Question # 321: Is it permissible for a woman to read and hold Quran during the state of menses (periods)?

Bismi-llahi r-raḥmani r-raḥīm,

Assalamu ‘laikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh,

All praise and thanks are due to Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم).

Dear questioner,

First of all, we implore Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) to help us serve His cause and render our work for His sake.

Shorter Answer: Although the scholars differ over the issue of woman reciting Qur’an during her menstrual cycle, the evidence of those who allow is stronger and more correct, especially if she fears forgetting of what she had memorized, or to study for a test, or to seek healing thereby. However, she is not allowed to touch the Qur’an because no one should touch it except one who is in a state of purity. Nevertheless, if she needs to read from the Mushaf, she may touch it with a barrier, such as a piece of clean cloth or a handkerchief or gloves and the like. Lastly, it is mandatory to be in the state of wudu’ (whether one is menstruating or otherwise) to touch the Mushaf. 

Long Answer: This is one of the issues on which the scholars, may Allah have mercy on them, differed. The majority of fuqaha’ say that it is haraam for a woman to recite Qur’an during her period, until she is taahir (pure) again. The only exceptions they make is in the case of dhikr (remembrance of Allah) and phrases that are not intended as tilaawah (recitation), such as saying “Bismillaahi’r-Rahmaani’r-Raheem” or “Innaa Lillaahi wa innaa ilayhi raaji’oon”, or other phrases from the Qur’an which are repeated as general du’aa’s.

They base their evidence for forbidding menstruating women to recite Qur’an on several things, including the following:

  • Menstruation is seen as coming under the rulings that apply to one who is junub (in a state of impurity following sexual intercourse), because both states require ghusl. This is based on the hadith narrated by ‘Ali ibn Abi Taalib (رضي الله عنه), according to which the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) used to teach the Qur’an and he never prevented anyone from learning it except those who were in a state of janaabah (impurity).” (Reported by Abu Dawood; al-Tirmidhi; an-Nisa’i,; Ibn Maajah; Ahmad; Ibn Khuzaymah. Al-Tirmidhi said: a saheeh hasan hadith. Al-Haafiz ibn Hajar said: the truth is that it is the type of hasan hadith that could be used as evidence).
  • The hadith of Ibn ‘Umar (رضي الله عنه), according to which the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “The menstruating woman and the one who is in a state of impurity (janaabah) should not recite anything of the Qur’an.” (Reported by al-Tirmidhi; Ibn Maajah; al-Daaraqutni; al-Bayhaqi. This is a da’eef hadith, because it was reported by Ismaa’eel ibn ‘Ayyaash from the Hijaazis, and his reports from them are da’eef as is well known to those who are conversant with the study of hadith. Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah said: it is a da’eef hadith by the unanimous agreement of the scholars of hadith. See Nasb al-Raayah; al-Talkhees al-Habeer).

Some scholars say that it is permitted for a menstruating woman to recite Qur’an. This is the opinion of Maalik, and one opinion narrated from Ahmad, which Ibn Taymiyah preferred and which al-Shawkani believed to be correct. The scholars based the following points on this opinion:

  • The principle is that things are allowed and permitted unless there is evidence to the contrary. There is no such evidence to say that a menstruating woman is not allowed to recite Qur’an. Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (may Allah have mercy on him) said: It is obvious that women used to menstruate at the time of the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) and he did not forbid them to recite Qur’an. He also did not forbid them to recite dhikr (remembrance of Allah) or du‘aa’ (supplication). In fact, he instructed the menstruating women to go out on the day of Eid and recite takbeer with the Muslims… There is no Sunnah at all forbidding (the menstruating woman) to recite Qur’an. Women used to menstruate at the time of the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم), and if reciting was haraam for them, as prayer is, then this would have been one of the things that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) forbade to his ummah, and the Mothers of the Believers would have known of it, and it would have been one of the things that they transmitted to the people. As no one transmitted any such prohibition from the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم), it is not permissible to make it haraam. It should also be noted that he did not forbid that, and as he did not forbid it, even though there were so many menstruating women at his time, it is known that it is not haraam. (Majmoo‘ al-Fataawa)
  • Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) commands (Muslims) to recite Qur’an. He praises the one who does so and promises him (or her) a great reward. No one is excluded from this except the one concerning whom there is solid evidence (daleel), and there is no such evidence in the case of menstruating women, as stated above.
  • The analogy between the menstruating woman and the one who is in a state of janaabah is made despite the fact that there are differences between them. The one who is in a state of janaabah has the option of removing the “barrier” by making ghusl, unlike the menstruating woman. A woman’s period usually lasts for some length of time, whereas the person who is in a state of janaabah is required to do ghusl when the time for prayer comes. Shaykh Ibn Baaz (may Allah have mercy on him) said: “It is permissible for the woman who is menstruating or bleeding following childbirth (nifaas) to recite Qur’an from memory, because these conditions last for a long time, and drawing an analogy between them and the case of one who is junub is incorrect. Based on that, there is nothing wrong with a female student reciting Qur’an, or a teacher doing so for an exam or otherwise if it is done from memory and not from the Mushaf. But if one of them needs to read from the Mushaf, there is nothing wrong with that on condition that it be done with a barrier. (Majmoo‘ Fataawa Ibn Baaz)
  • Preventing a menstruating woman from reciting Qur’an deprives her of the chance to earn reward, and it may make her forget something of the Qur’an, or she may need to recite it for the purposes of teaching or learning. The scholars of the Standing Committee for Issuing Fatwas said: It is permissible for the menstruating woman to recite from memory without touching the Mushaf directly, if she needs to recite Qur’an so that she will not forget it. (Fataawa al-Lajnah ad-Daa’imah)

From the above, it is clear that the evidence of those who allow a menstruating woman to recite Qur’an is stronger. If a woman wants to err on the side of caution, she can limit her recitation to the passages which she is afraid of forgetting.

It is very important to note that what we have been discussing here is restricted to what a menstruating woman recites from memory. When it comes to reading from the Mushaf (the Arabic text itself), a different rule applies. The correct view of the scholars is that it is forbidden to touch the mushaf when one is in any kind of state of impurity, because Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) says in the Qur’an: “… which none can touch except the purified.” (Soorah al-Waaqi’ah 56:79). In a letter to ‘Amr ibn Hazm, the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) told the people of Yemen: “No one should touch the Qur’an except one who is taahir (pure).” (Reported by Maalik; an-Nisa’i; Ibn Hibbaan; al-Bayhaqi. Al-Haafiz ibn Hajar said: A group of scholars classed this hadith as saheeh because it is so well known. Al-Shafi’i said: It is proven by them that it was a letter sent by the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم). Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr said: “This letter is famous among the scholars of seerah and is so well known among the scholars that it does not need an isnad. It is like tawaatur because the people accepted and recognized it. Shaykh al-Albani said that it is saheeh. Al-Talkhees al-Habeer. See also: Nasb al-Raayah; Irwaa’ al-Ghaleel) (Haashiyat Ibn ‘Aabideen; al-Majmoo’; Kashshaaf al-Qinaa’; al-Mughni; Nayl al-Awtaar; Majmoo’ al-Fataawaa; al-Sharh al-Mumti’ li’l-Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen)

Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allah have mercy on him) said: “It is permissible for the menstruating woman to read Qur’an from a tafseer (commentary) or otherwise if she is afraid of forgetting what she has memorized. If it is from a tafseer, then it is not stipulated that she should be in a state of purity, but if it is not from a tafseer, rather it is from the Mushaf, then it is essential for her to make a barrier between her and it, such as a handkerchief or gloves and the like, because it is not permissible for the menstruating woman or anyone who is not in a state of purity to touch the Mushaf. (Fataawa Noor ‘ala ad-Darb by Ibn ‘Uthaymeen)

[Lastly,] it is not permissible for anyone who does not have wudu’ (whether they are menstruating or otherwise) to touch the Mushaf according to the majority of scholars.

(The above reply is based on various answers provided by Islamqa.info on the topic)

Allahu A’lam (Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) knows best) and all Perfections belong to Allah, and all mistakes belong to me alone. May Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) forgive me, Ameen.

Wassalaam