Turn Off That Stove Sisters!!!

11 09 2007


Turn off that stove! An 8 Step Ramadan Plan for Sisters

Sister SoundVision Staff Writer

If you’re in charge of cooking in your household, and it’s usually women around the world who are, then you can feel like most of your Ramadan is spent over a hot stove instead of on a prayer mat.

I was once complaining to a friend of mine about how so many Muslim women seem to miss the blessings of Ramadan because of the overemphasis on great food at Iftar time. While I attributed this to a lack of consideration for the needs of women, my friend shared an interesting story.

She was originally from Egypt, and she recounted how her mother and the women in her neighborhood actually competed with each other in Ramadan over food. In other words, they vied for the title of “maker of the best Ka’k (cookies) this side of Alexandria.” And this was despite the fact that male family members and even the Imam were encouraging women to share in the blessings of the month through prayer and mosque participation.

This Ramadan, let’s remove our inner and outer obstacles to spiritual success.

At the inner level, let’s start by ditching any feelings of guilt, competition or jealousy we may have for other sisters. You know who I’m talking about: the ones who can whip up a five-course Iftar plus dinner faster than you can say “what should I make for supper tonight?”The ones who can hold a full-time job, ferry their kids to extra-curricular activities and still hold grand Iftar parties at their homes.

Now we’re ready to do something about the biggest outer obstacle to spiritual success every Ramadan: our families. We love them and yes, their demands for food high in fat, salt and sugar can be indulged once in a while in Ramadan. But doing this every Iftar seems to defeat the purpose of fasting in the first place. Remember, it’s about self-control, even after we’re allowed to eat.

Here is an eight-step plan to help you gain more time in Ramadan for spiritual success:

  1. Call a family meeting-today. We’ve got barely a week until Ramadan begins. Choose a day and time when everyone can be present.
  2. Serve a sample Iftar menu at the meeting (I’ll explain why in point 3)
  3. Start off the meeting with the food. Then once everyone is comfortable, explain very kindly that you will only be making this food five times this Ramadan: once a week and once when guests are invited over.
  4. When the news has sunk in, explain further to your family that you would like Ramadan to be a time for becoming closer to Allah. You cannot do this if you have to spend most of your time cooking and cleaning up after everyone. Be firm but polite.
  5. Discuss the Ramadan meal plan. Ask everyone to share what kind of dishes they would like to eat that are healthy.
  6. Once all the ideas are in, establish a cooking and cleaning schedule so that everyone pitches in. Explain that while you will still be doing the main cooking, other family members will have to help either with pre-Iftar arrangements (setting table, calling everyone, etc.) or post-Iftar ones (washing dishes/loading dishwasher, wiping counters, sweeping, etc.). A sample form you can use is here.
  7. Enforce the schedule by rewarding children. For younger kids, a chore chart with a sticker for each day of help offered could work, as well as a small toy or gift at the end of every successful two-week period. For older kids, you could promise to spend a whole day with them doing something they enjoy after Ramadan or extend a privilege they have (e.g. access to the car if they drive).
  8. For husbands, express your appreciation verbally by saying thank you and explaining how the extra help is a real spiritual boost.

If this plan is successfully implemented, you can extend it to the rest of the year, thereby gaining more time to focus on your spiritual needs. But even if you get more time on your prayer mat than over your stove just one month out of the year, the one where our good deeds count for more, it’ll be worth the effort.

So go ahead. Turn off that stove and call that meeting!

© Sound Vision Foundation  website http://www.SoundVision.com




4 responses

11 09 2007

It is good point really. Not just in Ramadan, almost for other days, some women spend too much abnormal time for cooking.. It is not good.. Islam wants us to be moderate..

11 09 2007
UmAbdurrahman, "Blanca"

Mash’Allah, I am so glad that writers take the time to relate stories that are relevant to women and focus on consideration for their hard work.
Yes, I have seen the labor that goes to creating spreads at the table which leaves me wondering HOW could she have the time. Mash’ALlah, may the individuals who are so devoted to food preparations be rewarded immensely.
I agree with all the points above and Insh’Allah me we all find the true benefits of Ramadan, spiritually, emotionally and mentally.
I am glad to see children and husbands included in the post. Men can contribute as simple as setting the table and it is all about sharing roles I think.

Jazak Allahu Khair for posting this sis
Great entry


11 09 2007

Assalamu’alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

Interesting article… I agree that we women spent a lot of time in front of the stove during Ramadan. But all is not loss, I mean, we can do both. Do cooking for our family as well as gain blessings from Allah.

How?…Well, there’s a hadith that said, a woman who cooks for her family because of Allah, the benefits that she gains is as much as that of those who prays to Allah. Sorry I can’t quote the actual hadith, I only remember the meaning of it.

So in the scenario, we, women, can still do cooking but place our intention to do so because of Allah for giving and placing food on the table for our family to eat, is a good deed because the food that they eat will help to aid in giving them energy thus abling them to do prayers and good deeds.

Another point to note is that, whatever we are doing, be it cooking or ironing etc., as we do these jobs we can do zikirullah, thus we gain double the rewards…maybe even more so esp. during the month of Ramadan. 🙂

So not to worry whether we spent too much time over the stove, it is more of how we use during that time to gain Allah’s blessing and rewards. Truly the intention of the deeds is more important.

Sorry to be writing so long about this… 🙂

Jazakillah sister for such a good post …


11 09 2007
Umm Yusuf

Assalaamu Alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu,

I agree Adik. If the woman is remembering Allah (dhikr, dua, etc) while cooking it is excellent. Because cooking for the family is also sadaqah. However, what I see so much in Ramadan is cooking with the intention of showing off (riyaa). Everyone competes to see who can have the most fancy iftar and at the evening parties usually people gossip and backbite so much. Also, I have known sisters who get up at fajr and literally cook all day until time to break the fast. It’s so much stress for these sisters and truly cooking a simple meal would be just as well.

May Allah help us all to get the most blessings this Ramadan. ameen.

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