TOUCHING THE QUR’AN
by Ibrahim B. Syed, Ph. D.
Islamic Research Foundation International, Inc.
7102 W. Shefford Lane
Louisville, KY 40242-6462, U.S.A.
Recitation of the Quran During Menses and Post Natal Bleeding
First of all, the Shariah deals with the sexually defiled men/women and menstruating women in very different matters and ways. There are lots of differences between them:
- The sexually defiled man/woman can at any time he/she wishes to remove that state. He/she can make ghusl and if there is no water then they can perform tayammum.
- A menstruating woman can not do such a thing, she is in that state for as long as Allah (SWT) wills, until her period comes to an end.
Recitation of the Quran by menstruating and post-partum bleeding women has been made permissible by the Malikis, Shafis, Hanbalis, Abu Hanifa, and a number of other scholars. Their proof being:
- Hadith of Bukhari and Muslim concerning the Eid prayer.
Narrated Umm ‘Atiya (RA):
- “I heard Allah’s Messenger (SAW) saying that the unmarried virgins and the mature girls and the menstruating women should come out and participate in the good deeds as well as invocations of faithful believers but the menstruating women should keep away from the Musallah – praying place [Salat (prayers)]. Someone asked (Umm ‘Atiya)(surprisingly), “Do you say the menstruating women?” She replied, “Doesn’t a menstruating woman attend ‘Arafat (Hajj) and such and such (other deeds)?”
- Takbeer is a type of remembrance of Allah (SWT) and supplication is not any different from dhikr.
Hadith of Bukhari regarding Aisha (RA) when she got her menses on the way to Mecca.
Narrated ‘Aisha (RA):
- “We set out with the sole intention of performing Hajj and when we reached Sarif, (11 km. from Makka, I got my menses. Allah’s Messenger (SAW) came to me while I was weeping. He said “What is the matter with you? Have you got your menses? I replied, “Yes.” He said, “This is a thing Allah (SWT) has ordained for the daughters of Adam. So do what all the pilgrims do with the exception of Tawaf (Circumambulation) round the Kaaba.” ‘Aisha (RA), added, “Allah’s Messenger (SAW) sacrificed cows on behalf of his wives.”
Pilgrims make dhikr and read Quran. There was no objection from the Prophet (SAW) and he (SAW) actually “told” Aisha (RA) to do so.
Another reason being a hardship. A woman might forget what she memorized.
So therefore if there is no text forbidding such an act, one cannot conclude that the act is not allowable. The burden of proof is on those who claim that such women cannot recite the Quran, and they offer no clear or direct proof.
There is no harm whatsoever in a menstruating woman or post-partum bleeding woman reciting the Quran from their memory without actually touching the Quran.
Touching the Quran During the Menstruation and Post-Partum Bleeding
The most often quoted evidence, is an Ayat from the Quran:
- “…. None can touch but those who are pure…” (Al-Waqi’a 56:79)
A common mistake is people taking verses and applying it to a particular Fiqh (point). Yet when you study the verse in more detail you will find, in fact, it is not related to the point whatsoever.
- “That (this) is indeed an honourable recital (the Noble Quran). In a Book well-guarded (with Allah in the heaven i.e. Al-Lauh Al-Mahfuz). Which (that Book with Allah) none can touch but those who are pure from sins (i.e. the angels). A Revelation (this Quran) from the Lord of the Alamin (mankind, jinns, and all that exists). (Al-Waqi’a 56:77-80).
Put into context this Ayat refers to “…a Book well-guarded,” and this means a Book with Allah (SWT). It is not talking about the physical Quran we have in our presence here on earth.
Ibn Abbas (RA) and others, along with the early scholars, agree that this verse is not talking about the Quran that we have in our hands. A Book well-guarded refers to something that is hidden (Maknoon). It is not referring to the Quran we have in our presence here on earth. Early scholars all agree to this conclusion.
- “…In a Book well-guarded (with Allah in the heaven i.e. Al-Lauh Al-Mahfuz).
According to the Tafsir of Tabari and Ibn Kathir and also according to Jamal al-deen al-Qasami, this Ayat is not in reference to humans having to be free from impurities.
- ” Which (that Book with Allah) none can touch but those who are pure from sins (i.e. the angels).”
This verse in reference to the Angels and not mankind. In a Hadith narrated by Abu Hurayrah (RA), the Prophet (SAW) states, “a believer never becomes impure.”
“The Prophet (SAW) came across me in one of the streets of Medina and at that time I was in a state of Janaba. So I slipped away from him and went to take a bath. On my return, the Prophet said, “O Abu Hurayrah! Where have you been?” I replied, ” I was in a state of Janaba, so I disliked to sit in your company.” The Prophet (SAW) said, “Subhan Allah! A believer never becomes impure.” (Sahih Bukhari)
There are four possible meanings of Taher (pure) in this Hadith:
Specifically, it means “pure.” Free from major impurity where it is necessary to make ghusl. Free from minor impurity where it is necessary to make wudu. No impurities on the physical body
What does Taher mean in this Hadith? How we determine what it means is we look at other evidence that relates.
A letter sent to the Emperor of Rome by the Prophet (SAW). The Prophet (SAW) had good reason to believe that the Emperor would touch it. Some will argue that a piece of paper is not Quran so this may not be such a strong argument.
In Sahih Muslim the Hadith about when Aisha (RA) was sent, by The Prophet (SAW), to go into the Masjid to get a mat. The Prophet (SAW) said to Aisha (RA), “Menstruation is not in your hands.” A woman’s touch cannot be considered impure even while on menses.
“The Messenger of Allah (SAW) said to me: Get me the mat from the mosque. I said: I am menstruating. Upon this, he remarked: Your menstruation is not in your hands.” (Sahih Muslim)
Hadith that states, “A believer does not become impure.” A clear text by The Prophet (SAW). A believer is considered Taher under ALL circumstances. Therefore, a believer in this Hadith means Taher. The only one who should touch the Quran is a believer (i.e. A Muslim).
Take the Ayat: “None can touch but those who are pure (Taher).” There is no record whatsoever of Prophet (SAW) telling believers not to touch Qur’an.
Therefore, Taher means a believer (Muslim).
There is NO evidence whatsoever that says that a woman who is in her periods or a woman who is having post-natal bleeding that she can not touch the Quran. This is a minority opinion, however, it is the strongest opinion.
Reading The Quran During Menses
There is no prohibition from the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) prohibiting a woman from reading the Quran in the state of her menses.
There is no prohibition. The Prophet Muhammad (SAW) did not prohibit it. All we have is the statement of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) that he used to recite the Quran under all conditions except when he was in a state of Janaba that is after having sexual intercourse when it was necessary for him to take a bath.
This is the basis; this is the foundation, from which all of these different opinions are derived. So, some scholars made a comparison between this state of Janaba with that of menses.
But of course, they are not the same because the state of Janaba can be removed by merely washing oneself. By taking a bath your impure state is over. Now you can read the Quran. Whereas in the state of menses, a woman cannot just wash herself then go and read. She is still in that state of menses.
If we are dealing now with the translation of the Quran, translations of the meanings of the Quran, then all this is of NO importance at all because translations of the Quran are not considered to be Quran. So no matter what state you are in, you can read it, you can pick it up, you can touch it, there is no problem at all because the Quran that we have, even if the Arabic text is there too, is still not considered Quran.
The general position which is held in determining what is considered Quran and what is not, is that whenever the words of other than Allah (SWT), in a given text, is more than the words of Allah (SWT), that text is no longer considered Quran because Quran refers to a single verse if we take a verse of Quran by itself this is called Quran also. But if there comes along with this verse, other words, you have given an explanation of it, which is more than what constitutes the verse, and then this is no longer considered the Quran.
This is derived from the fact, that Prophet Muhammad (SAW) sent messages to the kings of Byzantium and Persia, etc. which had verses of Quran in it. He (SAW) knew full well that these people were going to be in a state of Janaba, that they were kafir and that they would probably tear it up, maybe step on it or whatever.
So we know that it is permissible that once the words of Allah (SWT) are drowned out by the words of other than Allah (SWT), which is the case of the translations of the Quran, then in such case this is not considered to be Quran and as such it is perfectly allowable for a woman to read it under any state.
The following information is taken from “Duties of a Muslim Husband” a lecture by Shaikh Abu-Ameenah Bilal Phillips
It is Permissible for a Menstruating Woman to Recite the Quran and Books of Supplications
here is no harm in a menstruating or post-partum bleeding woman reading the books of supplications that are written for the rites of the pilgrimage. In fact, there is nothing wrong with her reciting the Quran according to the correct opinion. There is no authentic, clear text prohibiting a menstruating or post-partum bleeding woman from reciting the Quran. The thing that is narrated is concerned with the sexually defiled person only, as such should not recite the Quran while he/she is sexually defiled. This is based on the Hadith of Ali (RA). As for the menstruating or post-partum bleeding woman, there is the Hadith of Ibn Umar (RA), which states:
- “Neither the menstruating woman nor the sexually defiled person is to recite anything from the Quran.”
However, this is a weak Hadith. This is because it is from the narrations of Ismail ibn Iyyash on the authority of people from the Hijaz and he is weak when he narrated from them.
In the case of a sexually defiled male/female, he/she may make ghusl as soon as he has done the act with his/her spouse. The amount of time is not long and he/she is in control of its length as he/she may make ghusl whenever he/she wishes. Even if he/she cannot find water, he/she can make tayammum and pray or recite the Quran.
However, the menstruating or post-partum bleeding woman does not have control over their lengths, such control is in the hands of Allah (SWT). Menstruation and post-partum bleeding take days. Therefore, it is allowed for them to recite the Quran so that they do not forget what they have memorized and so they will not lose the merits of reciting it. It is also so they may learn the laws of the Shariah from the Book of Allah (SWT).
Therefore, it is even more so permissible for her to read the books of supplications that have verses and Hadith intermixed with them. This is the correct view and is the correct opinion of the scholars – may Allah (SWT) have mercy on them – on that point. – Shaikh ibn Baz (ra)
- Hasanuddin Ahmed, “Can we touch the Qur’an without performing Wudu”. Al-Balaagh, Vol.25, No.2, May/June 2000, p.5
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The article above is published by Dr. Ibrahim bin Syed, the President of the Islamic Research Foundation International, Inc.
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