Ramadhan, Women and Culinary Slavery
Yes, it’s the holy month of Ramadan and this topic isn’t about spirituality as expected. Thousands of Muslims already write and make videos about it so I’ll give it a pass. The bone in the neck is culinary slavery. Although lessened by lockdown as movements are restricted in this time of coronavirus, it’s still a virtual reality to Muslim women in their households.
A widely circulated tweet by those who consider themselves pious or sensible is this:
“May Allah bless our mothers, sisters and wives as they prepare our iftar food even though they’re also fasting.”
Now, there are problems with this seemingly harmless prayer. A woman I once shared space with lamented to me. she’s married with kids and during Ramadan, the husband has a habit of inviting about 8–10 of his colleagues whose family aren’t based in the same city. She starts meal preparation in the evening and extends to late at night. I could tell she dreads Ramadan; a month that should be that of joy and recourse, a chance to elevate oneself spiritually.
So I ask, Does men’s worship supersede that of women? And Is cooking a feast a substitute for prayers? How does a person who has spent a large part of their day doing chores have reserved energy for the actual purpose of Ramadhan?
A paraphrased saying by sheikh Usman dan Fodio goes as follows: “they’ll tell you to cook, clean and wash instead of enjoining you to seek religious knowledge.“
The average muslim woman has been brainwashed into thinking that cooking and house chores somehow supersedes worship, hence, they patronize women in the name of praying for them and appreciating them for their labour. A person who truly cares won’t sit or lie back, pick up his phone and log onto social media to gratify the unnecessary stress of the womenfolk in his family. He’d make things easier by being a part of the work or being less demanding.
It’s true that the society has relegated house chores to women. Generations of men have grown up with that expectation. But change is constant although it’s never easy. Parents, see to it that your son participates in the house chores as much as your daughters. Spouses, make things easier for each other.
This way, all Muslims will be able to enjoy and anticipate the holy month.
- Aisha Mustapha is a Medical Student who writes about women, culture and life. She loves books and meeting people and she is unapologetic about expressing herself.