Muslim women

Why are women not allowed to pray during their period?

04 May, 2020

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Q Why are women not allowed to pray during their period?


Sheikh Ahmad Saad 04 May, 2020

Short Answer:

  • Almighty Allah lifted the load of prayer and the burden of fasting from woman’s shoulders during this period. Menses is neither a funny nor a nice experience. There is an important maxim in Islam: “difficulty brings ease,” meaning that when a person is experiencing anything difficult, Islam will give some concessions that make life easier.
  • So, the point is not that women are “not allowed to” pray and fast but are rather exempted from observing prayer and fasting at such times, because these two duties are difficult and demand much effort.


Salam Dear Nagwa,

Thank you for your question and for contacting Ask About Islam.

I also thank you a lot for such an intriguing question that displays how our sisters are keen on knowing the wisdom behind religious ordinances.

Surely this is good, but still, we cannot always grasp the wisdom behind everything.

Allah’s Wisdom Exceeds Ours

As Muslims and as sensible human beings who trust that this universe functions according to a fixed, well-designed system, we should believe that nothing happens haphazardly or aimlessly.

Rather, everything is well-planned and sorted out.

We read in the Quran what means:

Our Lord! You have not created this in vain. (Quran 3:191)

“This” here refers to Allah’s creation in general.

Because we have limited minds and limited spiritual abilities, we are not able to understand the wisdom behind everything in this universe.

This inability to understand sometimes proves to be very important because such things will constitute a test of our faith and submission to Allah, and our trust in His infinite knowledge.

Physical Suffering

Now, we come to your question: why are women not allowed to pray or fast while they are having their menses?

Basically, any mature woman who has experienced menses knows what type of physical suffering a woman goes through while she is experiencing her monthly period.

Due to such physical suffering, any woman will simply tell you that menses is neither a funny nor a nice experience.

Besides, being under such pains, women are usually not in a good mood.

Her changing hormones cause her to feel moody and irritable, as well.

Yet, it is important for the removal of any harmful material from the body of the woman since such harmful material comes out with this blood.

So, it is a healthy thing for women to have this, but not every healthy thing is nice or easy.

When you are ill, you have to take your medication, even if it’s bitter.

It is not a nice experience to take the medicine but still it is very important for you to recover and heal speedily.

Why Aren’t Women Allowed to Pray or Fast During Their Period?

When Allah decreed menstruation on the daughters of Adam, He — Glory be to Him — wanted it to be a sign of mercy to them, since this natural process relieves the body from the harmful materials that could be disastrous if they remain inside the body.

Taking all such physical and mental pain into consideration, Almighty Allah, Who takes care of His servants even more than their own parents, has lifted the load of prayer and the burden of fasting from woman’s shoulders during this period.

So, the point is not that women are “not allowed to” pray and fast but are rather exempted from observing prayer and fasting at such times, because these two duties are difficult and demand much effort.

Islam Aims To Remove Hardship

In this regard, we should bear in mind that one of the basic goals of Islamic Shari`ah is to remove harm and difficulty from people’s lives.

The many texts of the Quran and Sunnah serve as a support for this, giving one clear message that Almighty Allah does not intend to place any difficulty on the shoulders of His servants.

This has led many Muslim scholars to reach a very great maxim that summarizes a lot of things in this regard: “difficulty brings ease,” meaning that when a person is experiencing anything difficult, Islam will give him some concessions that make life easy for him.

Under this maxim, we can understand why a traveler is exempted from fasting, why a sick person is allowed not to fast, why a handicapped person is allowed to observe prayer while sitting down, and why a pregnant woman or a woman who is breast-feeding is entitled to break her fasting.

All this is meant to remove hardship and difficulty away from people, because this is one of the highest objectives of Islam.

“Impure” Does NOT Mean “Unclean”

Needless to mention here that there is a big difference between being in a state of “impurity” and being “unclean”.

While the former refers to an immaterial state that has nothing to do with the gender of the person and is by no means offensive, the latter is more linked with filth and dirty stuff.

Impurity is a temporary state, whereas uncleanliness is a choice to be unhygienic.

A person who washes his or her private parts but has not performed ghusl (ritual ablution) is clean but is still impure, Islamically.

This means that he or she does not qualify, while in this state, to pray or fast, simply because he or she needs to meet some basic standards.

Now, we see a balance in the religion of Islam that came to remove all difficulties and hardships from the lives of the servants of Allah and allow them to celebrate His praise cheerfully and willfully.

Dr. Mohsen Haredy, a member of the Ask About Islam consultant team, would like to add the following:

It is worth mentioning that not praying and not observing fasting during the menses are considered in themselves an act of worship.

As in some acts of worship, there is a divine command that requires showing submission and surrender without questioning the reason behind it.

The significance of this command lies in our obedience to it: Showing obedience to Allah and His Messenger.

What women CAN do in menses:

  • Listen to the Qur’an on YouTube
  • Istighfaar
  • Read durood
  • Dhikr and Tasbeeh
  • Listen to lectures and programmes online

Muslim women

The most beautiful answer on Gender Equality.

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Something of topic.
Long article, but worth it.
Questioner: Sarah
Reply Date: Apr 24, 2017
On March 18, 2005 Amina Wadud led the first female-led Jumu`ah Prayer. On that day, women took a huge step towards being more like men. But, did we come closer to actualizing our God-given liberation?
Consultant: Yasmin Mogahed
Salam Sarah,
Thank you for your inspiring question!
Well, answering your question, I can say that I don’t think so.
What we so often forget is that God has honored women by giving them value in relation to God—not in relation to men. But as Western feminism erases God from the scene, there is no standard left but men.
As a result, the Western feminist is forced to find her value in relation to a man. And in so doing, she has accepted a faulty assumption. She has accepted that man is the standard, and thus a woman can never be a full human being until she becomes just like a man—the standard.
When a man cut his hair short, she wanted to cut her hair short. When a man joined the army, she wanted to join the army, and so on. She wanted these things for no other reason than because the “standard” had it.
What she didn’t recognize was that God dignifies both men and women in their distinctiveness, not their sameness. And on March 18, Muslim women made the very same mistake.
For 1,400 years, there has been a consensus of scholars that men are to lead prayer. As a Muslim woman, why does this matter? The one who leads prayer is not spiritually superior in any way.
Something is not better just because a man does it. And leading Prayer is not better just because it is leading.
Had it been the role of women or had it been more divine, why wouldn’t the Prophet have asked Lady `A’ishah or Lady Khadijah, or Lady Fatimah—the greatest women of all time—to lead?
These women were promised heaven and yet they never led prayer.
But now, for the first time in 1,400 years, we look at a man leading prayer and we think, “that’s not fair.” We think so, although God has given no special privilege to the one who leads. The imam is no higher in the eyes of God than the one who prays behind him.
On the other hand, only a woman can be a mother. And the Creator has given special privilege to a mother. The Prophet taught us that heaven lies at the feet of mothers. But no matter what a man does, he can never be a mother. So why is that not unfair?
When asked who is most deserving of our kind treatment? The Prophet replied “your mother” three times before saying “your father” only once. Isn’t that sexist? No matter what a man does, he will never be able to have the status of a mother.
And yet even when God honors us with something uniquely feminine, we are too busy trying to find our worth in reference to men, to value it or even notice it. We too have accepted men as the standard; so anything uniquely feminine is, by definition, “inferior”.
Being sensitive is an insult, becoming a mother is a degradation. In the battle between stoic rationality (considered masculine) and selfless compassion (considered feminine), rationality reigns supreme.
As soon as we accept that everything a man has and does is better, all that follows is just a knee jerk reaction: if men have it, we want it too. If men pray in the front rows, we assume this is better, so we want to pray in the front rows too.
If men lead prayer, we assume the imam is closer to God, so we want to lead prayer too.
Somewhere along the line, we’ve accepted the notion that having a position of worldly leadership is some indication of one’s position with God.
A Muslim woman does not need to degrade herself in this way. She has God as a standard. She has God to give her value; she doesn’t need a man here.
In fact, in our crusade to follow men, we, as women, never even stopped to examine the possibility that what we have is better for us. In some cases, we even gave up what was higher only to be like men.
Fifty years ago, we saw men leaving the home to work in factories. We were mothers. And yet, we saw men doing it, so we wanted to do it too. Somehow, we considered it women’s liberation to abandon the raising of another human being in order to work on a machine.
We accepted that working in a factory was superior to raising the foundation of society—just because a man did it.
Then after working, we were expected to be superhuman—the perfect mother, the perfect wife, the perfect homemaker, and have the perfect career. And while there is nothing wrong, by definition, with a woman having a career, we soon came to realize what we had sacrificed by blindly mimicking men.
We watched as our children became strangers, and soon recognized the privilege we’d given up.
And so only now—given the choice—women in the West are choosing to stay home to raise their children. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, only 31 percent of mothers with babies, and 18 percent of mothers with two or more children, are working full time.
And of those working mothers, a survey conducted by Parenting Magazine in 2000, found that 93 percent of them say they would rather be home with their kids, but are compelled to work due to “financial obligations.”
These “obligations” are imposed on women by the gender sameness of the modern West and removed from women by the gender distinctiveness of Islam.
It took women in the West almost a century of experimentation to realize a privilege given to Muslim women 1,400 years ago. Given my privilege as a woman, I only degrade myself by trying to be something I’m not, and in all honesty, don’t want to be—a man.
As women, we will never reach true liberation until we stop trying to mimic men and value the beauty in our own God given distinctiveness.
If given a choice between stoic justice and compassion, I choose compassion. And if given a choice between worldly leadership and heaven at my feet, I choose heaven.
I hope my words answer your question. In case you have any comment or you need more about the topic, please don’t hesitate to contact us again.
Thank you and please keep in touch.