Islam and the Quran

Fasting of Women During Menstruation Periods

Question: Can a woman fast in Ramadan when she is on her period?

Women must fast in Ramadan just like everybody else does, even though they are on their monthly periods.

According to verse 187 in chapter Baqarah in the Quran, things that break a fast are eating, drinking, and sexual intercourse:
“It has been made lawful for you to be intimate with your wives on the nights of fasting. They are a garment for you, and you are a garment for them. God has known that you were betraying yourselves, and He has welcomed your turnaround and pardoned you. Now, then, you may lie with them skin to skin. Seek what God will prescribe for you. Eat and drink, until the white streak (of light) in the direction of dawn is clearly distinguishable for you from the black streak (of land in that direction). Then, complete the fast till nightfall. Do not have intercourse with your wives while you continue to seclude yourselves in the places of prostration to God. These are the bounds set by God; do not approach them! Thus God explains His verses to humankind, so that they may protect themselves from evil.” (al-Baqarah 2:187)

The command of fasting and those who have the right to delay fasting to another time after Ramadan are in below verses:

“Oh, you who believe! Fasting has been prescribed for you in the way it was prescribed for the ones before you, so that you may protect yourselves. (Fast) On the consecutive (thirty) days. Whoever among you does not fast on those days because they are sick (مريض) or on a journey, then (they should fast) the same number of days on other days. Those who are able to fast are also required to pay a fee (which is equivalent to the cost) for feeding a desperate person. Whoever volunteers to do good (which is paying more than bound to be paid), it is better for them. If only you knew how good it is for you to fast, you would (in spite of being sick or on a journey).” (al-Baqarah 2:183-184)

According to these verses, there are only two categories of people who have the permission to not fast and compensate for it later. They are the sick and the travelers.  Menstruation neither breaks the fast nor grants permission to not fast. Opinions that claim otherwise have no basis in the Quran or the Example of the Messenger.

“Menstruation (haydh – حيض)”  is called  a type of “discomfort (adha- أَذًى)” in the Quran rather than an illness (maradh – مرض):

“(Oh, Muhammad!) They ask you about menstruation and postpartum periods. Say to them, “It is a discomfort.” Therefore, leave women in peace as these periods continue, and do not approach them (for intercourse) until they become clean. When they are thoroughly cleansed, come to them from where God has ordained you. Indeed, God loves those who turn around (to the right path), and those who cleanse.” (al-Baqarah 2:222)

The same word (adha- أَذًى) is used for a few more cases in the Quran, which are: having a physical discomfort on the head that may cause the hair to be shaved earlier than required (2:196), hurting one’s feelings (2:262-263), annoyance (3:111), hearing hurtful words (3:186), and staying under heavy rain (4:102). None of these is an illness. Therefore, we can conclude that menstruation, which is also called (adha- أَذًى) in the Quran is not an illness, either.

Yet, we know that some women may have extraordinary difficulties in their daily lives during their periods. They may even have to have medication. In such cases, they are considered sick, and they may fast on some other days after Ramadan. Another solution for these sick women may be having painkillers injected, provided that the injected medication contains no nutritive but only painkillers. Thus, women can fast the whole Ramadan if they choose to do so. If a woman is healthy enough to fast during that period, then, being in menstruation period is not an excuse for not fasting in Ramadan.

For details about this issue, please see the article:

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