Menstruation in Islam is a legal and not necessarily biological category. It comes with its dos and don’ts just like men’s ritual impurity.
Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters.
Welcome back to the Muslim Converts Channel! Islamic law is an all-encompassing way of life. It covers our relationship with God and our relationship with humans. It deals with public matters as well as the most intimate and private realm of our lives.
Perhaps one of the greatest shockers for recent converts to Islam are private issues revolving around hygiene and ritual purity. Without proper ritual purity, most ritual actions cannot be performed. These include, among other things, fasting and praying.
It is therefore important to consider the basic points of ritual purity in Islam. As we’ve covered some of this previously, we thought it important to give a special look at issues concerning women’s ritual purity in Islamic law. As this subject is very large, we’ve decided to stick to the most common issue that women have to deal with in Islam when it comes to ritual purity: and that is, menstruation.
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Menstruation, according to Islamic law, leads to ritual impurity. This means that one cannot pray, fast or touch the Arabic letters of the Qur’an. Women are not being singled out here, as men also become ritually impure through other means that are particular to them.
From a Sharia point of view, there are different types of blood. These include the loss of virginity, injuries to the vaginal area or post-natal bleeding. Menstruation in Islam has its own rulings which are different than other categories. Menstruation in Islam is known as hayd (pronounced hayz in Persian and Urdu).
The most popular opinion in Islamic law states that women are generally considered pubescent at the completion of the age of 9 in lunar years. Menstruation in Islamic law has three signs:
- warmth of the blood
- the blood is dark red or black in color
- there is pressure or slight burning in the discharge
If these three signs are found in a female at the age of 9 lunar years or more, then she will be considered to be in a state of hayd.
If a girl sees blood before the 9 lunar years, then that blood may not be considered menstruation from a legal point of view even if the three signs are there. Remember that menstruation in Islam is seen from a legal and not necessarily a biological perspective!
Similarly, from a legal perspective, menopause for women starts at the age of 50. If women are to see blood at this age, then again, from a legal perspective, it will not be considered hayd. If, however, a woman of the age of 50 sees the three signs, then as a matter of precaution, she should observe the rulings of hayd until the age of 60. So as you can see, menopause in Islam is also a legal category.
If she keeps seeing these signs at 60, then she does not need to observe the rulings of hayd anymore. This kind of bleeding is considered istihada, that is, irregular bleeding. In case of istihada, unlike hayd, a woman must still pray.
There are a list of things that are forbidden for women when they are menstruating. We already mentioned some, but here we will go into more detail.
- Sexual intercourse is forbidden when women are menstruating. The Qur’an says: “And they ask you about menstruation. Say, "It is a harm, so keep away from wives during menstruation. And do not approach them until they are pure. And when they have purified themselves, then come to them from where Allah has ordained for you. Indeed, Allah loves those who are constantly repentant and loves those who purify themselves." (Chapter 2, verse 222 of the Holy Qur’an)
Other forms of sexual activity that does not involve intercourse or playing with the body between the navel and the knees is fine.
Couples may resume intercourse after the menstruation ends. There is a difference in opinion among Muslim scholars whether ghusl is needed before intercourse can take place once the menstruation ends, so be sure to check with your Marja.
- Touching the script of the Qur’an as well as the names and attributes of God, the names of prophets, Imams and Fatima al-Zahra (as).
- Staying or entering a Mosque. You can pass by if you are menstruating, but you need to enter and exit. The exception here is the Kaaba or the Sacred Mosque of Mecca, the Mosque of the Prophet in Madina as well as the Shrines of the Imams. In these places a menstruating woman cannot even enter.
- A menstruating woman cannot fast during the month of Ramadan. However, once the month is over, she has to make up for them. Making up for missed ritual actions like fasting or prayer is called qada (qaza in Persian or Urdu).
- Similarly, a menstruating woman cannot pray either. Unlike fasting however, there is no qada for missed prayers. If a woman begins her menstruation while she is praying, then she should stop her prayer as it is no longer valid. Once her menstruation ends, a woman must perform ghusl in order to resume prayers again. Without the ghusl, even when the period is ended, a woman cannot pray. If she misses her prayers during this time, she must make up for them.
- Although it is permissible for women to recite the Qur’an, it is better that women disdain from it from a Sharia perspective.
- Menstruating women are not allowed to recite verses where prostration is obligatory, namely verse 15 of Chapter 32, 37 of Chapter 41, 62 of 53, and verse 19 of Chapter 96. In fact, it is best to avoid reciting these chapters altogether.
Before we leave, it’s important to make a point here. Some people view these rulings as misogynistic, meaning that they are hateful of women. They feel that these rulings treat them as impure or dirty beings. This is not true.
Remember that there is a difference between dirtiness and ritual impurity. Ritual impurity just means that you cannot perform a ritual act, that’s it. It doesn’t mean a person is bad or dirty. There are no verses or reliable hadiths that even remotely suggest this.
And remember that ritual impurity laws are not just exclusive to women. Men also have their own exclusive laws. If men release semen, then like women, they cannot fast, pray, touch the Qur’an or stay in a Mosque. Almost all the rulings of hayd apply to men in this case.
Until Next Time, Thank you for watching. As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh
Making up for missed prayers or fasting
Irregular bleeding, as in irregular bleeding during menopause
Isn’t it unfair that women are considered ritually impure when they are menstruating? What about the men?
Men also have biological events that make them ritually impure, such as ejaculation. The prohibitions that apply to menstruating women also apply to men who have ejaculated.
Can women pray or fast when they are menstruating?
What is the difference between hayd and istihada?
Istihada is irregular bleeding, such as bleeding during menopause whereas hay is menstrual bleeding.
If a girl gets her period before 9 lunar years, will this be considered hayd?
No, hayd is a legal category in Islam. Strictly speaking, biology for most jurists is not necessarily a determining factor.
What are the signs of menstruation or hayd in Islam?
They are three:
1) warmth of the blood
2) the blood is dark red or black in color
3) there is pressure or slight burning in the discharge
menstruation in Islam
menstruation in Islamic law
menopause in Islam