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Are There Alternatives to Fasting for Pregnant Women During Ramadan?

Charity Work an Alternative to Fasting for Pregnant Women During Ramadan

During the month of Ramadan, people of the Muslim faith refrain from eating and drinking — as well as sex — from dawn to sunset. My own fertility quest, and the many meanderings of the mind that go with it, led me to wonder: What do pregnant women do during Ramadan? Do they have to fast, too? Certainly that can’t be healthy for their unborn children or themselves. So I looked into it more, and this is what I learned.

While there are some pregnant women who feel pressured to fast and actually want to fast during Ramadan — after all, it is a very serious part of their culture and is steeped in tradition — there are no requirements for pregnant (or nursing) women to fast.

Those expecting mothers who still wish to observe this time and fulfill their requirements are able to do so through charity work, specifically feeding the hungry. It first struck me as odd that substituting fasting for feeding others was the way in which the requirements of Ramadan could be met. But then I learned the purpose and meaning behind such a trade-off. Feeding others who otherwise go without food every day — or rather, those who “fast” during the rest of the year through no choice of their own — is actually a quite profound, albeit ironic, substitution for one’s own fasting. And it somehow makes beautiful sense.

During my little other-culture query, I also learned that the elderly, the sick, and travelers don’t have to fast during Ramadan either. And that children do not officially begin the practice of fasting until 16 years old, but that many are eager to participate and do so at 13.

It all makes sense, of course. I don’t know what I was expecting to find, and perhaps I’m a bit naive — and ignorant — when it comes to this blessed month of the Muslim culture.

Do you participate in Ramadan? If so, are there pressures for pregnant women to fast even though they are exempt from doing so? Have you volunteered or done charity work instead? I’d love to hear your personal experiences!

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Photo via Flickr: Creative Commons

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