My recent post on creating a child-like Ramadan generated a lot of attention on Twitter and Facebook — with many commenting about the frustrating balance between motherhood and the sometimes unfair expectations placed upon mothers during Ramadan — usually at the expense of their spirituality. I thought it might be productive to create spaces where people could share stories, commiserate, debate or come up with plans of action to address the issue. Especially now that we’ve entered the last 10 days of Ramadan.

I’ve teamed up with the amazing Asiah Kelley, to explore some of the problems in the discourse on motherhood and Ramadan — which we’ll look at over the next two postsAsiah Kelley is a fantastic person and mother and I am honoured to share her work with all of you. Please join me in welcoming her as she shares her thoughts and reflections on the importance of recognizing motherhood spirituality.


khatm

Ramadan is supposed to be the month of mercy. But for many mothers and wives, it can feel merciless. The work is unrelenting — food preparation, child care, house work, and all the while trying to fit in any act of worship possible.

Muslims start mentally and physically preparing for Ramadan at least a month ahead of time. The excitement builds as people think of all the food they will eat, and all the events they will go to. Young girls shop and prepare their outfits for the different parties they will attend. Boys think of the fun they will have staying up late nights with their friends, while sleeping it off the next day. But mothers? They just might tell you that Ramadan is met with a sense of dread. All the expectations — their family’s and their own, are hard to live up to.

Something has to give, and that something is usually the mother.

Ramadan crept up on me this year. My husband came home from the store with $45 worth of Gatorade, and I was more than confused until he said “For Ramadan? It starts next week.” I guess I knew on some level that it was coming, but had been ignoring it. In fact, I was dreading it. Since having my daughter two years prior I had slowly sunk into an iman hole. My faith was shot.

Ramadan wasn’t a welcome friend, it was a reminder of how bad of a Muslim I considered myself to be.

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Happy weekend everyone! I’m running between multiple iftaar engagements, so it’s a quickie tonight. In this edition of the roundup, we’ve got media Ramadan firestorms: Ramadan 101, marketing Ramadan and Bootylicious burqas.

Enjoy!

1) Outside of finding that one Muslim reporter who can bring an insider view of Hajj to the major networks, the next best positive Islamic event for the Media to feast upon is Ramadan.

Boston.com has their yearly AMAZING photos of Ramadan around the world; the HuffPo has a wikipediaesque summary of the main highlights of the month — conveniently called, Dates, Fasting Rules, History; and TIME has an exclusive top then things you didn’t know about Ramadan — covering everything from “It’s not just no eating ya’know” to “fasting loopholes.”

And Wajahat Ali tells it how it really is in his piece A Ramadan State of Mind:

1.5 billion Muslims magically transform overnight and jettison their messy, imperfect, human emotional baggage, because that’s the miraculous power of Ramadan and being Muslim!

We become Yodas with kufis and Splinters in thobes. We are Mr. Miyagis and Morgan Freemans dispensing calm, sage advice and composing ourselves elegantly like a stereotypical ascetic monk only seen in Hollywood movies as quiet Asian men in robes.

Oh it’s sarcastic and a tad snarky, but there’s a twist at the end that’s sure to warm your heart.

2) “So, since I’m not your everything… how about I’ll be nothing at all to you? Baby, I won’t shed a tear for you. ‘Cause the truth of the matter is replacing you is so easy.” At least that’s what hundreds of Egyptian women were singing a few months ago at a Beyoncé concert.

Though, to hear Beyoncé tell it to Bazaar magazine, she practically inspired the Revolution just by showing up:

The global singer recalled a specific moment in her concert which evidently was protested against by conservative Islamic groups who did not approve of her risqué outfits and booty-shaking dance moves.

She revealed: “There were a lot of women in the audience in burkas. They were singing along to Irreplaceable – it was amazing! Some of the men got really upset! They were like to their women, ‘We have to get you out of here!’… I guess some of them do get annoyed.”

Beyonce went on to say that she felt she had empowered the women in burqa’s at the concert who sang along to her song “irreplaceable” at the dismay of their husbands.

*cough* *faceplant*

Thank you Beyoncé for empowering all of the burqa-clad Egyptian women. They couldn’t have done it without you, or your Bootylicious-brand-feminism.

3) Rapid-fire – nuts and bolts:

4) Finally, the Holy month of Ramadan is a time of quiet reflection, abstinence, charity, exercises in self-control, and Ramadan-specific commercials. Here’s how NOT to fill your marketing campaign with a bunch of FAIL:

Do NOT:

  • be racist
  • poke fun of other religions
  • stereotype ethnic minorities
  • be sexist
  • use your message to target non-Muslims
  • police society

Instead, why not hilariously poke fun of Muslims and focus on what this blessed month is really all about: food.

Well I survived the weekend (kind of).

We started the ‘Eid celebration by eating our first daylight breakfast in a month. I made a huge pot of sweet seviyan — vermicelli cooked with butter, sugar, milk, condensed milk and cardamon. After getting dressed in our finest, we went to the CNE and prayed with about 10,000 people. Needless to say, it was pandemonium. We then met up with a few friends and went for second breakfast!  Lebanese shawarma (roasted meat), cheese fatayer (a lovely, salty cheese that tastes like butter — melted over a thick pita), and kunafa (er, how do I describe it? a toasty top, melty cheese bottom, soaked in a sugar syrup. SO GOOD).

Next up was the regular Friday congregational prayers at the Turkish mosque (where I had an altercation with a gentleman who thought it best that the women prayed in a separate room — coming soon to a post near you), a well deserved nap at home, then another party for dinner, pizza for second dinner and waffles for dessert.

You might begin to wonder at the amount of food Muslims eat during the ‘Eid celebration, considering we just spent a month fasting to remind us of God and the less fortunate. You’re not supposed to lose weight during Ramadan, just like you’re not supposed to pig out once it’s over. Suffice it to say that I find it difficult to eat a lot after fasting. Not only does it feel strange to be be eating during the day, but the stomach shrinks, your metabolism is slowed, and really, there are too many people to meet and party with to do so with a full mouth. For the next three days, we are also reminded to spend time after the 5 daily prayers to remember God, by chanting God’s name and other remembrances (heard in the video link above). ‘Eid is also a time for charity and we are all encouraged to give, and then to give some more.

Finally, Eryn is sleeping better now that I’m not fasting. She’s back on her regular schedule, thank God.

Some pics after the cut.

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It’s 1:24am.  It’s the 27th night of Ramadan.

Normally I would have spent this evening at the mosque performing special evening prayers as the congregation listened to the 30th and final part of the Qur’an.  Ramadan is the month in which the Qur’an was first revealed, and tradition holds that this miracle happened on one of the odd nights during the last ten days. The 27th is an arbitrary odd night celebrated by a majority of people.  Because of the auspicious nature of performing worship during (potentially) the very same night the Qur’an was revealed, many believe that additional acts of worship are raised in their worth, that prayers will be answered, and that the doors of heaven are open for those who are sincere in asking for forgiveness.

During my University days, I’d have a small break fast, grab my Qur’an and a chocolate bar, and head to the local mosque for a long night of worship. I’d chant, read, pray and sing — sitting with others in a dim room, enjoying the ambiance of the final days of Ramadan, the incense, the sugar rush, the tears rolling down my face.

Last year I missed the 27th. Eryn was 3 weeks old, I wasn’t fasting and the entire month flew by. I only realized that I had missed this night of power after the ‘Eid celebration was complete. I don’t think anyone bothered (or remembered) to tell me the date.  This year we spent the evening with family in Niagara Falls.  After a Timmie’s run and half way through the drive home, my heart sank as I realized the date.

So the second we got Eryn into her crib I went through my little ritual of purification, threw on my favourite abaya and prayer shawl and prayed in the still dark of our bedroom. I didn’t have chocolate, I didn’t have incense, music or the energy to chant.

All that kept me company was Eryn’s soft rhythmic snoring. Eryn, who was named after a gate in heaven.  The gate that opens especially for those who fast.

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