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Does Islam Stop Menstruating Women from Going to the Masjid?
[See why Hadith is essential to Understanding the Qur'an.]

On April 13, 2003 Br. Kaukab Siddique was invited to speak to a study circle at Masjid Jamaat al-Muslimeen in Baltimore to address the above issue. He made the following points:

INTRODUCTION: Allah's last messenger, Muhammad, peace be on him, was sent to lead mankind from darkness into light at a time when human beings had corrupted religion itself. One of these corruptions was the idea spread by the Jews that women are to be shunned when they are menstruating as if they are an abomination. Verse 222 of Chapter 2 of the Qur'an was revealed to indicate that menstruation is merely a hurt and uncleanliness and that sexual intercourse is not permitted during this blood flow. These are the words of 2:222.

"They ask thee concerning menstruation. Say it is a hurt and uncleanliness. So stay from women during menstruation and do not approach them until they are clean. But when they have cleaned themselves, ye may approach them as ordained for you by Allah. For Allah loves those who turn to Him constantly and He loves those who keep themselves clean."

However, if the Qur'an is not interpreted by Hadith, "do not approach them" can have the metaphorical meaning of "do not have sexual intercourse with them" (which the original Arab audience understood) as well as the LITERAL meaning of staying away entirely in a physical sense.

The Jews, who were strong in Madina where this verse was revealed, believed LITERALLY in staying away from women during menses, be it in the home or places of worship.

The Hadith notes this Jewish attitude and relates it to the revelation of 2:222:

"Unas (Allah be pleased with him) narrates that when a woman from among the Jews menstruated, they would not eat with her, nor drink with her, nor allow her to remain at home with them. The messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) was asked about this; then Allah Almighty revealed the verse beginning: "They ask thee concerning menstruation...." The blessed messenger of Allah then commanded: Have your meals with them and drink with the menstruating women, and stay with them in your homes, and be normal with them in sexuality, except for actual intercourse. The Jews said angrily, 'This person will oppose us in everything we do....' (Tirmidhi's Sunan, Abwabu-tafseer al-Qur'an.)

However, the Jewish ideas of women being unclean in their entirety was so strong that even Muslim women themselves felt that perhaps it would not be fitting for them to go to places of worship. Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him) made sure that such thoughts were dispelled. He taught women that menstruation does not make the entire person of a woman unclean or unworthy of going into a mosque:

"Ayesha, Allah be pleased with her, narrates: The messenger of Allah, pbuh, said to me: Bring me the prayer mat which is in the mosque. I said: I am menstruating! He said: Your menstruation is not in your hand." [Hadith, Sahih Muslim, Kitab-ut-taharah, also in the collections of Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi, and Nasai.]

"Abu Huraira, Allah be pleased with him, narrates that the messenger of Allah (pbuh) was in the masjid. He called out. O' ‘Ayesha! Give me my outer garment. She replied: I am menstruating. He (the Prophet) said: your menstruation is not in your hand! She (‘Ayesha) gave him the garment. (Hadith, Sahih Muslim, kitab-ut-taharah)

He Prophet himself (pbuh) and the Qur'an are more sacred for Muslims than any mosque. For the Prophet (pbuh), ‘Ayesha (r.a.), symbol of womanhood, was part of this sacredness. [Read this carefully.]

" ‘Ayesha, may Allah be pleased with her, narrates that: The Prophet, pbuh, used to lie down with his head in my lap while I was menstruating, and then he used to recite the Qur'an." [Hadith, Sahih Bukhari, kitabul haid]

The decisive Hadith in this issue has been collected by Imam Bukhari. It's a long Hadith narrated by ‘Ayesha (r.a.) about a young African slave woman who had been freed and was mistreated by the tribe she lived with. She came to the Prophet (pbuh) to embrace Islam and he gave her a place of refuge to live in, IN THE MOSQUE. ‘Ayesha, r.a., specifically says: "She had a little corner or a little tent for herself in the mosque (fil masjid)." [Sahih Bukhari, kitabu-us-salat]

Note that the Prophet's (pbuh) commands about women's rights in the mosque are FLAT COMMANDS with no ifs and buts about menstruating women. No women are left out :

"Do not stop the maidservants of Allah from the mosques of Allah." ( Muwatta of Imam Malik and Sahih Muslim, kitabus Salat)

"Do not stop women from going to the mosque at night." [Collected by Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawud and Tirmidhi.]

The Prophet, pbuh, did NOT say, "except for the menstruating women."
The question arises, why do some Islamic scholars forbid women from going to the masjid while menstruating. Their views are based on two incorrect assumptions:
1. Some of them have interpreted 4:43 in the Qur'an, which forbids prayer in conditions of impurity, both for men who have had sexual emissions and for menstruating women, to mean that they should stay away from the mosque. The verse says: "La Taqrab-us salat..." ('do not go near prayer'). It does NOT say, do not go near or to the mosque. [Ali ibn Abi Talib, Allah be pleased with him, supports the viewpoint that 4:43 means prayer, not mosque.]
2. Other scholars base their view forbidding women on a weak Hadith which says: "Remove the doors of these homes from the direction of the mosque because I do not permit the menstruating one and the sexually unclean to come to the masjid." [Abu Dawud, kitabut taharah.] Ibn Hazm, greatest scholar of Muslim Spain, in his monumental work Al-Muhalla, points out that the narrator of this Hadith in the third generation, Aflat bin Khalifa, is unknown and unworthy of trust; hence this hadith cannot be accepted.

2003-04-26 Sat 07:27ct