By Maryam Hedayat
The holy month of Ramadan is starting, the month in which Allah, the Almighty, opens His doors of mercy, forgiveness and blessings upon Muslims. This month is eagerly awaited by all the Muslims around the world.
Even before the month of Ramadan starts, we usually see women stocking their kitchen with groceries. Women appear much more worried about cooking and are busy finding new recipes. The internet is full of methods for the especial month of Ramadan. Vast tips and tricks are available to make more delicious and different recipes during the holy month. It seems as if ladies are preparing themselves to participate in a cookery competition.
Sadly, during this month when people are supposed to spend less time eating and sleeping, women spend much of their time in the kitchen cooking verities of dishes. A typical Ramadan picture is that mothers and sisters are busy cooking till the time of sunset ‘futoor’ as the rest of the family awaits tired and hungry.
Perhaps people ignore the fact that women too fast all day.
The justification behind this is that cooking and taking care of the family and children is equally rewarding. Of course, any act done with the pure intent to please Allah, the Most High, alone is rewarding.
However, why should there be extra stress on cooking? If the month is about reduced consumption of food and to control our craving, and if we truly care the spiritual opportunities of the month, then we must expect less cooking, more worship but for women it is the other way around.
Women also need time for spiritual involvement in this special period, which is supposed to be different from daily life. Instead of reducing housework, such duties are doubled.
It’s very common to notice that while female members in the house toil in the kitchen along with other household chores, males are seen either sleeping or relaxing, particularly in the Arab world.
And the most interesting part is that even after the whole day of sleeping and relaxing, they are given special attention on the ‘futoor’ table.
The most common scene almost in every house is that the ladies keep running here and there giving their last touch to the ‘futoor’ table as the maghrib adaan is heard. Some even break there fast while busy serving. And the rest of the family keep sitting idly and waiting for grand breaking-fast dish.
The last moments of the fast of the day should be spent making much du’a and asking Allah for His mercy, blessings and forgiveness. Unfortunately, women are deprived of following du’a at this blessed moment.
Narrated by Abu Hurayrah (May Allah be pleased with him) that Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) said: “Whatever is prayed at the time of breaking the fast is granted and never refused.” [Tirmidhi]
In fact, the month of Ramadan is the month to purify our mind and heart, ask forgiveness from Allah (swt), to submit ourselves to the Almighty. Instead we hear people calling Ramadan as the month of celebration or festival.
According to a study, there has been 43 per cent increase seen in the number of dishes prepared at home during the month of Ramadan. Around 17 per cent more time spent in preparing each dish and more quantity being cooked than the normal days.
Actually, people eat like there is no tomorrow at futoor and suhoor is not from the Sunnah of the Prophet (pbuh).
On the contrary, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) used to prefer breaking the fast with simple foods such as dates, and water. He is reported to occasionally enjoy dishes such as soups, vegetables, roasted meat, but he never demanded for special dishes to be made.
Perhaps we forget that Ramadan is the month of fasting. In fact, it is the month in which we are supposed to eat less and pray more, spend on ourselves less and give the needy more.
Ramadan is meant to be more spiritual and discipline, to strengthen our bond with Allah, additional nawafils, increased charity and generosity, and intense study of the Quran.
Unfortunately, our precious time, energy, effort and money that women should spend in worshiping Allah, instead spent in preparing and cooking multi-course meals, all in the name of keeping up Ramadan ‘traditions.’
I do not mean to say that preparing verities of food for the family is undesirable. Of course, not at all. It is just to say that the more time and energy spent laboring away in the kitchen while fasting, can be utilized in a more productive manner if spent reciting the Quran and praying to Allah. Apparently, balance is the key, and the male members of the family should cooperate in allowing women to value spiritual moment of the holy month.
Let simple ‘futoor’ and ‘suhoor’ should be the new norms and bring humbleness in our attitude toward food during the Ramadan. Let Allah (swt) make us set an example of sacrificing every type of ‘nafs’ including over greediness to eat food.
Not to mention, such a principle is also the essence of this sacred month.