I have been researching all over the internet about first, whether or not a woman may pray/fast while menstruating and have found many different answers. But, I want to know why prayers/fasts are considered to be invalidated?
Nowhere in the Qu’ran does it say a woman cannot pray/fast while menstruating let alone that their prayers/fasts are invalidated by such. Now there is a Hadith on the issue, roughly quoted as:
Isn’t it true that a woman can neither pray nor fast during her menses?’ The women replied in the affirmative. He said: ‘This is the deficiency in your religion.’
But how did they know they werent to fast during such a time? I understand the importance of Sunnah, but what right does (with all due respect) the Prophet (sws) and other Imams have, to say that one’s fasts/prayers are invalidated if it is not even mentioned by Allah in the Qu’ran while other things are mentioned specifically that invalidate prayers at least. e.g. no wudu, no full baths after orgasms etc ? And how can they know something that only Allah can know… whether or not a fast/prayer is invalidated? (something not mentioned in the Qu’ran!)
And maybe my interpretation is wrong of this hadith although i found this translation on the internet. But, the language is odd. There is the contrast of “a woman can neither pray nor fast” as if she is physically incapable. And then this is a “deficiency of religion.” Therefore, there seems to be an aspect of choice whereby she can make this deficiency disappear is she does pray and fast- so maybe your interpretation will make this make sense. Also, was the Prophet (sws) talking to a specific group of women, and secondly, if not, he seems to be generalizing upon the nature of women in a rather inequitable manner. Now religion is something spiritual is it not (especially praying and fasting)? But then men and women are supposedly spiritual equals? So how can one have a deficiency which is more or less imposed, while the other is free to pray and fast in the secure knowledge that they are not at all transgressing the rules of Allah?
I don’t understand this.
Thank You for your time and I hope your patience.
For my comments on the referred narrative ascribed to the Prophet (pbuh), please refer to one of my earlier responses to a related question, titled “Are Women Deficient in Intelligence and Religion?”
The fact that a woman does not pray or fast or perform the Tawaf of the Ka`bah etc., during her menstruation is clearly one of the Abrahamic traditions, which has become a part of the Islamic Shari`ah through the Sunnah of the Prophet (pbuh).
The fact that staying away from acts of worship and from sexual contact during menstruation is a part of the Abrahamic tradition is clearly substantiated by the fact that it was observed as a religious tradition not only among the religious pre-Islamic Arabs1 but is also a part of the Mosaic Law and the Jewish traditions.
Finally, even though the referred tradition has been transmitted through the Sunnah of the Prophet (pbuh), yet it is clear that this tradition is also corroborated by the Qur’an: The mere fact that the Qur’an has termed the time of menstruation as a ‘state of uncleanness’ and the discontinuation of menstruation as a ‘state of cleanness’2 for a woman, is indicative of the fact that during this period a woman should refrain from performing those acts of worship for which physical cleanness is required.
I hope this helps.
September 21, 2003