Worship & Menstruation

February 1, 2015By

Young Woman PrayingThere are many faith traditions that have guidelines for what acts of worship are and are not permissible during a woman’s menstruation and postpartum bleeding period. For example, some traditions do not allow menstruating women to enter temples or mosques. Other faith traditions excuse menstruating women from certain acts of worship or from certain household duties such as preparing food.

It is important to note that while these guidelines exist for menstruating women, it is not because menstruating women are considered to be physically “dirty.” They simply are excused from certain acts of worship because of ritual impurity and to acknowledge the fact that menstruation can be a time of fatigue and discomfort. It is a gift from God and should not be seen as anything less.

In Islam, in particular, menstruating women are excused from performing the ritual prayer, reading the Holy Quran, and from fasting. This period of time begins when a woman or girl sees first indication of colored discharge during the beginning of her period and ends when bleeding has ceased and only clear or no discharge is present and the ritual bath, or ghusl, has been performed. Further, we mentioned in another post that the typical cycle for menstruation is 28 days. Some women and girls, however, may experience their periods more frequently. In order to be considered “ritually impure” and exempt from praying and fasting, there must be 15 days in between each period. Otherwise, the bleeding is not considered a period and you must continue with worship. We know! This sounds so confusing, but once you get to know your cycle it’s really easy! A great resource to consult is A Muslimah’s Guide to Coming of Age by Hedaya Hartford. This book is packed with information on puberty, menstruation, and the basic rules and guidelines for ritual purity and worship.

Many girls and women are often disappointed to be excused from worship that they may enjoy, especially during the month of Ramadan when everyone is busying with extra worship. That being said, there are plenty of other ways one can remain spiritual. Ideas include the following:

  • dhikr (remembrance) of God
  • reading the English translation of the Quran
  • Making supplication (prayer) to God
  • giving charity or volunteering for a noble cause
  • reading about the Prophet (peace be upon him) and his companions
  • listening to the recitation of the Quran

What are some other ways you can keep up with worship during the days you are menstruating?

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