{We Listen and We Obey}

Question and answer details
As-salaamu `alaikum, Thank you for this lovely page. It has helped me a lot, as I am a new Muslim, al-hamdu-li-Allah. Now, one thing I do not like about Ramadan. Why can't I fast during my menstruation!!!! I was told because I am not pure!! And, therefore God will not accept my fasting!! This, really, was very offensive! That is why I never believed it... I know God... deep at my heart much better... my monthly menstruation is a biological clock... something completely out of my hands... how can it categorize me as being "unaccepted"?? They told me, “you will be tired”. Well, sometimes I am, but sometimes I am not... so why not fast when I feel ok!! Please clarify. This is my first Ramadan and I really want to fast the whole month!! I don't want to feel like an outsider while others are fasting. I need to understand the logic behind that. God forgive me!
Amani Aboul Fadl Farag
As-salaamu `alaikum my dear Aman,

I truly appreciate your "overflow" of love and enthusiasm towards Allah and Islam!

Here, I would like to clarify some wrong information that "you were told". This is that you don't pray and fast while menstruating because during this time you become impure! I tell you that no believer, whatever he might have done, turns to be of an impure body or soul. In fact, Allah has honored us, as He says in Surah 17, verse 70:

*{We have honored the sons of Adam; provided them with transport on land and sea; given them for sustenance things good and pure; and conferred on them special favors, above a great part of our creation.}*

Only one thing can turn a human soul impure, which is when one deliberately associates partners to Allah, as He says in Surah 9, verse 28:

*{O ye who believe! Truly the pagans are impure; so let them not, after this year of theirs, approach the Sacred Mosque. And if ye fear poverty, soon will Allah enrich you, if He wills, out of His bounty, for Allah is All-Knowing, All-Wise.}*

As for this natural biological phenomenon, together with other natural phenomena, such as post- childbirth bleeding, wet dreams and marital sexual intercourse, all these are conditions of physical impurity that prohibits Muslims to observe either fasting or praying, till they purify themselves by means of ghusl or washing. These items belong to a category that scholars define as major impurities. Again there is another category that they define as minor impurities. An example for that is when one urinates, still it is an impurity that prohibits one from praying till one makes ablution.

What has actually caused you this confusion is the understanding of the concept of impurity. While menstruating, it is the blood, not you, that becomes impure. Maybe you were influenced by this non-Islamic idea, that when a woman menstruates she becomes impure and should not even sit beside her husband, at the same table, to eat!

According to Islam, a believer is always spiritually pure. Also, why would Allah scorn us for a natural thing that He created in us? And if so, then accordingly birth giving and legal sexual pleasures are going to be scornful acts as they lead one to be impure!

It is only the urine, the blood… etc., that are impure, not us! So when we have them attached to our bodies we have to keep away from the things that Allah ordered us to keep away from - such as praying and fasting - till we clean up these impurities. It is like when you don't eat till you wash the dirt on your hands, this does not mean any humiliation - that you have turned into “dirt” yourself!

Each religion, Aman, has its own rituals and rulings. In some cases Allah has let us know about the wisdom behind these rulings, but in other cases He keeps the wisdom for Himself. For example, why is it the urine that nullifies ablution and not nasal secretions that come out after sneezing? Nobody knows, and why is food inside our stomach and intestines pure, while it is impure once it gets out of the body?

You have to differentiate between two things when you hear a religious ruling that may sound illogical to you:

If this ruling is not confirmed in either Qur'an,
sunnah or ijtihad of recognized scholars. The other case is if it is confirmed, but still not convincing or acceptable to your mind.

For the first case, it is absolutely your right not to carry out an order, till you find a clear proof for it in the Qur'an,
sunnah or ijtihad. But if it is the second case, then we should never describe it as "offensive" or illogical. This is because sometimes the wisdom behind a certain ruling is not clear to our “limited” human minds - till later times, like the case of most prohibited foods and drinks. But in other cases - as I stated before - the wisdom behind a certain ruling, like this of the impurity of the menstrual blood, but not any other blood that may come out of a regular injury, is kept in Allah's own ultimate knowledge. Here, we have to submit ourselves to His decrees, without any kind of objection. And, this is one of the meanings of the word Islam, which is "the full and peaceful submission to Allah's orders" - as long as they are mentioned in Qur'an and sunnah.

This does not mean that Muslims are brainwashed or prohibited to think, but - on the contrary - they have a vast space, where they are ordered to use their minds and logic to think and contemplate. Still, there are specific points or issues that Allah decreed in His book and are considered as matters of submission. Here, we have to say, as He has taught us: "We listen and we obey." That is even if we are not fully convinced. Being not fully convinced does not mean a defect in the divine rule, but rather incapability of our limited human mind to grasp the wisdom!

Allah says in Surah 33, verse 36:

*{It is not fitting for a believer, man or woman, when a matter has been decided by Allah and His messenger to have any option about their decision: if any one disobeys Allah and His messenger, he is indeed on a clearly wrong path.}*

Showing true love for God, Aman, is not by worshipping Him in a way that He has not prescribed, but rather by giving His words credit - that even if I don't understand their wisdom, I do believe deep in my heart that they must be perfect… This is just because they are from Allah, the All-Wise and the All-Knowing.

As for this ruling that a woman in menstruation should not fast or pray, it is established in all schools of Islamic jurisprudence. It is based on the following

Mu'adhah said:

"I asked `Aishah, 'Why must we make up the fasts missed due to our menstruation, and not prayers?'
Aisha said, 'That was what the messenger of Allah told us to do. We were ordered to make up the fasts, and we were ordered not to make up the prayers.'" (Narrated by the Group.)

I recommend that you read a simple, but comprehensive reference book of Islamic law, which is
Fiqh As-Sunnah by Sayid Sabiq. Besides, if you have any detailed juristic inquiries, you are most welcome to address it to our our Fatwa Section.

You might also find interest in the following:

More about Women in Islam

More about Ramadan

Thank you.