Pregnancy and Fasting

Yesterday, I felt very angry. Today, I feel very disturbed.

I had to rush a sister to the hospital because she almost collapsed from dehydration. The disturbing part is that she is pregnant and in her last trimester. Even on the way to the hospital, she refused to break her fast with water.

There is nothing heroic about putting herself and her child at risk.

I know that many pregnant women fast during Ramadan. I also know that there are many safe ways a pregnant woman can ensure a proper diet to prepare for fasting. God, however, has given pregnant women the relief from fasting if they feel that it may put them at risk. God is the Most Merciful and we must understand this.

At the hospital, I served as translator between my friend and the doctor because she hardly speaks English. What shocked me was her refusal to tell the doctor that she was fasting. The doctors could not decide what was wrong with her but had suspected she was dehydrated.

When my friend went to the restroom, I let the doctor know she hadn’t drunk water for almost 12 hours. I asked the doctors to keep this confidential. At first, I felt like I was betraying my friend’s trust. After a few exams, however, the doctors determined she was severely dehydrated and they put two IVs to rehydrate her. I continued to be shocked as she continually asked her doctors if it was necessary to break her fast. She could hardly lift a finger, yet she kept refusing.

I will repeat it. This act of martyrdom is not heroic, especially when putting another life in danger for the sake of God. I just wonder what makes her believe that her decision to put her unborn child at risk is pleasing God? God doesn’t ask us to do this. He is the Most Merciful and we cannot forget that.

She is one of my good friends, so I didn’t guilt trip her. Instead, I spoke to her husband and let him know the situation so that he makes sure she nourishes herself as she recovers.

Again, I recognize that there are safe ways to fast while pregnant.  I am not against it in general. I have hard that if done safely, it can be a successful and rewarding experience. I am also not saying that fasting while pregnant is strictly “right” or “wrong”. Only God knows what is best. I am simply disturbed by this particular situation.

This sister is one of the most generous and loving people I’ve ever met. In regards to the material, she doesn’t have much and she gives everything she has. I love this sister very much for the sake of God. But today, I felt very angry towards her. I just can’t help but wonder what is going through her mind as she physically struggles to maintain her energy in Ramadan while carrying a child.

A few weeks ago, I took her to the hospital and heard her baby’s heartbeat. I had never heard an unborn baby’s heartbeat before. Three days ago, she let me touch her belly while her  unborn child was pushing. I had never touched a pregnant lady’s belly before. These two experiences were very emotional for me. I can’t even imagine how I’d feel if I were the one pregnant. These two experiences also revealed the fact that a pregnant woman’s body is no longer her own. She shares it with her unborn child. Her womb serves as the unborn child’s shelter. While I never expressed my anger towards her, I became very angry inside because I saw her fasting (and refuse to break her fast despite her illness) as an act of selfishness with total disregard for the life that is growing inside of her.

She is still my friend, of course. Right now I am really struggling with my own judgments. But I continue to be disturbed by yesterday’s series of events and continue to have very mixed feelings in regards to women fasting while pregnant.

Does anyone have stories to share about fasting while pregnant? I have never had children, but I am really interested in understanding other women’s experiences in the case I am in a similar situation in the future. 


4 thoughts on “Pregnancy and Fasting

  1. Personally, I do not believe that Allah requires fasting when it is a danger to your health. That is not the God that I know. I don’t presume to tell anyone else what to do–and I think you handled this situation very well under the circumstances–but I wonder who people are trying to please when they do things like this. What are they trying to prove? Who are they trying to prove it to? Allah knows our hearts; He doesn’t need us to endanger our health to prove it to him.

    Alhamdulillah that you were there to take care of her.

    • I think you are right that we are not required to fast if our health is in danger. This is clear in the Qur’an.

      Really, yesterday’s situation really disturbed me. This sister and I have grown close. She trusts me enough to take me to her ob/gyn visits and shares the experiences of her pregnancy with me. If this isn’t trust, I don’t know what is.

      She is also very young. Barely past her teens. Her general naivete makes her seem like a child in many ways. While this is her second pregnancy, I am not sure she is as informed about health and pregnancy as she may be if she had a bit more information and experience. I don’t believe her intention was to harm herself or her baby. In the hospital (after they put the IVs on her), she began to cry and said “I’m very scared.” This killed me.

      May God forgive me for putting her life out there. I, however, can’t help but share this as a cautionary tale for some sisters who may be thinking about fasting while pregnant. Again, I cannot tell anyone what is “right” for them. I am nobody to talk about “right” or “wrong,” but I hope that sisters who do decide to fast during pregnancy will be well informed on how to do so in the safest way, insha’Allah.

  2. I share your anger and frustration over people who put themselves at risk while they don’t have to do so. I feel the same way about diabetic or weak, elderly people who insist on fasting. These exceptions have been given to us to make things easy for us, and part of being grateful for them is to apply them to our lives.

  3. It’s just…let me not be so harsh…SlLLY! I fasted when i was about 7 months pregnant, but i did not have any complications. And i was fine.

    Only one time i woke up with food poisoning (from the night before), my husband immediately gave me water and took me to the hospital. No questions asked! My family members would knock sense into me had i refused. In fact, it did not even occur to me to NOT break my fast!

    Islam is a very simple religion, and Allah would not have approved of her putting her life and her child’s in danger. Travelling, periods, sickness, illness, etc are all reasons to keep your fasting aside. She couldve fasted after Ramadan (after she gives birth) to make up for it. It’s allowed in Islam. Very simple.

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