Everybody has heard how menstruation is a subject that carries a lot of
stigmas and is fraught with taboos; women are made to feel guilty for a
biological process that is as natural as breathing. Menstruation for women is a
monthly cycle. It is not easy for women to carry out their activities,
especially on the first day of the period. With this context, Islam is very
particular about the menstrual period by exempting praying and fasting and
instructing women to maintain proper hygiene.
It is prohibited for a man to
divorce a menstruating woman during her menses. Sexual intercourse is also
prohibited during menstruation, for forty days after childbirth (puerperium),
during the daylight hours of the month of Ramadan (i.e. while fasting) and on
pilgrimage. The questions are pondered for discussion; Do Muslim women still
experience stigmas related to menstruation? Are they being stigmatised for not
fasting and praying while women are on their periods?
What are restrictions
based on tradition are placed on Muslim women? What initiatives are being
offered by Muslim countries to support working women in the corporate world?
This study uses a qualitative research method with a normative doctrinal
approach. The normative research method focuses on positive legal principles
written in statutory regulations and aims to conceptualise law as a written
According to Islam, the definition of menstruation is the blood that comes out
of a woman's womb in a healthy state and is not caused by giving birth or
illness at a particular time. Broadly speaking, menstruation is a biological
cycle for females every month. In this context, the rise of business in
Muslim countries is followed by an increase in working women in the service
sector. There are differences in the men's workforces and the women's
For instance, from the biological point of view, women experience
different reproduction phases from men, which are menstruation, pregnancy,
giving birth, breastfeeding, and menopause. The menstrual cycle is one of the
aspects of women's reproductive systems that differ from men. Menstruation is
divided into two, which are abnormal menstruation and regular menstruation.
Menstruation accompanied by pain until the woman cannot work is called abnormal
menstruation. Considering reality, In Muslim countries, Menstrual paid leave
should be a mandatory maternity right that must be fulfilled by employers for
women while working. There should be a move from 'period-shaming' to a
Islam holds that a woman who is menstruation is not spiritually or physically
dirty; rather, the impurity is "ritualistic." For participating in various acts
of worship, such as Salah or before touching the Holy Quran, ritualistic purity
is required. This can be accomplished by performing ritual washings such as wudu
(for small pollutants) and ghusl (for major impurities).
The fact that the wudu
is rendered ineffective by bodily excretions like menstruation, farting, and
urine implies that the necessity of ceremonial purity is not inherently gendered
or exclusive. For instance, according to Sahih Muslim Hadith, there was no
practice of performing untouchability with menstruating women, nor was she
restricted from touching things.
Book 3, Number 0587:
'A'isha reported: The Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) said to me: Get
me the mat from the mosque. I said: I am menstruating. Upon this, he remarked:
Your menstruation is not in your hand '
Book 3, Number 0591:
'A'isha reported: The Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) would recline
in my lap when I was menstruating, and recite the Quran.
Book 3, Number 0577:
'A'isha reported: When anyone amongst us (amongst the wives of the Holy Prophet)
menstruated, the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) asked her to tie a
waist-wrapper over her (body) and then embraced her'.
The Qur'an makes specific mention of menstruation in Quran 2:222 which
وَيَسْـَٔلُونَكَ عَنِ ٱلْمَحِيضِ ۖ قُلْ هُوَ أَذًۭى فَٱعْتَزِلُوا۟ ٱلنِّسَآءَ
فِى ٱلْمَحِيضِ ۖ وَلَا تَقْرَبُوهُنَّ حَتَّىٰ يَطْهُرْنَ ۖ فَإِذَا تَطَهَّرْنَ
فَأْتُوهُنَّ مِنْ حَيْثُ أَمَرَكُمُ ٱللَّهُ ۚ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ يُحِبُّ
ٱلتَّوَّٰبِينَ وَيُحِبُّ ٱلْمُتَطَهِّرِينَ ٢٢٢
They ask you ˹O Prophet˺ about menstruation. Say, "Beware of its harm! So keep
away, and do not have intercourse with your wives during their monthly cycles
until they are purified.1 When they purify themselves, then you may approach
them in the manner specified by Allah. Surely Allah loves those who always turn
to Him in repentance and those who purify themselves.".
Remarking on the discussion, the language is taken to imply that sexual
relations during menstruation are prohibited. Women must perform ritual
cleansing (ghusl) before resuming religious duties or sexual relations upon
completion of their menstruation.
Sexual intercourse is also prohibited during menstruation, for forty days
after childbirth (puerperium), during the daylight hours of the month of Ramadan
(i.e. while fasting) and on pilgrimage. While in the sanctuary (in Ahram) at
Mecca, pilgrims are not allowed to have intercourse, and marriages performed
during the pilgrimage are invalid.
Accordingly, Muslim women going through menstrual bleeding are exempt from
fasting and praying but have to make them up after menstruation. It is
prohibited for a man to divorce a menstruating woman during her menses. Women
are supposed to maintain proper hygiene and should not perform prayer. They do
not have to make up for the prayers they missed during menstruation. When the
menstruating period is over, women must perform ritual purification (ghusl).
For women who are on their periods throughout Ramadan, there is also a break
from fasting. However, neither the Hadith nor the Quran justifies this
flexibility. According to scholars, bodily discharges like those from
intercourse, wilful vomiting, and menstruation weaken the body. However, this
understanding should not be confused with the weakening that results directly
from fasting, which is the entire point of the holy month of Ramadan. A woman
can be another explanation for this calmness. Menstruating is also physically
draining and shouldn't be burdened further at this time. Women are, however,
obliged to make up for missed fasts, but this is not the case for prayers, which
are otherwise required.
A few Islamic scholars have a radical interpretation of Islam's teachings and
use phrases like "forbidden" and "prohibited" about menstruation. The simple act
of forbidding something implies that it is impure and subject to punishment.
Such an interpretation may be supported by patriarchal biases, which may also
cause women to be stigmatised in various Muslim communities worldwide.
Therefore, it is crucial for health to relax the body's state during the first
and second days of the menstrual cycle.
Menstruation for women also has
benefits, such as:
- Trying to identify signs and infection prevention. Menstrual blood's
colour, consistency, and scent can help doctors determine whether a woman
has the condition early on so that preventative measures can be implemented.
- Can halt ageing in its tracks. Because menstruation causes their bodies'
iron levels to drop, women generally age more slowly than men. More
crucially, lower iron levels in women can also lower the risk of heart
disease, Alzheimer's disease, and stroke.
- Organic cleaner. As a result of the extra iron and harmful germs
released during menstruation, the risk of cardiovascular cancer and many
other diseases is decreased.
- Get rid of your frustration and rage. Menstruation is said to be able to
relieve the annoyance of a "stuck" heart. Traditional Chinese medicine holds
that the liver plays a crucial part in the menstrual cycle. Women frequently
feel dissatisfied, furious, and tight in their chest when their heart energy
- Both appearance and mood can improve. The hormones produced during
menstruation contribute to improved mood and appearance; typically, by the
third or fourth day of menstruation, women feel and look better than they
However, women frequently complain of pain during their periods, which makes it
difficult for them to concentrate at work.
Menstrual Leave - Legal Framework
While the debate around period leave has a long way to go, here is a list of all
the countries where women are provided paid menstrual leave.
- Indonesia - Two days per month.
- South Korea -Women must be paid out for unused menstruation leave.
- Taiwan -Three days per month are not counted as sick leave.
- Zambia -One day off per month.
- Japan - According to a New York Times report, Japan has offered
menstrual leave policies since 1947, when a law was passed allowing any
woman with painful periods, or whose job might exacerbate period pain, to
take time off.
- China - According to reports on China. Women can take one or two days
off to produce a certificate from a legal medical institute or hospital.
Many businesses and organisations in the UK and Australia have also incorporated
a period leave policy into their local founding documents. In the case of India,
the state of Bihar in 1992 gave women who worked for the state's government
services a two-day leave. Then, in 2017, a Mumbai-based digital media company
announced the "first day of leave," a one-day break for women. For all of the
organization's female employees, the policy was implemented.
The private schools
in Kerala implemented a period leave policy for all the female instructors
working there in 2017 following a similar regulation. The menstrual cycle
varies among countries and religions. Regardless of faith, it is acceptable to
argue that stigma and taboos still exist worldwide. There are pose and cons to
Menstrual Paid Leave, which are remarked in two segments as a following
Menstrual Leave has Advantages 
- Women typically have headaches, stomachaches, and nausea during their
periods; menstrual leave gives them flexibility and the ability to relax.
- Taking a menstrual break is seen to show respect for and appreciation of
women as they indeed are.
- In essence, menstruation leave includes the payment of full earnings,
which means that even though female employees miss two days of work, they
continue to be paid.
- If approved, period leave would offer women a healthy atmosphere that
complies with their right to health, allowing them to manage any disease and
discomfort brought on by their menstrual cycle.
- Women would have the option to take time off thanks to the policies,
giving them more flexibility at work.
- The policies might lessen the stigma associated with menstruation and
increase awareness of it among the general public.
- Women would be able to talk openly about this biological process on
public venues thanks to the policies, bringing the idea of "Normalizing
Periods" into the mainstream.
- Menstruation would be normalised and de-stigmatized in these interactions,
which would make them and the custom stigmatised.
Menstrual leave has Drawbacks, including the following:
- Some female employees/workers are menstruation but are not in
discomfort, and they request permission to take a menstrual break.
- Some female employees or labourers claim to be menstruating despite not
actually having periods and request permission to take paid time off.
Menstruation is a valid reason to miss work and still receive compensation.
- The idea of granting period leave is mostly attributable to the socially
pervasive feminist wave that will lead to feminism, according to the
numerous organisations in the society.
- The provision of period leave has thcanorce the notion that women are unsuited
for the workforce, which could result in increased discrimination against women.
- Women may be reluctant to take use of their granted leave because doing
so could feed misconceptions about how weak women are.
- Periodical leave policies may be viewed as a breach of the fundamental
right to equality and contribute to the widening gender disparity.
- Menstrual leave, according to certain women's organisations, might make women
Especially if most employees are women, the company may suffer if female
employees choose not to report to work due to menstruation.
The menstrual cycle varies among countries and religions. Regardless of faith,
it is acceptable to argue that stigma and taboos still exist in our culture. Men
and women need to talk more about periods so that women don't feel ashamed of
bleeding and can do so with dignity and safety in private. Women have proven
themselves in all fields and areas of the workforce in this contemporary era of
women's empowerment, from participating in the military to being on the front
lines during the pandemic.
However, despite these developments, the idea of menstruation is still
stigmatised, and legal institutions still do not recognise period leave.
Including the leave period in the legal frameworks will increase public
awareness of menstruation, removing the social stigma associated with the
menstrual cycle and forbidding its treatment as a taboo.
Hence Menstruation is implied to be a biological and natural occurrence over
which women have no control, and as such, they should be permitted to take
period leave. This would also be beneficial to a woman's health.
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Written By: Sayed Qudrat Hashimy