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Can a Woman Recite the Qur'an During Menstruation?


I would like to know if a woman may recite the Qur'an  during her [menstrual] periods? I am in a state of confusion. People, especially my elders condemn females going near the Qur'an  or even verbally saying "Allah" during her [menstrual] periods.

Please explain regarding this matter.

Question from Pakistan

Although there are a few narratives ascribed to the Prophet  (pbuh) in which he is reported to have stopped women to read the Qur'an  during their menstruation, yet these narratives have not been transmitted to us through absolutely reliable chains of narrators. It is because of this reason that even the Muslim jurists who are of the opinion that in such a state, a woman cannot touch or read the Qur'an  have based their opinion on Al-Waaqi`ah 56: 79. The verse reads as follows:

"It [i.e. the Qur'an ] is not touched by any, except the absolutely cleansed."

Most of the Muslim jurists, because of the referred verse, are of the opinion that no one should touch or read the Qur'an  in a state of uncleanness (especially, before taking a bath after sexual intercourse or after the completion of the menstrual cycle of a woman).

A close look at the referred verse shows that the verse is actually not related to the question under consideration. The referred verse is a part of the response given to some of the rejecters of the Qur'an , who were trying to promote the idea that the Qur'an is not revealed by God, but is, on the contrary, taught by some eloquent Jinn. The referred verse refutes this contention and declares that the Qur'an  is not only revealed by God but on its way from God to the Prophet  (pbuh) it is not even touched by anyone who is less than "absolutely cleansed" - that is, the most trusted angel(s) of Allah.

If the verse is seen in its proper context, as has been clarified above, it shall become obvious that it is not related to whether or not a person should touch the Qur'an  after having sexual intercourse or during or after her menstrual cycle.

In view of the above explanation, I am of the opinion that neither the Qur'an  nor the Sunnah prohibits a woman from touching or reciting the Qur'an  during or after her menstruation, before taking a bath and cleaning herself.

As I have already stated above, the narrative ascribed to the Prophet  (pbuh) in this respect has not reached us through sources that are reliable enough for us to base our opinions on it.

Nevertheless, an individual may like to touch or read the Qur'an  only when he is in a state of cleanness or even ablution. However this act would actually depend on the reverence that one feels toward the Qur'an . Show of true reverence, as we all know is not a matter to be enforced. On the contrary, show of true reverence can only follow a conviction on a certain issue. For instance, a person who does not believe the Qur'an  to be divine cannot have any reverence for the Qur'an  in his heart. Only a person, who believes the Qur'an  to be divine and is convinced of the truthfulness and significance of its message, is likely to show reverence toward it. It was, therefore, only natural that the Shari`ah did not prohibit touching or reciting the Qur'an , irrespective of what the state of cleanness of the person may be. In other words, touching or reciting the Qur'an  only while in a state of cleanness is actually a show of reverence by the reader, which depends on the concept of the reader regarding the Qur'an . Such show of reverence is not a part of the allowances or prohibitions of the Shari`ah, but may be considered a part of the Muslim etiquette related to the Qur'an .

20th September 1999

Answer published by Moiz Amjad