Ahmadiyya Muslim Women share their Ramadan experience

CHINO — Rabiya Chaudry’s spirit may be willing, but she says her body is telling her something else.
Healthy Muslims are supposed to take part in the rituals of Ramadan, which include bowing and kneeling five times a day and fasting from dawn until dusk. But women who are menstruating or breast feeding get a pass, electing instead to “make up” the time through an alternative act.

“During that (menstruating) time you are told not to fast because you are weak and your body is going through all these changes and you need your energy,” said Chaudry, 23, of Brea.

“In my heart I say those prayers but there is a prayer that is said by the congregation out loud, morning, afternoon, midafternoon, evening and at night and those are prayers you cannot say because you are not clean.”

The holy month of Ramadan began July 8 and requires Muslims to abstain during daylight hours from food, drink, smoking and sex to focus on spirituality, good deeds and charity.

The month of fasting always begins on the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and culminates with the three-day holiday of Eid al-Fitr.

The lunar month ends Aug. 7 at sundown.

But small children, people who are ill, and pregnant women are exempt from fasting and for six days a menstruating woman must abstain from the rituals of Ramadan.

They will, however, have a year after the holy month to make up the fast.

Chaudry, who attends the Ahmadiyya Muslim community’s Baitul Hameed Mosque in Chino said breaking fast or not partaking in the Ramadan ritual because of the monthly cycle is not as notable to men as one would think.

“With the girls it’s kind of cool because there are so many of us, it’s not just one singular girl. So we’ll be all together at the same time and no one singles anyone out,” she said.

During a recent sit-down interview with some women of the Chino-based mosque they said it is also not considered ideal to perform the rituals on the mats of the mosque during Ramadan.

“The mosque is considered house of God, it is clean and for cleanliness purposes you do not perform the ritual and that prayer that we say together we do not (participate),” said Amtul Sabooh of Brea. “During that period, you are not even allowed to say the Quranic verses. We don’t touch the holy book.”

If the woman cannot fast – for example, someone who is nursing – and they want to receive the same blessings as a healthy person, they would be required to compensate for fasting by feeding a poor person three times a day for 30 days.

“Say I’m old and I cannot fast, or I’m sick, I have to pay an amount called ‘fidya.’ It should feed a poor person,” Sabooh said. “That is, of course, if you can afford it.”

The women said there aren’t that many differences between the male and female.

The main focus at the mosque should always be to worship God and to pray, without any distractions.

“It’s not a big deal, it is a part of life. There is nothing to be ashamed of,” said Mubarika Shadiq of Ontario.