You are on page 1of 3

'Engage in everything except intercourse'

05/12/2013 02:28

Published on IslamToday - English (http://en.islamtoday.net)


Home > 'Engage in everything except intercourse'

'Engage in everything except intercourse'


Marriage & Family [1]
Date:
Fri, 05/09/2008
Author:
Sheikh Salman al-Oadah [2]
Short Content:
This hadith brings up the question of what form of intimacy is allowed between a husband and
wife while she is menstruating.
Body:
Anas relates that the Jewish men used to avoid eating together with their women while the
women were in their menses, so the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "Engage in everything
except intercourse."
This is an authentic hadth related in Sahh Muslim (302) and other sources.
The meaning of the hadth:
This hadth has a story behind it. Anas tells us:
Whenever a woman among the Jews was in her menses, the Jews would not eat together
with her or remain in her company at home. The Prophet's Companions asked him about it,
and then Allah revealed the verse: "And they ask you about menstruation. Say: It is a
discomfort; therefore keep aloof from the women in their menstrual discharge." [Srah alBaqarah: 222]
Then the Prophet (peace be upon him) explained: "Do everything aside from engaging in
intercourse."
When the Jews heard this, they said: "This man does not want to leave anything of our ways
without doing something differently."
Its legal implications:
This hadth brings up the question of what form of intimacy is allowed between a husband and
wife while she is menstruating. There is another extremely important hadth related to this
matter.
`A'ishah, the Prophet's wife, relates: "Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him) used to instruct
me to wear a waistcloth, then he would touch me during my menstrual period." [Sahh alhttp://en.islamtoday.net/print/3320

Page 1 of 3

'Engage in everything except intercourse'

05/12/2013 02:28

Bukhr (300) and Sahh Muslim (293)]


The same practice is narrated from the Prophet's wife Maymnah. [Sahh al-Bukhr (303)
and Sahh Muslim (294)]
In light of this evidence, there is consensus (ijm`) among all Muslims on two matters:
1. Sexual intercourse if forbidden between a man and his wife while she is menstruation. This
ruling is established by the Qur'n: "And they ask you about menstruation. Say: It is a
discomfort; therefore keep aloof from the women in their menstrual discharge." [Srah alBaqarah: 222]
2. It is permissible for the husband and wife to enjoy intimacy with each other from outside
what the waistcloth covers of the woman's body, which is from between the navel and the
knee. This includes contact through kissing, caressing, embracing, touching and so forth.
Scholars differ regarding contact with the woman's bare skin in the area between the navel
and the knee aside from the vagina itself. (We might want to mention that anal intercourse is
prohibited at all times and so does not even come up in the discussion.)
The first opinion is that it is permissible for the husband and wife to allow direct physical
contact with the woman's body in the area between her navel and knee while she is
menstruating. This is the opinion adopted by the majority of scholars, including Ahmad b.
Hanbal, Ishq al-Rhawayh, Ab Thawr, and al-Awz`.
They cite as evidence the hadth under discussion where the Prophet (peace be upon him
said: "Engage in everything except intercourse." [Sahh Muslim (302)] This is clear in stating
that only intercourse is prohibited. Everything else between a husband and wife is permitted.
As for the hadth that describe the Prophet's practice of having his wife don a waistcloth, this
shows what is preferable, since this is the Prophet's action. It does ot indicate that it is
prohibited to touch what is between the woman's navel and her knees while she is
menstruating.
This is strengthened by another hadth related from a number of the Prophet's wives that:
"The Prophet (peace be upon him), when he wanted to be with his wife while she was
menstruating, would have her cover her private area with a cloth." [Sunan Ab Dwd (272)]
Though there is some disagreement about this hadth, many scholars uphold its authenticity,
including Ibn `Abd al-Hd, Ibn Rajab, and al-Albn.
This hadth shows that, contrary to the assumption of many jurists, it was not necessary for
the waistcloth to cover everything between the navel and the knees. What mattered was to
cover the private area simply as a precautionary measure.
The second opinion is that it is prohibited for the husband and wife to allow direct physical
contact with the woman's body in the area between her navel and knee while she is
menstruating. This is the opinion adopted by the Hanaf and Mlik schools of though. It is
also the official view of the Shfi` school of law, as asserted by al-Nawaw in al-Majm` and
Rawdah al-Tlibn
http://en.islamtoday.net/print/3320

Page 2 of 3

'Engage in everything except intercourse'

05/12/2013 02:28

Al-Nawaw, in his commentary on Sahh Muslim claims: "This is the strongest view in light of
the evidence."
Ibn al-Mundhir said: "What is best is to adhere to the Sunnah."
A more moderate view is that if the husband and wife fear that their desires are too strong and
they are likely might fall into sin if they allow touching between the woman's navel and her
knees, then they should not do so. This is to prevent their falling into an act of disobedience,
and not because he area between the woman's navel and knees is unlawful while she is
menstruating.
Al-Nawaw concedes in his commentary on Sahh Muslim that: "This way of looking at the
matter makes good sense."
And Allah knows best.
Marriage & Family
Source URL: http://en.islamtoday.net/artshow-379-3320.htm
Links:
[1] http://en.islamtoday.net/artlist-12-379.htm
[2] http://en.islamtoday.net/author-202.htm

http://en.islamtoday.net/print/3320

Page 3 of 3