Menstruation (hayd) is healthy and natural
Menstruation is indicative of a healthy woman. It is a completely natural process and is not considered as something dirty. However, it has the legal consequence of barring woman from performing the prescribed prayers as well as other types of worship while permitting her to partake in others.
The definition of hayd
Hayd linguistically means “to flow”. According to the shari’ah, hayd refers to the flow of blood from a given place at a known times. It is also defined as blood that comes from the uterus in a specific manner at specific times.
The period or length of hayd
According to Imam Ash-Shafi’i the least amount of hayd is 24 hours and the maximum is 15 days. The usual is between 6 and 7 days. This he (may Allah be pleased with him) deduced via interviewing woman and conducting a survey (istiqra).
If the cycle lasts for more than 7 days and less than 15 days then its hayd. If it carries on for more tha 15 days then this is considered abnormal bleeding (istihadah) and here a woman can clean herself, perform the wudhu or ghusl if need be and continue with the prescribed prayer and the likes.
Is hayd the same as major ritual impurity (janabah)?
The analogy between the menstruating woman and the one who is in a state of major ritual impurity (janabah) is made despite the fact that there are differences between them. The one who is in a state of janabah has the option of removing the “barrier” by performing a spiritual bath (ghusl), unlike the menstruating woman. A woman’s cycle usually lasts for some length of time, whereas the person who is in a state of janabah is required to do ghusl when the time for prayer comes and is thereby permitted to perform the prescribed prayers, read the Quran, fast and so forth.
The legal ruling regarding recitation of the Quran whilst experiencing hayd
The original principle or (asl) of things is that they are pure and permissable. This includes recitation of Quran, it is generally allowed. So a clear, sound evidence is needed in order to negate this aṣal.
According to the school of Imam Ash-Shafi’i a woman is not permitted to read the Quran with the intention of recitation (tilawah) while she is experiencing her hayd. She is however permitted to read portions of the Quran with the intention of remembrance of Allah (dhikr u-Allah) and supplication (du’a)
If for example someone dear to her passed away, she is then permitted to say:
“Verily from Allah do we come and unto Him do we return [Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un]”
or before she eats she says:
“In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful (Bismillahi Rahmani Rahim)”
or she says:
“O Allah! Grant us the best of the dunya and the best of the life to come (Rabbana atina fi d-dunya hasanah wa fi l-akhirati hasanah)”
These are portions from the Quran while the intention in uttering them are purely dhikr u-Allah and not tilawah.
Therefore according to the school of the Imam Ash-Shafi’i it is permissible for woman experiencing hayd to read portions of the Quran with the intention of dhikr i.e. remembering the Creator, Nourisher and Sustainer of the heavens and the earth or supplicating unto Him, for none are barred from remembering and calling upon Him (Most High).
Some scholars opined that it is permitted for a menstruating woman to recite the Quran if
- she is reciting from memory and
- not physically holding the Quran in her hands.
This is the opinion of Imam Malik, and one opinion as narrated by Imam Ahmad.
Their logic is as follows:
- The principle is that things are allowed and permitted (mubah) unless there is evidence to the contrary. There is no such evidence to say that a menstruating woman is not allowed to recite Quran from memory while not touching or holding it.
- There is no clear or sahih text indicating that a menstruating woman is forbidden to recite the Quran as stated above… It is known that women used to menstruate at the time of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him), and he did not forbid them from it, or from remembering Allah i.e. dhikr u-Allah nor from supplication (du’a).
- Allah, (Most High) commands us to recite Quran. He praises the one who does so, and promises the reciter a mighty reward. No one is excluded from this except the one concerning whom there is solid evidence (dalil), and there is no such evidence in the case of menstruating women, as stated above.
From the above points, it is clear that the permissibility of recitation while experiencing the menstrual cycle is restricted to recitation from memory. When it comes to reading and holding the actual Mus-haf i.e. the Quran then the correct view of the scholars is that it is not permissible to touch it when one is in any kind of state of impurity. The proof for this is indicated in a letter to ‘Amr ibn Hazm, in which the Prophet (peace be upon him) told the people of Yemen: “No one should touch the Quran except one who is pure (tahir).” (Reported by Imam Malik, 1/199; al-Nisaa’i, 8/57; Ibn Hibban)
The majority of Muslim scholars and jurists maintain the impermissibility for a woman in her menstrual period or to recite the Quran or to touch it. Others maintain that it is permissible for her to read from the Quran without touching it or to recall it in her head without uttering the words. There is no harm if she looks at the Quranic verses on the computer screen without uttering the words.
The Maliki scholars however, maintained the permissibility for a woman in her menstrual period to recite the Quran regardless of the reason of recitation (her fear of forgetting the Quran for example). And once the menstrual period ceases she is not permitted to recite the Quran until she takes a purificatory bath.
As for touching a copy of the Quran during the menstrual period, though the majority of the Muslim scholars disallow it, the Maliki scholars maintain its permissibility in case of a woman who learns or teaches the Quran.
Allah knows best