By Dr. Salman Al-Oadah
Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said: “Women are the full sisters of men.” [Sunan al-Tirmidhī (113) and Sunan Abī Dāwūd (236)]
This authentic hadīth is the basis for the principle that equality between men and women is the default assumption for Islamic legal rulings. Whatever rulings apply to men apply equally to women. This applies to the vast majority of rulings, except where there is specific evidence to indicate otherwise. Women have to fast just like men. They are encouraged in Ramadān to read as much Qur’an as possible, stand in prayer in the late watches of the night, beseech Allah in earnest, and spend in charity for Allah’s sake.
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says:
“For Muslim men and women, for believing men and women, for devout men and women, for true men and women, for men and women who are patient and constant, for men and women who humble themselves, for men and women who give in charity, for men and women who fast, for men and women who guard their chastity, and for men and women who engage much in Allah’s praise,- for them Allah has prepared forgiveness and great reward.” [Sūrah al-Ahzāb: 35]
This ayah of the Qur’an was revealed when Umm `Umārah al-Ansariyyah said to the Prophet: “It seems that everything is directed at men. Nothing is mentioned about women.” Afterward, the above ayah was revealed.
Matters of Special Concern to Women in Ramadān
1. Women who are menstruating or have post-natal bleeding do not pray or fast in Ramadān. They make up the missed fasts later on, but they do not make up the prayers. `Ā’ishah radhiAllahu ‘anha relates: “When we were beset by that, we were instructed to make up our fasts but not to make up our prayers.” [Sahīh al-Bukhārī (321) and Sahīh Muslim (335)]
2. Some women use medications to prevent their periods from coming. They want to fast every day of Ramadān without interruption or ensure they will be able to perform `Umrah in Ramadān. However, this should only be done under a doctor’s supervision, because of the health risks involved.
3. A woman’s prayer in her home is better. Many women go out to the mosques to offer the Tarāwīh Prayer. There is nothing wrong with this. Some women do not recite the Qur’an well and it is easier for them to follow someone else in prayer. Some women find the congregation keeps them alert and focused for a longer time. However, a woman who goes out to the mosque should take care to dress modestly and avoid fragrance. The Prophet ﷺ said: “Any woman who has been in contact with fragrance should not attend the last prayer at night.” [Sahīh Muslim (444)]
Ibn Hajar al-`Asqalānī comments on this hadīth as follows: “The prohibition of perfume applies to everything else that causes sexual enticement, like attractive clothes, visible jewelry, and ornate designs. The prohibition also applies to mingling with men.”
A woman should have her husband’s permission. Some women go to the mosque to pray and neglect their small children, even putting their children in danger. It is a mistake for a mother to prioritize supererogatory worship over the obligation of caring for her children, keeping them safe, and instilling in them good values. The same general principle, of course, applies to fathers as well.
4. Backbiting should be avoided. This is especially true in Ramadān. It is a serious affliction and a great sin. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says: “And do not backbite one another. Would one of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? Nay, you would detest it.” [Sūrah al-Hujurāt: 12]
5. Time in Ramadān is valuable. Time is our capital for worshiping our Lord. It is a treasure that all people possess, rich or poor. Those who understand this and appreciate it are the ones who get the most out of their time. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says: “Did you think that We had created you in jest, and that you would not be brought back to Us?” [Sūrah al-Mu’minūn: 115]
Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said: “The servant’s feet will not move from their place on the day of judgment until he is asked about how he spent his life, what work he did, how he spent his wealth, and how he used his body.” [Sunan al-Tirmidhī (2417)]
A God-fearing Muslim woman is one who seizes the opportunities Ramadān presents and fills her time with worship and with what brings blessings to her and those around her. She is in charge of her home and responsible for the members of her household.
Traditionally, women spend most of their time in the kitchen during Ramadān. If such a woman makes the most of her time in the kitchen, she will reap the rewards. She should keep up the remembrance and glorification of Allah while she is working, and beseech Allah’s forgiveness, especially as the time of sunset draws near. She should listen to religious programs on the radio while preparing food.
It is important not to go to excess in preparing food for Ramadān. It gets to the point where Ramadān becomes the month of eating and drinking instead of the month of fasting. Some people gorge themselves at night and even fall ill in Ramadān with diseases caused by overeating.
Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said: “The children of Adam fill no vessel worse than their stomachs. It is sufficient for people to eat enough to keep their backs straight. If you must eat more, then fill a third of your stomach with food, a third with drink, and leave a third for air.” [Sunan al-Tirmidhī (2380)]
6. Prayer is a constant duty. Some women fast in Ramadān but do not pray. Other women only observe their prayers during the month of Ramadān. However, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says the following about prayer: “If they repent, uphold prayer, and pay the charity, then they are your brethren in faith.” [Sūrah al-Tawbah: 11] Prayer is one of the pillars of Islam and the central pillar of faith. It is pure foolishness to neglect it, and a severe loss of blessings. One bad habit in Ramadān is that of sleeping through the Dawn Prayer, waking up only after sunrise. Another bad habit is to sleep from before the time of the Noon prayer until the Afternoon Prayer comes in. They are safeguarding their fasts, but their Ramadān sleep schedules cause them to miss some of their prayers. Yet, Allah warns us:
One bad habit in Ramadān is that of sleeping through the Dawn Prayer, waking up only after sunrise. Another bad habit is to sleep from before the time of the Noon prayer until the Afternoon Prayer comes in. They are safeguarding their fasts, but their Ramadān sleep schedules cause them to miss some of their prayers. Yet, Allah warns us: “There came after them a generation who neglected prayers and followed after desires, so they will meet perdition.” [Sūrah Maryam: 59]
A Time to Raise Awareness
A Muslim family must hold its female family members – its daughters, sisters, mothers, and wives – in high esteem. They are a means for the family to attain Allah’s mercy, providence, and blessed happiness. Family life should not be a battle of the sexes, but rather a basis for cooperation and mutual support.
Women are more inclined to show compassion. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says: “And their Lord wished to replace him with one who was better in purity and nearer in mercy.” [Sūrah al-Kahf: 81] Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala replaced their son with a daughter. [Sahīh al-Bukhārī (4726)]
But alas, the news around the world is replete with stories of domestic violence, where most often the woman is the victim. The woman’s gentleness and weak position makes it easy for her to be denied her rights. In the Middle East, there are fathers who prevent their daughters from getting married just so they can steal their monthly paychecks. If she tries to speak out or complain to the authorities, she is seen as brazen and ill-bred. Speaking about her rights is a problem, and silence is a problem. Many virtuous women are the silent victims of their circumstances.
Daughters are abused physically and mentally, subjected to unrelenting violence, denied an education, and prevented from engaging in needed recreation. This is often a result of discord between the parents or divorce. In many cases, daughters live without their mothers, raised by domestic help who are abusive and do not fear Allah.
The tears of a small child can quite possibly be the reason for Allah’s wrath. Those who perpetrate such sins as well as those who know about them and keep quiet are equally in danger, since it is a Muslim’s duty to enjoin what is right and prohibit what is wrong, especially in cases like these.
There is a hadīth that reads: “Let the weak among you be a means of beseeching Allah in supplication, for indeed you are given your provisions and support on account of those among you who are weak.” [Sunan al-Tirmidhī (1702) and Sunan Abī Dāwūd (2594)] The blessing we receive is intrinsically tied to those who are weak: children, wayfarers, the indigent, and the poor. A society that transgresses against them is one that courts its own destruction.
The Prophet ﷺ said: “O Allah, ill will befall those who neglect the rights of the weak: the orphans and the women.” [Sunan al-Nasā’ī al-Kubrā (9149)]
`Amr b. al-`Ās praised the Romans on account of their being the most compassionate to the poor, the orphans, and the weak.
There are many well-established social welfare organizations around the world concerned with the rights of the weak and disenfranchised. It behoves the Muslim world to develop in this direction by establishing effective and strong organizations to protect women, orphans, disabled people, and foreigners from violence and infringements against their rights, whether the source is domestic or public, and whether the infringement is physical abuse, mental abuse, or financial injustice.
Originally published here.