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Origin of Menses

Posted on Thursday, 21st March 2013 in Blog

Question

I recently heard that when a woman is on her menses her sins are forgiven. I was also told a story to go with this. It was said to me that Eve, peace be upon her, was the first woman to undergo menses and was in such extreme pain to the extent that she was in tears. Therefore, a command came from Allah that ‘your daughters sins will be forgiven (ie, womankind) when they too undergo the same thing’. Is this authentic?

Answer

Although, I am not aware of this tradition, the principle is sound since there is great reward in bearing the trials one undergoes on the condition one shows patience and contentment with the Divine decree. The Messenger of Allah said:

ما يصيب المؤمن من نصب ولا وصب ولا هم ولا حزن ولا أذى حتى الشوكة يشاكها إلا كفّر الله بها من خطاياه

“No believer is afflicted by any toil, pain, concern, grief or harm –even a thorn prick – except that Allah will atone for some of his errors thereby.”[1]

Also, when one is afflicted with some illness or some other factor whereby one cannot perform the acts of worship one usually does, one is rewarded as if one has done them throughout that period of illness. The Messenger of Allah r said:

إذا مرض العبد أو سافر كتب له مثل ما كان يعمل مقيما صحيحا

“If the servant falls ill or travels, that which he performed whilst he was a resident and healthy is written for him (in reward).”[2]

Ibn ʿĀbidīn, the famous Ḥanafī jurist, relates that it is recommended when a woman is on her menses to make ablution with the intention to draw near to Allah and go to the place in her home where she normally prays. She should sit there and make remembrance of Allah for the duration she would pray her normal prayer. The respected scholar relates that if she does so she will gain the reward of the best prayer she ever prayed.[3]

What is the origin of menstrual bleeding?

There is a difference of opinion concerning the first woman who experienced menstrual bleeding. Some of the scholars said that it was our mother Eve and others say that it was the women of the Children of Israel.

The first opinion is taken due to the following traditions:

ʿĀʾishah relates:

“We headed out with the intention for Hajj alone but when we reached Sarif, my menstrual bleeding started. The Messenger of Allah r came to me and found me crying. He asked, ‘What is wrong? Have you started your bleeding?’ I affirmed that I had so. He said, ‘This is a matter that Allah has decreed for the daughters of Eve. Carry out the rites of Hajj just as any pilgrim would but do not circumambulate the House…’”[4]     

Ibn ʿAbbās, may Allah be pleased with him, relates:

“When Adam ate from the forbidden tree, he said, ‘My Lord, Eve made it seemingly for me.’ Then Allah said, ‘Therefore, I have made it so from here on that she will not fall pregnant or give birth except with great toil and I have trialled her twice in the month.’ And so she began to bleed, and it was said to her, ‘This period is for you and your daughters.’”[5]

The second opinion takes its position from the following tradition related from Ibn Masʿūd, may Allah be pleased with him:

“Both the men and women from amongst the Children of Israel use to pray together and the women used to gaze upon the men and so menstrual bleeding was cast upon them and they were prevented from entering the places of prayer.”[6] 

How do we conjoin between these two positions?

The scholars say that the first woman who was trialled with menstrual bleeding was Eve but it was made more severe and it was prolonged for the women of the Children of Israel as a punishment for them.

©Abu Zahra Foundation

[1] Bukhārī and Muslim

[2] Bukhārī and Muslim

[3] This is mentioned in the Sunan of Dāramī that ʿUqbah b. ʿĀmir used to order his wife to do so and both ʿAṭāʾ and Makḥūl al-Hudhalī commended women to do so as well.

[4] Bukhārī

[5] A rigorously authentic tradition related by al-Ḥākim and Ibn al-Mundhir

[6] A rigorously authentic tradition related by ʿAbd ar-Razzāq

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