Surah al-Baqarah (The Cow) 2 : 222

وَيَسْـَٔلُونَكَ عَنِ ٱلْمَحِيضِ ۖ قُلْ هُوَ أَذًى فَٱعْتَزِلُوا۟ ٱلنِّسَآءَ فِى ٱلْمَحِيضِ ۖ وَلَا تَقْرَبُوهُنَّ حَتَّىٰ يَطْهُرْنَ ۖ فَإِذَا تَطَهَّرْنَ فَأْتُوهُنَّ مِنْ حَيْثُ أَمَرَكُمُ ٱللَّهُ ۚ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ يُحِبُّ ٱلتَّوَّٰبِينَ وَيُحِبُّ ٱلْمُتَطَهِّرِينَ

Translations

 
 Muhsin Khan
 Pickthall
 Yusuf Ali
Quran Project
And they ask you about menstruation. Say, "It is harm, so keep away from wives during menstruation. And do not approach them until they are pure. And when they have purified themselves, then come to them from where Allāh has ordained for you. Indeed, Allāh loves those who are constantly repentant and loves those who purify themselves."

1. Lessons/Guidance/Reflections/Gems

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Explanatory Note

The next point the sūrah deals with is a delicate and most private one, but here again marital relations are elevated above the physical contact, even when the discussion is concerned with the most physical aspect of married life, namely, sexual relations:

Within marriage, sex is not an end in itself, but a means to achieving much more profound goals in life, not least of which is reproduction and the continuation of human life. While it may satisfy the physical desire, sex during menstruation is not only unclean and carries health risks for both man and woman, but also fails to serve its fundamental objective. As a matter of fact, sex during menstruation is not very attractive to normal healthy people because it is not conducive to reproduction. Sound human nature tends to avoid it. On the other hand, during cleanliness sex fulfils the natural desire and achieves a natural objective. Therefore, the question raised is given a clear answer of prohibition: “They ask you about menstruation. Say: ‘It is an unclean condition; so keep aloof from women during menstruation, and do not draw near to them until they are cleansed.’

However, that is not the end of the matter. Sexual behaviour outside the menstruation period must conform to certain manners and standards of decency and propriety: “When they have cleansed themselves, you may go in unto them in the proper way, as God has bidden you.” Here the sūrah points out that sexual intercourse is allowed only at the place where fertilisation may take place. The immediate physical pleasure is not the only purpose of sexual intercourse; its higher purpose is the continuity of human life. God points out what He has made lawful, and a Muslim seeks what is lawful. Moreover, God’s laws are meant to purify His servants. Hence the statement: “God loves those who turn to Him in repentance, and He loves those who keep themselves pure.

Rulings on Menstruation

Science of Menstruation 

  • "Menstruation also known as a period or monthly,[1] is the regular discharge of blood and mucosal tissue from the inner lining of the uterus through the vagina.[2] Up to 80% of women report having some symptoms prior to menstruation.[3]Common signs and symptoms include acne, tender breasts, bloating, feeling tired, irritability, and mood changes.[4] These may interfere with normal life, therefore qualifying as premenstrual syndrome, in 20 to 30% of women. In 3 to 8%, symptoms are severe.[3]

    The first period usually begins between twelve and fifteen years of age, a point in time known as menarche.[1] However, periods may occasionally start as young as eight years old and still be considered normal.[2] The average age of the first period is generally later in the developing world, and earlier in the developed world. The typical length of time between the first day of one period and the first day of the next is 21 to 45 days in young women, and 21 to 31 days in adults (an average of 28 days).[2][5] Menstruation stops occurring after menopause, which usually occurs between 45 and 55 years of age.[6]Bleeding usually lasts around 2 to 7 days.[2]

    The menstrual cycle occurs due to the rise and fall of hormones. This cycle results in the thickening of the lining of the uterus, and the growth of an egg, (which is required for pregnancy). The egg is released from an ovary around day fourteen in the cycle; the thickened lining of the uterus provides nutrients to an embryo after implantation. If pregnancy does not occur, the lining is released in what is known as menstruation.[2]

    A number of problems with menstruation may occur. A lack of periods, known as amenorrhea, is when periods do not occur by age 15 or have not occurred in 90 days. Periods also stop during pregnancy and typically do not resume during the initial months of breastfeeding. Other problems include painful periods and abnormal bleeding such as bleeding between periods or heavy bleeding.[2] Menstruation in other animals occurs in primates, such as apes and monkeys, as well as bats and theelephant shrew.[7][8] " [Ref: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Menstruation

2. Linguistic Analysis

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Frequency of Root words in this Ayat used in this Surah *


3. Surah Overview

4. Miscellaneous Information

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5. Connected/Related Ayat

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6. Frequency of the word

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7. Period of Revelation

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The scholars are unanimous that Surah al-Baqarah is Madani and that it was the first Surah revealed in Madinah. [Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani in Fath al-Bari no. 160/8].

Despite it being the first Surah to be revealed in Madinah, it contains Ayaat from a later period also. In fact, according to Ibn Abbas [as mentioned in Ibn Kathir] the last Ayat revealed to the Prophet was Ayat no. 281 from Surah al-Baqarah and this occurred 8 days or so before his death [which corresponds to the year 11 Hijri].

8. Reasons for Revelation

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In order to understand the meaning of this Surah, we should know its historical background:

1. At Makkah, the Quran generally addressed the polytheist Quraysh who were ignorant of Islam, but at Madinah it was also concerned with the Jews who were acquainted with the creed of Monotheism, Prophethood, Revelation, the Hereafter and Angels. They also professed to believe in the law which was revealed by God to their Prophet Moses, and in principle, their way was the same (Islam) that was being taught by Prophet Muhammad. But they had strayed away from it during the centuries of degeneration and had adopted many un-Islamic creeds, rites and customs of which there was no mention and for which there was no sanction in the Torah. Not only this: they had tampered with the Torah by inserting their own explanations and interpretations into its text. They had distorted even that part of the Word of God which had remained intact in their Scriptures and taken out of it the real spirit of true religion and were now clinging to a lifeless frame of rituals. Consequently their beliefs, their morals and their conduct had gone to the lowest depths of degeneration. The pity is that they were not only satisfied with their condition but loved to cling to it. Besides this, they had no intention or inclination to accept any kind of reform. So they became bitter enemies of those who came to teach them the Right Way and did their utmost to defeat every such effort. Though they were originally Muslims, they had swerved from the real Islam and made innovations and alterations in it and had fallen victims to hair splitting and sectarianism. They had forgotten and forsaken God and begun to serve material wealth. So much so that they had even given up their original name “Muslim” and adopted the name “Jew” instead, and made religion the sole monopoly of the children of Israel. This was their religious condition when the Prophet went to Madinah and invited the Jews to the true religion. That is why more than one third of this Surah has been addressed to the children of Israel. A critical review of their history, their moral degeneration and their religious perversions has been made. Side by side with this, the high standard of morality and the fundamental principles of the pure religion have been put forward in order to bring out clearly the nature of the degeneration of the community of a prophet when it goes astray and to draw clear lines of demarcation between real piety and formalism, and the essentials and non-essentials of the true religion.

2. At Makkah, Islam was mainly concerned with the propagation of its fundamental principles and the moral training of its followers. But after the migration of the Prophet to Madinah, where Muslims had come to settle from all over Arabia and where a tiny Islamic State had been set up with the help of the ‘local supporters’ (Ansar), naturally the Quran had to turn its attention to the social, cultural, economic, political and legal problems as well. This accounts for the difference between the themes of the Surahs revealed at Makkah and those at Madinah. Accordingly about half of this Surah deals with those principles and regulations which are essential for the integration and solidarity of a community and for the solution of its problems.

After the migration to Madinah, the struggle between Islam and disbelief (Kufr) had also entered a new phase. Before this the Believers, who propagated Islam among their own clans and tribes, had to face its opponents at their own risk. But the conditions had changed at Madinah, where Muslims from all parts of Arabia had come and settled as one community, and had established an independent city state. Here it became a struggle for the survival of the Community itself, for the whole of non-Muslim Arabia was bent upon and united in crushing it totally. Hence the following instructions, upon which depended not only its success but its very survival, were revealed in this Surah:

a. The Community should work with the utmost zeal to propagate its ideology and win over to its side the greatest possible number of people.

b. It should so expose its opponents as to leave no room for doubt in the mind of any sensible person that they were adhering to an absolutely wrong position.

c. It should infuse in its members (the majority of whom were homeless and indigent and surrounded on all sides by enemies) that courage and fortitude which is so indispensable to their very existence in the adverse circumstances in which they were struggling and to prepare them to face these boldly.

d. It should also keep them ready and prepared to meet any armed menace, which might come from any side to suppress and crush their ideology, and to oppose it tooth and nail without minding the overwhelming numerical strength and the material resources of its enemies.

e. It should also create in them that courage which is needed for the eradication of evil ways and for the establishment of the Islamic Way instead. That is why God has revealed in this Surah such instructions as may help achieve all the above mentioned objects.

At the time of the revelation of Al-Baqarah, all sorts of hypocrites had begun to appear. God has, therefore, briefly pointed out their characteristics here. Afterwards when their evil characteristics and mischievous deeds became manifest, God sent detailed instructions about them. [REF: Mawdudi]

9. Relevant Hadith

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  • Anas ibn Malik said, “Among the Jews, when a woman menstruated, they did not dine with her, nor did they live with them in their houses; so the Companions of the Apostle (ﷺ) asked The Apostle (ﷺ), and Allah, the Exalted revealed:" And they ask you about menstruation; say it is a pollution, so keep away from woman during menstruation…."  The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) explained ‘keep away from them’ to mean, “Do everything except intercourse….” [Sahih Muslim no.302]

 

  • Allah's Messenger said "Allah does not shy from the truth - he said it thrice-, do not have anal sex with women." [An-Nasa'i and Ibn Majah.]

 

  • Allah's Messenger said "Allah does not look at a man who had anal sex with another man or a woman." [Tirmidhi]

 

  • Allah's Messenger said "If anyone of you on having sexual relations with his wife said: `In the Name of Allah. O Allah! Protect us from Satan and also protect what you bestow upon us (i.e., the coming offspring) from Satan,' and if it is destined that they should have a child then, Satan will never be able to harm him." [Bukhari]

 

10. Wiki Forum

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11. Tafsir Zone

 

12. External Links

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