Excused from Fasting? How to still make the most out of Ramadan when it's 'THAT time of the Month!'

It's 5 minutes left to go on the clock till Iftar and it's nearly time to break your fast. But then BAM! out of no where you realise, you've started. Your day of fasting is no longer valid. NOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Angry Leslie Knope

Hey, we've all been there. (And if you don't know what I'm talking about you're either too young or you're a dude - in which case, you should probably close this article right now, because it's not for you!)

Us, women can't exactly control when Allah decides to give us our "special break" from fasting, but that doesn't mean we can't still make the most of our time off during Ramadan! Unfortunately, due to a lot of the taboos surrounding this topic, there is a lot of misinformation out there that is actually quite harmful. This article hopes to address some of those misconceptions and help my fellow Muslimahs out isA!

Ok, so first of all... Who is excused from fasting & why?

Well, Allah has prescribed fasting on all people once they have reached puberty except:

  • Menstruating women
  • Pregnant or Nursing women
  • The Elderly (if they choose to based on their health)
  • Those who are ill or sick (especially relevant to the Coronavirus situation)
  • Travelers (depends on the distance traveled)

The reason that these people are exempt from fasting differs. Since this article is mainly targeted for menstruating women, I'll present the reason for why menstruating women are forbidden from fasting because this is often a controversial topic for a lot of people. The answer for this has a lot to do with the fact that women during their periods have to go through a lot of physical pain (e.g through cramps, bloating, headaches, tenderness etc) as well as emotional pain (e.g hormonal fluctuations, mood swings and imbalances etc.). Thus due to Allah's mercy he has excused us from fasting for a certain prescribed time during the month because it would be detrimental to our health if we had to fast while menstruating. This rules applies the same way to praying while menstruating also. Here is an illustrative video that explains the reasoning behind menstruating women not being able to pray/fast in a clear and easy to understand way using Quranic verses and more informed knowledge. Allah knows best.

But this DOES NOT mean in anyway that a women menstruating is viewed as IMPURE in Islam! Much rather, women are given a high status in Islam and menstruating is a completely natural process which Allah has granted to women. Women are given the blessing and honor in being able to menstruate because it means that one day they can be a part of the process of giving birth to human life - the miracle of creation itself! I think we really need to fight the stigma and shame that exists in the Muslim community when it comes to PERIODS. Women should never be shamed or treated as dirty for having periods! Instead we should treat all women with respect, and give them ease and be more lenient towards when they are going through their periods because it is likely to be a painful and emotional time for them. Islam honors women greatly, but it is men who dishonor women. In the same way we believe that Islam is perfect, and it is Mankind who is imperfect. 

Now that's all cleared up, I will provide some hopefully beneficial tips that will help menstruating sisters make full use of their Ramadan, but may also apply to any of the other categories that are exempt from fasting too.

1. Reading Quran (Difference of Opinion)

Person holding book openDepending on what school of thought you follow, some scholars disagree on if a women should read Quran while menstruating. Personally, I follow the rule that it is permissible to read the Quran while menstruating without touching the Mushaf, but instead by using a phone app. I usually try and avoid touching the Arabic letters also, but some scholars deem it fine because it is not the actual Quran but rather pixels which change and move. Some scholars have agreed that you can touch the Mushaf if you use gloves or a cloth. Scholars have also agreed that you can also recite any Quran you have learnt from memory, especially if you need to revise the Quran regularly or if you are training to be a Hafiz. It is also permissible to read the Quran in English translation. Click here for the Source for all this. The reason I think it is ok to read the Quran is because, when you take away prayer and fasting, your connection with Allah feels far, so to allow women to read the Quran when they're on, is the only thing that can bridge the connection back to Allah again.

Reading on a tablet with a mug of tea and a plate of donutsOther scholars may disagree with this school of thought so I would do research for yourself and ask for Allah's guidance when you come to a conclusion. However I have heard from Omar Sulemain that women do get rewarded even when they are not reciting from the mushaf of the Quran whilst touching the arabic letters, if that is what they would normally do, because them staying away from it still following what Allah has ordained from them. You can check out the source for this information in a video by Omar Sulemain here who explains it in more detail.

2. Doing Dhikr of Allah

woman holding a smiling balloonNo matter what you're opinion is on reading Quran while you're menstruating, doing Dhikr of Allah is open to everyone. Something as simple as reciting a few words everyday can really increase you ibadah, sawab and connection with Allah swt, in sha Allah!

According to Saheeh hadith  saying these phrases will lead to these rewards:

  • 'Laa hawla wa laa quwwata illaa billah' - 1x (There is no might or power except with Allah)  = Have a Treasure from the treasures in Jannah [Saheeh al Kalima at-Tayyib]
  • 'SubhanAllahi was Bihamdih' - 1x (How perfect and glorified Allah is and All Praise Him) = Have a Palm tree planted for you in Jannah [Saheeh Al Tirmidhi]
  • 'SuhanAllah wAlhamdulilah wa la illaha illa Allah waAllahu Akbar' - 1x (How perfect and Glorified Allah is, All Praise if for Allah none has the right to be worshipped except Allah, and Allah is the greatest) = Have 10 Palm trees planted for you in Jannah 
  • 'Alaahuma Sally Ala Nabbiyena Muhamad Salla Allahu Alihi wa Sallam' - 10x (O Allah, Pray on our Prophet, Mohammad, may peace and blessings be upon him) = get 10 Hasanat good deeds and lose 10 sins
  • 'SubhanAllah wa Bihamdih' 100x (How Perfect and Glorified Allah is And All Praise is to Him) = Have all your sins foregiven even if it is the volume of the sea [Saheeh al Bukhari]
  • 'Subhanalahi Azeem' - light on the tongue, weighs heavily on the balance and is loved by the Most Merciful one. [Muslim, Bukhari, and Tirmidhi]

3. Remembering Allah often

SandrockYou can still make lots of dua during this month and remember Allah often. Make an intention and do good deeds for His sake alone. Help out a neighbour or a family member for the sake of Allah. Or write down all the things your grateful for. Control your anger and emotions! Use this time to ask for forgiveness! Plan your next goals for when you come off your period or when you are going to make up your fasts. Here's some advice about how to plan or set goals.

Don't worry, before you know it you will be off your period and back to fasting again! Allah has given you this break for a reason so enjoy His mercy and get some sleep, look after yourself etc!