the Qu'ran the She She She, your weekly women forum that is aimed at advocating for the rights of women, has this week decided to have a short interview with the president of the Gambia Supreme Islamic council Ustass Alh. Momodou Lamin Touray on women and Ramadan, in order to enlighten and give each other a piece of knowledge. To know more please read below.

She she: hello sir can you tell us the importance of Ramadan?

Imam Touray: Ramadan is a very important month among the other months, because it is in Ramadan that we have the night of Lailatulkhadri, (The revelation of the holy Qu'ran to the Prophet Muhammad (SAW). Any person who happens to fast the whole month of Ramadan then has fasted the Lailatulkhari, and fasting it means all the sins which that person might commit over the past years shall be forgiven by Allah. This was why the prophet told the Sahabas (Apostles) that any one who does good thing which is not compulsory on him or her in Ramadan shall be rewarded and if that thing the person does in Ramadan is compulsory shall be rewarded 70 times. Any person who gives food even as small as one orange, apple or a cup of tea to a person to break fast with, will be rewarded just like the person who fasted, and any person who gives a cup of water to a person who is fasting to break his/her fast with, you will drink in (kawsara).

She she: which woman should fast the month of Ramadan?Imam Touray: fasting is compulsory on every mature Muslim woman, it is stated by Allah in the Holy Qu'ran that fasting is compulsory to you as it was compulsory to others before you and any person who sights the moon should fast. The only thing that can stop some one from fasting is when the person is sick; s/he can stop till he/she has recovered or when on a long journey can wait till he/she reaches his/her destination.

She she: why shouldn't a pregnant woman fast?

Imam Touray: Because fasting might disturb her or the baby, but in this case when she gives birth safely she should try and fast before another Ramadan .

She she: what of the breast feeding woman?

Imam Touray: the same thing applies to her, but if at all she has sufficient breast milk that her baby can suckle the whole day, she can fast.

She she: Some people do say that if during the Ramadan a woman is pregnant or breast feeding and she was unable to fast, after Ramadan she can give out zakat (charity) instead of fasting, what is your opinion on that?

Imam Touray: Any woman who happens to be pregnant or breast feeding a little baby I mean, and could not afford to fast during Ramadan, God says in the Holy Qu'ran that she can do the fasting later. But fasting cannot be replaced by zakat, as zakat can only replace the fast of very old people, but some scholars believe that fasting can be replaced by zakat but to my understanding a young able woman can only replace zakat by fasting if only she is always sick for many Ramadans.

She she: provided that this woman is healthy but just feels that she has money and can give out zakat will she be rewarded or punished for it?

Imam Touray: If there is a possibility for her to do the fasting but instead give out zakat she will not be rewarded for fasting, unless when she does the fasting.

She she: What is the punishment for those who refuse to fast after giving birth ?

Imam Touray: As I said earlier it is compulsory on every Muslim woman to fast the past year's Ramadan, even if she will be doing it bit by bit, even where as it will take her a long time but she is under obligation to pay for it.

She she: what is your advice to the women pertaining to this Holy month of Ramadan?

Imam Touray: every woman should try and fast in Ramadan, as stated in the Holy Qu'ran and Islam is a simple religion because any good thing you do will be rewarded, but failing to pay your fasting is a sin, so giving the opportunity of not fasting during pregnancy or breast feeding should not be taken for granted. Ramadan is a very blessed month and it comes once in a year so it is a luck to witness it, and every Muslim should try by all means to fast through it, because it's an order from the Almighty God.