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women's health & Islam / 'az'a' (أَذً۬ى)
Author/Source: Dr.Henna Khan.Gynaecologist (Sexual & Reproductive Health)  (hkhan135@monthly-renaissance.com,hkhan135@aol.com) Posted by: self
Hits: 5525 Rating: 9 (1 votes) Comments: 1 Added On: Saturday, May 16, 2009 Rate this article

Women’s Health & Islam.

In this thread, here we discuss something in relation to purification and illness in regards with women's health as understood religiously have tried to collect some comparative ,material to see how various scholars have looked at this matter, particularly the menstrual phase of a woman's routine cycle andit's association with the rituals of worship & sexual contact with husband etc. My profession and area of interest being the same, I shall try and touch on more similar matters in my future writings insh'Allah.

Rijs or ‘Aza’

It matters a lot how do we interpret the verses of Qur’an in relation to the facts and context.

Women’s health effects her general performance and her comfort & discomfort, be it physical or mental has a direct effect on the whole family and the environment of the family. If she is depressed the whole house will have a gloomy appearance. If a woman is in peace the house can present a corner of Paradise.

The Creator has therefore laid a lot of stress on looking after women and we find the same reflection in the beloved prophet Muhammad sws teachings. The Prophet reinded repeatedly about the women’s rights throughout his life and specially in his last sermon at the hajj he performed shortly before he met his Lord.

It matters a lot how the verses about women are interpreted by various scholars of Qur’an. Even the position of a woman in their own eyes and hence in the eyes of the ummah can be directly effected by this.

For example if a woman is seen as a junk at certain times and periods of her life, naturally and sub consciously her status in the eyes of even very pious men will drop down because he will be consciously struggling to keep himself safe from the ill effects of this impure figure. We can see this a lot more clearly in Hinduism when a woman during her monthly menstrual cycles is classed as ‘impure’ and is not even allowed to cook food for the family, let alone touching her husband.

The verse of Qura’n which gives guidance about sexual relationship with wives mentions this phase and directs men to stay away from them until they are clean and mentions the word ‘az’a’ for the state of the menstrual period. The word ‘Aza’ in Qur’an has been translated at all other places as ‘discomfort’ or ‘pain’ except at this particular place where it has been translated by most scholars as ‘impurity’ the Arabic word for which is’Rijs’

وَيَسۡـَٔلُونَكَ عَنِ ٱلۡمَحِيضِ‌ۖ قُلۡ هُوَ أَذً۬ى فَٱعۡتَزِلُواْ ٱلنِّسَآءَ فِى ٱلۡمَحِيضِ‌ۖ وَلَا تَقۡرَبُوهُنَّ حَتَّىٰ يَطۡهُرۡنَ‌ۖ فَإِذَا تَطَهَّرۡنَ فَأۡتُوهُنَّ مِنۡ حَيۡثُ أَمَرَكُمُ ٱللَّهُ‌ۚ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ يُحِبُّ ٱلتَّوَّٲبِينَ وَيُحِبُّ ٱلۡمُتَطَهِّرِينَ (٢٢٢)

They question thee (O Muhammad) concerning menstruation. Say: It is an illness, so let women alone at such times and go not in unto them till they are cleansed. And when they have purified themselves, then go in unto them as Allah hath enjoined upon you. Truly Allah loveth those who turn unto Him, and loveth those who have a care for cleanness. (222) Pikthall

They ask you concerning menstruation. Say: that is an Adha (a harmful thing for a husband) to have a sexual intercourse with his wife while she is having her menses), therefore keep away from women during menses and go not unto them till they are purified (from menses and have taken a bath). And when they have purified themselves, then go in unto them as Allâh has ordained for you (go in unto them in any manner as long as it is in their vagina). Truly, Allâh loves those who turn unto Him in repentance and loves those who purify themselves (by taking a bath and cleaning and washing thoroughly their private parts, bodies, for their prayers). (222) (Dr.Mohsin)

They question thee (O Muhammad) concerning menstruation. Say: It is an illness, so let women alone at such times and go not in unto them till they are cleansed. And when they have purified themselves, then go in unto them as Allah hath enjoined upon you. Truly Allah loveth those who turn unto Him, and loveth those who have a care for cleanness. (222)
(Abdul Basit)

And [now that the issue of marriage has been raised], they ask you about menstruation1. Tell them: It is a kind of impurity. So keep away from women during their menstrual periods and do not approach them until they are in a state of purity; then when they are clean after having a bath, approach them2 from where God has enjoined you3.(Javed A. Ghamidi)

They ask thee concerning women's courses. Say: They are a hurt and a pollution; so keep away from women in their courses, and do not approach them until they are clean. But when they have purified themselves, ye may approach them in any manner, time or place ordained for you by Allah. for Allah loves those who turn to Him constantly and He loves those who keep themselves pure and clean. (222) (Abdullah Yousuf Ali)

اور آپ سے حیض کے بارے میں پوچھتے ہیں کہہ دو وہ نجاست ہے پس حیض میں عورتوں سے علیحدٰہ رہو اور ان کے پاس نہ جاؤ یہاں تک کہ وہ پاک ہو لیں پھر جب وہ پاک ہو جائیں تو ان کے پاس جاؤ جہاں سے اللہ نےتمہیں حکم دیا ہے بے شک الله توبہ کرنے والوں کو دوست رکھتا ہے اوربہت پاک رہنے والوں کو دوست رکھتا ہے (۲۲۲)
(Urdu Ahmed Ali)

(maulana maudoodi)

Maulana Ameen Ahsan Islahi has also used the same word as Maulana Maudoodi has done.(may the souls of all these past scholars be blessed.amen)
Javaid Ahmed Ghamidi has used the same word as Amin Islahi, apparently being in his direct tutelage.

اور تم سے حیض کے بارے میں دریافتکرتے ہیں۔ کہہ دو کہ وہ تو
نجاست ہے۔ سو ایام حیض میں عورتوں سے کنارہ کش رہو۔ اور جب تک پاک نہ ہوجائیں ان سے مقاربت نہ کرو۔ ہاں جب پاک ہوجائیں تو جس طریق سے خدا نے ارشاد فرمایا ہے ان کے پاس جاؤ۔ کچھ شک نہیں کہ خدا توبہ کرنے والوں اور پاک صاف رہنے والوں کو دوست رکھتا ہے (۲۲۲)
(Urdu Jalandhri)

As you can see, two translators/scholars above (Pikthall and Abdul Basit) have translated the word as ‘illness’ as it should be in my understanding. God has given the woman lot of concession during these days.She has been given a leave from the ritual of 5 times prayers schedule with ablution and all the formalities.Similarly she is allowed to postpone fasting and other worship rituals like Hajj and Umrah .
Medically many women suffer healthwise during their menstrual phase of the cycles including aches and pains which can be severe in many cases.

Sickness absence
Higher rate for women than men

Sickness absence from work, United Kingdom, Winter 2005

A similar picture can be found in various countries of the world due to similar reasons, including child birth and child care ofcourse.

Also check out



Similarly God has given a woman the right to be at rest and not to be disturbed by her husband regarding sexual activity which can be uncomfortable during this time, besides being unhygienic ofcourse due to the presence of blood; but the translators must be careful to keep the illness and discomfort as a priority rather than ‘impurity’ which gives an unnecessary feeling of superiority to men in general, which actually is not there in thi s regard of purification.

Other uses of the word أَذً۬ى‌ۙ ‘Aza’ in Qur’an

Word أَذً۬ى‌ۙ ‘Aza’ used elsewhere in Qur’an in various contexts

سُوۡرَةُ البَقَرَة

وَأَتِمُّواْ ٱلۡحَجَّ وَٱلۡعُمۡرَةَ لِلَّهِ‌ۚ فَإِنۡ أُحۡصِرۡتُمۡ فَمَا ٱسۡتَيۡسَرَ مِنَ ٱلۡهَدۡىِ‌ۖ وَلَا تَحۡلِقُواْ رُءُوسَكُمۡ حَتَّىٰ يَبۡلُغَ ٱلۡهَدۡىُ مَحِلَّهُ ۥ‌ۚ فَمَن كَانَ مِنكُم مَّرِيضًا أَوۡ بِهِۦۤ أَذً۬ى مِّن رَّأۡسِهِۦ فَفِدۡيَةٌ۬ مِّن صِيَامٍ أَوۡ صَدَقَةٍ أَوۡ نُسُكٍ۬‌ۚ فَإِذَآ أَمِنتُمۡ فَمَن تَمَتَّعَ بِٱلۡعُمۡرَةِ إِلَى ٱلۡحَجِّ فَمَا ٱسۡتَيۡسَرَ مِنَ ٱلۡهَدۡىِ‌ۚ فَمَن لَّمۡ يَجِدۡ فَصِيَامُ ثَلَـٰثَةِ أَيَّامٍ۬ فِى ٱلۡحَجِّ وَسَبۡعَةٍ إِذَا رَجَعۡتُمۡ‌ۗ تِلۡكَ عَشَرَةٌ۬ كَامِلَةٌ۬‌ۗ ذَٲلِكَ لِمَن لَّمۡ يَكُنۡ أَهۡلُهُ ۥ حَاضِرِى ٱلۡمَسۡجِدِ ٱلۡحَرَامِ‌ۚ وَٱتَّقُواْ ٱللَّهَ وَٱعۡلَمُوٓاْ أَنَّ ٱللَّهَ شَدِيدُ ٱلۡعِقَابِ (١٩٦)

Perform the pilgrimage and the visit (to Mecca) for Allah. And if ye are prevented, then send such gifts as can be obtained with ease, and shave not your heads until the gifts have reached their destination. And whoever among you is sick or hath an ailment of the head must pay a ransom of fasting or almsgiving or offering. And if ye are in safety, then whosoever contenteth himself with the visit for the pilgrimage (shall give) such gifts as can be had with ease. And whosoever cannot find (such gifts), then a fast of three days while on the pilgrimage, and of seven when ye have returned; that is, ten in all. That is for him whoso folk are not present at the Inviolable Place of Worship. Observe your duty to Allah, and know that Allah is severe in punishment. (196.AlBaqarah)

سُوۡرَةُ البَقَرَة

ٱلَّذِينَ يُنفِقُونَ أَمۡوَٲلَهُمۡ فِى سَبِيلِ ٱللَّهِ ثُمَّ لَا يُتۡبِعُونَ مَآ أَنفَقُواْ مَنًّ۬ا وَلَآ أَذً۬ى‌ۙ لَّهُمۡ أَجۡرُهُمۡ عِندَ رَبِّهِمۡ وَلَا خَوۡفٌ عَلَيۡهِمۡ وَلَا هُمۡ يَحۡزَنُونَ (٢٦٢)

Those who spend their wealth for the cause of Allah and afterward make not reproach and injury to follow that which they have spent; their reward is with their Lord, and there shall no fear come upon them, neither shall they grieve. (262)

سُوۡرَةُ البَقَرَة

۞ قَوۡلٌ۬ مَّعۡرُوفٌ۬ وَمَغۡفِرَةٌ خَيۡرٌ۬ مِّن صَدَقَةٍ۬ يَتۡبَعُهَآ أَذً۬ى‌ۗ وَٱللَّهُ غَنِىٌّ حَلِيمٌ۬ (٢٦٣)

A kind word with forgiveness is better than almsgiving followed by injury. Allah is Absolute, Clement. (263)

سُوۡرَةُ البَقَرَة

يَـٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ لَا تُبۡطِلُواْ صَدَقَـٰتِكُم بِٱلۡمَنِّ وَٱلۡأَذَىٰ كَٱلَّذِى يُنفِقُ مَالَهُ ۥ رِئَآءَ ٱلنَّاسِ وَلَا يُؤۡمِنُ بِٱللَّهِ وَٱلۡيَوۡمِ ٱلۡأَخِرِ‌ۖ فَمَثَلُهُ ۥ كَمَثَلِ صَفۡوَانٍ عَلَيۡهِ تُرَابٌ۬ فَأَصَابَهُ ۥ وَابِلٌ۬ فَتَرَڪَهُ ۥ صَلۡدً۬ا‌ۖ لَّا يَقۡدِرُونَ عَلَىٰ شَىۡءٍ۬ مِّمَّا ڪَسَبُواْ‌ۗ وَٱللَّهُ لَا يَهۡدِى ٱلۡقَوۡمَ ٱلۡكَـٰفِرِينَ (٢٦٤)

O ye who believe! Render not vain your almsgiving by reproach and injury, like him who spendeth his wealth only to be seen of men and believeth not in Allah and the Last Day. His likeness is as the likeness of a rock whereon is dust of earth; a rainstorm smiteth it, leaving it smooth and bare. They have no control of aught of that which they have gained. Allah guideth not the disbelieving folk. (264)

سُوۡرَةُ آل عِمرَان

لَن يَضُرُّوڪُمۡ إِلَّآ أَذً۬ى‌ۖ وَإِن يُقَـٰتِلُوكُمۡ يُوَلُّوكُمُ ٱلۡأَدۡبَارَ ثُمَّ لَا يُنصَرُونَ (١١١)

They will not harm you save a trifling hurt, and if they fight against you they will turn and flee. And afterward they will not be helped. (111)

سُوۡرَةُ آل عِمرَان

۞ لَتُبۡلَوُنَّ فِىٓ أَمۡوَٲلِڪُمۡ وَأَنفُسِڪُمۡ وَلَتَسۡمَعُنَّ مِنَ ٱلَّذِينَ أُوتُواْ ٱلۡكِتَـٰبَ مِن قَبۡلِڪُمۡ وَمِنَ ٱلَّذِينَ أَشۡرَكُوٓاْ أَذً۬ى كَثِيرً۬ا‌ۚ وَإِن تَصۡبِرُواْ وَتَتَّقُواْ فَإِنَّ ذَٲلِكَ مِنۡ عَزۡمِ ٱلۡأُمُورِ (١٨٦)

Assuredly ye will be tried in your property and in your persons, and ye will hear much wrong from those who were given the Scripture before you, and from the idolaters. But if ye persevere and ward off (evil), then that is of the steadfast heart of things. (186)

سُوۡرَةُ النِّسَاء

وَإِذَا كُنتَ فِيہِمۡ فَأَقَمۡتَ لَهُمُ ٱلصَّلَوٰةَ فَلۡتَقُمۡ طَآٮِٕفَةٌ۬ مِّنۡہُم مَّعَكَ وَلۡيَأۡخُذُوٓاْ أَسۡلِحَتَہُمۡ فَإِذَا سَجَدُواْ فَلۡيَكُونُواْ مِن وَرَآٮِٕڪُمۡ وَلۡتَأۡتِ طَآٮِٕفَةٌ أُخۡرَىٰ لَمۡ يُصَلُّواْ فَلۡيُصَلُّواْ مَعَكَ وَلۡيَأۡخُذُواْ حِذۡرَهُمۡ وَأَسۡلِحَتَہُمۡ‌ۗ وَدَّ ٱلَّذِينَ كَفَرُواْ لَوۡ تَغۡفُلُونَ عَنۡ أَسۡلِحَتِكُمۡ وَأَمۡتِعَتِكُمۡ فَيَمِيلُونَ عَلَيۡڪُم مَّيۡلَةً۬ وَٲحِدَةً۬‌ۚ وَلَا جُنَاحَ عَلَيۡڪُمۡ إِن كَانَ بِكُمۡ أَذً۬ى مِّن مَّطَرٍ أَوۡ كُنتُم مَّرۡضَىٰٓ أَن تَضَعُوٓاْ أَسۡلِحَتَكُمۡ‌ۖ وَخُذُواْ حِذۡرَكُمۡ‌ۗ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ أَعَدَّ لِلۡكَـٰفِرِينَ عَذَابً۬ا مُّهِينً۬ا (١٠٢)

And when thou (O Muhammad) art among them and arrangest (their) worship for them, let only a party of them stand with thee (to worship) and let them take their arms. Then when they have performed their prostrations let them fall to the rear and let another party come that hath not worshipped and let them worship with thee, and let them take their precaution and their arms. Those who disbelieve long for you to neglect your arms and your baggage that they may attack you once for all. It is no sin for you to lay aside your arms, if rain impedeth you or ye are sick. But take your precaution. Lo! Allah prepareth for the disbelievers shameful punishment. (102)

Conclusion: The Scholars working on the meanings and commentaries of Qur’an must ponder that why at only one place in Qura’n they had to translate the word أَذً۬ى‌ۙ ‘Aza’ as ‘impurity’ or ‘dirt’ when it was associated with women whereas nowhere else is it used as such. They may give the reason of the context of hygiene but that side of it is understood. Looking at the whole context it looks quite clear that the Divine wished to bring in the fact about illness and unwellness of woman at these times and men to be caring rather than looking at her as a piece of dirt.
The reason I am on about it that the consequences are grave. This mere concept creates an irresistible impression and image of a woman as something unclean of which men have to protect their piety and this indirectly has been effecting the position of woman in any Islamic culture and society.

We request our heroic scholars who have been working on the misconceptions about women and Islam to look into this matter whenever they can spare some of their very precious time.Our prayers remain with their efforts..

hassanslady I think this issue is extremely important as it directly impacts people's perceptions of women.
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