Muslim Latinas Open Up About What It’s Like To Have Their Periods During Ramadan

This week, Latinas across the globe will finish a month-long fast that they’ve participated in observation of Ramadan. As one of the five Pillars of Islam, Ramadan occurs during the during the ninth month of the Muslim year and requires those who practice to fast 29 to 30 days sun up to sun down. The annual observance is meant to strengthen a follower’s relationship with God. By abstaining from consumption, including even water and gum, gossip and bad habits, practitioners are meant to focus on reading and reciting the Quran, and practicing doing good deeds and being charitable. Not everyone gets to take part, however. Children, the elderly, those who are traveling and women who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or on their periods are exempt.

three Latinas opened up about what Ramadan means to them and how they approach it as women.

Sandra Saenz, Dallas, Texas

Why is Ramadan important to you?

“Ramadan is important to me because it’s one of the most beautiful months of the year when you’re Muslim. It’s amazing that you get to connect on a deeper level with yourself and Allah, as well as with other Muslims in your community or worldwide through fasting.”

Why is it important for you to stop your fast during Ramadan if you have your period? 

“It’s important because as a woman, eating and staying hydrated prevents us from getting fatigued or low iron levels since blood loss can cause that to happen.”

Have you ever had your period during Ramadan and felt shamed because of it? 

“Oh yes, it’s pretty common to get your period while in Ramadan, but it’s not common to feel pressured or feel like I have to act or do certain things ‘like sitting in the back of the mosque’ because of it. [Most Muslims, from my experience know ] that a period is not something to be ashamed of, if Allah created women a specific way and periods make us who we are as women, then we better embrace that as a whole instead of stigmatizing what God assigned our bodies to do. Although I must say, I do feel like younger Muslimas might feel ashamed of it because it’s not typical when you’re young or just starting to get your period to share it loud and proud. When you’re young and you just got your period, you’re trying to figure [the whole thing] out. You’re trying to find the right size pad to not embarrass yourself publicly with a bad accident. So I can see how sitting in the back of the mosque, or not wanting to go at all is more of a “self-conscious” personal struggle [for some], rather than an actual issue.

Has there ever been a time where you were shamed for being on your period by male family members or romantic partners? 

No, actually nobody cared. I just think overall men find it awkward to talk about because they can’t relate to it, I’m sure they think it’s odd that [someone can] bleed for four to seven days and not die haha. But mainly I think it’s personal, as personal and odd as me talking about morning erections in regards to men in my family, I’m going to have to talk about this with my son at some point. But it’s nothing to be ashamed of because it’s just the body doing its thing. I’ve never been shamed either by my partner and I think it’s because he is a smart man who knows better than arguing with a hormonal Latina.”

Carmen Ludizaca, Jersey City, NJ

Why is Ramadan important to you?

“I wait for this time of the year all year long. [It’s important to me] because I take this time to mentally reflect and grow a better relationship with my creator, to thank him for all the blessings I get day after day.  I take this time to mentally prepare and reflect on what I can do better in my life. I actually do not listen to any music during this time also as it may interrupt my everyday meditation on building a better relationship with my Creator. I encourage my girls to give more to the community during this time, we participate in non-profit organization events. I cook a whole meal and feed homeless at the train and bus stations. I love cooking so that is not a problem.”

Why is it important for you to stop your fast during Ramadan if you have your period?

“This answer is simple. We are not supposed to fast while menstruating simply because we are losing blood and we need all the proteins and nutrients of foods and drinks.  We follow the example of one of the wives of Prophet Mohamed. Fasting is not supposed to be a burden on anyone.”

Have you ever had your period during Ramadan and felt pressured to either sit at the back of a mosque or not enter entirely?

“I have not felt pressured because [I’ve’ actually read about what we should do when it comes to our period. In Islam, there is nothing that in the Quran or Sunnah (the teachings of the last Messenger of God) [that says we should feel shame]. When it came to his first wife Khadija’s period, [she] entered the mosque but did not pray. So it is permissible to go in and listen to the lecture but not pray because you are menstruating. You can simply sit there and nobody will question because everyone knows this. If a woman comes to the masjid and doesn’t pray we would never ask why she’s not praying. We know, it would be because of [her] period. If she is not praying at all, it still does not matter or would not be questioned for being in the mosque. That is between her and God.”

Has there ever been a time where you were shamed for being on your period by male family members or romantic partners?

“Personally no. I have not been ashamed of having my period. I am a woman and my brothers never made me felt any type of way when we all lived in the house. It is all about educating and communication. As per my husband, we have the open communication. There is nothing we do not know about each other.”

Noelia Gomez-Aldoss

“It sounds crazy but as a new convert, I couldn’t wait to fast. I wanted to dig deep and really challenge myself. Siempre e sido un poco de loca pero no tanto! Mi mami was like ‘que? Ni si quiera Aqua?’ I think it’s important to always want to improve and ‘reboot’ oneself and during Ramadan, you get to do that. You self-reflect, reconnect with God and with your fellow brothers and sisters. Ósea, who doesn’t want to be their best version? We are always rushing to get newest versions of anything. Why wouldn’t we [want to] be the best version of ourselves? Ramadan gives me that. And you know what’s the most beautiful experience? You learn how to value some of the simplest things we take for granted: water and food, and of course, coffee! The first day post-Ramadan es la cosa más padrisima. You wake up looking forward to a simple cup of coffee.”

Why is it important for you to stop your fast during Ramadan if you have your period?

“Women don’t fast while on their period because Allah knows how challenging that would be. That’s why when people think that women are oppressed or treated differently in Islam they obviously do not know the true beauty of this religion. Women are treated special. Osea nunca en mi vida, have I been treated like such a princess by my husband. I mean you’re always going to have cultural influences and some dumb machista ruining it for everyone but don’t we have that in every culture and religion?”

During Ramadan have you ever been made to feel as if you were not a ‘”true Muslim” because you were first, a Latina and second a Latina not fasting because of her period? 

“I mean, do I sometimes get a double look? Yeah. Because I obviously bring a Spanish flare to everything I do. I do get that look where women are like “where is she from?”  I’m a proud Latina and I want ppl to know that yeah we are from the same religion pero soy Latina! But Islam has many shades and colors. So it’s never “one look.” But as far as being looked at because I’m on period and not fasting- no. And if they were to ask, I have no problem telling them [the reason]. I mean si son tan metiches to ask, then I’ll tell them politely. But usually people don’t notice since they’re so busy rushing to prayer.”

Read: 7 Muslim Instagram Reinas Whose Accounts Need To Be On Your Feed ASAP

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