Can women enter the mosques where Friday prayers are performed and that have pulpits when they are in menstruation?

Details of the Question

- What are the things that a woman who is in menstruation or in puerperium cannot do? Is a woman allowed to read the Quran when she is in menstruation?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

It is haram for the women who are in menstruation or in puerperium to enter mosques unless there is an obligation. 

The things that are forbidden for a woman in menstruation to do are as follows:

1. A woman who is in menstruation or in puerperium does not perform any prayers. 

It is forbidden (haram) for women to perform prayers when they are in the state of menstruation or puerperium. (1) They do not have to perform those prayers when they are clean. Allah Almighty removed such a responsibility due to His grace and generosity.

The religion of Islam is really a religion of ease. We see this principle of ease clearly in the decree related to the prayer responsibility of the women who are in menstruation or in puerperium. For, the state of menstruation is something troublesome that women suffer every month and that keep them busy for about a week. They miss many prayers during this period. 

It is known that a woman is busy with the cleanliness and care of the house along with serving her husband and children. It is clear that it will be very difficult for her to perform the prayers that she has to miss during her menstruation period afterwards as qada. 

The same thing is valid for the state of puerperium. It is obvious that it will be difficult for a woman who abandoned prayers for 20, 30 or even 40 days to perform those prayers later. Islam, which is a religion sent as mercy to the realms, does not hold women responsible for the prayers that they do not perform during the state of menstruation and puerperium.

It is haram for women who are in the state of menstruation and puerperium to perform prayers but it is permissible for them to glorify Allah, to mention His names and attributes and to pray to Him. It is even regarded mustahab for a  woman who is in the state of menstruation and puerperium to make wudu when it is time for prayer and to sit facing the qiblah for a period of time as long as a prayer takes and glorify Allah, say salawat and prayers if it possible and if she has enough time. Thus, she will not forget her Lord and will not miss the pleasure of worshipping; she will also show how enthusiastic she is about worshipping Allah if she could. It is understood from narrations that such a woman will receive the reward of the best prayer she has performed due to her good intention.

2. It is forbidden for women who are in the state of menstruation and puerperium to perform fasting just like prayers. However, unlike prayers, they have to perform fasting after they are cleaned because fasting is not performed during the whole year unlike prayers but only one month; therefore, a few days of fasting will not be very difficult for women to perform after they are cleaned. Thus, women are not asked to perform the prayers that they miss during the state of menstruation and puerperium but they are asked to perform fasting that they miss. Hz. Aisha states the following regarding the issue:

“When we were in the state of menstruation and puerperium, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) ordered us to perform fasting that we missed later. He did not order us to perform the prayers that we missed.” (2)

3. It is haram for a woman who is in the state of menstruation and puerperium to read the Quran. The Messenger of Allah stated the following regarding the issue:

"A woman who is in the state of menstruation and puerperium cannot read the Quran."(3)

It is permissible for women who are in the state of menstruation and puerperium to read various prayers like the qunut prayer, to glorify Allah and to say salawat for the Prophet. Women who are in the state of menstruation and puerperium cannot read the Quran but they can listen to it.

4. It is haram for women who are in the state of menstruation and puerperium to touch the Quran. Let alone the whole Quran, it is even haram to touch one verse or one word of a verse.

A woman who teaches the Quran must leave it to somebody else to teach the Quran if she starts to menstruate. If there is nobody else to do it, it becomes permissible for her to go on teaching the Quran according to Hanafi scholars Karhi and Tahawi. Imam Karhi says it is permissible for a woman teacher to continue teaching the Quran in the form of separate words when she is in menstruation and Tahawi says in the form of half verses.

5. It is haram for women in the state of menstruation and puerperium (or janabah) to enter mosques unless it is obligatory. For, the Prophet stated the following regarding the issue:

"I do not render it halal for a person who is in menstruation and who is in the state of janabah to enter the mosque."(4)

6. It is also haram for a woman who is in the state of menstruation and puerperium and for a woman or man who is junub to circumambulate the Kaaba, the qiblah of believers. (5)

7. It is haram for a woman who is in the state of menstruation and puerperium to have a sexual intercourse with her husband. Such an intercourse is regarded as one of the major sins. The following is stated in the Quran: “They ask thee concerning women's courses. Say: They are a hurt and a pollution.”

"…So keep away from women in their courses, and do not approach them until they are clean..." (al-Baqara, 2/222)

The following hadith reported by Anas explains the meaning of the order ‘do not approach women’ mentioned in the verse:

Jews did not eat or drink together with women when they were in menstruation. The Prophet stated the following regarding the issue:

– Do whatever you do with them except sexual intercourse.” (6)

It is not religiously and medically permissible to have sexual intercourse with a woman who is in the state of menstruation and puerperium. The woman is regarded as ill in those states. She needs elaborate care and cleaning then. She should avoid being tired and she should rest as much as possible.

Besides, the strong smell a menstruating woman emits can cause her husband to feel disgusted. Therefore, the sexual intercourse during this period can cause the husband to feel disgusted against her and can also cause some gynecological diseases.

For instance, one of the important causes of the uterine cancer seen frequently in women in Europe today has been determined as having sexual intercourse with their husbands when they are in menstruation. It is haram for a man to approach his wife when she is in menstruation; it is also haram for a woman to give consent to it. If a husband and wife have a sexual intercourse, both of them have to repent. In addition, it is necessary for them to give one or half a dinar of gold or the equivalent to the poor. [One dinar is a gold coin equal to one mithqal (4 gr.)]

It is not permissible to sleep in a separate bed away from the woman when she is in menstruation. Such an attitude exists in the belief of Jews. Jews did not sleep in the same bed as menstruating women and they did not even eat together with them. They even used different towels. Islam abolished this unjust custom, which disdained women; Islam does not even regard it makruh to sleep in the same bed as a menstruating woman, to eat the food that she has cooked and to use the same towel. Hz. Aisha stated the following:

When I was in menstruation, the Prophet put his blessed head on my lap and recited the Quran.” (7)

“When I was in menstruation, I combed the hair of the Messenger of Allah.” (8)

It is understood from those hadiths that women in menstruation are not najis (materially dirty). Those who are in puerperium are not najis, either. Those states are spiritual obstacles that prevent them from performing some religious duties.

Footnotes:

1. Hadiths related to the issue exist in Kutub as-Sitta. Naylul-Awtar, 1, 279-280.
2. See also Subul as-Salam, 1, 105 along with the narrations in the previous footnote.
3. Tirmidhi, Taharah, 98,111; Nasai, Taharah, 170; Ibn Majah, Taharah, 105; Darimi, Wudu' 103.
4. Abu Dawud narrated it.
5. Bukhari and Muslim narrated it from Hz. Aisha.
6. See Muslim, Hayd 16; Nasai, Taharah, 18.
7. Bukhari, Hayd, 2, 3; Nasai, Taharah, 173, 174.
8. Bukhari, Hayd 2; Muslim, Hayd 8; Nasai, Hayd 21.

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