Ramadan: The working woman
By Ebun Sessou
Ramadan is no doubt the holiest month in the Islamic Calendar. It is both a spiritual and festive season of the year for Muslims around the world.
It is a month when women are rigorously engaged in house chores. Besides participating in the fast, prayer and meditating the Holy Quran, the Muslim woman is well engaged in the preparation of the food among other things.
As far as family members are concerned, the person who generally contributes most in the running of the household in terms of preparing meals to be eaten in the morning (suhoor) and the evening meal, (Ifthar) is the woman of the house.
Whether she is the mother, the wife, the sister or the daughter, her work does not stop there. The additional work of Ramadan is stacked on top of her routine work.
Whether she is a working woman or a full-time housewife, the running of the house is in her care. It is against this background that, WO sampled the opinions of some Muslim women to feel their pulse.
Mrs Rafat, a self-employed lady in Jakande Estate area of Lagos said, a Muslim woman in her struggle to be the best provider for her family may lose out unknowingly, on her connection with Allah.
According to her, a woman fasts and performs all her obligatory prayers, she might feel helpless and cut short her nawafil prayer and the study of the Quran.
“Aside the fact that she plays very important role in the holy month of Ramadan, the woman holds the kitchen for men and their children in terms of preparing food for the breaking of the fast.
“The role of a woman during Ramadan is no different from that of a man because the main purpose is for the woman to serve Allah.
“During the month of Ramadan the role of a woman is to fast from sunrise to sunset, abstaining from water, other drinks and from having intercourse with a man.
“Every woman must fast but in case of menstruation or child birth, the woman should not fast even if she wants to fast.
“A pregnant woman advised by her doctor not to fast must strictly adhere to instruction. For the suckling mother, there is need for her to have enough milk for her child as she is also not free to fast. But, she can pay back her debt fast in later days when she is able to do so”, she explained.
Another woman, Mrs Mosunmola told WO that the role of a woman during the month of Ramadan is to ensure that she keeps the month holy.
“Women must make sure they make the intention of fasting either by doing the tarawi prayers or by declaring.
“Women must get up as early as 4:30 in the morning prepare some food; ensure that the family members eat when necessary”, she said.
While most women are playing their roles in the kitchen, she noted that the onus is on the woman to pray as she cannot do without fasting.
On the role of woman as a mother, she said it is quite important that she does not pay lip service to the care of her children.
“It is important for the woman at home to monitor the activities of the children: which films they are watching or the kind of music they are listening to and make sure they listen to Quranic messages and pray.
“As a wife, she ensures that her husband is best cared for by giving him the best of service.
“As a daughter, she wakes up to assist her mother to do all the house chores. As a sister, she helps her sister or brother also during the season”, she continued.
The justification is that it is spiritually rewarding for women to cook for their families and care for the children.
It also demonstrates how we see women’s roles: as cooks and child minders. If it were about spiritual benefits, then the role of women and her experience of Ramadan would be quite different.