Periods, fasting, and menstrual health during Ramadan مضان

Hi readers. By this point you may know that I follow Sikhi as my main religious and spiritual path.  Many of my friends and relations identify as Muslim from across the diaspora, and will be participating in the ceremony of Ramadan مضان in the coming weeks.

I asked a few of them to share some wisdom and knowledge about their periods and menstrual cycles during the fast.  There are thousands of years of philosophy, writing, experiences, storytelling, and more that elaborate on the beauty of Ramadan as a spiritual process.  In this blog post I share just four of these many interpretations. One of which is my own. 

Samiya (pseudonym) described Ramadan as practice that, for her, allows people with privilege to be in solidarity with human beings in our communities who are not able to access daily nourishment.  Fasting goes beyond just food & drink consumption, to include an overall period of what I interpret as self-control (something that I definitely struggle with!). As written in the Quran, Habiba (pseudonym) describes that people who have periods are required not to restrict consumption during their bleed.  Even though they would prefer to continue the ritual, they say “I trust the wisdom in this teaching and my body is likely better off that I don’t fast while I’m bleeding”. Maya (pseudonym) adds people who are breastfeeding, pregnant, elders, or sick will also choose not to fast and make up the days later in the year.

For me as a non-Muslim, I really appreciate how Ramadan makes class & financial privilege visible. Especially as it relates to menstrual health.  I find myself asking about people who periods for whom hunger is not a choice, but a daily reality that impacts their bodies (including uterus, ovaries, and more).  Moreover, Ramadan celebrates the life giving power of the non-human beings we consume for sustenance. Thanks plants, animals, fungi, bacteria, air, water, soil, and everything that keeps humanity going.  In Sikhism, the concept of equality is celebrated, however sometimes at the cost of erasing real life oppressions faced by members of our communities marginalized by capitalism, colonialism, and patriarchy.

I’m so appreciative of Ramadan as a time of prayer, inner reflection, meditation, service, and collective healing. 

In what ways are you practicing or appreciating Ramadan in 2019? Did I miss something in my blog post? Is there a point of contention that you have with any of the points? DM me on instagram @imwithperiods. I’d love to hear your thoughts and stories