Illustration by Afiq Nashiron
“Terima kasih Abang, kerana membantu Jihad menyusukan anak!”
Every Muslim, would long to feel the thrill of performing Ibadah during Ramadan.
The waking up for Sahur, the long hours of Quranic recitation and understanding its meanings word by word through lessons from Tafseer, the exhausting but blissful Qiam during Tarawih, the spiritual fear of God as we stand in Qiamullail alone, the friendship and free food as we celebrate Iftar at the Masjid, the giving of food to break the fast and the race for God’s forgiveness are all the adrenaline rush in Ramadan.
The whole month trains people to do good, to be generous, to be kind, to be forgiving, to understand and endure the suffering of others. To maximize the incitement and excitement of Ramadan, many have gone offline from social media.
But for breastfeeding mothers, their story might be a little different.
I have a confession to make, in the pursuit of Ramadan in Ibadah, I am underperforming. Usually, in during Ramadan every year, I will allocate the month to rememorize the verses of the Quran I’ve memorized while learning new lessons from Tafseer.
But this year, since I have been blessed with a child, I can’t manage to do that as good as before. You see, I wish to feel the blood rushing in my veins as I perform Ibadah brilliantly but that doesn’t seem to be reachable.
My child comes first. I’ll tell you why.
I work from 9am to 4pm every day. I travel to work from home, via motorbike, as far as 130kms per day to and fro. Once I get back from work, I’m exhausted but still force myself to aid my wife in preparing the meals for Iftar while juggling between being in the kitchen and changing my son’s diapers or attending to his needs.
At night after Isya prayer, if I still have some strength left, I’ll go to the Masjid for Tarawih or do it with my wife or sleep it over.
That is my confession. I’m just tired, not that I’m lazy but I’m seriously drained out.
That is my story, what about my wife?
My wife works from 8.30am to 4.30pm every day. Her workplace isn’t as far as mine but she has to face another form of challenge, that is breastfeeding, working, taking care of the child, helping around the house.
The WHO and UNICEF recommends exclusive breastfeeding for up to 6 months and continued breastfeeding with complimentary foods for up to 2 years. [i]
Well, I don’t really know how to explain the benefits of breastfeeding, that is out of my league. But medical doctors recommend it so I leave that to them.
My son is 4 months old nearing 5 months, and we have decided to follow what WHO and UNICEF have underlined.
My wife works on a daily basis to help her husband, financially of course. And she has to go through the trouble of making stocks of milk while working using the breast pump we bought. At home, she nurses our son while helping me around the house, preparing food since I’m not a good cook.
I can’t imagine how exhausted she is.
At night after Isya’, sometimes I don’t have the heart to leave her alone taking care of the attention seeking baby.
I don’t know about other babies, but my boy drinks nearly 20oz per day and has a lot of stamina and don’t like to sleep. That adds up the exhaustion. So, I opt to be the Imam of Tarawih to my wife at home. At least she gets the chance to pray the congregational Tarawih.
Good thing scholars, one of them is Dr. Yusuf Al-Qaradhawi, have come to an Ijtihad that for breastfeeding mothers, it is not compulsory to fast. [ii] But you have to redeem by fasting the numbers of days you missed or pay Fidyah.
Kudos to Mothers Out There
I want to express my thanks to my wife for her struggles during this Ramadan.
I completely know that she is like us Muslims, she wants to join Tadarrus, she wants to be a part of the Iftar at the Masjid with family and friends, she wants to perform Tarawih at the Masjid while listening to the wonderful voice of the Imam, she wants to join I’tikaf, Qiamullail, she wants to memorize verses of the Quran, she wants her Ramadan to be better than her previous Ramadan.
She can’t do all that as good as when she was single.
Because she has to put our son in front of her. Since bearing our son, she has never slept well. Her beauty sleep is often bothered by the cry of our son who wants to play in the middle of the night but still wake up to prepare Sahur for us to dine.
For all wives and mothers out there, do not give up on breastfeeding, do not give up on child bearing as the responsibility of taking care of your child in of itself, is a meaningful Ibadah during Ramadan.
What can husbands do? Support your wives and make life easy for them.
It takes a man to wash the dishes, to iron her clothes, to do the washing, to dry the clothes, to change diapers, to sweep the floor, to clean the toilet, to attend to the crying baby in the middle of the night and keep yourself from being mad at the clueless baby, and to do all that.
It takes a man to be a househousband.
Maybe that is the real definition of a gentleman?
Entry 21st June 2016 | Ramadan 1437
[ii] http://www.qaradawi.net/new/Articles-1725 (Taken from Dr. MAZA’s Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/DrMAZA/posts/10154305411057990)