Women’s Worship During Ramadan – I
A Muslim woman should utilize the seasons which Allah has endowed with great benefit and made a source for accumulating rewards. A woman can increase her reward in Ramadan by strengthening various aspects of worship and obedience to Allah, by being keen in performing virtuous deeds and refraining from anything that could affect the rewards of her fasting adversely.
Sincerity during Ramadan:
One of the aspects of servitude to Allah, which a woman practices during the month of Ramadan is sincerity. Abu Hurayrah reported: “The Messenger of Allah said: “Allah the Exalted and Majestic said: `Every act of the son of Aadam is for him, except fasting which is (exclusively and sincerely) for Me, and I will reward him for it … (The person observing fast) has abstained from food and drink and sexual pleasures for My sake.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim] Therefore, a woman should refrain from all that invalidates her fast, and should guard this pledge that is between her and her Lord from dawn to sunset. Sincerity during this month trains her to be sincere afterwards in other acts of worship.
Rulings of Ramadan:
One of the matters, which a woman must endeavor to learn, is the jurisprudence rulings pertaining to the month of Ramadan, in order for her fasting to be perfect. There are many rulings related to this month that concern women, like the rulings regarding menstruation, purity, postpartum bleeding in connection to fasting -- if the bleeding stops after twenty days she must perform a ritual bath (i.e. Ghusl) and start fasting, but she must intend fasting the obligatory fast, as the Prophet informed us that without having an intention to fast prior to the break of dawn, her fast is not valid.
Adhering to the command of Allah and His Messenger :
Adhering to the commands of Allah and His Messenger during this blessed month is another aspect of servitude, which a woman practices. For example, a woman is commanded to break her fast as soon as she goes into her menses, yet she is not deprived from the reward because she broke the fast in adherence to the command of Allah, and she is rewarded for this adherence.
Some women become grieved when they get their menses whilst fasting, and start saying things like: ‘Why do I get menses’, or ‘I wished I never got this’, or ‘I wish I was a man so that I do not get it and thus fast the full month.’ One must be content with the decree of Allah, as He is The One Who created women as women and men as men. Thus, a woman should be content with her decree, and should not have these feelings, because Allah does everything with Ultimate Wisdom, the essence of which we can never comprehend.
Bashfulness during Ramadan:
Women must learn that when it comes to enlightening and educating themselves in matters of religion, they should not be too shy to ask questions. For example, some young women are too embarrassed to inform their families that they have reached the age of puberty and thus continue to break their fast and do not observe fast. This is a serious mistake and a great crime in Islam, as a woman is obliged to fast whenever she is not in her menses. Another example are women who are too shy, thus when they have their menses they continue to fast lest those around them would find out, which is also prohibited in Islam and by doing so they are disobeying Allah.
Many sisters ask questions about situations similar to the ones mentioned above, but only after a long time, after they have already committed the mistakes due to being bashful at the wrong time in their lives. Those who did not observe fast after reaching the age of puberty -- for whatever invalid reason -- must make up all the days they missed.
Despite the fact that some scholars have permitted the use of the pills that delay the menses (if they have no harmful side effects), we believe, and Allah knows best, that not taking them is more rewarding, as it reflects the woman’s contentment with what Allah Has decreed on her.
Attending the Qiyaam prayers and study circles:
Attending the Qiyaam prayers (i.e. the optional night prayers) in the mosque is a recommended act of worship. ‘Umar used to designate a prayer area especially for women so they could attend the prayers without intermixing with men. It is a good thing for a woman to attend the prayers with the congregation, but it is more rewarding for her to pray at her house. When the woman goes to the mosque -- whilst fulfilling the conditions permitting her to attend -- she will expose herself to the blessings bestowed upon those who attend the mosque. For example, the Mercy of Allah will descend on them, the angels will surround them and ask forgiveness for them for attending lectures that teach people matters of their religion; saying Aameen after the supplications of the Imam which makes them deserving of whatever the Imam supplicated, increasing submissiveness to Allah that results due to the Imam’s recitation during the prayer, learning the proper way to pray and correcting any mistakes in recitation. Having said this, it is still more rewarding for a woman to pray in her house whilst reading from the Quran than praying with the congregation.
A woman must be keen to get to know those who attend the congregation with her as some of them could be very pious sisters, who could be a means for steadfastness and remind her at times of heedlessness.
When in the mosque, a woman should be ready to receive knowledge, learn her religion and be open-minded to accept the truth even if it goes against her desire or that which she practices. She must adhere to the proper Hijab, not wear perfume, not adorn herself, not mix with men outside the mosque or in the parking lot, so as to avoid making the mosque a social club and turning the prayers into a meeting-place to talk and laugh with other sisters, disturbing other people.
Religious exemptions for women during Ramadan:
Allah granted women many exemptions during this month out of His Mercy. One of these exemptions is that a pregnant woman or a breastfeeding woman is permitted to break her fast. Allah The All-Knowing, Knows what feelings a woman has towards her infant and thus permitted her to break her fast to breastfeed him. All she is required to do is to make up the days she missed, and if she is unable to fast then she is only obliged to feed a needy person for every day she missed. The ruling that is applicable to her is just like that for old people who are unable to fast.
Another exemption is that a woman who unwillingly submits to her husband’s will for intercourse during the day in Ramadan is excused and not considered a sinner, nor does she have to expiate for the intercourse; rather it is the husband who has to do so. She must try to avoid him and escape the situation as much as she possibly can, but when she becomes cornered and finds no way but to give in to his request, then she will not be blamed.
Women’s Worship During Ramadan – II