The other day a friend of mine was lamenting the fact that she was unable to fast this Ramadan because she is nursing her three-month-old baby. She remarked that because of that and her other demands as a mother of five she was finding it difficult to catch the Ramadan spirit. It reminded me of the first Ramadan I was unable to fast. I had a two-month-old son and was breastfeeding. As the blessed month approached I felt a little sad and confused as to how to capture the feeling of spiritual closeness with Allah that comes with fasting. It didn’t help that I was also experiencing my first Ramadan far away from home and the Muslim community I was familiar with. I was determined to make the most of the month though.
Of my thirteen years of fasting as a Muslim, that Ramadan turned out to be one of my best yet. One of the hidden benefits of breastfeeding, when we allow ourselves to embrace it, is that it allows for plenty of quiet time. With my son nursing contentedly in my arms and the hum of silence around us, I felt in an infinitesimal way what Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, must have felt when he sought solitude in the cave. I was reminded of a fact I had never truly paid attention to: the Prophet had to be in solitude to receive revelation. Allah sent the angel Gabriel to Prophet Muhammad at a time when he could fully embrace the message. We often get caught up in the communal aspect of Ramadan—it’s certainly nice to break fast with friends and family—but the true spirit of Ramadan is seeking communion with our Creator.
While my son slept I read Quran, and since I wasn’t experiencing the fatigue that often comes with fasting, I was able to read more than usual. Knowing I had nowhere else to be and no other responsibilities until my son woke up to eat again, I was able to really digest the words and think about Allah’s message. And while my son nursed I thought about what I read and who I was and how I could be a better servant to my Lord. It is challenging sometimes to hear Allah with all the noise around us but in my own cave of solitude, my heart and soul were open and listening to the call of Allah.
Ambata Kazi-Nance is a freelance writer and full-time mother. She lives in her hometown of New Orleans with her husband and son. Ms. Kazi-Nance holds a Master’s degree in English from the University of New Orleans and is an aspiring fiction writer. She blogs occasionally at MORmama.wordpress.com.