Ramadan: Women and the Stress of Cooking

Iftar_at_Home

The Muslim Times has the best collection about Ramadan and the women rights especially the Muslim women rights

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.

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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.

6 replies

  1. Muslims should follow the Jewish and Christian fasting tradition, where only very simple food is consumed for the whole period, the emphasis being on avoiding luxuries, including smoking and sexual activity. Makes far more sense to me than the special focus on unhealthy over-indulgence, like a month-long party, where people actually put on weight.

    • why do we have to mix up here with Jewish and Christian tradition? Why not just observe the Islamic fasting as it should be observed? When we make sure that we do not miss the Maghrib prayer we cannot over-indulge in eating Iftar and when we want to observe Tarawee we cannot over-indulge in eating dinner.

    • Christian fasting? Well, my Philippine domestic worker did not used to eat meat during the fasting period. In Switzerland a Catholic school mate said he decided not to eat any chocolates during the fasting period, but a couple of days ‘into it’ he saw some chocolates and could not resist. I think both kinds of fasting cannot be compared at all to the Islamic fasting. My Christian father used to ‘totally fast’ for a few days. He would drink one glass of milk only per day and water I think. Yes, fairly tough and proper fasting. – Yes, I am not in favor of ‘month long parties’. I try to avoid Iftar parties where there are no arrangements for Maghrib prayers, such as in hotels. (In Jordan some hotels did provide places for prayers, so that was ‘acceptable’).

      • What is the benefit or purpose of fasting?
        Every sect or group has different interpretation.

        1. Some clerics think that people should know and understand the feeling of poor people who is hungry every day. By fasting will make us to be generous or help the poor people.

        2. Some other clerics think that after one day fasting from whole food and drinks— he should be happy and celeberate with good meals or party for his good job or his success. So every day during 1 month Ramadhan is blessing to has party.

        3. Some ckerics think that people should practice to live and eat in moderately—for the sake of health.

        My question: which one fit on you?

        But we read Al Quran God say that Fasting for one month will make your life be better.( taqwa).

        All our ❤️

  2. Such a great post and sadly this is common practice around the world where great emphasis is put on the Iftar meals. My husband and I choose to observe Ramadan away from these practices, by minimizing our time in the kitchen. Meal preps in our home is normally like any other time of the year, only he chooses to help, Alhamdulillah. We also try to make meals that can be eaten over two days, so even more time is available for worship. May Allah swt make it easy for all of us.

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