Disclaimer: These are my personal thoughts and musings. The following should not be seen as any kind of religious ruling.
Don’t let anyone ever tell you that you are “unclean.”
So often when I’ve been invited to perform for Muslim audiences, I meet amazing young and SUPER accomplished Muslim women and they all have the same inferiority complex- more on this in a minute. Usually I prefer to spend the night at their homes rather than in hotels even though it’s not always the most convenient or luxurious accommodation but this is definitely my preference and I’ll tell you why….
We stay up late talking about issues only other Muslim women have dealt with or understand. It’s a rare opportunity for “real talk” where we can all be candid and open. Things often come out in these conversations…deep dark secrets, guilty pleasures, guilt in general and what have you.
One of the things that always comes up is the question of why girls cannot read/hold the Quran while bleeding. These girls often feel bad and are raised to believe that they are less than and are incapable of connection during their menses. Now I am not a scholar of any sort; nor am I divinely inspired by God and have visions or revelations so everything I say here is purely my opinion based on the saying of the prophet Muhamad, prayers and peace be upon him, “Seek the counsel of your heart, even if/when advised by people.”
I believe that women can and should hold and read Quran while bleeding.
I know what you’re thinking….”Where are you getting this from, Mona? You’ve studied Shafi’i fiqh. How can you go against something that is generally agreed upon by the 4 schools of thought?”
Let’s keep in mind that in the time of Prophet Muhamad, there was no written, compiled Quran. This notion is based on the idea that a woman is cannot be ritually cleansed while on her period and thus should not touch the Quran. It is based on the verse “None shall touch it but the purified ones.” 56:79
It is my understanding that this verse refers to the tablet(lawh) and the angels. This verse was assurance that Allah sent the words of the Quran with purified beings who had no will of their own and thus would not alter, affect or change the message. The “touch” mentioned is an altering and not a physical touch. This verse does not indicate that we must be in a state of ritual purity while “touching” the physical book. While it is recommended that one be in a state of wudu while reading, as this increases the reward, it is not haram to touch or read while not in this state.
Don’t be fooled, ladies; When you’re bleeding, you are in a constant state of prayer and thus are exempt from needing to enter into a physical state of prayer. Your heart is torn open by the One who made it and made you bleed during this time. Are you not more emotional when you bleed? Your emotions are deepened and your openings are heightened. Tears are closer to the surface during these days. Hearts are more tender. God has ennobled us with this time of deeper connection. Call it hormones or call it a spiritual experience, our periods are a way to connect with our Creator. God has gifted us in this spiritually open time, a week of each month where we are majthubīn, we are pulled to the One by a force or event that we do not have to choose to engage. It is simply the way we were created. Perfectly.
In my personal experience, some of my favorite and most cherished moments with my Creator happen while I am bleeding. This blood connects me to my mothers: Hawa, Maryam, Amina, Khadija, and Aisha, my ancestors and made it possible for my beloved RasulAllah to be born into this world.
It isn’t a hatred for men or any such thing that causes me to say that those who have interpreted much of Islam are generally men from patriarchal societies. This is a historical fact. Their readings and interpretations are often misogynistic and patriarchal. They are not infallible beings. While we respect their opinions and interpretations, we can also approach these matters from the feminine perspective with respect and true critical thinking.
Would Allah command a woman to cease interaction with the words sent down with the precise expectation that she would and should interact with them? Would Allah deny a woman a week of every month of her childbearing years in which she was not allowed to interact with the Divine word? Would Allah put a woman in the position of distance and separation when connection to Creator is the mission of our lives?
My heart has a “no” to these questions.
Our mother, Aisha (God be pleased with her) said, “The Messenger of God, prayers and peace be upon him 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.’
I don’t feel the need to go deeper into the matter than RasulAllah did in the above narration.
And Allah knows best.