Can I recite/memorise the Qur’ān during my menstruation cycles?

If we can’t, what should we be doing instead?

Are there any tips?

These are common enquiries I’d had via email and social media about this topic. The latest message over Facebook prompted me to hear from others and write this post.

I asked our sisters on the #Hifdh community on what they do, for example. I also asked many sisters that have memorised across the globe. So the tips and suggestions you’ll read further in this post, are all based on those answers.

I hope it will be of benefit to you.

So let’s get into it.

The Legal Positions: Can I recite or memorise the Qur’an during menses?

First up, we need to first understand the variant positions on this issue. According to each position, you can establish a method on how to go about things.

So there are different conclusions drawn by our Fuqaha (sing. Faqih). Who are they? They are the inheritors of the Holy Prophet (ﷺ) who derived ‘understanding’ from the Qur’ān and Sunnah. These scholars drew out legal value, practical law, and jurisprudential principles from the Qur’ān and Sunnah. These are known as Hukm, Fiqh and Usul al-Fiqh.

Between the Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi’i and Hanbali Madha’hib (schools of Fiqh) there are different understandings. I am a Sunni (and Hanafi) which is why I am mentioning these. I am not aware of the positions within the Shi’a schools of thought.

Whilst you’ll find a dominant position of a Madh’hab itself, there are also opinions that might differ from that within the Madh’hab. I will try to mention both without going into details.

When looking at this topic, the discussion falls under the chapter of purification. Under the context of purification, using the Qur’ān and Sunnah the jurists explored:

  • The definition and position of menstruation;
  • The length of the period (bleeding);
  • The nature of the bleeding; and
  • the validity of any worship or acts during this time.

You will see the positions are not all that different in the conclusions. The following are answers I had after consultation with my teachers. These were answers that I provided others too. Allah forgive me for any errors.

The Hanafi Position

One cannot recite (and therefore memorise) and touch the Qur’ān [Mus’haf] whilst in menses. There are other opinions that one can recite from the Qur’ān with intentions other than “Qur’ān recitation”. For example, I am reciting Qur’anic du’ās, I am reciting a verse for the praise of Allah. Also that one may touch the Mus’haf as long as it is covered up (which is unlikely) — I’ve not seen a Mus’haf covered up page by page. In the case of a teacher or student, they may teach or study Tajwid or Qur’ān by breaking down the verses — such that it is not considered recitation of the Qur’ān. For example, “Alhamdu… [stop] lillahi… [stop] Rabbil… [stop] ‘Alameen [stop].” One is permitted to listen to the Qur’ān during the period (see further under things to note below). This position uses more than 13+ different evidences.

The Maliki Position

The widely accepted opinion is that one can recite the Qur’ān until bleeding stops during the period. Although, one cannot touch the Mus’haf during this period and she must take a Ghusl before reciting once the bleeding stops. A student or teacher of the Qur’ān can recite and touch the Mus’haf under the condition of learning/teaching.

The Shafi’i Position

Within the Madh’hab there are two opinions. The widely accepted one is that one cannot recite and touch the Qur’ān during menses if it means she will recite aloud and/or touch the Mus’haf. She is only allowed to recite the Qur’an in her heart, irrespective whether it is for memorising or not. This is the opinion of many Shafi’i scholars.

The Hanabli Position

The Hanabli also hold the position that is it prohibited to recite and touch.

Other Positions

There are those who differ with the Hanafi, Shafi’i and Hanbali conclusions stating that there position is weak of evidence. However, often this position is founded upon weak deduction. They maintain the position that there is no prohibition to recite and so you may carry on. This is the position of Imam Malik in stating that one can recite the Qur’ān but cannot touch the Mus’haf.

For more, there are many material available online that you can refer to like “Why Can’t A Menstruating Woman Touch the Qur’an? Islam’s Perspective on Menstruation”.

Allah knows best.

“Don’t worry” — things to note

  • When using Qur’ān apps, it is generally regarded to be something where one does not need to be in a state of wūdū’ for. Hence no ritual purity. This is because they are not considered to be the Mus’haf. Being digital, things can be wiped etc. Likewise translation only is not considered to be the Qur’ān. When using these apps or reciting the Qur’ān at normal times, it is best practice to be in a state of wūdū’ as a believer.
  • The fact that the majority of the opinions held by our Mujtahid Imams are in agreement (Ijma’a) that one cannot recite from the Qur’an and touch the Mus’haf, means something. In al-Tirmidhi, Ibn ‘Umar that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: “Allah will not cause my ummah — or the ummah of Muhammad (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) — to agree on misguidance.”
  • If you follow and have studied a particular Madh’hab then stick to the opinion of that Madh’hab. Do not pick and mix (Talfiq) because you feel one is correct and one is not. The four Sunni schools of Jurisprudence (Fiqh) are all a means of operationalising the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ). One should follow the School that they can most easily learn and apply in their lives.
  • All of this is a mercy and the Wisdom of Allah. In no way, shape or form should our sisters feel bad or feel as though they are looked upon as being ‘dirty’. You have a valid exemption from ritual worship during a time you may otherwise be feeling weaker. You may make supplication as normal but ritual worship would be a rukhsa.
  • When the scholars say one can listen to the Qur’ān, it is interesting. For us as Hifdh students and lovers of Qur’ān recitation, it would be tempting and impossible not to begin reciting whilst listening. I know this for sure! It would be a difficult task not to be tempted. Therefore, naturally whilst listening (especially to verses that you know) you will be inclined towards reciting. In this situation, recite in your heart not aloud.

Now let’s look at what you can do.

Tips and Suggestions For Memorising the Qur’an During Menses

Let’s see what our sisters had to say from our community. I was particularly intrigued to know what strategies and policies their schools adopted.

“I used to attend a madrassah and they would just make the girls wear gloves when using the Qur’an.”

“I follow the opinion of not touching-Not with anything one is wearing- nor reciting.. so we would basically listen to our current juz over and over.. However, one could eye-read if they wished but I have never seen anybody do so. We weren’t required to be in class on those days. However, I ‘ve observed that now it is a requirement to be present and learn Tajweed or Arabic during that time. I have also seen some teachers prefer that the students be present and test other students who are to recite from that Juz so that they would not be totally out of touch with it when they begin reciting again. At times the first day of reciting is tough because you have forgotten majority of what was memorised the previous week, especially if you memorise a large portion daily. The most difficult was if you were completing the Juz the next day and were to recite it in one sitting with less than 3 mistakes because by the time you got back to it.. It seemed to have disappeared!”

“[…] Stopping during menses would most likely hinder and prolong the entire Hifth journey. As far as I know, according to Imam Maalik it is completely permissible to recite Qur’an during menses, so I follow his opinion in this regard.”

“I follow Imam Malik’s opinion and I still recite during my periods. Why do I follow this opinion? This is the opinion of my Qur’an teacher.”

“For me I’m in no hurry to complete my memorisation, so I don’t mind if my natural cycles prevent me from maintaining the momentum. On the other hand, I welcome the break as it gives me the opportunity to revise translations and tafsir of what I’ve been memorising in the last month or am hoping to memorise in the coming month. With my students too I use the break to teach them theory or test them on theory taught previously via pop quizzes.”

“As a Hanafi, at one madresa I attended we still had to bring the Mushaf with and follow silently with a pencil. At another madresa we had to at least pray a quarter juzz breaking up.”

“There are differing opinions on the issue — some allow recitation and/or touching (without gloves) if they are full time students and/or teachers. For those who follow the opinion of ‘not touching’ — these could be used: https://www.amazon.com/Mini-Hand-Pointers-Set-3/dp/B001646V2A

So that’s what they said and some extra points here…

#1 — Sisters use a period calendar, incorporate your Hifdh into it

The average menstrual cycle is 28 days long. Cycles can range anywhere from 21 to 35 days in adults and from 21 to 45 days in young teens. Within this cycle you have the period (loss of blood) which lasts between 3–7 days or more than 8–10 for heavy periods. Between the ages of 12 and 52, a woman will have around 480 periods, or fewer if she has any pregnancies.

This means you’ll have between an average of 13 periods in a year. One may have between 12, 15 or more and health conditions can be a big factor.

So as normal, you would either have an app or a calendar to track all the dates when you are expected to be having your periods.

Let’s say you are memorising 5 days a week. In the UK, this year (2016) we have 253 working days, 105 weekend days and around 8 public holidays. Take out at least 120 days, you are left with around 133 days in the year.

If you memorise a page per day, you’ve done 133 in the year and you have at least four months to do other things including Arabic, Tafsir and listening. That would mean you’re doing Hifdh in around 4.5 years at most.

#2 — Use the time to review

This is through using apps, laptop or desktops (www.quranflash.com / Quran Academy spps) and listen to the Qur’an portions you’ve memorised. This is perhaps the big challenge when it comes to menses

#3 — Memorise a little more before the days appear in preparation

This may not be the best of tips but nonetheless something of a possibility. You can calculate how much you would normally memorise during the period. Cut it in half and memorise that amount before the period kicks in.

#4 — Make constant prayers for success and facilitation

Make continual prayer for your success and ease.

If you have anything to add, please feel free to leave a response or get in touch.

#5 — Study what you’ve memorised

If you don’t recite or memorise, focus on building more connection with what you’ve already memorised by studying the meanings and tafsir. This will give you time to build a relationship with the verses and further your memorisation. If you struggle due to pain and mood swings, it may be a challenge to focus but do it at times where you can.

#6 — Make wudu’ and make preparation as normal

To keep you in routine and flow, make wudu’ just like usual with the mindset that you’re about to recite and memorise as usual. This will help you keep clean to an extent but also keep you in a habit loop.

#7 — Memorise other things and strengthen your memory techniques

Explore your abilities and try memorise Arabic vocabulary to enhance your memorisation further. You can explore memory techniques and use them against numbers, words or languages. This will give you the ability to improve and when you do get back to memorise you can come back to it with a renewed energy.

#8 — Dealing with the motivational slump and picking things up again

Many of you will struggle with negative thoughts. I want to be a boy, I want to quit, I feel lazier, weaker, I am losing progress, and then I get PMS which makes it worse. So what’s the point? I keep having to go over this every month and it’s not fair. Things are taking longer because inconsistency and these struggles. You may struggle to read again because it feels like an obligation and you don’t want to do it. Mindset shifts can help. See tasks as opportunities because your life is one big opportunity. Instead of thinking, “I have to pray today”, try thinking, “I get to pray and experience Allah today!” Replace, “I have to” with “I get to have the privilege of.”

What you do during your menses will set the tone for everything else. Shift your mind towards Allah more. When you’re in a motivation slump during the second half of your monthly cycle, try a bunch of different ways to get yourself moving gradually towards starting again until you find the right motivator or combination of motivators that work for you. You must also look after your health as much as possible during your menses and after. Use the right products, get time outdoors, take your magnesium, iron and healthy fats. Journal things down. Speak to other sisters or those who have experience and get support to push you forward. Speak to other sisters like Maryam Amir or others that have memorised to see what they did.

Lastly, do not see your cycle as a punishment or a bad thing. It’s challenging and difficult, yes. Is it an opportunity? Yes. If you do your best to keep connected and keep positive, you will be rewarded much more.

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