Reciting Quran during menstruation.

Q. A salafi girl said that you can recite Quran Shareef during menstruation while looking into it and not by memory. I know that this is haraam for hanafis. What is the stand of the four imams on this, and how do I prove to her that she is wrong?

A. Reciting Quran while looking into it is also deemed to be ‘reciting Quran’, even if it is not from memory. This act of reciting Quran during one’s menses is not allowed according to the majority of scholars, the verdicts are as follows: –

  • Imam Abu Hanifa has considered it to be unlawful (Hidaya; Fathul Qadeer vol.1 pg. 148).
  • Imam Shafi has considered it to be haram and unlawful. This is also the opinion of the great scholars from the Sahabahs and Tabieen like Umar (RA), Ali (RA), Jabir (RA), Hasan Basri, Qatada, Ata, Abul Aaliya, An Nakhi, Saeed bin Jubair, Zuhri, Ishaq and Abu Thaur. (Al Majmoo Sharhul Muhazab vol. 3 pg.282).

With respect to the opinion of Imam Ahmad, Imam Tirmizi has recorded him from among those who state that a woman in menses should not recite the Holy Quran, (Tirmizi Chap. ‘What is mentioned about a woman in menses and on in Janabah (major ritual impurity) should not recite the Quran)’.

Imam An Nawawi has also stated that one of the opinions of Imam Ahmad and Imam Malik is that it is unlawful(haram) for a woman in menses to recite Quran. (Al Majmoo Sharhul Muhazab vol. 3 pg.282).

In Al Mughni, Ibn Qudama has mentioned that the established Mazhab of Imam Ahmad is that a woman in her menses is prohibited from reciting Al Quran. (Al Mughni vol.1 pg144).

There is an established opinion of Imam Malik which states that he is of the opinion that a woman in menses can recite the Quran. His evidence for this is that ‘the days of her menses may be long, and prohibiting her from reciting the Quran may cause her to forget it. She is also excused and may have the need to recite the Quran but is incapable of acquiring purity (due to her state)’.

From this explaination, we see that from among the four great Imams of Fiqh, only Imam Malik has given an allowance for the menstruating woman to recite Quran. All the others have ruled that she is prohibited from doing so. The evidence for these scholars is a tradition of the Prophet (SAS) which has been recorded by Imam Trimizi, from the tradition of Abdullah bin Umar (RA). This tradition states that Ibn Umar said, ‘the Prophet (SAS) said a woman in menses and a person in Janabah must not read anything from the Quran’. (Tirmizi, Abu Dawood, Ibn Majah).

Having recorded this tradition, Imam Tirmizi said, ‘This is the statement of most of the scholars from the companions of the Prophet (SAS), the Tabi’een and those after them like Sufyan Thauri, Abdullah bin Mubarak, Imam Shafi, Imam Ahmad, Ishaq’. (Tirmizi Chap. ‘A woman in menses and person in Janabah (major impurity) must not read the Quran).

Although some scholars have considered the above tradition to be weak on account of one of its narrators Isma’eel bin Ayaash, those who have mentioned prohibition have referred to the tradition in which it is clearly evident that a person who is in the state of Janabah (major ritual impurity ) must not read the Quran. In this regard, the tradition of Ali (RA) has been quoted, which states that Ali (R.A.) said ‘The Messenger of Allah (SAS) would recite Quran to us in all states except when he was in Janabah (major ritual impurity being in the state of sexual pollution) (Imam Tirmizi recorded this and then said, ‘This hadith is good and sound  Chapter-A man can recite Quran in all states except in the state of Janabah. Ibn Hibban has also considered it to be Saheeh (sound)). Hakim has also considered it Saheeh (sound). Abu Dawood, Nasai and Ibn Majah have also recorded it (Tuhfatul Ahwazi vol.1 pg.476)

While commenting on the above hadith, Ibn Qudama states, ‘When this (the prohibition to recite Quran  ) is given for one who is in the state of Janabah (ritual impurity after sexual relations) then to a greater extent, it will be given for a woman who is in her menses, since her state of impurity is graver and more major than one who is in the state of sexual pollution. It is on account of the serious/grave nature of her state (menses), sexual relations is totally haram, fasting is prohibited and Salaah has been excused.( Al Mughni vol.1 pg.144).

With respect to the opinion that states that she is allowed to recite Quran since the long duration of menses can cause her to forget the Quran, Imam Nawawi has refuted this and has said, ‘As for the fear of forgetting the Quran, this is rare, since the duration of menses is approximately six or seven days, and a woman does not normally forget in this time.  ( Al Majmoo Sharhul Muhazzab vol. 3 pg.283 ).

The summary of this discussion is that the majority of scholars from the Sahabahs and those afterwards, have all stated that a woman in her menses must not recite the Holy Quran. Some scholars have differentiated between ‘a woman in menses’ and ‘one who is in the state of Janabah’. However, the majority of scholars have considered the both to be on the same level of impurity, and reciting the Holy Quran will be prohibited for both. Ibn Qudama has made this very clear in his book ‘Al Mughni’ (vol. 1 pg.144)

Imam Nawawi has also clearly stated that ‘the Jumhoor (majority of scholars) have taken their evidence from the riwayah (tradition) of Abdullah bin Umar (RA). Even if this is accepted to be weak, one must draw analogy upon the person in the state of Janabah’. ( Al Majmoo Sharah Al Muhazzab vol.3 pg.283).

Some scholars have also spoken about the tradition of ‘the prohibition for a person in Janabah to recite Al Quran’. Regarding the different statement of scholars regarding the status of this tradition, the author of Tuhfatul Ahwazi (Commentary of Jami At Tirmizi) states, ‘there are a few traditions which speak about the prohibition of reciting Quran by one in the state of Janabah. In all of them, there may be contention, however, they become strong when they are attached to each other (that is, when some are supported by others). All together, they become sound (and authentic), so that evidence/proof be taken from them’. (Tuhfatul Ahwazi vol.1 pg.428)

So, like other individual Mas’alas, it seems (from narrations) that a few scholars in the past have adopted the opinion that a menstruating woman can recite the Quran. However, as recorded by Imam Tirmizi, ‘Most of the scholars from the Sahabahs, Tabi’ee, and those after them have clearly stated that a woman in menses must not recite the Quran’ (Tirmizi) Imam An Nawawi has also stated that ‘the majority (Jumhoor) of the scholars have adopted this verdict. (Al Majmoo)

And Allah knows best.

Mufti Waseem Khan