Intimacy during Menses
Social Issues
Question asked by .
Answered by Dr. Shehzad Saleem

Is there a contradiction between the following Qurānic verse and Ahādīth?


The verse:

They question you [O Muhammad] concerning menstruation. Say: It is a vulnerable condition; so let women alone at such times and go not to them till they are cleansed. And when they have purified themselves, then go to them as Allah has enjoined upon you. (2:222)

The Ahādīth:

Narrated Ā‘ishah: The Prophet and I used to take a bath from a single pot while we would be Junub. During my menses, he used to direct me to put on an Izar (dress worn below the waist) and used to be intimate with me. While in Itikāf, he would bring his head near me and I would wash it while I would be in my periods. (Bukhārī: Kitābu’l-Hayd)

Ā’ishah said: Whenever Allah’s Apostle wanted to caress anyone of us during her periods, he would tell her to put on an Izar and would then caress her. Ā’ishah added: None of you could control his sexual desires as the Prophet could. (Bukhārī: Kitābu’l-Hayd)

Answer: class="Paragraph">There is no contradiction between the verse of the Qur’ān and the two Ahadīth that you have quoted. The Qur’ānic words: La taqrabuhunna (go not to them) in Arabic usage imply sexual intercourse. They are not be taken literally. Moreover, this becomes even more evident, if the words fa’tu hunna min haythu amarakumullah (then go unto them as Allah has enjoined upon you) are deliberated upon. During menses, sexual intimacy with one’s wife that excludes intercourse is not prohibited. Anas Ibn Mālik reports in the Sahīh of Imām Muslim:

When a woman amongst the Jews menstruated the men did not dine with her or live with her in their houses. So the companions of the Prophet asked him and Allah revealed ... (See 2:222 above). The Prophet then said: You can do everything except having intercourse with her. (Kitābu’l Hayd)

Similar usage can be seen in the underlined portion of the following verse:

O you who believe! Approach not prayers in a state of inebriation until you can understand all that you say, -- nor in a state of ceremonial impurity except if you just have to pass through [the mosque] until the ceremonial bath. If you are ill or on a journey, or if one of you comes from offices of nature, or if you have been in contact with women, and you find no water, then take for yourselves clean sand or earth, and rub therewith your faces and hands. For God does blot out sins and forgive again and again. (4:43)

Here again the Arabic words lāmastumu’l-nisā (if you have touched women) must not be taken literally. They connote sexual intercourse after which one has been bound by Islam to have the ceremonial bath.

In short, one should try to appreciate the literal and figurative usage of Qur’ānic Arabic. If one finds any difficulty in appreciating them, one should look up reliable commentaries of the Book.

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