Debunking Period Shame Through Islamic Teachings

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Debunking Period Shame Through Islamic Teachings

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“This is a thing which Allah has ordained for the daughters of Adam.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Book 29, Hadith 81).

Growing up in India, I experienced period shame from my first menstruation. Our society’s taboo against openly discussing menstruation made us feel impure and ashamed. For instance, during Ramadan, we would hide while eating to avoid being seen by male family members. Many traditions, such as not touching pickles or entering the kitchen, stem from the belief that menstruating women are impure. Recently, a tragic case highlighted this issue: an adolescent girl committed suicide due to the psychological trauma of her first period, unable to bear the stress and anxiety (Source: Indian Express).

Breaking the Myths
Menstruating women are often considered impure and are not allowed to touch prayer mats. However, this notion is not supported by Islamic teachings. In Sahih Muslim, Aisha (RA) reports that the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said, “Your menstruation is not in your hand,” when she hesitated to get a mat from the mosque due to her period (Sahih Muslim, Book 3, Hadith 587).

Elders often avoid sharing bedding and utensils with menstruating women, who are also discouraged from participating in social gatherings or entering the kitchen. Yet, Aisha (RA) reports that the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) would recline in her lap and recite the Qur’an while she was menstruating (Sahih Muslim, Book 3, Hadith 591). He would also drink from the same spot on a vessel she used while menstruating (Sahih Muslim, Book of Menstruation, Hadith 298).

Addressing Period Silence
The culture of silence around menstruation leads to stress, anxiety, and school dropouts among Muslim girls. However, in Islam, menstruation is not a taboo. Many hadiths document women openly discussing menstruation with the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). For example, Aisha (RA) recounts that Asma (daughter of Shakal) asked the Prophet about washing after menstruation (Sahih Muslim, Book 3, Hadith 649). Fatimah b. Abu Hubaish also inquired about continuous bleeding, and the Prophet clarified it was a vein and not menstruation (Sahih Muslim, Book 3, Hadith 652).

Islamic teachings indicate that menstruating women are not impure. Women were allowed to offer salah in clothes with period stains after cleaning them with water (Sahih Muslim, Book 3, Hadith 291). The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) would embrace his menstruating wives after they tied a waist-wrapper (Sahih Muslim, Book 3, Hadith 577). Additionally, Aisha (RA) mentioned that the Prophet extended his head from the mosque for her to wash while she was menstruating (Sahih Muslim, Book 3, Hadith 584).

Menstruating women can perform all Hajj rituals except Tawaf around the Kaaba. Aisha (RA) shared that when she got her menses during Hajj, the Prophet said, “This is a thing which Allah has ordained for the daughters of Adam. So do what all the pilgrims do except for the Tawaf around the Kaaba” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Book 29, Hadith 81).

Educate, Raise Awareness & Empower
In Islam, menstruating women should be treated with respect, dignity, and normalcy. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) never mistreated a menstruating woman. Hadiths clearly indicate that Muslim women should not be considered impure physically or spiritually. The Prophet’s respectful treatment of menstruating women serves as a model for Muslims to follow, breaking any social stigma or period shame.

Conclusion
Islamic teachings emphasize the normalcy and respect associated with menstruation. The actions and words of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) illustrate that menstruation should not be a source of shame or stigma. By adhering to these guidelines, we can foster a more supportive and inclusive environment for menstruating women.

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