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Can Menstruating Women touch the Quran?
Question asked by Nurta Hassan.
Posted on: Sunday, July 11, 2004 - Hits: 15289

Is it true that when a woman who is having her periods (menstruation) is not allowed to touch or read the holy Quran?

The opinion of the classical jurists of Islam is what you have referred to in your question. However, certain contemporary scholars have a difference of opinion in this regard. I'll present the opinions of both the sides for you to make an informed decision.

Although there are some Ahadith (narratives ascribed to the Prophet (pbuh)) in which the Prophet is reported to have stopped women from reading the Quran during menstruation, there is some doubt about the veracity of these reports owing to the lack of absolute reliability of the chain of narrators. However, the Muslim jurists who hold this opinion base it on the following verse of Al-Waaqi'ah:

None shall touch it save the purified ones (56:79)

The legal scholars argue on the basis of this verse that "the purified ones" mean "those who are ritually pure", thus making the verse mean that only a person in a state of ritual purity may touch the Quran. Since women during menstruation are not ritually pure, they should not touch the Quran.

Those who disagree with this interpretation argue that the verse is taken in isolation and with disregard to "the immediate and wider contexts". Here is a contextualized reading:

This is a noble Qur'an, [which originates] in a hidden [or well-protected] book, [and which] no one but the pure touch, [and which is] a revelation from the Lord of the universe. (56:77-80)

I'll quote the other interpretation:

"Taken in context, these verses draw a distinction between the revelation of a prophet and the inspiration of a soothsayer. The Arabs believed that the soothsayers had control over genies
(Arabic: jinn) who brought them reports from the heavens, and one of the charges against Muhammad(P) was that he was a soothsayer pretending to be a prophet. The Qur'an here is saying that Muhammad's(P) revelation, unlike the soothsayers' inspiration, is authentic. It makes two points, not at all unfamiliar to a student of the Qur'an: (1) that the Qur'an originates in a
well-guarded book (in 43:4 and elsewhere called 'The Mother Book') that is with God - the implication being that the Qur'an has an unimpeachable source; (2) that it is angels, 'the pure ones,' who bring down the Qur'an - the implication being that the medium through which the revelation is conveyed to Muhammad(sws) is an additional guarantee of the unadulterated nature of the revelation. The soothsayers' inspiration, on the other hand, is neither pure of origin nor secure against tampering by the wicked genies. The conclusion is obvious: Muhammad's(sws) revelation is from God."

In view of this interpretation and the lack of absolutely authentic narratives, it is held by these contemporary scholars that neither the Quran nor the Sunnah prohibit a woman from touching or reciting the Quran during her menstruation.

Razi Allah
Research Assistant, Studying Islam

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