I have heard it time and time again; many women feel that when that time of the month is upon them, they are ‘cut off’ from worship, or some women view it as a ‘vacation’ from religion. However, we must realize that we are NEVER ‘cut off’ nor on ‘vacation’ from worship. How could it be so, when worship is the very purpose for which we were created?
“I have created the jinn and humankind only for My worship.” (Quran 51:56)
It is true that it is haram (forbidden) for a menstruating woman to remain in the Masjid, to touch or recite Qur’an, to pray salat, or fast. This results in some women feeling that they are void of spiritual growth, benefit, and reward at the time of their menstrual cycle. For this reason, some women get very upset if their period begins in the last ten nights of Ramadan, and particularly feel ‘held back’ if their cycle is long. My dear sisters who experience these feelings, I urge you to consider the following:
Be pleased with Allah’s SWT Qadr
Is it all about praying and fasting, or about pleasing Allah SWT? Sometimes we can get so caught up in the rituals, that we forget the very goal of our worship – Allah SWT! And that Allah SWT has ordained haidh (menstruation) for women:
“Verily, this is something that Allah has written upon the daughters of Adam.” (Bukhari & Muslim)
Haidh is not a curse or punishment as in other religious traditions
On the contrary, in Islam menstruation is a sign of good health. The timing and length of haidh a women experiences are also a part of what Allah SWT has written for her. It is part of our rizq, so how can one complain when part of Iman is being pleased with the Qadr of Allah – the good and the seemingly bad.
Honoring Allah’s SWT limits on us = reward!
Sisters should be reminded that when refraining from the things that Allah SWT has prohibited while in haidh, is an act of worship in itself which is highly rewarded. It is, after all, an act of obedience to Allah SWT. Again, it is not the act of praying in itself that is good, but rather doing what pleases Allah. When Allah SWT says, “Pray!”, we pray, when Allah SWT says, “Don’t pray!”, We don’t pray. That is the essence of ubidiya (slavehood). Reflect on this and see how Merciful Allah SWT is in that time of the month when our energy is low, and our morale is weak. We will get rewarded like we would, if we prayed, but without having done anything, SubhanAllah!
Furthermore, by being held back from the Qur’an and prayer for a particular time, one finds through their longing for it, that they can return to those acts with even more fervor. This is according to some scholars such as Ibn Ata’illah. One of the wisdom’s of Allah SWT ‘blocking’ us from some acts of worship at certain times, as well as causing concern for us, works to enable us to ‘establish’ the prayer rather than simply ‘doing’ it.
Many ways of worship are still open
Allah in His vast and endless generosity has created so many ways for us to draw closer to Him. It is not limited to prayer, fasting, and reciting Qur’an. The time of a woman’s cycle grants her the opportunity to experience the unique blessings and effect on the heart that varying different types of devotional acts provide. To name a few, a menstruating woman can still perform unlimited:
1. Make Dhikr
Choose a secluded place if you are able. Sit facing the Qibla, keep the limbs still and the heart present, for the best remembrance is done with the heart and tongue together. There are many notable books of adhkar from the Prophetic Sunnah that one can use if they have yet to memorize it.
2. Say Du’a
At that time of the month, we often feel more emotional, sensitive, vulnerable and weak – this makes it one of the best times to make du’a! We often utter during our cycle that ‘we cannot pray,’ but this is far from the truth. For du’a is prayer and the beloved of Allah SWT stated,
“Dua is the essence of worship.” (Musnad Ahmed & Tirmidhi).
3. Perform Taubah/Istighfar
If the Prophet (saw) who was infallible and already promised Jannah, made ishighfar over seventy times a day, how many times should we do it? Use the extra time you have when not praying salat to make istighfar. One can say what the Prophet saw was narrated as saying over a hundred times at a time:
Rabbighfir li watuub alayya innaka antat tawwabur rahim
My Rabb! Forgive me and pardon me. Indeed, You are the Oft-Returning with compassion and Ever Merciful (Reported in Abu Dawud and At-Tirmidhi).
One can also say the repentance of Yunus (as) in the belly of the whale*:
لَّا إِلَهَ إِلَّا أَنتَ سُبْحَانَكَ إِنِّي كُنتُ مِنَ الظَّالِمِينَ
la ilaha illa anta subhanaka innee kuntu mina alththalimeena
There is no God but You, Transcendent are You, I have been one of the unjust. (21:87)
Examine yourself and your life, see where you are failing and repent. The scholars say it is the first step to drawing closer to Allah.
4. Study Books of Sacred Knowledge*
Books such as fiqh, spiritual rectification, tafsir, hadith, akhlaq, seerah, biographies of the Sahaba (RA), etc. Increasing in ilm is one of the greatest acts of worship that one can do. You will feel yourself drawing closer to Allah SWT as you learn about Him and His magnificent deen.
“Allah makes the way to Jannah easy for him who treads the path in search of knowledge.” (Muslim)
5. Read the Qur’an in English (or your native language)
At the time of day, you would usually recite the Qur’an in Arabic; you can still pick up the Qur’an in English during your haidh. Use this time to deepen your understanding of the message you are reciting in the rest of the month. As long as a book does not contain 50% or more of Qur’an, then it is not considered Qur’an regarding what is forbidden to carry or touch in the Sharia. Such a book can be carried and studied like any other book, but one should avoid touching any script of the Qur’an written within the book.
6. Listen to the Qur’an
There is a great benefit in listening to Qur’an. Availability of various websites and software enable one to hear the Qur’an, read the Arabic (without uttering it), and read the translation all at the same time, without even having to worry about touching or carrying the Qur’an.
7. Attend a Dars/Halaqa
Online or in a venue that’s not a Masjid. The fiqh of menstruation is imperative to know, and if you don’t know it, sign up for a class now. One could even schedule a monthly halaqa at one’s home that’s planned for when they know they’ll be menstruating. This way you can strengthen that spiritual connection by sitting with sisters of faith remembering Allah.
8. Isolate Yourself and Reflect
The best time for reflection is when one is least preoccupied with worldly affairs and least likely to be distracted or disturbed. One can reflect on the Afterlife and the imminence of death – imagining your burial, questioning of the grave, standing on youma Qiyama and receiving your book, as well as on Jannah and Jahannam. One can also reflect on your blessings, the attributes of Allah SWT, the marvels of creation, Allah’s complete awareness of you, seeing you, knowing all about you, and nearness to you.
9. Watch a Lecture
Often we need to put up our feet and relax when we are menstruating. Our bodies are fatigued and achy. So why not put your feet up, sip on a warm, soothing tea, and watch an inspirational lecture by your favorite scholar. Again, this when done for the Sake of Allah SWT, is an act of worship that will bring us closer to Him and His reward.
To conclude, we see that during a woman’s haidh, her devotional acts do not need to decrease in the slightest if she doesn’t want it to, this becomes apparent when we move the focus from what we can’t do, to what we can do InshAllah.
*One can still recite the verses of Qur’an for protection, dhikr or du’a, so long as they are recited with that intention only.