You don’t know your own strength

God does not burden any human being with more than he is well able to bear: in his favour shall be whatever good he does, and against him whatever evil he does. O our Sustainer! Take us not to task if we forget or unwittingly do wrong! “O our Sustainer! Lay not upon us a burden such as Thou didst lay upon those who lived before us! O our Sustainer! Make us not bear burdens which we have no strength to bear! “And efface Thou our sins, and grant us forgiveness, and bestow Thy mercy upon us! Thou art our Lord Supreme: succour us, then, against people who deny the truth!” (Al-Quran 2:286)

I’m learning something this Ramadan. I’m learning something besides the all important lessons of self-restraint, belief in Allah (swt) and mercy towards the poor. I’m learning about my own inner strength. I’m learning that Allah (swt) has inundated women with an immense power…the power to give birth, care for her child and nourish that child with her own milk. I have been fasting and nursing this Ramadan, and it is teaching much about my own abilities.

If you have never nursed a baby, let me first tell you that it is not an easy feat in and of itself. In order for a woman to produce enough milk to nourish a baby, she must consume extra calories and up her fluid intake. When I first had Zakiyyah, I would never have been able to imagine fasting and nursing her. I was thirsty constantly. I would fill a 32oz. bottle of water and finish it off before lunch. I was also extremely hungry; I ate more than I had when I was pregnant (if that’s possible). As Ramadan neared, I began to feel apprehensive about it. While I didn’t want to miss another Ramadan, I didn’t want to tax my body too much, or put Zakiyyah’s health in danger by lowering my milk supply. I read many Fatawa, and spoke to women who done it themselves. Some women told me that it was impossible, some thought I was crazy for even considering it, some said it was manageable, but definitely a challenge. I began to think that many women in impoverished countries nurse their children and survive while eating much less than I would even while fasting. That changed my point of view. Eventually, I decided to at least give it a try, if I failed I vowed that I would just say “Alhumdullilah,” and make up the days later. I also made du’ah that Allah (swt) would make it easy for me.

Before Ramadan started, I began to improve my diet, in hopes of preparing myself for the challenge. I began to up my water supply and eat more whole grains and protein. I went to my local Farmer’s Market and bought whole grain breads and Organic Dairy products. The first day of the fast, I drank a lot of water during Suhur, and ate whole grain bread, and a bowl of oatmeal with milk. Again, I made du’ah.

I have been fasting since, with the exception of one day when I felt sick. As we near the halfway point, I am so greatful that Allah (swt) has placed within me the ability to fast and nurse. It has not been easy, but it is not unbearable, alhumdollilah. Most importantly, my milk supply has not noticably diminished. I hope and pray that I will be able to continue, and that my fast will be accepted. (amin)

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18 Comments

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18 responses to “You don’t know your own strength

  1. Ameen. And SubhanALlah 🙂 Al Fattah provided for you. I am really happy for you and loving this post.

  2. Assalamu Aliekum wa Rahmatulahi wa Barakatuhu,

    Yay! I am so happy for you, masha’Allah.

    I hope I was one of those sisters that said that it was challenging but you could do it, not that it was impossible.

    I know how you feel. I fasted while breastfeeding (and while pregnant) on more than one Ramadan. And you know what, the Ramadan that I couldn’t fast (too much morning sickness one) is the one that I feel saddest about missing. But I know I didn’t jip myself becuase like you said, I tried for days and it got so bad that I couldn’t go one.

    Every Ramadan has many blessings in it.

  3. assalaamu alaykum,

    how old is zakiyyah? i really want to fast, and think i *could* do it, but my son is only 2 months, and of course hasn’t started solids yet. has zakiyyah? maybe this is just me making excuses, though. a hard fast during ramadan is so much more enjoyable than having to make it all up later — that always feels so lonely.

    anyway, mashaAllah. i’m happy to hear that you’ve been successful in your efforts, alhamdulillah.

  4. Salamaat,
    Alhamdullillah! I am so happy for you!

    For some reason this Ramadhan was also very easy for me. And I was super worried because the whole first week, my son had a cold…which meant he was nursing extra for comfort.

    But even with that; it has been bearable..with a good Suhoor and mad water at night…I am good to go.

    Alhamdullillah..it is indeed a privilege to be able to fast..and am grateful for it.

    Baraka in her latest post said something really deep; that is menstruating women/those who just had a baby/nursing/sick/ are exempted because from their trials they are already being purified and going through purification…they are already going through what fasting is supposed to accomplish.

    I thought how deep and beautiful is that!

  5. Asalaamu Alaikum Amani,

    I am so proud of you masha Allah! I pray that Allah rewards you for all your efforts!

    @ Maliha:

    “Baraka in her latest post said something really deep; that is menstruating women/those who just had a baby/nursing/sick/ are exempted because from their trials they are already being purified and going through purification…they are already going through what fasting is supposed to accomplish.”

    Thank you for posting this! Due to the normal monthly situation I cannot fast or pray and this has been such a hard week for me. I have felt left out and guilty (and subhnanallah i don’t remember taking it this hard previous ramadans) so that was a good reminder for me :)!

    ma’a salaamah

  6. Zaynab, I don’t know if I would try fasting if Zakiyyah was that young. She is 8 mos, so she eats solids, I don’t think I would try it before she was able to eat some solids.

  7. that’s what i thought, too. plus my husband would seriously advise against it, if i wanted to. i figure that Allah gave nursing women this mercy of not fasting, so i should accept it. after all, He knows best. it’s hard, though, as when i think about next ramadan, my little boy will be barely one inshaAllah, and Allah knows if i’ll still be nursing, or preggo again, or what. missing ramadan is just sad. but inshaAllah Allah will allow me to fast another ramadan, someday…

  8. Salam alaikoum
    macha Allah I am so happy for you. I know so many people, some with chronic illness, some who are pregnant or breastfeeding and they can’t fast and it is downright depressing for them. I know that the first two years I was Muslim I had bad hypoglycemia and it was so depressing and sad and I felt like a loser and removed from everything, so I know what you mean by being grateful to fast. People at work always ask me how I can handle fasting and they think I am on crack when I say that I love it. I know Ramadan is more than just fasting, but fasting does put me in the right state of mind to do the other things. I am so so happy for you!

  9. Alhamdulillah, may Allah be pleased with you. I am so happy for you. You give me hope. I have yet to fast a Ramadan since accepting Islam. I have been either pregnant or nursing. My pregnancies are high risk with severe nausea and vomiting not to mention the stitches surgically inserted to keep the babies in and the bedrest. My babies are always younger than 6 months and I don’t introduce anything but breast milk until after 6 months. May Allah make it easy for us and be pleased with our efforts, AMEEN. You go girl!!!

  10. Wow. How much thawab must you have picked up this ramadan! May Allah accept your efforts and give you tawfiq. Amin.

  11. assalaamu alaykum n all that…

    Apologies for the finger if me pic is up – just me bein’ me -. Found this blog a real education. Can’t you have dispensation over fasting if you’re old and infirm or very young or unhealthy with some’at or, like yourself, a nursing mum?

    I’ve a muslim mate at work who’s diabetic and, after me own intervention as he’s crazy, his mosque said he could eat as his health was getting poor.

    Not bein’ into religion meself I’ll respect those who are but I worry about those, like yourself, who seem to follow it and take risks and stuff.

    I kind of agree with qalballah but surely your God doesn’t want you to suffer when you’ve a baby to look after?

    Sorry if I’m a bit ignorant about this stuff. The world’s changing quicker than I can follow at the mo.

    Anyroad. Nice blog n, if yer don’t mind, I’ll pop along now n then.

    Hugs to yer baby n all that.

    Take care babe, 4D x

  12. Alhamdulillah on your efforts to give your baby the best a mother can give. Breastfeeding is a hard job to start with, fasting sometimes makes it a little bit harder. Keep up your efforts.

  13. Anonymous

    May Allah reward you and increase your strength during your fasting and afterwards. amin.
    I’ve never managed more than a day during pregnancy or breastfeeding. Sometimes it is really helpful to acknowledge that many sisters cannot fast for years at a time during their childbearing/ b’feeding years, and that it isn’t a ‘cop out’ if your body can’t take it. I have found a culture of blame/ being looked down upon for not fasting at this time from some sisters, and that is so sad.
    I think 4D has understood something well that we can lose sight of in our ‘want’ to fast. The point is to reach Allah, for His Pleasure, to follow His commands. It’s a terrible shame when a a sister makes herself sick because she thinks she’s no good if she doesn’t fast.
    May Allah increase us all in our ibaadah and guide us to the deen or within it. amin.
    That one is for you specially 4D. *grin*

  14. Four dinners and Anony… thanks for your concern, and your desire to understand our religion. You’re right. If a woman fears harm upon herself or her baby she is exempted from fasting. If she knows from prior experience, or from a doctors advice that it will harm herself or her baby, she may make up the days later or feed a poor or fasting person. I didn’t know for sure if fasting would harm myself or my baby. My child is 8 mos old, and can eat a variety of foods, besides just breastmilk. So, I decided to give it a try. As I stated in my original post, if I had found it to be too difficult, I would have stopped right away. I’m not a gluttton for punishment by any means. I didn’t fast last year when I was pregnant with my baby, it made me very depressed. I already have 28 or so days to make up from last year, and I didn’t want to make that number nearly 60. I also think it’s a shame that a woman might make herself sick by fasting, but rest assured, I am not one of those women…

    In faith…
    Amani

  15. Salaams Sis!
    I am loving your blog. I made my way here through Safa’s blog because I liked a comment that you had left here. I started nursing my baby-she is just a month old as of yesterday so there was no way i could have fasted this month. But I am very depressed about it. It is soo funny to me growing up I never wanted to fast or considered it such a hardship-now I am sad because I cannot fast and I feel like I am missing out on something this Ramadhan! 😦 I am looking forward to next year. I should be able to nurse and you have inspired me to try!

  16. oops I meant fast not nurse!

  17. Asalaamu Alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,
    I was lead to this blog by my dear sister naturally muslimah.
    Mental Muslimah what an appropriate name:’)
    Mashallah, you are such a inspiration. I am 7months pregnant and have fasted 6 days out of this Ramadan may allah (swt) be pleased with me. Inshallah, next year I will be as strong as you. (amin)
    I too eat a very holistic diet and plan to continue inshallah. I look forward to reading more of your blogs.
    Question are you in the Atlanta area????

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