Hajj & Umrah
Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam. It is a once in a lifetime journey that brings a Muslim to the sacred city of Makkah and the House of Allah, yearning for an opportunity to wipe the slate clean. Before embarking, pilgrims will spend time preparing themselves emotionally, physically, and spiritually, so they are prepared for the monumental journey. For women, there are specific considerations that need to be considered when planning for Hajj, as well as ‘Umrah. A woman will need to understand the rulings related to menstruation (hayd) and post-natal bleeding (nifas).
The Fiqh of It
State of Pilgrim Sanctity (Ihram)
Similar to all other pilgrims, a woman on hayd or nifas is also required to enter ihram prior to crossing the designated boundaries (miqat). However, due to her state of ritual impurity the way she enters ihram will be slightly different than others.
To enter ihram she should:
- Dress for ihram
- Make intention for Hajj or ‘Umrah
- Recite the prescribed supplication, also known as the talbiyah
However, she should not perform the two rak’at sunnah prayer because prayer (salat) is not permissible during menstruation.
A menstruating woman cannot enter the Sacred Precinct (Haram), including the areas which fall within its boundaries. The grounds between Safa and Marwah, where the sa’ee is performed, are not within the boundaries of the Haram. Therefore, it is permitted for her to enter this area while in hayd or nifas (Fatawa Dar al-Uloom Zakaria 365/3). To avoid the area of the Haram, she can come and go through the doors that are near the toilet and wudu facilities, which are situated close to the grounds for sa’ee.
A menstruating woman cannot circumambulate the Ka’bah (tawaf), as it requires her to be ritually pure. If menstruation begins during tawaf, she must leave the masjid immediately.
If a woman is menstruating while in ihram, she must remain in ihram until her ‘Umrah is complete. She can only perform her tawaf for ‘Umrah when she becomes pure.
Tawaf al-Ifadah (Tawaf al-Ziyara)
This is one of the obligatory components of Hajj without which it is incomplete. If a woman was menstruating when she had to perform this tawaf, she should wait in Makkah until she becomes pure, even if that means extending her stay beyond what she originally planned. An exception has been made for the menstruating woman to delay until she becomes pure, even after the 12th of Dhul Hijjah, without any penalty.
If her stay in Makkah cannot be extended until she becomes pure, she has the following options, in order of preference:
- Return to Makkah to offer Tawaf al-Ifadah when she can. The rules of ihram will continue to apply until this tawaf is complete.
- If returning to Makkah is not possible, she can use medication (if medically advisable) to prevent further bleeding. If taking medication, it is imperative that a woman has a firm understanding of her menstrual and purity habits as the ruling will depend on her bleeding record. If she is unsure, she should consult a scholar for guidance in this matter.
Compensating Sacrifice (Dam)
If a woman had no alternative other than to perform tawaf in either hayd or nifas, the tawaf will be valid and absolved from her responsibility. However, she must offer a sacrifice as compensation to be released from ihram.
- If she performs an obligatory tawaf (Tawaf al-Ifadah or tawaf of ‘Umrah) a camel must be slaughtered on her behalf.
- If she performs a non-obligatory tawaf (nafl tawaf, Tawaf al-Qudum or Tawaf al-Wida’) a smaller animal, such as a sheep must be slaughtered on her behalf.
If tawaf is redone in a state of purity, no compensation is due (Radd al-Muhtar 550-1/2).
Tawaf al-Wida’ (Tawaf al-Sadr)
During Hajj, Tawaf al-Wida’ is mandatory (wajib) upon those who live outside the miqat boundaries. If a woman begins menstruating after performing the obligatory Tawaf al-Ifada, she will not be required to delay her departure to complete Tawaf al-Wida’. Rather, there is a concession granted in such circumstances and the obligation for this tawaf is lifted from her, without any penalty (Bada’i al-Sana’i 142/2).