As Ramadan begins most of us have spent the last week preparing ourselves mentally for the real hunger games to begin. We have prepared our bodies for long hours of fasting; we have planned our Ramadan schedule - including standing in prayer throughout the nights. Although, many of us are completely oblivious there are so many Muslims around us who will enter into this Blessed month of Ramadan unable to fast and without the physical strength to stand in prayer during the nights. One of these categories is the pregnant women.
“Allah the Almighty removed half of the prayer from the traveller, and fasting from the pregnant and nursing woman" 
A pregnant woman is not obliged to fast due to the difficulties she endures through carrying her child. Through morning sickness, pelvic cramps, constant nausea, tiredness & fatigue - Allah has exempted pregnant women from feeling the burden of fasting.
None should be burdened with more than one can bear. Neither a mother should be harmed for the child, nor a father…” Quran (2:233)
Many [brave] expecting women still decide to fast if they feel that they can. As many of the symptoms above can come and go during pregnancy. However, for others, many cannot imagine fasting, let alone attempting to enter into an oath of no eating or drinking for more than 12 hours!
So if you’re not fasting - how do you spend your Ramadan?
Getting our minds right
Of course, every pregnancy (and every woman) is different – so tailoring your Ramadan to how YOU'RE feeling and what YOU’RE capable of is crucial when goal setting for this Blessed Month.
Getting our minds right is difficult. Last Ramadan I was expecting and in my last trimester. I was heavily pregnant and felt hungry every 2 hours! I constantly was drinking through the hot weather of July and also felt I needed rest throughout the day. It was hard for me to stand in Salah throughout the night and pray the Tarawih prayer due to discomfort. For the first time, I felt disconnected from the Ramadan routine. Everyone else was ‘bossing’ Ramadan and I was uncomfortable, irritable and waddling. I felt ‘left out’ – and as if I was not participating in Ramadan.
Eventually, I found my way by getting out of the mindset that Ramadan is a boot camp and its success is dependent on how much Ibadah you cram in. Quality is better than quantity. Instead of sitting hours on end reading Quran I would tackle one portion of the Quran, read the translation, understand its meaning and listen to its Tafsir. Instead of praying the optional prayers through the night I focused on perfecting my Fardh and Sunnah.
I also made Dua – a lot of Dua that Allah guides me, and creates ways in which I can worship Him (in my pregnant state) and make an impact. Through Dua, Allah brought me many opportunities to worship Him in unique ways tailored to my own lifestyle and field. I was gifted the opportunity to educate Muslims on Islamic History by hosting a radio show during Ramadan!
“Were he to ask of Me, I would surely give him; and were he to ask Me for refuge, I would surely grant him it.”
What I am saying is Allah knows how you are feeling. “His mother carried him with so much difficulty”. (31:14). Don’t be hard on yourself and ask of Him and he will direct you to ways of worshipping him that are not a heavy burden on you and are unique to your lifestyle and situation.
And remember - you will have your bad days. You will have days when your feet and legs are swollen when you cry all day due to your hormones raging. You will have difficult days when you are scared and anxious about what’s to come. You are not alone!
Pregnancy is an Ibadah!
The Mother of Maryam (AS) made this Dua during her pregnancy,
“Behold! a woman of ‘Imran said: ‘O my Lord! I do dedicate unto You what is in my womb for Your special service: So accept this of me: For You hear and know all things.‘” [3:35]
The beauty of Islam is that everything we do can be classed as an act of worship. Pregnancy is no different. Carrying and raising children that will grow up to praise Allah is an incredible deed that many overlook. This beautiful Dua recited by Hannah, Mother of Maryam (AS) is recommended to read during your pregnancy and reminds us that our sole purpose in this world is to worship and serve Allah.
Our Intention is everything. If you’re not fasting it does not mean you are not worshipping Allah – You could be eating healthy foods throughout the day to sustain your baby - that is Ibadah. Listening to Quran so the baby can form a relationship with the recitation – that is a form of Ibadah. Visiting the sick or elderly, collecting money for charity, smiling at someone, tending to your other children. It is all Ibadah that is being multiplied due to the blessings of Ramadan.
The virtues of Pregnancy
Let me just remind my pregnant sisters, my nursing sisters and all the other mothers out there the virtues of carrying a child. We often make expecting women feel pregnancy is a mundane task and a normal experience everyone goes through. We have created this culture in which a pregnant woman is expected to get on with everything they would usually do if they were not pregnant.
Yes, Pregnancy is an experience every woman has gone through since Adam and Hawwa (AS). But the status Allah and thus this religion gives pregnant women should make us think – instead of forcing or pressuring pregnant women to conform to feel and act ‘normal’ – we should in fact be considerate and sensitive to what they are going through.
The Prophet (S) said to Salamah the Wet Nurse of Ibrahim, ‘Will one of you not be pleased that when she is pregnant from her husband and he is pleased with her that she has a reward like the reward of the one who fasts and prays in the ways of Allah? Then when she is in labour, none of the people of the heavens or the earth know what is hidden for her of [pleasures] soothing to her eyes. And when she delivers, no mouthful of milk flows from her nor a (child’s) suck except that she has a reward with every mouthful and every suck. And if (her child) keeps her awake during the night, she has a reward similar to the reward of freeing seventy slaves for the sake of Allah. (Sunan Ibn Majah)
Subhanallah this hadith is full of Allah’s compassion and understanding towards the woman and what she bears in her journey of motherhood. If Allah Himself is so merciful and rewarding to the woman, then how can we as creation be insensitive to what our mothers are going through?
‘A woman from the time of pregnancy until childbirth and weaning the baby, is like the Mujahid (someone fighting spiritually or physically in the path of Allah) who is stationed on the frontiers of the Islamic land. If she dies during this period, she dies the death of a shahid (martyr).’
This hadith is basically saying you are a WARRIOR during pregnancy! May Allah bless all our mothers and grant them ease in this life and the next.
“And We have enjoined on man (to be good) to his parents: his mother bore him by bearing strain upon strain, and his utter dependence on her lasted two years: (hear the command, O man!), “Show gratitude to Me and to your parents: to Me is (your final) Return.” [31:14]
Author: Nafisah Kara
You can check out more of Nafisahs work at the Islamic History Project
 Tirmidhi, Sawm, 21; Ibn Majah, Siyam, 12; Nasâî, Siyam, 51
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