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Author Topic: Spiritual Elements of Menstruation?  (Read 3537 times)
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« on: Aug 24, 2009 06:48 PM »

salamu alaikum,

sisters (maybe brothers too) I could use your help. my wife is a bit depressed with the start of ramadan because she is having her period and hasn't been able to fast yet, and because of her natural cycle, this means she will also be missing the last four nights of ramadan and eid, most likely

of course she understands that it is part of life and from allah, and to have sabr, but she is naturally down about it. I do remind her that she can make du'a and dhikr but she says its not the same (which I can understand, but I'm trying to keep her spirits up)

from time to time i have heard some imams talk about some of the spiritual elements (benefits even) of menstruation for women, like I heard one imam talk about how because of menses women have a recurrent connection and reminder with the natural world while men do not have an equivalent reminder and are often divorced from the natural reality and connectedness with allah

i've heard a few other things in the past, but being a man i never paid that much attention to it so i don't remember much of it. do any of you have any thoughts or references about some of the spiritual elements of menstruation, benefits, the mercy of it, having sabr with it, or anything else that might make it easier for her to cope? please share if you do, i really want to help cheer her up, thanks and may allah reward

salam
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jannah
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« Reply #1 on: Aug 24, 2009 09:02 PM »

walaikum salaam wrt,

it is very kind of you to think of your wife at this time Smiley may Allah reward you and increase both your happiness in a marriage of khair. it's definitely a huge downer when you can't fast/pray in ramadan and especially during the last 10 days, the 27th and Eid.

the way i have heard scholars talk about it is to encourage sisters to believe this is a rahmaa and ease given to women from Allah. fasting continuously through the month 30 days straight is very difficult. one year it happened to me and i was praying to get a break but i didn't Smiley and sometimes u miss as much as half of ramadan. such is the way to teach us perhaps that dhikr of Allah is not just praying or fasting but must be manifested in everything, all parts of our lives. perhaps we make fasting and prayer a crutch and expect that it is enough that it *is* our dhikr, but when it is taken away from us we then have to think about how we are actually remembering Allah along with our everyday actions.

so i would tell your wife to make this an opportunity of finding ways to connect with Allah outside the 'usual' and to be thankful Allah has given her a 'gift' of shortening the long fasts Wink
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Abdurahman
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« Reply #2 on: Aug 25, 2009 01:38 AM »

Asalamualaikum wrt wb,


All praise be to Allah.



The scholars state that Ramadan is the month of the Quran, and that we should revive the Quran in our homes, hearts, and spirits.  The Quran was not revealed to decorate walls, or to be placed in pendants to beautify the chests of women,  rather the Quran is a way of life, and we must revive its commands, and stay away from its limits, and believe in its guidance and news of the unseen, we must make this month the month of the Quran.



As for your wife, it is permissible for her to listen to the recitation of the Quran and follow the translation of its meaning, and also listen to other beneficial durus, and keep busy with beneficial acts.


Also, you may remind her that her taking care of the duties that are upon her, such as taking care of the home and children in a way that is pleasing to her husband are acts of worship that she will be rewarded for, even if she isn't physically engaging in worship in the Masjid.


And Allah knows best.
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um aboodi
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« Reply #3 on: Aug 25, 2009 10:50 AM »

salam

Masha'Allah, that's really nice and thoughtful of you bro for considering your wife's feelings around her period.

My advice is to reassure her emotionally and be extra loving and caring as women are usually more emotional during this time due to hormonal surges.  Also, make sincere dua for her during those days and let her know that you are making lots dua for yourself and her.  Maybe ask her what duas she wants to make and you make them on her behalf during the last days of Ramadan and during qiyam.  It would be really nice if you can read/recite  the quran together, i.e. you reading while she is listening so that both of you reap the rewards.  Then you can both dwell on the meaning of those ayat by reading the tafseer.

And who knows, she may become pregnant during Ramadan and skip her period all together and be able to fast the last days and celebrate eid too!!   

As to the original question about spiritual aspects of menustration, I don't know about that.  Most women hate their periods, although they know it is a natural thing. 

take care
wassalam
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JustOne
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« Reply #4 on: Aug 25, 2009 11:33 PM »

uhh.... i love the positive twist, but let's face it ----- while the "break" may be welcome at ANY OTHER time of the year, it SUCKS in Ramadan.

the only positive spiritual spin i can put on it: for maybe 6-7 years now, i've cried my eyes out throughout the year begging Allah to grant me the last 10 nights of Ramadan... and whenever it has worked out, I've been that much more diligent in my ibadaat.

So yeah... maybe ask her to pray for next time?
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se7en
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« Reply #5 on: Aug 26, 2009 07:03 PM »


as salaamu alaykum wa rahmatullah,

I think we have to change our mindset about menstruation in general and our paradigm of what spirituality and 'ibadah is. (Is that my psych major coming out here or what Smiley)  Let me tell you why:

Being in a state of menstruation/post-natal bleeding/etc means that a person is in a state of ritual impurity, emphasis on *ritual*, which simply means that a person is not allowed to perform certain specific acts like the five prayers, touching the Mushaf (Quran in Arabic), etc.  It's not that the person is "dirty", which some people think, and I think that affects the way we think about this time negatively and maybe even our sense of self and womanhood.  If that were the case, then wouldn't ALL acts of ibadah and communication with Allah be prohibited, like reciting the Quran from memory, saying dhikr, or making duaa'?  These are very intimate spiritual actions which put a person in direct connection and communication with Allah, but they are allowed for us during this time.  There is even a hadith in which Aisha (radiAllahu anhaa) narrates a time when she happened to be on her menses and the Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wa salam) was relaxing with his head in her lap.  All these things strengthen, at least in my mind, the idea that these prohibitions should be considered a rahmaa from Allah, to grant us some time for comfort and rejuvenation when we are physically feeling weak, tired etc. and not that it's a time where we're forced to be distant from Allah and 'ibadah.

I really like what Jannah said here:
Quote
such is the way to teach us perhaps that dhikr of Allah is not just praying or fasting but must be manifested in everything, all parts of our lives. perhaps we make fasting and prayer a crutch and expect that it is enough that it *is* our dhikr, but when it is taken away from us we then have to think about how we are actually remembering Allah along with our everyday actions.


I think opening up our understanding of what dhikr and 'ibadah are is very important.  There is also immense reward in good deeds that relate to helping out and being in the service of other people; and this too is a type of ibadah and way of getting close to Allah.  Maybe this time has been specified for us so that we can focus on performing *these* types of deeds, instead of direct 'ibadah.  If everyone is busy in salah and recitation of Quran, then who will have time to assist their brother/sister in their needs, help the poor or hungry, etc?

"Allah fi 'awn al-abdi makaana al-abdu fi 'awni akhihi" - 'Allah is in the service/assistance of [His] servant, as long as the servant aids his brother' (from al arba'een an-nawwiyya)

"Whoever feeds a fasting person will have a reward like that of the fasting person, without any reduction in his reward." (narrated in at-tirmidhi)


Here are some suggestions for what a non-praying person can do during this time in Ramadan:

1- If there are iftaars at the masjid, volunteer to serve and help clean up afterwards.
2- Buy a huge jug of Zam Zam water and pour into little bottles and distribute them to everyone at the masjid with little bags of dates.
3- Babysit during Taraweeh so that the mothers (and everyone else!) can pray with khushu' and concentration.
4- Cook iftaar for sisters who are expecting, elderly, students away from home, etc in your community and deliver it to their homes.
5- Do any deep cleaning, laundry, eid shopping etc that needs to be done now, so that you can fully focus on Quran/salah/etc when you are fasting.  You can also prep and freeze some food now so that you don't have to cook iftar on other days when you are fasting.
6- Spend a lot of time in duaa, and memorize the duaas for different actions (entering the masjid, leaving the home etc).
7- Listen to this duaa:
http://jannah.org/jannahradio/ghamdi_dua.mp3

With the translation: http://jannah.org/jannahradio/dua_ghamdi_trans.txt
8- Spend time in Salah 'ala an-Nabiy, an often overlooked and neglected type of dhikr.
9- Memorize Allah's names and their meanings.
10- Make a CD of beautiful Quran recitation and duaas in mp3 and distribute it to people at the masjid.
11- Make Eid/Ramadan goodie bags for the kids so that they love and feel attached to Ramadan.
12- Call friends you have lost touch and reconnect.


Ok y'all be creative Smiley  let's see if we can come up with 50 tips/suggestions.  These are 12, so who can suggest a #13? 14, 15, 16?







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se7en
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« Reply #6 on: Aug 27, 2009 07:21 AM »


13 - Do the adhkaar of morning and evening regularly

(link to a video w/ audio of the adhkar:
)
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jannah
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« Reply #7 on: Aug 27, 2009 08:24 PM »

14. Cook some nice dishes and send to the Masjid where they have Iftars for the community.
15. Buy some suhoor type quickitems and give to some of the poorer children in the masjid. (they don't eat iftar bc their family can't afford it)
16. Find out who is sick in your area or in the hospital and go visit them.
17. Look for new converts/new ppl/ppl who have lost touch with the community and invite them over for iftar.
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Barr
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« Reply #8 on: Aug 29, 2009 03:45 AM »

Assalamu'alaikum


Frankly, no ibadah (ie. solah, sawm) is not equal to with ibadah.
Frankly, it could get one down.

But...

Those who are not tested on the absence of a desired thing, would not feel the sweetness of longing for it.

The monthly friend, is a reminder of what we would not be doing, what we would have loved to do.
So, when this monthly friend is gone, do what a woman gotta do, with fervour, steadfastness, zeal and much sincerity when she returns to solah and sawm. This, is a grace from Allah, that He takes away something so that we do not take for granted the time when we could do those ibadah.

It is in the scarcity of things that they are treasured. Smiley
For only in its absence, would we feel the longing for its sweetness. : sis

I love being made a woman, alhamdulillah.  purplehijabisis

P.S. On having menses on the last part of the month: Lailatul Qadr is for those who seek. At the the end of the day, it could be at ANY night of the month that ALlah wishes. But at the end of the day too, it is not the night... it is the Owner of the night that we seek. Allah is the Most Generous Smiley

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jannah
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« Reply #9 on: Aug 29, 2009 07:54 AM »

That's true sister. There are also other kinds of Ibadah and good deeds are a form of Ibadah too that we can do so we don't feel so down Smiley

Again I've been through 30 days straight fasting. It's tough. You guys might experience it when you're pregnant too. It's very hard. Truly being a woman is a rahmaa  sis

I like that point about lailatul qadr. jazakiAllah khairan.


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se7en
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« Reply #10 on: Sep 08, 2009 06:33 AM »

as salaamu alaykum,

Inspired by our discussion: (please download attachment for formatting and footnotes)

Closed Doors and Opened Eyes: Spirituality for the Non-Fasting
by Shazia Ahmad

Ramadan is a blessed time of year often characterized by certain specific forms of worship.   Fasting, reading Quran and performing salah are the main focus of many people's time and energy during this month.  However, for most women a portion of Ramadan - or in some cases the month in its entirety - passes by without being able to engage in these acts, due namely to menstruation or postnatal bleeding.  Often this leads us to feeling disconnected from the sacredness and specialness of Ramadan, and feeling deprived of that spiritual rejuvenation and increase in iman many believers experience in these days.

In order for us to find a sense of spirituality during this time, we may need to amend our way of thinking about it, and perhaps even the paradigm we construct about 'ibadah [worship] and spirituality as a whole.

The vast majority of women's lives are structured in such a way that there are intervals of time in which 'ibadah is restricted.  Firstly, we must understand and appreciate this as part of Allah's creation, which He has fashioned in perfection, order and beauty. He has created us in the best of molds , and this includes the varying physical phases we experience. A similar pattern can be found in many aspects of His creation.  He (swt) grants set phases for such things as the sun and moon , and even assigns certain days for triumph and for failure in the lives of man, as He states in Surat Ali'Imran: "Such days (of varying fortunes) We give to men and men by turns: that Allah may know those who believe and may choose witnesses from among you."  We are told in the Quran that for everything Allah has "appointed a due proportion,"  that "for every matter there is an appointed time given,"  and we can include in this our physiological cycles. Everything is done with a set purpose, in a set time; "what has passed you by was not going to befall you, and what has befallen you was not going to pass you by."   Recognizing and believing in this is a righteous action on our part, an action of the heart and mind in confirming that Allah indeed is the One who controls and manages everything in a perfect order, and that His will is always realized in the best time, manner, and place.

It is also important for us to understand that in the times of menstruation or post-natal bleeding one is not 'dirty', as we may have been taught culturally.  While blood itself is considered a material impurity [najas], a menstruating woman or one with post-natal bleeding is considered to be in a state of 'ritual impurity' [hadath].  This distinction, which can be found in any basic text of fiqh, is not insignificant.  Being in a state of ritual impurity really has no deeper connotation or implication as to a person's worth or standing before Allah.  Both men and women are at times in this state, and ritual purity [tahara] and ritual impurity are interesting concepts that are not always connected with what we would normally consider 'filthy' or 'clean'. For example, one can perform tayammum, literally dusting one's hands and face with earth, and then legally be considered in a state of ritual purity.  There is even a hadith in which Umm al-Mu'mineen 'Aisha (radiAllahu anhaa) narrates that at a time when she  happened to be on her menses the Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wa salam) rested his head on her lap in a moment of repose, and even recited from the Quran.  If she were truly impure in the ordinary understanding of the word, would our noble Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wasalam) have rested on her in such a way?

Being in a state of ritual impurity, therefore, does not necessarily mean one is 'unclean' in the conventional use of the term. Accordingly, the related prohibitions do not necessarily imply that one is forced to be distant from Allah and the means of getting close to Him. If this premise were true, then all acts of 'ibadah and communication with the Divine would have likewise been made prohibited, like saying dhikr with the tongue and making dua'. These are very intimate spiritual actions which put a person in direct connection and communication with Allah, yet are allowed for us during this time. 

All these things strengthen the idea that the restrictions during menstruation and post-natal bleeding are an expression of Allah's mercy and kindness towards us, more so than as a type of forced estrangement from Him (swt).  They can be regarded as a dispensation, to allow us an interim for comfort and rejuvenation while in a state of physical weakness and tiredness. This may also lead us to return to salah, fasting and reading Quran with renewed energy, interest and passion.

Another wisdom of these intervals of time and the related prohibitions may be in expanding our understanding of 'ibadah, its types, and the means by which we can draw nearer to Allah ta'ala.  It may be that other commendable, but often overlooked, righteous actions are being omitted in our enthusiasm for those that are more commonly performed.  Perhaps it is only when the doors are closed on some that we begin to see and appreciate the others.  For example, Dua' and Salah 'ala an-Nabiy are two of the most virtuous and beautiful types of 'ibadah that we often neglect, which can be performed at any time.  The Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wa salam) is reported to have said that, "Dua is the very essence of 'ibadah" , and in many places in the Quran Allah calls upon us to invoke Him in dua': '"And your Lord says: Pray unto me: and I will hear your prayer" ; "Call upon your Lord humbly and in secret" .  Sufficient to explain the virtue of Salah 'ala an-Nabiy is the hadith reported by Ibn Mas'oud (radiAllahu anhu), that the Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wasalam) said, "The nearest people to me on the Day of Rising will be those who have said the most prayers on me."

There is also immense reward in helping and be in the service of other people. This too is a type of 'ibadah and means of drawing closer to Allah (swt).  If everyone is busy in personalized worship - superogatory prayers and recitation of Quran, then who will have time to assist their brother or sister in their needs, help the poor or hungry, and take care of other problems and issues of the community and society?
The Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wa salam) said, "Allah is in the service/assistance of [His] servant, as long as the servant aids his brother."   He also said, "Whoever feeds a fasting person will have a reward like that of the fasting person, without any reduction in his reward." 

A deeper lesson we can discern from the time of ritual impurity and the  prohibition of salah and fasting can be in changing our perception of dhikr.  A sister insightfully commented on this issue:
"Such is the way to teach us, perhaps, that dhikr of Allah is not just praying or fasting, but must be manifested in everything, [in] all parts of our lives. Perhaps we make fasting and prayer a crutch, and expect that it is enough, that that in itself is our dhikr. But it is when it is taken away from us that we have to think about how we are actually remembering Allah along with our everyday actions."

A sagacious shaykh once said that a person is inside of salah what they are outside of it; meaning that the state of focus, devotion and humility we all want in our prayer is something we must develop and cultivate outside of it, in the wider arena of our daily lives.  Do we simply remember Allah at the times of prayer, and otherwise live in a relative state of ghaflah [heedlessness]?  The times when the doors to salah are closed may be when our eyes are opened to our true spiritual state, and give us opportune moments for introspection and reflection. 

May Allah help us make the best of Ramadan and use every moment of its blessed days and nights to be in dhikr and 'ibadah to Him.  May He make it a means of uplifting us spiritually, enlivening our hearts and awakening our hope and desire to draw ever nearer to Him.  May He accept our deeds and grant us sincerity and devotion, Ameen.

 Here are a few additional suggestions as to what a non-praying/fasting person can do during Ramadan:
•   If there are iftars being hosted at the masjid, volunteer to serve and help clean up afterwards.
•   Buy a jug of Zamzam water and pour into little bottles and distribute them to everyone at the masjid with dates.
•   Babysit during Taraweeh so that the mothers (and everyone else!) can pray with khushu' and concentration.
•   Cook iftar for sisters who are expecting, elderly, students away from home, etc in your community and deliver it to their homes.
•   Do any deep cleaning, laundry, Eid shopping etc that needs to be done now, so that you can fully focus on Quran/salah/etc when you are fasting. You can also prep and freeze some food now so that you don't have to cook iftar on other days when you are fasting.
•   Spend a lot of time in dua', and memorize the duas for different actions (entering the masjid, leaving the home etc).
•   Listen to this dua':
http://jannah.org/jannahradio/ghamdi_dua.mp3
with the translation: http://jannah.org/jannahradio/dua_ghamdi_trans.txt
•   Spend time in Salah 'ala an-Nabiy, an often overlooked and neglected type of dhikr.
•   Memorize Allah's names and their meanings.
•   Make a CD of beautiful Quran recitation and duaas in mp3 and distribute it to people at the masjid.
•   Make Eid/Ramadan goodie bags for the kids so that they love and feel attached to Ramadan.
•   Do the adhkar for morning and evening narrated from the Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wasalam).
•   Remember to seek out Laylatul Qadr throughout the month and do not let even one night go by without making dua'.  Laylatul Qadr could possibly be on any night in Ramadan, not just on the 27th.
•   Find out who is sick in your area or in the hospital and go visit them.
•   Look for new converts, those who are newly practicing or people who have lost touch with the community and invite them over for iftar.






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jannah
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« Reply #11 on: Sep 08, 2009 07:50 AM »

Awesome article ma'shaAllah!!!! Grin I see your article was picked up on Suhaib Webb's blog!!! Good job shaykha  shaykh
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BrKhalid
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« Reply #12 on: Sep 08, 2009 08:10 AM »

Asalaamu Alaikum  bro

Quote
A sagacious shaykh once said that a person is inside of salah what they are outside of it; meaning that the state of focus, devotion and humility we all want in our prayer is something we must develop and cultivate outside of it, in the wider arena of our daily lives.  Do we simply remember Allah at the times of prayer, and otherwise live in a relative state of ghaflah [heedlessness]?  The times when the doors to salah are closed may be when our eyes are opened to our true spiritual state, and give us opportune moments for introspection and reflection.


I can't be the only one who wishes Sr se7en would share more of her insights with us  bro

But alhamdulillah we also appreciate there isn't always time to do so.


Well worth the read for those who haven't followed this thread thus far.
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« Reply #13 on: Sep 08, 2009 05:36 PM »

salaam

Do your iftar parties during this time. When I cook I have to taste to make sure its good!

Thats one thing I miss about being married is to be able to do my own iftar parties in my house...  A friend of mine was just saying how she remembered going to iftar at my house last yr...
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JustOne
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« Reply #14 on: Sep 09, 2009 03:22 AM »

how about:

send small, packaged traditional iftaar for your neighbors ...

the block i live in is all non-muslim, so i'm hoping it'll count as dawah - my husband are planning to do this over the weekend inshaAllah...

oh and btw: excellent article, mashaAllah. i also miss your wise posts, but i completely understand.
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