MECCA – Performing the haj can become complicated for female pilgrims when they are menstruating, but this doesn’t have to be the case, said Dr Anisah Abdul Ghani, one of Tabung Haji’s (TH) religious experts for this year’s haj season.
The former Fiqh lecturer at Universiti Malaya said Malaysian female pilgrims often become too anxious about their menstruation during haj.
“The only thing they are restricted from performing when menstruating is to circumambulate the Kaaba (tawaf), pray and read the Quran. The rest – to zikir and make doa in Mina and Arafah – is still permissible,” Anisah told Malaysian media here recently.
She said even if female pilgrims are on their period, there are still ways they can complete their haj, and this is discussed in detail in religious modules that pilgrims attend before haj.
Briefly, these may involve paying dam (the sacrificing of an animal), returning to do tawaf later, or to follow the practice of other schools of thought (madhhab).
“There are ways to still get the haj. There is no reason to get over-stressed on the issue of menstruation,” added Anisah, whose expertise is Islamic jurisprudence.
The other two religious experts for this year are Datuk Wan Mohamad Sheikh Abdul Aziz, former director-general of Jabatan Kemajuan Islam Malaysia (Jakim); and Datuk Noh Gadut, Majlis Agama Islam Johor (Maij) advisor.
Anisah said since obtaining haj is still possible for female pilgrims in spite of their menstruation, making the right intention (niat) is crucial and not to be taken lightly.
For example, there is the normal intention – “to perform haj and be in ihram” – and the conditional intention – “to perform haj and be in ihram, but if I menstruate, I am free from ihram”.
TH discourages female haj pilgrims from declaring conditional niat for haj, because if they menstruate on the Day of Arafah (Wukuf), they are automatically no longer in ihram and will not get their haj this year.
Similarly, some pilgrims are influenced by others and change their intention on the type of haj they wish to perform, from what they originally intended, which will have consequences.
For instance, those who choose haj Tamattu’ perform Umrah first, and are then free from ihram until it is time to head for Arafah, when they will make another intention for haj.
For the other types of haj (Ifrad and Qiran), the pilgrims are in a state of ihram much longer – from first arriving in Mecca until Wukuf – and therefore, it is a greater challenge to avoid the prescribed restrictions during that period.
“That’s why we tell the pilgrims to think carefully about their ‘niat’. This is not a small matter,” Anisah added. -NST