Why should I be made to feel guilty for eating during Ramadan?
I sit in my car and shiftily look around my surroundings before reaching over to the passenger seat and grabbing an M&S cheese sandwich. I take small, quick bites in between glances around the area before finally finishing my meal with a glug of mineral water. We're already halfway through Ramadan and I'm eating food in the middle of the day.
Now, before you start exclaiming astagfirullah and throwing Zam Zam water over me, let me explain. I belong to a group of people who are exempt from fasting. This group includes pregnant, postpartum and menstruating women, the sick and mentally ill.
However, even though I'm exempt and well within my rights to eat, I still feel an overwhelming rush of guilt every time I eat or drink something during this holy month.
This 'guilt' is not a new feeling. Every year when it was 'that time of the month' I would resist eating unless I was really hungry, worried that I'd lose the momentum or that I was taking it easy while those around me fasted and suffered.
I'd overcompensate by doing more chores and cooking because I was less weak than a fasting person. Of course my reasoning was ridiculous.
Every female reading this will know that being on your period is not a 'break' at all. It can make you feel weak, tired, vulnerable, emotional and, at worst, sick.
In Islam women are exempt from fasting during this time in order to preserve and maintain their health.
By hardly eating and doing more work than usual I was making a mockery out of the whole thing. (alaraby.co.uk)