In today’s technologically advanced world, we see non-authoritative sources spreading Islamic legal verdicts (fatwas) for the general public who are none the wiser. With one ‘ping,’ misinformation can spread like wildfire and potentially mislead thousands of people. Listed below are common misconceptions regarding menstruation, followed by what Islam actually says about the matter.
Misconception 1: It is not permissible to trim/cut hair or nails while menstruating.
Busted: Whilst it is somewhat disliked (makruh tanzihi) to cut hair or nails in a state of major ritual impurity due to wet dreams, intercourse, etc. (janabah), there is no dislike in doing so during menstruation (hayd) or post-natal bleeding (nifas).
Misconception 2: It is not permissible to use a comb used by a menstruating woman.
Busted: This claim has absolutely no basis in the Islamic law (Shari’ah) and is in fact contrary to a narration mentioned in Sahih al-Bukhari. It is narrated on the authority of Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her): “While in menses, I used to comb the hair of Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace)” (Sahih Muslim 244/1)
Misconception 3: It is not permissible to sit on a prayer mat while menstruating.
Busted: It is actually recommended (mustahabb) for a woman to perform ablution (wudu) and sit on her prayer mat while menstruating. She should recite other forms of supplications (adhkar e.g. praises and glorifications) for the duration it usually takes her to offer ritual prayer (salat). This will ensure she remains in the habit of worship, even during the days salat is not due on her. (Manhal al-Waridin p.267)
Misconception 4: You cannot wear the same clothes worn in menstruation after attaining purity.
Busted: They can be worn as long as the clothes have not been soiled by physical impurity.
*See ‘Removing Impurity‘ for further detail.
Misconception 5: Clothes worn in hayd must be washed separately.
Busted: If clothes have been soiled by impurity while menstruating, they are the same as clothes soiled by any other impurity. They do not need to be washed separately. However, it may be advisable to wash any light-coloured garments as soon as possible so the stain does not set in.
*See ‘Removing Impurity‘ for further detail.
Misconception 6: It is not permissible to apply henna in menstruation.
Busted: It is permitted to apply henna, whether on the hands, feet, or hair at any time.
Misconception 7: It is not permissible to take a bath while menstruating.
Busted: Islam advises us to stay clean at all times, and during hayd and nifas, one should make an extra effort to remain clean due to the bleeding that occurs. The Quran mentions, “Allah loves those who keep themselves pure” (Surat al-Tawbah 9:108).
Misconception 8: You cannot use water to clean the private parts when menstruating; it will affect your fertility.
Busted: This claim is completely baseless within the Shari’ah. Menstruating women should take extra care of their cleanliness to prevent the buildup of bacteria, odour, or physical impurity. Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Cleanliness is half of faith” (Sahih Muslim 203/1).
Misconception 9: It is not permissible to take a bath after menstruation until pubic hair is removed.
Busted: It is compulsory to remove pubic hair on a weekly basis. Removing it is not a prerequisite to performing ritual bath (ghusl).
*See ‘Basic Hygiene Etiquette‘ for further detail.
Misconception 10: You must offer the prostration of recital (sajda tilawah) for a verse of prostration (sajda) heard during menstruation.
Busted: If a menstruating woman hears a verse of sajda from someone else, it is not necessary for her to offer sajda tilawat, even after she attains purity.
Misconception 11: You cannot leave your newborn during nifas.
Busted: There is nothing mentioned in Shari’ah to prohibit a woman from leaving her newborn during nifas.
Misconception 12: You cannot leave your house during nifas.
Busted: There is no specific ruling mentioned in Shari’ah that prohibits a woman from leaving her house during nifas.
Misconception 13: You cannot tell your father you are menstruating.
Busted: In many cultures, it is considered inappropriate or immodest for a girl to tell her father she is menstruating. From a young age, girls are discouraged from discussing emotional and physical changes they may be going through. If a young girl needs help from her father to purchase sanitary pads, she should feel comfortable asking him. Fathers are there to care for their families; it’s their job. Menstruation is a completely normal part of everyday life. A father will understand that, and would never want his daughter to feel too embarrassed by something so natural as menstruation that it prevents her from asking him for help. There is no problem if there is shyness from either or both parties, but when she needs help, she should be able to ask.
Misconception 14: You cannot write Qur’anic verses while menstruating.
Busted: It is unlawful to write a Qur’anic verse while menstruating, unless the writer creates a barrier between her hand and the paper she is writing on. A menstruating woman should place a tissue or another piece of paper under her writing hand, so that her hand does not touch the paper on which the Qur’an is written.
Misconception 15: Menstruating women must keep their distance from other members of their household.
Busted: Islam is a religion of moderation and walking a balanced path; unlike many other faiths, it does not cast out menstruating women as unclean or unhygienic. Women are not expected to physically distance themselves from members of their household, including their spouse. There is no religious basis that prevents them from using the same utensils or sleeping in the same bed, although restrictions for intimacy remain.