Why is it not in the Quran?

October 29, 2009 at 2:12 am (Islam, why I didn't convert to Islam)

I am still hiccupping over the issue of menstruation and worship. I know I’ve been through it a lot before, but I still can’t seem to arrive at an opinion. It’s an issue that exemplifies my struggles with religion in general and begs the general question: WHY IS IT NOT IN THE QURAN?

Firstly, it bothers me that women might have to miss out on praying and also potentially on things like the last 10 days of Ramadan and Eid prayers etc. Why does the Quran bend over backwards to allow people to pray even when they can’t find water to wash with? Presumably because it is important. So why should it be OK for women to miss out on this? If you say that women can maintain a connection to God through dhikr and dua, my question would be, what’s the difference then? What is it about salaah that requires cleanliness? Why is salaah important anyway if we can have a connection to God through dhikr and dua? Perhaps it isn’t important… after all, from the Quranic perspective, people of other faiths can go to heaven and they don’t do salaah the same way. A connection to God seems to be important.

Secondly, and onto my main question, for me to believe salaah is out during menstruation, I have to understand why it’s not in the Quran. This ties in with the question about why it’s addressed mostly to men, although I will not address that in this post. I suppose you could say that the Quran doesn’t specify everything, for example it doesn’t say you must clean yourself with water when going to the toilet. After all the whole premise behind the menstruation thing – notwithstanding some people who try to say that it is about “hardship” – is that such waste makes you unclean, which ostensibly includes menstrual blood. Actually I agree that it is unclean, but I’m not entirely convinced that washing with water after using the toilet is necessary anyway.

Is it possible that all of the hadiths about cleanliness and menstruation are inauthentic? Along with all the other hadiths involving things that aren’t in the Quran, like the evil eye? I know it is only a small minority of Muslims that would be willing to consider the possibility that these things did not really happen. And I don’t know the history of hadiths well enough to know whether I think it is a possibility. But if these things did happen – if there were concepts and rules established beyond the scope of the Quran – I find this very perplexing. Presumably Muhammad’s sayings were not revelation experiences otherwise they would have gone into the Quran. So how could he be sure that he was right? Either the hadiths are painting an inaccurate picture, or he really was (rightfully or wrongfully) confident about making extra-revelatory judgments. If he was wrongfully confident, then this would seem to suggest he wasn’t really a prophet and so even the Quran is not from God. But if that were the case and he was making the whole thing up, probably he would have put those extra rules in the Quran too. The only possibilities left, if one accepts the Quran, are: (1) the hadiths giving extra rulings beyond the scope of the Quran are inauthentic, or (2) he was rightfully confident about making those extra rulings; perhaps they were revelations of a different kind. Even if (2) is true, I have some doubt about whether God would want to subject important messages to the hadith transmission mechanism which is undeniably flawed. It could only work in the form of verbatim oral recitations (or written scriptures) that were viewed as the words of God and so would be respected and transmitted with the utmost fidelity. For example I don’t think all the details of salaah are laid out in the Quran because I don’t think they matter. I don’t think there is just one way to do it.

Or perhaps the things that come from hadiths are things that were pre-existing. Ritual uncleanliness during menstruation is an example off the top of my head of things that were pre-existing and are not specified in Quran. Maybe they were pre-existing things that were allowed to continue. Or maybe they didn’t happen but they later spuriously found their way into hadiths because they were long-standing traditions.

In summary, I can’t seem to even practise the pillars of Islam without getting stuck on the question: why do we have hadiths that add rules on top of what’s in the Quran. Believing such rules are not that important, through one argument or another, seems to be the way I’m going. I am fully aware that this is a lonely road to take.



  1. Nikki said,

    I expressed my discontent with the hadith system and my husband was very disappointed in me. He doesn’t agree with those that are “Qur’an only.”

    With that being said, coming from a Christian background, it is very hard for me to accept a great number of hadiths. I think of the Bible as a huge compilation of hadiths, Muslims are the first to point out the errors and contradictions in the Bible, yet seem to be overlooking a lot of errors and contradictions in their own traditions.

    I love the idea that the Qur’an is literally exactly what God wanted us to hear/know. This was a pleasant change from the Bible that was ‘inspired’ by God, but is clearly not written by God himself because different denominations include different ‘books’ in their Bibles. (i.e. books ‘inspired by God’ that support their position) The Qur’an was a breath of fresh air and then came my knowledge of hadiths.

    To be honest, I’m still not comfortable with them. I’m not saying modeling your life after the prophet (pbuh) is a bad thing, but holding to hadiths as religious law seems like going a bit too far. I sometimes wonder if the Qur’an is law for all time whereas some of the things, not all of course, reported in hadiths were related more to that specific time and place.

  2. Stacy said,

    These issues are important because they do deeply affect how a woman is able to worship within the Muslim community. I spent a lot of time around Muslims before reading much of the Quran, so I was also surprised how these topics are not discussed in detail in the text. Islam is such a textually-based faith, but it is problematic when huge areas of fiqh that govern a host of day-to-day issues are only discussed in the hadith literature.

    Interestingly, Judaism developed along the same lines. There are Jews today called Karites, who only practice according to the textual commands in the Torah. They don’t elaborate upon details that aren’t present, and don’t accept any of the Talmud as a basis of practice. Many Messianic Christians also follow the basic Torah commands in this way. Thus, you have people who don’t eat pork or shellfish, but don’t have a problem eating dairy and meat together as Orthodox Judaism does. They may say that they keep the Sabbath, but don’t have a problem driving somewhere.

    I’m kind of rambling, but it just shows you how the same situation can develop. For some reason, many people like having every tiny detail black and white rather than having to make their own judgments.

  3. coolred38 said,

    Ive always been curious as to why Muslims get bent out of shape if a woman were to confess that she does continue to pray while on her period. I mean seriously…whats it got to do with you? Our prayer is between ourselves and God…whether or not its accepted due to cleanliness etc is completely up to God…not other Muslims.

    I have to agree tho that considering forbidding us to pray while on our periods is NOT mentioned in the Quran…but God does take the time to mention that sex shouldnt be had with your wife while on her period…that it would seem easy enough for God to add that prohibition in there and not leave Muslims to assume its “implied” due to other ayats. God doesnt imply anything in my opinion…He clearly states what is and isnt acceptable…its Muslims that try and add or take away based on their own cultural beliefs.

    Also, considering prayer is extremely important..so much so such things as traveling, illness, sleep, toilet and sex are no excuses not to perform it..we merely shorten them…perform wudu before hand etc…or make them up if we missed them…but do them we must…however…we are to assume that prayers missed while on a period are NOT to be made up. This does not fit well with everything else we know of prayer and its position in Islam. Its a pillar of Islam…it stands between you and your judgment on Judgment Day…it cancels other sins you may have done…etc etc and yet we are to believe that something as simple as a biological function of the female body is enough to nullify it and count it void? Maybe for some …but not for me…and my prayer is for me…nobody else. If you dont like the fact that I pray while on my period…then I suggest you dont ask me if I happen to be on my period while standing beside you for prayer. easy.

  4. Aynur said,

    I’m with coolred on this one.

    And even though I know that there are hadiths that say stoning is the punishment for adultery, the Qur’an is EXTREMELY clear on the punishment, and it’s not stoning.

    “For example I don’t think all the details of salaah are laid out in the Quran because I don’t think they matter. I don’t think there is just one way to do it.”

    I agree with you.
    And I was reading that the current way we do salaah wasn’t codified for a while until after Prophet Muhammad (saw) died … and the Zoroastrians also pray 5 x a day.

  5. f said,

  6. LK said,

    Ok first lets get technical because as you know this is a hot button issue for me too but I’ve gotten over it. Its not as black and white as you may think.

    FIrst the cleanliness thing has to do with respect for God. You won’t go to a friends house full of dirt because its disrespectful right? So being clean, putting on clean garments that are special for prayer, show your respect for God and that prayer is special. Like when getting ready for a special occasion. At least, thats how I take it.

    Menstration issue comes from the fact that bodily fluids must be cleaned off before prayer. Bad part is, you can’t just clean it off because it comes back. They aren’t saying it is “evil or bad” just another bodily fluid. If you go back to my post on menstration, http://inkblotsblueabayas.blogspot.com/2009/10/goodbye-quran-hello-aunt-flo.html, you will see how technically it can be laid out and you are really only not allowed to pray for 4-5 days.

    However, You CAN PRAY. You just can’t do the 5 daily prayers with the motions in Arabic. You can do them in english thats fine, you can read Du’a. Just not salat. Annoying? Yes. Does it make sense that we can read them in English and do Du’a in English and have it be fine…not really LOL. You also can go to the mosque so you wont miss Eid or anything.

    It may be a tradition passed down and now so engrained that we are stuck with it. Hadiths are problematic. Some have even been proven false in the past. I have read a couple that dont sound at all like the prophet. I get following what the prophet said to fill in the blanks. What I don’t get is following hadiths from numerous people. Then it just starts to get confusing. Almost all the popular hadiths that I have issues with belong to someone who is not the prophet, yet they are followed.

    • Cornelius said,

      “Menstration issue comes from the fact that bodily fluids must be cleaned off before prayer. Bad part is, you can’t just clean it off because it comes back.”

      Based on this argument, one who has flu—runny nose—should not pray, because there’s that bodily fluid that “comes back”.

      • Sarah said,

        Cornelius, LK is just a seeker like me, trying to make sense of it all. I don’t think she meant all bodily fluids – we know what she meant. 😉

  7. LK said,

    I forgot to add that I don’t think God actually cares if we are “unclean” while praying. I think he can still hear our prayers and accept them. It is respectful to be clean and whatnot and a good idea but in the end I don’t think God only accepts the prayers of those who are perfectly clean, who do them in Arabic, and who never make a mistake during salat.

  8. Sarah said,

    Nikki – yes, it is strange that people cling to narrations without even admitting there is a possibility they could be wrong. I’ve noticed as well that people who do this are more likely to turn round and call someone a kafir for questioning them. It is a rigid mindset.
    I think you can believe in following the sunnah of the prophet while questioning hadiths. Hadiths does not necessarily equal sunnah.

    Stacy – that’s really interesting about there being a parallel in Judaism. It’s something I want to look into because after all the Quran endorses the Torah as a message from God. I am interested in what the differences and similarities are. I’ve only heard a few things about Jewish law but from what you say not all of it is based in the Torah, and might even be humanly constructed, which in a way doesn’t surprise me as that seems to be what people always do. Even in Christianity I’ve heard people constructing rules from NT passages that don’t seem like they were meant to be taken as rules.

    coolred38 – I can well imagine the sort of criticisms you’re talking about. It’s a difficult thing to go against the mainstream. Your arguments make total sense to me, but I wonder what you make of the hadiths that discuss menstruation? This is what I’m trying to figure out. Whether they are reliable or not, and if they are, whether they actually have to be followed or not. While bracing myself for angry comments. 😉

    Aynur – “And I was reading that the current way we do salaah wasn’t codified for a while until after Prophet Muhammad (saw) died” – interesting; this might explain why the prayer involves addressing Muhammad in the second person, which I can’t believe he did in his prayers and I find it hard to believe anyone else did either. Not that I’m saying there’s anything wrong with it, but it certainly puzzles me. 🙂 And yes, I am aware the 5 times a day prayer with bowing and prostrating was not new. I think it probably goes back a long way and that’s actually quite a nice thing.

    f- Thanks for this informative video. I will try to watch it, although it may be a while until I can find an hour and a half to do it.

    LK – yes, being clean out of respect to God makes sense to me. But does it mean we can’t come close to God during our periods? If the answer is yes, then I wonder why God would give us this physiological mechanism that would keep us away from him for days at a time. If the answer is no, because we can do dua and dhikr, then I am confused about the importance of salaah and cleanliness.
    Research has shown that there is a link between cleanliness and morality – for example this article yesterday: http://www.scientificamerican.com/podcast/episode.cfm?id=clean-smell-promotes-good-deeds-09-10-28
    So I am totally convinced that cleanliness rituals are of value. The only way I can think of to reconcile this with the fact that we have periods, is to think that we don’t need to be all that clean to be able to approach God. The Quran seems to say “do the best you can do” – i.e. dry ablution is OK if you can’t use water. But the cleaner the better (without becoming OCD lol).
    Another thought I’ve had is that they probably had very poor sanitary protection back then. Even today in some very poor remote communities in the world, women just leak blood (I’ve seen this on TV lol). So them going to places of prayer would perhaps have been a bad idea for everyone hygiene-wise. Maybe then it was only for practical reasons that they couldn’t join in the ritual prayer, but could and should do other private forms of worship.
    “Allahu alim” as they say!

  9. hennamenna said,

    OH MY GOD! You’re NOT alone!

    I can tell you that when I first converted to Islam I had never felt so good and peaceful inside. As if that connection all my life I had searched for has finally been made…then? Then the hadiths came into play. I’d say I started to learn about them maybe 2 months after my conversion? And that’s when it all fell to pieces for me.
    Since then, I’ve been struggling to believe, to submit, to not question as I am told but there is something inside of me that just simply cannot for the life of me accept the hadiths as sound and accurate. May Allah forgive me. But I just can’t and it’s a major problem with me because I feel incredible guilt. I feel as if I am not a true believer or a Muslim because I can’t accept that they are authentic and were passed down to us to follow.

    All I keep thinking about is “we have sent down this book to all so that they…. may know the truth…understand”…this book is complete”


    And the stories of the Prophet telling others not to write down his hadith or something to that affect-sorry I did not research it but I have heard it. Perhaps I am wrong?

    But anyway, I often wonder WHY WHY WHY I can’t pray when I am mensturating-and it goes deeper than not praying during that time, it’s the whole concept of the hadith reporting to me that I cannot do this or that. I MUST by any and all means follow the sunnah ALONG with the Quran in order to be a true Muslim…in order for Allah to be pleased with me. Hard for me to digest.

    I know that he is the perfect example and therefore we should try to follow his lead, but then it brings me to the fact that…by doing so and I elevating this man to a higher status? Almost in a sense the way that Christians have done with Jesus-minus praying to the Prophet.

    AND…I often wonder how did the prophet pray? I mean, did he say there is no God but God and I AM HIS MESSENGER..the way that we are taught to say it? If not, then wouldn’t that be innovation? And I wonder if when he said tahajjud(sp?) did he bless himself the way that we were taught through hadiths to bless him?

    It’s all so confusing. I pray for my soul and I know that as long as I am living I will not be able to accept a thrid parties account of what I must do in order to be a proper Muslim-a true believer-especially since I cannot erase those words in the Quran from my mind…”COMPLETE”

    ?? Sorry I took up so much room. I am so happy to have found your blog where someone can put into a coherent blog what I am feeling in my mind…that same way too. Back and forth..filled with questions one day, ok and rationalize the next…then back to the other side lol…

  10. hennamenna said,

    Now I go back and read the comments. Most of what I said was already there…so I see that I am REALLY NOT ALONE.

    And about addressing the prophet as a second person in prayer? I cannot believe you said that because this in only the first time I have said that to anyone other than my husband…and even then I was careful how I said it…I didn’t want to “plant any seeds” Besides, he is not a person to discuss these things with since he follows only what he knows without questioning. It’s just the way it is for him.

    Okay, I am leaving now. 😉

  11. Aynur said,

    @hennamenna – here are the verses that stay in my mind always, as well:

    “And We have revealed the Book to you which has clear explanation of everything, and a guidance, mercy and good news for those who submit.” (16:89)

    “Shall I then seek a Judge other than Allah? When it is He Who has revealed to you the Book fully detailed?” (6:114)

    And my hubby is the exact same way, he follows what he knows, he does not question anything. When I ask him things he gets angry that I’m questioning.

  12. Sarah ELizabeth said,

    AS far as praying, wudu, menstruation, etc.. all of those small “rituals”.. This is where it is also good to look at the school of thought people follow.

    For example, in Malaysia everyone follows the Shafi’i school of thought. This means they follow a certain way of cleansing, prayer movements, wudu rituals, etc.. that other schools may follow differently, or not do at all. One example off the top of my head is whether a man and wife can touch without breaking wudu.. Some schools of thought say they can, others say they can’t. This all has to do with hadith.

    Also, just like hijab. Hijab is not in the Quran, but in hadith. Some say the Quran was wise because it left room for converts to get used to the idea of hijab… I don’t think I agree with that, but whatever.

    Same with the way we pray. People who follow only Quran do not pray the ritual 5 daily prayers, with the movements. I know a Turkish woman with a PHD in Islamic studies, who only follows Quran, which means no hijab, no ritual prayers.. She does this kind of meditation, so she does heed the Qurans demands to pray, but she does not follow the hadith way of doing it..

    As far as menstruation.. Every single patriarchal society/religion believes that menstruation is unclean… Tribal peoples from North America to Africa used to separate women from the rest of the group when they were menstruating.. It is superstition and male misunderstanding all wrapped up into one.
    I for one, do not mind not praying while menstruating, but I certainly do not see it as unclean or dirty in any way… Many organized religions are based heavily in ritual.. This is just another part of it.

    This is the part of your journey where you decide what is right for you and what is not. This is the time where you pick and choose what is intellectually and religiously relevant for you.

    Anyone who says you are unable to pick and choose is a fool. It is human nature to choose wisely, and also impossible to follow absolutely everything anyone says.. Doing that is more cult-like than anything…

    I choose not to follow hadith, I follow only Quran, for personal reasons.. I think many of the scholars and companions were extremely sexist, so why am I, as a thinking woman, going to follow hadith that are inherently sexist and flawed?
    It’s easy, I’m not.

  13. Aynur said,

    Well put Sarah Elizabeth. I ♥ you. 🙂 xxxxxx

  14. LK said,

    Well played Sarah Elizabeth 🙂 I think you just said what we were all thinking.

  15. hennamenna said,

    I will get in line next and say the same-very well said indeed!

    I especially like this:

    “This is the part of your journey where you decide what is right for you and what is not. This is the time where you pick and choose what is intellectually and religiously relevant for you.”

    Makes so much sense and a real eye opener. Something for me to refelct upon with seriousness. I am so tired of feeling guilty and incorrect and even a disbeliever at times because I can’t seem to wrap my head around certain things.

    I believe there is a God. I believe the Quran to be His word. I do believe that Muhammad was a prophet of God and all else? Well, as Sarah Elizabeth put it, this is the part of my own personal journey whereby I decide what feels right for ME.

  16. Sarah said,

    hennamenna – I am glad you found my blog too and left comments, because it feels very validating when someone else has the same thoughts and questions. Including the confusion of going back and forth… I am that way too, as you can tell… the post you commented on yesterday was more about accepting the rule and now I’ve gone back to questioning it!

    I have searched for information on why the prophet is mentioned in the second person in the tashahhud. I didn’t really find anything. Someone told me the tashahhud is a narration of the miraj (night journey) but I haven’t looked into that yet. For now, I am just happy someone else has thought to question this. 🙂

    My husband just follows what he has been told as well. There is an emphasis in the Islamic world on listening to “people with knowledge” rather than thinking for yourself. Of course we have to respect people’s knowledge, but I think we can’t just follow blindly, because the Quran criticises that attitude. I’ve found it can be surprisingly hard to find the source of some of the things people believe, probably because not many people do check.

    Good luck with your personal journey 😉

  17. LK said,

    Interesting. I was taught that in Islam we should NEVER follow blindly but try to understand everything we do. That does not mean, however, that people do not follow blindly. I’ve come to learn that most just follow what they grow up with and never question in all religions. It is sad but true.

    We are to seek knowledge after all 🙂

  18. Sarah said,

    Sarah Elizabeth – you are right, and I never knew these choices would come up! From the beginning you think Islam is one single well-defined system with 5 pillars and all that. It’s messier than that in reality.

    The menstruation thing is more understandable when you think about a time when sanitary protection was practically nonexistent. This is still the case in some parts of the world and women just drip blood.

    As someone who is still wondering whether Islam is true, the authenticity of the hadiths is a big question because they potentially give me information about the religion to help me decide. If I believed in the religion and the prophet 100% and I found things in hadiths that I didn’t agree with, I would reject them and say they couldn’t be true. But as it is, I want to know if it is true before I can decide if I believe in the religion and the prophet. If you see what I mean. 🙂

    This is partly why it’s taking me so long to decide. I decided to concentrate on the Quran but then starting to pray has opened up all these hadith-related issues too. There’s no avoiding it! Aaaargh!! Sometimes i’ve just had enough thinking…

    All I can do is keep going and take it at a sensible pace… 😉

  19. Sarah said,

    LK – I think for people investigating Islam, there is a different expectation when you’ve converted. When you’ve accepted the religion like any religion there are people who expect you to “toe the party line” and threaten that you are not truly a member of the religion if you question certain things. I had it in Christianity and maybe part of the reason I haven’t converted to Islam is I know I will get it again. 😉

  20. Sara (cairo, lusaka, amsterdam) said,

    Well everything I wanted to say has already been said.

    I agree with Sarah E – the people who compiled hadith were or the most part sexist, so this makes it very problematic for me to just accept them. At the same time I see problems with being a Qur’an-only Muslim. There are also so many beautiful hadith that people don’t focus on, but I guess it’s not wise to pick and choose.

  21. Sam said,

    There are very strong hadiths and weak hadiths. Most devout muslims avoid weak hadiths although sometimes there is some wisdom in them. The prophet peace be upon him said in his final sermon:
    O People, NO PROPHET OR APOSTLE WILL COME AFTER ME AND NO NEW FAITH WILL BE BORN. Reason well, therefore, O People, and understand words which I convey to you. I leave behind me two things, the QURAN and my example, the SUNNAH and if you follow these you will never go astray.

    All those who listen to me shall pass on my words to others and those to others again; and may the last ones understand my words better than those who listen to me directly. Be my witness, O ALLAH, that I have conveyed your message to your people”.

    If we did not have the hadiths, how would you perform hajj or know how much to pay zakat for the Quran does not give you details. Or how would you know exactly when to fast or when the Eid is or what invalidates your fast.
    If you do not even follow the most agreed upon hadiths, I do not see how you can uphold the some of the pillars of Islam for the hadiths provide details and specifics.

    There are things in this world you will never understand like why a woman quits ovulating when she reaches menopause yet a man can continue reproduce. Or why in the Quran some surahs start with 3 letters like ALM. Or why there are 3 rakahs for Maghrib but 4 for Asr. Or why the male decides the sex of a baby.

    Why a woman can fast or pray during her menses probably has to do with purity. Islam when you think about it is a constant process of purification. You pay zakat partly to purify you own money. Hajj is final means to purify oneself of all sins. Daily prayers is another process of purifying oneself but on a smaller scale and the wuduu is a ritual of purifying oneself. Fasting is another way but here you are working more on your heart for you are not suppose to curse, show envy, backbite etc. During these times certain things are considered unclean like defecation, urination, release of sperm, menstrual bleeding. Now why a woman’s menstrual cycle lasts around a week instead of 2 hrs or 1 day only God knows. Why a man does not have a menstrual cycle, we will never know.
    Islam is simple by sticking with the 5 pillars, Quran, and agreed upon hadiths like the 40 Nawwaii hadiths and the Qudsi hadiths. Weak hadiths I would avoid and other doubtful matters avoid unless undue harm and burden will afflict you.

  22. Aynur said,

    @Sam – actually there are 3 different versions (at least) of the last sermon – one like you said, one that says that he is leaving the Qur’an, and one that says he’s leaving the Qur’an & his family.


    http://www.islamideena.co.cc/inikah/the-last-sermon (this one references the exact hadiths pertaining to the differing farewell sermons)

  23. Sarah said,

    Sara and Sam, yes, I think discarding all hadiths is another extreme and not necessary. I think for example knowing some of the history of the revelation is important. I also see nothing wrong with traditional rituals and pillars. My main question in this context is why hadiths present additional rules on top of what was revealed in the Quran, and in some cases even seem to cancel out rules in the Quran (stoning for adultery, for example).

    If we assume the hadiths are accurate, then one possibility would be that Muhammad’s sayings and actions were equally divinely inspired and so can rightfully supplement the Quran. In this sense the division between the Quran and the sunnah becomes arbitrary. But in fact there is an enormous difference between the nature of the two. Quran never bothers with trivia such as eyebrow plucking or dubious statements about dogs. (In fact the story of the sleepers in the Quran involves righteous people staying in a cave with a dog.) It doesn’t spell out worship rituals in black and white, rather, it asserts that a number of different faith groups are on the right path despite their different rituals. So I see the division between Quran and hadiths as being far from arbitrary.

    Another possibility would be that the hadiths describe the implementation of religion at that time, which harmlessly incorporated several things that were pre-existing, such as women keeping away from places of prayer during their period so as not to drip blood and soil the floor, or the original practice of facing Jerusalem to pray, or the circumcision of males, or certain types of punishments for crimes.

    I see this as a strong possibility, and I wouldn’t mind suspension of my salaah during menstruation so much if I can recognise that the Quran does not forbid me from worshipping God during that time. I can see it as a suspension of a traditional ritual but not a suspension of worship. Worship can go on in other ways.

    Another possibility is that there are inaccuracies in hadiths, and I am open to that possibility too although at this point I don’t feel the need to throw hadiths out the window.

    If all we had were hadiths, and no Quran, I would never entertain the possibility that Muhammad was a prophet. Would you? The fact that the Quran is completely different, coherent and reasonable, genuinely challenging and thought-provoking, makes the religion much harder to dismiss.

    Sorry to you all for rambling on, I feel like I’m repeating myself but really I’m digesting all these thoughts and reasoning out the arguments. I feel like this has been a pivotal post for me because I was almost losing faith in the whole concept of religion, but now it’s as if it has all slotted into place to some extent.

  24. Bilquis said,

    Quran calls the period a discomfort and not disease or pollution (http://iqrabismirabik.wordpress.com/2007/07/02/surah-baqara-ayah-222/ – saw the link to the site on your blogroll). In those times women used to carry a small clay vessel between their legs to collect menstrual blood or used wool and cloth like tampons which made it uncomfortable to pray, in effect, a discomfort, just like sex.

    Muslim prayer is highly ritualistic and it would have been uncomfortable to pray while on your period if you had a clay bowl between your legs or wool stuck up. If I were a 7th century Arabic Muslim woman I would have loved the idea of no prayers while on your period! Some religions that do not have ritualistic prayers do not have such conditions placed on women and prayers.

  25. Sam said,

    “And whatever the Messenger gives you, take it, and whatever he forbids you, leave it. And fear Allah: truly Allah is severe in punishment. ” Qur’an 59:7]

    The prophet’s actions are divinely inspired who Allah is al baseer or all seeing and if Allah sent a prophet he would surely make sure all his actions are divinely inspired. If his actions are not divinely inspired how could we trust him or know if his actions are correct.
    There are hadiths that are totally wrong and any hadith that contradicts the Quran of course is wrong. There are weak hadith and strong ones. The strong ones usually have multiple transmitters of strong faith. Weak ones have one or two sources and usually those sources are unreliable. If you examine the science of ahadith you will notice it is very stringent and extensive.

    Following the hadith is sunnah not obligatory unless the prophet specifically forbid certain things. But emulating the prophet and learning from him will definitely make you a better person and muslim

    • Cornelius said,


      How do you view the act of humans killing other humans? There are of course many reasons that would lead a human being to take the lives of other humans, e.g. revenge, jealousy, provocation, monetary gains etc. I find all these reasons very characteristic of us human.

      Under the principle of Jihad, the prophet led his people to war, and inevitably caused the loss of lives in the opposing side. Unfortunately, war usually has the side effects of causing the death of innocent people too, e.g. women and young children. I am against military aggressions in all forms—I can’t see anything divine in them. Can you?

      Do you really trust his actions (to kill others)?

      • caraboska said,

        Cornelius, At least about one thing we agree. I believe that even from a New Testament standpoint there is no justification for a believer in God taking part in the killing of other persons for any reason whatsoever, and plenty of justification for not doing so.

    • Ms M said,

      Wow!! Am I glad to be here. It’s going to take me some time to go through all this, but intitially I would make the following comments.

      @ Sarah: You’re right – it would be a lonely road to take if you decided to think hadith wasn’t important, lol. I do think it’s important because although there are conflicting hadith etc etc you can gain a lot of extra ”help” I suppose, with regard to how to live. BUT I think that it’s wise to exercise some caution regarding hadith. When anyone argues about what is right or wrong based on hadith I think that there is an amount of opinion going in there because you can find such conflicting hadith.

      Sam really put it quite well though. I believe it’s important to learn to distinguish between those hadith that are strong and those that are weak.

      Regarding the menstruation/salah issue you are way ahead of me. That is one I’ve never questioned probably because I’m happy to have the break (for me it is a mercy). I do get caught out over the holding and reading Quran one though. Don’t know whether those hadith are strong or weak…haven’t taken the time to follow up yet. People say to read it online (:O) but I don’t like reading it online…I like my book. Anyway, like I said, I’ve not been intellectual before over this issue.

      I wonder if some of the problems people have with the whole don’t do salah during your period has anything to do with some inner feeling that we are being told we are dirty, unclean, or whatever. It’s not like that at all of course. It’s not connected to us as people in the same way that a man who works hard on a farm and comes home covered in mud is not a ”dirty person”. But I grew up being reminded by my mother that it wasn’t so long ago that women menstruating were considered so unclean so I had just a slight ill feeling at first when I read about this issue. But then, menstruation ain’t a clean business and that is the reality. The key is that Allah, or Muhammad (pbuh), is not saying we are bad, or unclean in any serious way. We’re just not at our most clean physically, or maybe spiritually. I can get that.

      @ Nikki: I mostly agree with you when you say “holding to hadiths as religious law seems like going a bit too far”. Aside from a few obvious and strong hadith, there are too many conflicting one’s…I do look to hadtih, but I try to keep calm about it and realise that people will have differing views (as much as I can…I’m only human).

      @ Stacy: “For some reason, many people like having every tiny detail black and white rather than having to make their own judgments.” – yes I do!! 🙂 But even hadith can’t do that properly ):

      @ hennamenna: “I know that he is the perfect example and therefore we should try to follow his lead, but then it brings me to the fact that…by doing so and I elevating this man to a higher status?” No, I don’t think so. I think so long as we continue to think upon Muhammad (pbuh) as a special, yet normal, man then there should be no problem. Given that he was chosen by God to bring the word to us I think that he does have an insight into leading a good life. Therefore I think it’s quite valid to try to emulate his life in as many ways as we feel we can. (so long as those ways are backed by authentic hadith). Just my opinion.

      • Sarah said,

        Ms M – thanks for your input!

        I totally agree that “menstruation ain’t a clean business”. lol. I guess if I’m honest, I worry that it makes us spiritually deficient. The scientific article I linked to somewhere would seem to suggest that being cleaner makes us more moral. I guess this can’t be completely true, because standards of cleanliness have increased throughout history but morality hasn’t. But yes, maybe the reason we bristle at the idea of menstruating woman being “unclean” is because of the implication that it says something about our moral or spiritual state. It seems like an idea that is ingrained in us even though it’s quite counter-intuitive really.

  26. Sarah said,

    Bilquis – that is interesting, yes I imagine carrying a clay jar like that would be uncomfortable!

    Sam – I will try to learn more about the science of hadiths. I am aware that there are weak and strong ones but I don’t know a whole lot about it. It’s interesting!

  27. fariz said,

    One of the name of God is the Most Loving and the Most Merciful. The ruling to forbid a woman to pray or fast during her menstruation is simply showing His mercy and love to women. God knows best. perhaps some positions in a prayer are not suitable for a menstruating woman. and the loss of blood makes u anemic, thus weak and fatigue. concerning about hadith, there are many verses in Quran which rules u to follow the hadith. if u choose to ignore the hadith, doesn’t it means that u r rejecting some part of Quran? sorry about no paragraph. this browser im using in my mobile doesnt allow me to create one lol.

  28. Sarah said,

    Fariz – I suspect you are a man, because your description of periods bears no resemblance to the reality I experience.
    The Quran commands to follow the messenger, which I don’t think is exactly the same thing as following hadiths. Nowhere did the Quran say “pass on the messenger’s words from person to person and then 200 years later collect them into books and make laws out of them.”

  29. Ms M said,

    It may be ingrained somewhat but it’s not the view in Islam…we fully spiritual creatures. Taking a break once a month does not stop that. Furthermore, it’s all linked to our role as mothers and that is something Allah has given us. We’re entrusted with that role and we wouldn’t be if we had huge deficits morally.

    • Sarah said,

      I agree with you, although I have come across at least one sahih hadith that says women are morally deficient. :S I don’t think it can be correct. It doesn’t seem like we have to be remote from God during our periods either, if we can make dua and dhikr and recite Quran but just no salaah or fasting. Perhaps it was more for practical reasons.

  30. Achelois said,

    You know why it isn’t in the Quran? Because it doesn’t affect men. Where it affects men (sex with women on period) it is mentioned.

    • Wrestling said,

      That’s a really good point. I never noticed that before. It only mentions periods in the context of what is relevant for men.

      • Achelois said,

        It’s everything – divorce and marriage with a divorcee; division of inheritance; disciplining; even hijab. These laws exist for women in the Quran through men, when it affected men, and when men were involved in the scene.

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