In traditional Islam, a menstruating woman
was considered polluted; therefore she could not pray, fast, or
have sexual intercourse. Menstrual blood was najis,
polluted, haram, very dirty, as were all blood, excrement, and
reproductive fluids. Islamic tradition emphasizes that Allah
values people who are clean and pure,
Women throughout the Muslim world used
henna, and cleansed after menstruation, because the Prophet Mohammed
sects and tribes had different henna and cleansing techniques,
visual symbols, exorcisms, and rituals reflecting local culture.
Henna was frequently part of postmenstrual ghusl, the purification bath, applied
in patterns and techniques varying according to local taste.
Islam did not create these concepts about reproductive blood and
henna; Islam adapted pre-existing Semitic traditions.
taboos were based on a concept of pollution and vulnerability
versus purity and strength.