I understand and appreciate the explanation you gave me regarding prayers during a state of menses. However in the course of the answer I learned something else which I felt needed clarification.
You said that a woman in a state of menses cannot do Hajj or Umrah (as well as prayers).
Suppose a woman saves up money over many years so she can go and do Umrah. However on reaching Makkah, she starts her period. She can only stay in the country for a limited length of time. Suppose this length of time does not allow her to recover from her state of menses and she has to go back to her own country without doing Umrah.
Is it not unfair then that she was forced to abort the Umrah after have waited (possibly for years) to do it, while saving up her money over that length of time. Such a person will be really disappointed, and it seems just plain unfair to say she cannot do Umrah.
While one can say that Allah will, nevertheless, reward her for her efforts, it cannot be denied that the immediate spiritual gratification that she would have acquired with direct participation in the Umrah or Hajj would be lost to her. She would return home dejected and unhappy. I think it is difficult to expect any other reaction to such a situation.
While one may contend that a woman should carefully plan her Umrah so that there is no danger of her having menses at that time, the same cannot be said of Hajj, which occurs at a fixed time in the year.
Usually, Umrah and Hajj are planned by people these days for months or years. For a woman, all the planning would go to waste if she had the misfortune of entering her state of menses at the particular time she is performing Umrah or Hajj.
Another question regarding this topic: if a woman enters a state of menses in the midst of her Hajj (which lasts for days), what should she do? Keep in mind that the woman is usually with her family in a country that is foreign to her. In the midst of Hajj if she were to enter her state of menses, it would be difficult to do anything else but stay the family during the rest of the Hajj. In that event, she would be forced to continue doing Hajj.
And yet another situation may arise when a woman in a public setting may be embarrassed to tell others that she can’t offer her prayers because she is in a state of menses. In this case, can she still offer her prayers to escape embarrassment (and possibly to avoid giving people the impression that she doesn’t pray at all)?
My referred statement needs to be corrected, as during menstruation, a woman should not offer any acts of worship relating to the Ka`bah. These acts of worship include the Tawaf around the Ka`bah and the obligatory or any supererogatory prayers. Except the Tawaf, a woman may offer all parts of Hajj.
That being said, some of my doctor friends tell me that with the advancement of medicine, we can generally avoid the situation that you have presented in your question. There are certain hormone tablets that can be used to defer a woman’s menstruation. Nevertheless, it would be advised that the advice of a competent doctor be sought before resorting to any such medication.
However, even if the medication cannot be used, Umrah can still be completed by proper planning. Because the time of offering Umrah is flexible, its timing can be planned in such a way that it be completed without any inconvenience. Furthermore, in the case of Umrah, we can also enjoy the luxury of providing ourselves with the opportunity of a slightly prolonged potential stay, so that even if an unforeseen event occurs, we can still complete all parts of Umrah.
The situation with Hajj is obviously different from that of Umrah. In the case of Hajj, we do not have the luxury of selecting the timing. If a woman starts menstruating while performing Hajj, she should continue to perform all the parts of Hajj, excepting the Tawaf. Subsequently, at the discontinuation of her menstrual bleeding, she may perform the Tawaf. If, however, she is hindered by visa restrictions in delaying her return till after the discontinuation of menstrual bleeding, then she would obviously have to return without offering her Tawaf. In such a case, the woman’s Hajj would be considered as complete, given that she did not have the option to perform her Tawaf later. Nevertheless, I agree with you that in such a situation, the woman most certainly would miss the spiritual gratification entailed in performing the Tawaf.
I hope this helps.
January 25, 2003