I Think Allah Will Understand.

I found this article via Reddit. It’s a couple years old, but I think it’s pretty relevant considering both the fact that Ramadan started a couple of weeks ago and … well … it’s pretty damned important.

Pregnant women who fast for Ramadan risk damage to their babies, study finds

Pregnant Muslim women who fast during Ramadan are likely to have smaller babies who will be more prone to learning disabilities in adulthood, according to new research.  […] The trend was clearest if the fasting was done early in the women’s pregnancy, and during the summer months, when long hours of daylight called for them to go longer without food.

For a lot of people this just reinforces the obvious when considering tradition of either a religious or cultural sort:  they should give way to reality as necessary.  I understand the importance of keeping some traditions alive, if only to serve as a reminder of where you came from, the history of your people, or as a way to keep in mind the struggles of those who are forced to go without.

Is that woman over there eating a cheeseburger??  (from the Independent)

But when one of these requires that you not eat at all during the day for an entire month … and you happen to be pregnant, you might want to consider that some things are more important than tradition and just go eat whenever you’re hungry.  Especially when you consider the consequences to the child you’re going to bring into the world – in this case, a 20% higher adult disability rate.

Although pregnant women may request an exemption from fasting, they are expected to “make up” the fasting days missed during pregnancy after their baby is born.

… because nothing fortifies breast milk like not eating all day.  Though I have it on good authority that for all intents and purposes you don’t eat after you give birth anyway.  Nor do you shower, sleep, or use the can for longer than 20 seconds at a time.  So, who knows?  There might not be that much of a difference.

To be fair, it’s not like this everywhere.  Obviously, here in America, it’s up to the individual.  We know a Muslim couple, and the wife didn’t fast while she was pregnant or when she was getting her PhD.  “How can you study properly or nourish your unborn child when you’re not eating?” she’d say.  Good point.  Additionally, some imams in the Muslim community in Great Britain maintain that if fasting does harm to either the mother or the child, then it shouldn’t be done at all … especially during the summer months.

Still, in many other parts of the world, social and family pressure might be enough to drive them to do it anyway regardless of the consequences.  In those cases, it may be less about doing what’s right and more about doing what you’re told.

This entry was posted in Freedom from Religion, Religion and Public Life, Science Marches On and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to I Think Allah Will Understand.

  1. I read that article, and I agree it’s not healthy to fast all day long. You know the Catholic church used to have a lot more rules about fasting. It used to be that, for example, every Friday, not just during lent, you couldn’t eat meat. Doctrine changes as the people ignore the rules. Seems like Ramadan would be evolving, too.

  2. Your last sentence says it all. That’s the problem with lot of organized religion. You can find a little good in most religious texts. But people don’t follow the book, or what their prophets say. They follow what their human religious leaders say. Like you said “In those cases, it may be less about doing what’s right and more about doing what you’re told.”

    • This is one of the reasons why I don’t buy into the “is Islam a religion of peace” bit. If you look in any of our holy books, you’ll see countless instances of death, debauchery, war crimes, plagues, and other horrors. It’s a matter of what each society has decided to pick out of it all – to say nothing about how violently they wish to maintain power – and less about what specific religion they follow.

      By the way I have a dissection ready for you if you want a guest post.

  3. sm says:

    There’s a dissection of this scary study and other as an appendix on this site: http://ramadanfastingandpregnancy.wordpress.com/

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