Ramadan, Month of Fasting or Cooking

Emine Merve Serbetci

The rights of Muslim women were given us by Allah, who is All-Compassionate, All-Merciful, All-Just, All-Unbiased, All-Knowing and Most Wise.    “Women are the full sisters of men.” said Prophet Muhammad (Sunan al-Tirmidhī (113) and Sunan Abī Dāwūd (236) . There are verses in Quran where Allah commands to both women and men to obey rules of Islam, except specific situations indicate otherwise. That means women have to fast just as men do.  In Ramadan they are to stand in prayer in the late hours of the night, beseech Allah in earnest, read Qur’an more than usual and do charity. In Surah al-Ahzab in the verse of the Qur’an that was revealed after `Umārah al-Ansariyyah said to the Prophet: “It seems that everything is directed at men. Nothing is mentioned about women.” Allah bespeaks to both women and men on successive verses about they both have to fast, guard their chastity, give charity and praise Allah (Ahzab, 35).

I have deliberately begun this article with verses; to demonstrate that women are interlocutor for divine discourse and thus in Ramadan both women and men have duties. Despite the holy month is about self-restraint and meditating ourselves to eat less and pray Allah more whilst renunciation of physical to feed our sprit and understand less fortunate individuals, our families in Ramadan depicts a controversial picture. This picture indicates something about how we see women and their role in Muslim societies, how we see their religious necessities in case of spirituality and how we respect their body. It is known that most women spend twice as long cooking during Ramadan than the rest of the year. In a typical Ramadan day women prepares meal till the adhaan of iftaar and wakes up in the middle of the night to cook for sohoor when rest of the family waits hungry and tired as if women don’t fast. Despite they work in a job, take care of children and do household women are treated (by themselves too) as caterer of Ramadan while men attend mosques to cater their own spiritual needs.

Before Ramadan women spend over time and make effort to fill refrigerators with foods and shop to accommodate desires of the family. We try to build unity among Muslims and visit each other for iftaar and throw large dinners which are definitely good and recommended by our Prophet Muhammad but this brings more burdens over women’s shoulder if men enter the scene at the iftaar

Justification of these customs might be cooking for the family and taking care the house is spiritually awarding for women but I highly doubt that because sunnah of our prophet Mohammad advises otherwise. His wives told several times he had been doing households, do you think men have busier jobs than him?

If you search Ramadan tips on internet Google will list you plenty of directives on how women can better manage the household, what to do during menstruation, cook more efficiently and train children in Ramadan activities. Search for Ramadan and men, and the only advice that comes up is whether or not they can be intimate at night. Women themselves have some role in this – they are distracted by Ramadan TV shows and exert themselves to cook a wide range of cuisines and give everyone their favorite foods. Overall, this is a picture that shows women as people whose spiritual needs are de-prioritised against those of men.

To avoid misapprehension, I would like to underline that I don’t suggest women should neglect their family, stop cooking during Ramadan or not teach their child our values. On the contrary I believe Ramadan is perfect time to invigorate family bounds and brace our religious traditions. On the other hand, we are ought to thesis equality between men and women, encourage women to spend time to strengthen themselves spiritually rather than serving house. Ramadan gives us chance to comprehend needs of others, why don’t we begin with the inner circle?



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