Saturday, June 25, 2016

Menstruating During Ramzan

All Muslim women go through the menstruation cycle during Ramzan. And we are exempt from fasting during those days. Some view it as a discrimination like similar practices in other religions. However, in Islam, it is a little different. It isn't exactly prohibition. It is an exemption and allows you to do many forms of worship.

While you're younger, you're embarrassed to discuss these things. But even Prophet Muhammad PBUH discussed these things clearly when women asked him. And hadiths are clear and detailed on lot of aspects pertaining to society and day to day life. So let's be practical. Considering my busy schedule and managing to fast in traveling, working in office and being part of the kitchen during weekends, these 4 days come as a break and rest during Ramzan. I feel weak during 'those' days and get painful cramps too. Women, though biologically little weaker (unless you work out and have strong bodies) end up actually using more stamina than men especially in Asian (including south Asian and middle eastern) cultures, while men enjoy more luxuries. Living and working in non-Muslim society, I usually do not eat or drink on the 4-5 days of my period also when I am in office or outside, as it's difficult to explain to others. I go to office with a heavy breakfast on such days. Not that I hide facts. If someone asks, I tell I am not fasting as unwell. There are only a few handful who know Islam and understand. Else people use the fact to make fun of Muslims, saying that they caught so and so eating during Ramzan, which means all Muslims eat on the sly.

I use these 4-5 days to do my Eid shopping, parlour/ salon work, Eid preparations. And yes, it's not that you cannot pray. Wudu (ablution) will not be valid so cannot offer namaz, but you can recite a number of duas, chants (there are so many forms of ibadat), hear recitation of Holy Quran (dvd or other media). And there is a ruling , which I would not recommend for common women. It's only for women who are very high on cleanliness in person and clothes and understand the depth of these things. And many muslima scholars who teach Quran follow it too. They do touch Quran and read it too, taking a lot of precautions. Though there are two views on this. 

In fact, some rulings say that as soon as your bleeding stops (though your menstrual cycle is not over), you can start fasting, but you cannot offer namaz / salat. What is the difference? There is a distinct way described in hadiths to consider your menstruation is over. Let's not discuss that in detail here.

And it's not that only menstruating women are exempt from fasting. Ill people (men and women), pregnant women, breastfeeding women also join the list. When women have fasted all days except 'those' days and still get all the blessings, it's a mercy from the Lord. Other people (including men and women) who cannot fast due to various medical reasons, can compensate for it by giving Fidya (donation), preferably food or food items. This is over and above Zakat. It is fixed based on local price of 1.5 kg of rice, wheat, barley or similar grain of the region. That multiplied by number of days you missed your fast. Preferably give foodgrain/s itself to the poor around you or known to you or give to orphanages or homes. Or feed the poor with equivalent money or give any other food item with that much money. 

Those who try to criticize that Islam is partial to men, they should remember that just like women are considered unhygienic during menstruation, men are as also considered unhygienic in a certain state. Hence, men have to do a greater abstinence during Ramzan as fasting is not only about not eating/drinking. It's a lot more. Impurity can invalidate your fast. Women are not advised to NOT wear make up during Ramzan, not because lipstick might go into your mouth or skin will absorb make-up. It has a greater philosophy behind it. Thanks. 

Photo by Ian Schneider (

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