The Salat and Fasting during Menstruation

It is a known fact that Muslim women are forbidden from observing the Salat and from fasting during the days of menstruation. It is the aim of this article to examine this ruling in the light of the Quran and determine whether this prohibition is authorised by God in the Quran or not.

The case of the Salat:

First, we must be aware that the Salat (prayer) is an act of worship. In all the Quran there are no words that forbid women from observing their Salat during menstruation. The only case where a person (male or female) is prohibited from observing the Salat is when he/she is intoxicated (
4:43):

[
4:43] O you who believe, do not come near the Salat while intoxicated, until you know what you are saying.

The reason why Salat is prohibited in this case is given in the same verse. It is because a person who is intoxicated/drunk would not know what he/she is saying, thus their Salat would be meaningless. However, as soon as the person is sober, he/she must resume observing the Salat.
Other than the case of intoxication, God allows no other reason for anyone, male or female, to miss the Salat. As a result, God commands us to observe the Salat even under unusual circumstances. We must observe the Salat while travelling/riding, or walking (2:239), also when we cannot find water for ablution (4:43), and even at times of war (4:101-102), but we should never stop worshipping our Maker.

The only Quranic prohibition related to menstruation has nothing to do with the Salat. The prohibition, which concerns married couples, is against having sexual intercourse during menstruation (2:222).

[2:222] They ask you about menstruation: say, "It contains harm, so refrain from the women during menstruation, and do not approach them until they are cleansed of it, and when they are cleansed of it, you can approach them as God has commanded you. God loves the repenters, and He loves those who are clean."

The extraordinary thing about this matter is that those who enforce un-Quranic restrictions on women, depriving them from the Salat during their menstruation, are the same people who circulate false hadith which imply that women are deficient in their religion because they do not observe the Salat at all times!
Well, if you allow them to follow God's law they would not be that deficient, would they?

In addition, those who deprive women from worshipping their Creator during parts of the month manipulate the words in 2:222 to claim that women are “unclean” during menstruation so should not worship God in an unclean state!
Needless to say, the un-cleanliness mentioned in 2:222 is related only to having sexual intercourse. It is not hygienic to have sexual intercourse during menstruation. There is no mention in 2:222 of the Salat nor is it implied.

In addition, those who prohibit what is not prohibited by God are in fact rejecting the Quranic truth that God is the only source of law (6:114). Genuine believers never prohibit anything that is not prohibited by God in the Quran. The following Quranic words confirm this issue:

[6:150] Say, "Bring your witnesses who would testify that God has prohibited this." If they testify, do not testify with them, and do not follow the desires of those who disbelieve in Our revelations, and those who disbelieve in the Hereafter, and they make equals with their Lord.

Also, the following verse confirms that we should never follow any rules/laws not decreed by God Himself:

[42:21] Or do they have 'shurakaa' (partners) who legislate for them religious laws which were not authorized by God? If it were not for a preordained decree, they would have been judged immediately. Indeed the transgressors shall have a painful punishment.

The only source for God's law is the Quran and nothing else:

[6:114] Shall I seek other than God as a 'hakaman' (source of law) when He has revealed to you this book fully detailed?

In their attempt to instate their false claim, they will also proclaim that the Prophet prohibited women from observing Salat during menstruation!
The Quran gives us confirmation that this could never have happened. These are lies against the Prophet.
The Prophet was commanded to deliver God's message then he was commanded to follow nothing other than the Quran which was being revealed to him:

[46:9] Say (O Muhammad), "I am not any different from other messengers. I have no idea what will happen to me or to you.
I only follow what is revealed to me (Quran). I am no more than a clear warner.

A final word must be mentioned about the claim that women should not observe their Salat during menstruation because they are unclean. For that matter, it must be said that the human being, male or female, is never clean in an absolute sense.

Example 1
:
Any man could have an infected part of his body. The infected part could be full of pus, with all the germs and microbes contained in the pus, yet we never hear of any man stopping his Salat during such unclean infections!

Example 2
:
An even more blunt but factual example, any human being’s bowels are full of faeces awaiting excretion. Faeces are not exactly clean substance! The human being carries this around with him daily but he never stops his Salat because his body is full of faeces!

The case of fasting
:

By the same token, we do not find in the Quran any words that forbid women from fasting during menstruation. God granted us the concession of delaying the fast for future days in only two situations:
1- During travelling
2- During illness

The concession is granted due to the hardship caused during travelling and during illness. Here we must bear in mind that travelling was much more arduous in the days of the revelation than what it is today.
The question here is: Is menstruation an illness? The answer is no.

Menstruation is no more than a bodily cycle not any different from other bodily functions such as perspiration, excretion or digestion. There is nothing sinister or shameful about bodily functions which are designed by God. There is no reason whatsoever that should stop any woman from worshipping her Creator just because her body is performing one of its functions.
If menstruation causes severe pain, as can happen on the first day of the cycle, it would indeed be permissible for the woman not to fast on such a day only. However, this would not be because she is ill, but because God does not wish to cause us hardship in practicing our religion:

[2:185] The month of Ramadan, in which the Quran was brought down, a guidance for the people and clarification of the guidance and the Criterion. Therefore, those of you who witness the month shall fast it, and those who are ill or travelling, then an equal number of other days. God wants ease for you, and He does not want hardship for you, and so that you may complete the count, and exalt God for guiding you so that you may be thankful.

To conclude, women must maintain their Salat and their fasting during menstruation except in the cases mentioned. Those who violate God's law and impose man made restrictions will indeed be held accountable on the Day of Judgement.