By Abu Amina Elias for FaithinAllah.org
Is a woman on her menses allowed to attend the mosque or recite the Quran?
In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
It is permissible for a menstruating woman to attend the mosque when there is a need for it as long as she contains her menses. Furthermore, it is permissible for her to recite the Quran from memory especially if she fears she may forget what she has memorized.
The majority of scholars ruled that a woman should not attend the mosque while she is on her menses. The basis for this ruling is the following authentic narration:
Aisha reported: I arrived in Mecca while I was menstruating and I did not circle the House, nor did I run between mount Safa and Marwa. I complained about it to the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, and he said:
افْعَلِي كَمَا يَفْعَلُ الْحَاجُّ غَيْرَ أَنْ لَا تَطُوفِي بِالْبَيْتِ حَتَّى تَطْهُرِي
Do as the other pilgrims are doing, but do not circle the House until you are purified.
Source: Sahih Bukhari 1567, Grade: Muttafaqun Alayhi
The Prophet allowed women to complete the Hajj pilgrimage while they are menstruating but they should not perform circumambulation around the Ka’bah (tawaf). From this narration, scholars inferred that a woman should not approach the mosque while menstruating.
However, there are other authentic narrations which indicate that a woman may attend the mosque if there is a need for it.
Aisha reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said to me, “Bring me a mat from the mosque.” I said, “Indeed, I am menstruating.” The Prophet said:
إِنَّ حَيْضَتَكِ لَيْسَتْ فِي يَدِكِ
Indeed, your menses are not in your hand.
Source: Sahih Muslim 298, Grade: Sahih
In this narration, the Prophet gave Aisha permission to enter the mosque although she was menstruating because there was a need for her. Likewise, a woman on her menses may enter the mosque for a need, such as teaching or attending classes or fulfilling some duties. However, she should contain her menses such that nothing impure from her touches the mosque or the Quran or causes offense to others.
In addition, a woman is allowed to recite the Quran from memory even though she is menstruating. This was the opinion of Al-Bukhari, Ibrahim An-Nakha’I, and others. The majority of scholars prohibited a woman from reciting the Quran but several others allowed a concession in this matter, especially if she fears she will forget what she has memorized.
وَقَالَ إِبْرَاهِيمُ لَا بَأْسَ أَنْ تَقْرَأَ الْآيَةَ وَلَمْ يَرَ ابْنُ عَبَّاسٍ بِالْقِرَاءَةِ لِلْجُنُبِ بَأْسًا وَكَانَ النَّبِيُّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ يَذْكُرُ اللَّهَ عَلَى كُلِّ أَحْيَانِهِ
Ibrahim An-Nakha’i said there is no harm if a woman recites a verse from the Quran while menstruating. Ibn Abbas did not see any harm in reciting the Quran for one with major impurity. The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, would remember Allah at all times.
Source: Sahih Bukhari 299
Ibn Taymiyyah said:
وَقِيلَ لَا يَجُوزُ لِلْجُنُبِ وَيَجُوزُ لِلْحَائِضِ إمَّا مُطْلَقًا أَوْ إذَا خَافَتْ النِّسْيَانَ وَهُوَ مَذْهَبُ مَالِكٍ وَقَوْلٌ فِي مَذْهَبِ أَحْمَد وَغَيْرِهِ فَإِنَّ قِرَاءَةَ الْحَائِضِ الْقُرْآنَ لَمْ يَثْبُتْ عَنْ النَّبِيِّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ فِيهِ شَيْءٌ غَيْرَ الْحَدِيثِ الْمَرْوِيِّ عَنْ إسْمَاعِيلَ بْنِ عَيَّاشٍ عَنْ مُوسَى بْنِ عُقْبَةَ عَنْ نَافِعٍ عَنْ ابْنِ عُمَرَ لَا تَقْرَأْ الْحَائِضُ وَلَا الْجُنُبُ مِنْ الْقُرْآنِ شَيْئًا رَوَاهُ أَبُو داود وَغَيْرُهُ وَهُوَ حَدِيثٌ ضَعِيفٌ بِاتِّفَاقِ أَهْلِ الْمَعْرِفَةِ بِالْحَدِيثِ … وَمَعْلُومٌ أَنَّ النِّسَاءَ كُنَّ يَحِضْنَ عَلَى عَهْدِ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ وَلَمْ يَكُنْ يَنْهَاهُنَّ عَنْ قِرَاءَةِ الْقُرْآنِ كَمَا لَمْ يَكُنْ يَنْهَاهُنَّ عَنْ الذِّكْرِ وَالدُّعَاءِ بَلْ أَمَرَ الْحُيَّضَ أَنْ يَخْرُجْنَ يَوْمَ الْعِيدِ فَيُكَبِّرُونَ بِتَكْبِيرِ الْمُسْلِمِينَ وَأَمَرَ الْحَائِضَ أَنْ تَقْضِيَ الْمَنَاسِكَ كُلَّهَا إلَّا الطَّوَافَ بِالْبَيْتِ
It is said it is not permissible to recite the Quran for one with major impurity but it is permissible for the menstruating woman, either with unrestricted permission or if she fears she will forget it. This is the way of Malik and it is the opinion in the school of Ahmad and others. Indeed, the issue of recitation for a menstruating woman has not been established in any way from the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon, except for the narration of Ibn Umar which states: There is no recitation of anything from the Quran for a menstruating woman or one with major impurity. This was narrated by Abu Dawud and others and it is a weak narration according to the scholars of prophetic traditions… It is known that women were menstruating in the time of the Messenger of Allah and he did not prohibit them from reciting the Quran just as he did not prohibit them from remembering Allah or supplicating. Rather, he commanded the menstruating women to go out on the day of Eid to exalt Allah alongside the Muslims and he commanded them to perform all the rites of the pilgrimage except for circling the House.
Source: Majmu’ Al-Fatawa 460
Therefore, there is no harm for a woman to recite the Quran while menstruating, although she should avoid touching the Quran or getting anything impure on it.
Success comes from Allah, and Allah knows best.