Bismi Llahir Rahmanir Rahim
by Naielah Ackbarali
The Prophet’s ﷺ character was an embodiment of mercy and love that he ﷺ consistently showed towards all believers – despite their age, race, or gender.
He ﷺ instructed the Companions (Allah be pleased with them) of how to interact with menstruating women, and he ﷺ also demonstrated the best of ways through his own noble behavior.
These are a few notable examples from the Prophet’s ﷺ life:
The Mother of the Believers Aisha (Allah be pleased with her) said, “We left with the Prophet ﷺ for the pilgrimage. When we were in Sarif (a place close to Makkah) I began to menstruate. The Prophet ﷺ approached me and I was crying. He said, ‘Did you get your period?’ I said, ‘Yes’ He said, ‘Verily this is a matter Allah has written upon the girls of Prophet Adam (Allah bless him). Do all the actions of the pilgrimage except the tawaf.’
From this narration, it is quite clear that Allah Most High did not will menstruation for specific females, but rather, He chose it to be for all women until the end of time. [Sharh ibn Batal] No healthy woman experiences life without menstrual blood. It’s normal and it’s natural.
The Prophet ﷺ also comforted Aisha (Allah be pleased with her) by telling her that it is a ‘matter’ Allah has written for women, which completely refutes the idea that menstruation is a curse, a punishment, or anything else demeaning. This is a clear distinction between Islam and other faiths.
Menstruating women have been honorably ascribed to the lineage of Prophet Adam (peace be upon him) – the first Prophet of mankind.
The conservative Jews at the time of the Prophet ﷺ would not go near their menstruating wives. They did not eat with them, drink with them, or remain in the same house as them during their periods. The Companions (Allah be pleased with them) asked the Prophet ﷺ about these mannerisms and how should they behave with their menstruating wives. The Prophet ﷺ said, “Do everything with her except for sexual intercourse.”
In another incident, the Companions (Allah be pleased with them) asked the Prophet ﷺ about what was permissible to do with a menstruating woman. He ﷺ responded, “For you is what is above the izar (lower garment).”
The Mother of the Believers, Maymuna (Allah be pleased with her) said that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ contacted and embraced his wives over the izar (lower garment) when they were menstruating.
These narrations demonstrate that a husband must still act favorably and loving towards his wife regardless of if she is menstruating. A man should not ignore his menstruating wife but continue to live with her as companions for the sake of Allah.
Additionally, the given responses indicate that it is permissible to touch her, and even to sexually stimulate her, as long as the husband does not directly touch the skin between her navel and knee. The Hanafis allow the husband to touch the area between her navel and her knee upon the condition that there is a barrier covering this specific place, like with the use of a sheet or trousers. As for sexual intercourse, it is forbidden during menstruation by scholarly consensus.
The Mother of the Believers, Aisha (Allah be pleased with her) said, “The Prophet ﷺ would recline on my lap while I was menstruating and he would read the Quran.”
She also said in another narration, “I would drink while menstruating, then pass the vessel to the Prophet ﷺ. He would place his mouth on the (same) place as my mouth and drink….”
The Prophet ﷺ continued to be intimately affectionate with his wives even while they were menstruating. He did not act repulsively towards them or turn away from being in their company. Rather, he ﷺ sought the comfort of their physical proximity by laying in their laps.
The second narration also proves that a menstruating woman is physically pure (tahira) and not filthy. When she drinks water, her saliva does not render the water or container impure. Menstruation is merely a non-tangible state of ritual impurity and nothing more. [Mulla Ali al-Qari, Mirqat al-Mafatih]
The Mother of the Believers Umm Salama (Allah be pleased with her) said, “I was lying down with the Prophet ﷺ under a black, wool cover (and) I started to menstruate. I left quietly to put on clothing worn for menstruation. He ﷺ said, ‘Did you get your period?’ I said, ‘Yes.’ He called to me to lie down again with him under the cover.”
This narration illustrates the permissibility of sleeping next to a menstruating woman in her clothing and lying with her under the same cover. [ibn Hajar, Fath al-Bari] Women wore different clothing during menstruation in order to avoid affecting their everyday garments with filth, which is similar to what women do in today’s times.
What’s interesting is that the Prophet ﷺ specifically requested for Umm Salama (Allah be pleased her) to return and lay by his side. This is another proof that a menstruating woman is not of a lower status in Islam. She remains under the protection and care of those who love her.
The Mother of the Believers, Aisha (Allah be pleased with her) said, “The Messenger of God ﷺ said to me, ‘Get me the prayer mat from the prayer area.’ I replied, ‘I am menstruating.’ He said, ‘Verily, your menstruation is not in your hand.’
In another narration she said, “I used to wash the head of the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) while I was in a state of menstruation.”
The meaning of the phrase ‘not in your hand’ in the first narration is that there was no filth present on her hand, like blood, that would defile the prayer area. [Nawawi, Sharh Muslim]
Both of these narrations indicate that a menstruating woman can still live her life and carry on with her regular worldly routine, even while in this state. Menstruation does not prevent her from being of service to others, like her family or community.
The Mother of the Believers Maymuna (Allah be pleased with her) related that she would be menstruating and not praying. She would lie next to the Prophet’s ﷺ prayer area while he would be praying on a prayer mat. She said, “When he prostrated, some of his clothing would touch me.”
One can only imagine how close Maymuna (Allah be pleased with her) must have been to the Prophet ﷺ in order for his clothes to touch her while in prayer! He ﷺ never shunned his menstruating wives away from him.
Thus, what we understand from the previously mentioned narrations is that menstruation is natural, healthy, and normal. It is a matter which Allah Most High has willed for women until the end of time. As such, a woman who experiences it should be treated with the same amount of honor, dignity, and love that she would receive if she was not in a state of menstruation.
May Allah make us of those who uphold the Prophetic character inshaAllah.
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