How can we answer those who say it is not written in the Quran that women who are in menstruation and puerperium cannot perform fasting and prayers?

The Details of the Question

- Every year in Ramadan, some scholars say that it is permissible to perform fasting for women who are in menstruation. People trust them. They say, "It is not written in the Quran that women who are in menstruation and puerperium cannot perform fasting and prayers." They also say, "We have no right to deprive women of worshipping."
- How can this problem be solved?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

Fiqh scholars agree unanimously that it is not permissible and appropriate for a woman who is in menstruation to perform prayers and fasting; that is, menstruation is an excuse that prevents performing them. It is also agreed unanimously that it is not necessary to perform the prayers that are missed during the menstruation period after menstruation ends and that fasting that is skipped during the menstruation period has to be performed as qada afterwards. Scholars base their views on the practices that occurred based on the knowledge and approval of the Prophet (pbuh). One of them is as follows:

Hz. Prophet (pbuh) said to Fatima bint Abi Hubaysh,

"When you start to menstruate, give up praying; when menstruation ends, clean the blood, make ghusl and perform prayers."

Hz. Aisha states the following:

“When we were in menstruation period at the time of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh), we were ordered to perform the prayers we missed as qada but we were not ordered to perform fasting as qada." (Bukhari, Hayd, 20; Abu Dawud Taharah,104; Tirmidhi, Savm, 67; Nasai, Hayd,17; Siyam, 64)

If Muslim women become junub due to wet dream and sexual intercourse, it does not prevent them from fasting (starting fasting in that state); they perform prayers after making ghusl.

Women who are in menstruation and puerperium cannot perform prayers and fasting. They are not held responsible for the prayers they skip during those periods. However, they perform fasting that they skip during those periods afterwards as qada.  

Being in puerperium and menstruation resembles an illness in a way and women who are in those periods are different from normal their normal states materially and spiritually; therefore, it is forbidden for them to perform prayers and fasting; they are demanded to perform fasting, but not prayers, afterwards. There are sound hadiths and consensus (unanimous agreement of scholars and madhhabs) based on those sound hadiths that prayers and fasting cannot be performed in those periods and that only fasting, not prayers, has to be performed afterwards as qada.

To oppose that unanimously agreed decree by saying "It is not written in the Quran that women who are in menstruation and puerperium cannot perform fasting and prayers" and to agitate by saying "We have no right to deprive women of worshipping" is an approach that does not exist in the Islamic sciences. According to those sciences, the source of Islamic decrees is not the Quran only; Sunnah, ijtihad and ijma (consensus) are also the sources of Islamic decrees.

The understanding and approach that regards the only source of Islam as the Quran is an understanding that is "outside the reliable and sound Islam"; if it is permissible to call it a madhhab, it is a madhhab "outside Ahl as-Sunnah"; it does not bind Sunni Muslims.  

Nobody has the right "to deprive women and men from worshipping"; no Muslim can intend and do something like that. The decree that women cannot perform prayers in menstruation is divine; it is a decree, command and directive that Allah gave people through His Messenger, that is, through the Sunnah. Women are regarded to worship Allah when they obey that order.

Besides, the deeds of worship do not consist of prayer and fasting only. Women who are in menstruation and puerperium can sit by turning toward the Kaaba at times of prayer and at other times, meditate on Allah, mention Him (make dhikr) and pray to Allah. The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) wanted the women in menstruation to come to the prayer place for eid prayers but to sit behind the rows without joining the eid prayer and to join takbirs, supplications and dhikrs in order to benefit from the blessing of the day. 

There is no consensus (unanimous agreement of mujtahids) regarding whether women who are in menstruation and puerperium can enter mosques, circumambulate the Kaaba, hold the Quran and/or read it; women follow the madhhab they belong to and the scholars from whom they take fatwa regarding those issues.

Unlike, Judaism, women are not regarded as filth in Islam when they are in menstruation and puerperium; their relatives do not keep away from them; on the contrary, they approach women with more compassion and care thinking that they are uncomfortable and sensitive. Their husbands share the same bed with them and love and caress them but do not have sexual intercourse with them (it is haram).    

Muslim women have acted in accordance with those limitations mentioned above in menstruation and puerperium for centuries and they do not complain about it.  

New mujtahids (!) should deal with millions of Muslim women who do not perform prayers and fasting though they do not have any excuses, should teach them Islamic life and worshipping and should try to make them approach the shape, spirit, meaning and purpose of Islam if their intention is sincere before encouraging the women in menstruation and puerperium to perform prayers and fasting.

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