This is a response to the article on the Revisiting the Salaf website, entitled: The Prophet (saw) Fondled Aisha Whilst Menstruating, which can be found here.
RTS starts off this article by quoting a translation of a verse from the Holy Qur’an:
“They ask thee concerning women’s courses. Say: They are a hurt and a pollution: So keep away from women in their courses, and do not approach them until they are clean. But when they have purified themselves, ye may approach them in any manner, time, or place ordained for you by Allah. For Allah loves those who turn to Him constantly and He loves those who keep themselves pure and clean (2.22)
RTS concludes that this verse implies that husbands cannot approach their wives in any manner when during menses.
Then, RTS quotes narrations in which A’isha narrates that the Prophet (pbuh) used to fondle her during menses while he ordered her to wear an izar (clothing that is wrapped around the legs).
We read in Saheeh Bukhari Volume 1, Book 6, Number 298: Narrated ‘Aisha: The Prophet and I used to take a bath from a single pot while we were Junub. During the menses, he used to order me to put on an Izar (dress worn below the waist) and used to fondle me. While in Itikaf, he used to bring his head near me and I would wash it while I used to be in my periods (menses).
Saheeh Bukhari Volume 1, Book 6, Number 299: Narrated ‘Abdur-Rahman bin Al-Aswad: (on the authority of his father) ‘Aisha said: “Whenever Allah’s Apostle wanted to fondle anyone of us during her periods (menses), he used to order her to put on an Izar and start fondling her.” ‘Aisha added, “None of you could control his sexual desires as the Prophet could.”
The Prophet (saw) has eight other wives to fulfil his needs, so why was he seeking to cleave to an unclean Aisha (la)? Is it right that a wife notifies this sordid, filthy detail to others, and worse still a man? What would the Sirah of the Prophet (saw) remain nebulous had it not been for this filthy narration?
There is no doubt in the minds of Muslims that Islam does not permit filthy acts. In other words, that which may be seen as filthy, in the eyes of a certain individual, may not be so in the eyes of another. In other words, determining what is filthy and what isn’t, in many cases, is a subjective matter. However, there is no subjectivity in this specific matter since Islam allows for one to fondle his wife during menses, with the specific condition that he may not approach her vagina.
Not only is this ruling understood from the narration above that RTS quotes, but it is also the position of Twelver Shias. For example, we find in the website of Shia leader Ayatollah Sistani the following religious ruling:
هل يجوز مجامعة الحائض دون القذف من باب المداعبة ؟
يحرم مجامعتها بالدخول في القبل وإن لم يقذف فيه، ولا بأس بالملاعبة من دون إدخال العضو .
The question: Is it permissible for one to have sexual relations with one’s wife during menses without climaxing as a form of foreplay?
The answer: It is prohibited to have sexual relations with her by entering her vagina, even without climaxing; however, foreplay is fine without the inserting of the penis.
محمد بن علي بن الحسين بإسناده عن عبيدالله بن علي الحلبي ، أنه سأل أبا عبدالله ( عليه السلام ) عن الحائض ما يحل لزوجها منها ؟ قال : تتّزر بإزار إلى الركبتين وتخرج سرتها ، ثم له ما فوق الإزار ، قال : وذكر عن أبيه ( عليه السلام ) أن ميمونة كانت تقول : إن النبي ( صلى الله عليه واله وسلم ) كان يأمرني إذا كنت حائضا أن أتزر بثوب ثم اضطجع معه في الفراش.
This opinion is supported by several hadiths, one of which is the authentic narration (refer to this link, which in where Al-Khoei authenticates Al-Saduq’s chain) by Ubaidullah bin Ali Al-Halabi from Aba Abdulla (as) in which he asks about what was permissible for the husband when the wife is menstruating. He responded: She would wrap an izar around her legs, and would reveal her belly, and whatever is above that, is permissible. He mentioned from his father (as): Maymoona used to say: The Prophet (pbuh) ordered me when I was menstruating to wear izar, then lay with him in bed.
(Man La Yahdharhu Al-Faqeeh, 1/47, Dar Al-Murtadha, First edition)
In other words, there is complete harmony between both sects on this issue, and that the narrations from both parties do not conflict with the Qur’an. Most importantly, this matter cannot be described as filthy, because this is what Islam permits. And finally, this narration, as we can see in the Shia reference, was narrated by Maymoona, who is seen in a positive light by the Shias, and this narration is not specific to A’isha.