What can the menstruating woman do in Ramadan (apart from twiddling her thumbs, of course)?
That’s what happens to many a woman when that time of month strikes her at this time of month. They think that Ramadan is over and start to twiddle their thumbs.
Two sisters asked me what a menstruating woman could do during Ramadan so here goes:
1) Sisters, we should understand something. As I mentioned in one of my reminders, we were created to worship Allah.
If one assumes that one cannot do any ibaadah whilst menstruating, then this would mean that one cannot fulfill one’s purpose of creation at this time! Does that even make sense? Does it make sense that we were created to glorify and praise Allah, but that there would be certain days where we could not do this?
Of course not. So obviously, a menstruating woman can worship Allah but just not through praying and fasting.
The main problem is that many people do not understand the meaning of “ibaadah”. An ibaadah is anything that Allah loves and is pleased with. It includes internal actions (e.g. love, hope, fear) and external actions (e.g. praying, fasting, etc).
You have the ibaadaat (acts of worship) like praying, fasting, paying the zakaah, going for Hajj and Umrah, etc. These cannot be done for other than the sake of Allah.
You have other acts which are the aadaat (i.e. the daily life activities). These include things like being good to your family, being clean, feeding the poor, etc. You can do these just for the sake of doing them. However, if you do them intending to seek the Face of Allah by these acts, then they turn into ibaadat as well.
The early generations did a great job of turning their daily life habits into acts of worship.
And sadly, we have done an even better job of turning our acts of worship into daily life habits.
2) Women often ask: “What can a menstruating woman do during Ramadan?”
The question itself is misleading because it could lead one to think that there were very few things that a menstruating woman was allowed to do during Ramadan.
The question should actually be: “What can a menstruating woman NOT do during Ramadan?”
Why? Because the things that she cannot do are very few but the things that she can do are vast.
If someone states: “Such and such thing is haram for a menstruating woman to do”, then he/she needs to bring proof, because the general rule is that everything is halal for her except what is PROVEN to be haram.
The few things that she cannot do are of two types: 1) Acts of worship and 2) Some acts which fall under the fiqh of marriage and divorce. I’ll only discuss the first category here.
a) Fasting and prayer are prohibited for her by ijmaa (consensus of the scholars).
b) She cannot do tawaf of the Kabaah. However, she can do all the other acts of Hajj.
What about Umrah? She can assume ihram for Umrah but she needs to wait until she is clean before she does tawaf.
If she starts to menstruate after her tawaf, she can still do saee (as that can be done in this state).
[In Umrah, saee needs to be preceded by tawaf. However, the saee of Hajj can precede the tawaf of Hajj. If you need the proof, feel free to ask.]
c) Apparently, there is a consensus of the scholars that those in major impurity (like the menstruating woman) cannot touch the mushaf (the Quran) with their bare hands.
I say “apparently” because Imam Ibn Taimiyyah (rahimahullah) said that there was an ijmaa but Imam Ibn Rushd (rahimahullah) said that this was a majority opinion.
Either way, it’s best to be on the safe side and wear gloves if one wants to touch the mushaf while menstruating.
This prohibition applies to the Arabic text, not to the translation, the tafsir or books that contain supplications.
d) Can she read the Quran while in menses?
The scholars different over this as well. The majority said no, but a group of scholars said yes. They pointed out that there was no evidence for this prohibition.
I follow the latter opinion. After all, if the menstruating women were not allowed to read the Quran, then wouldn’t we have tons of narrations from the wives of the Prophet (salallahu alaihi wasallam)? They spent ages with the Quran so they would have told us if we were supposed to keep away from the Quran during this time.
However, this is still a matter of dispute as I said, so if you’re not sure, then don’t read the Quran.
However, you can still read the translation, listen to the recitation and read the tafsir. Don’t deprive yourself of that.
e) The scholars also differed over whether she could sit in the masjid (she can pass through it).
Some said yes. Others said no. Still others said no, but she could if there was a necessity (e.g. if she was attending classes).
3) So the above are the only things that she cannot do. She can do everything else.
So, if one is menstruating, then one should not think that she has a break from Ramadan! Rather she should increase in other aspects of her ibaadah like doing dua, reciting the adhkar, giving in charity, seeking forgiveness, doing dawah, keeping away from sins, keeping family ties, seeking knowledge, feeding the poor, displaying good manners, etc.
As a matter of fact, a menstruating woman should increase in these acts at this time. Why?
Well, now she no longer has to pray (so she has more time) and she is not fasting (so she has more energy)!
Also, if one is menstruating during the last ten nights, then she should not go to sleep just because she can’t pray. This is a grave error that many sisters make and it is only due to ignorance.
Why do we engage in so much prayer during the last ten nights? Because we want to catch the greatest night: Laylatul Qadr. So if we cannot pray, it does not not mean that we cannot do anything else.
In fact, even those who can pray, should not just stick to praying. They should increase in all types of good deeds on these nights (remember the nights are from Maghrib to Fajr).
So, what can you do on these nights if you’re not praying? Increase in dua and istighfar, read the Quran (if you believe that it is permissible to do so), etc.
There’s so much to do so let’s not twiddle our thumbs.
PS. Sorry, I didn’t have time to stick in all the proofs and references. If you want any, just let me know. I’ll add it in the comments section, insha-Allah.