Aslamalaikum, I was wondering whether menstruation is a punishment from allah swt as I have heard that it was sent down as a punishment for hawa after she told adam to eat the fruit from the tree but I have also read that it is a blessing which I don't fully understand how it can be a blessing as it is so painful etc.
Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,
In my thinking the idea that someone could be punished for the sins of someone else is ridiculous. There is nothing in the Quran or widely-transmitted hadith that tells us Eve told Adam to eat of the fruit. That is a Jewish and Christian belief, in the Quranic version of the story they are both equally responsible.
And you, Adam, inhabit the Garden, you and your wife, and eat whatever you wish; but do not approach this tree, lest you become sinners.”
But Satan whispered to them, to reveal to them their nakedness, which was invisible to them. He said, “Your Lord has only forbidden you this tree, lest you become angels, or become immortals.”
And he swore to them, “I am a sincere advisor to you.”
So he lured them with deceit. And when they tasted the tree, their nakedness became evident to them, and they began covering themselves with the leaves of the Garden. And their Lord called out to them, “Did I not forbid you from this tree, and say to you that Satan is a sworn enemy to you?”
They said, “Our Lord, we have done wrong to ourselves. Unless You forgive us, and have mercy on us, we will be among the losers.” (The Quran, verses 7:19-23)
If menstruation makes life difficult, God can always make up for it by making other things easy.
What use does God have for your punishment if you have given thanks, and have believed? God is Appreciative and Cognizant. (The Quran, verse 4:147)
You cannot earn the rewards of patience unless you have something to be patient about. So menstruation is a blessing in that it gives you a chance to prove your patience and your ability to love God despite seemingly suffering needlessly.
Ideally there should be nothing that can happen to you that would decrease your love for God. This attitude is best expressed by the Iraqi poet Badr Shakir al-Sayyab in this poem:
For You is praise, no matter how long the distress lasts,
And no matter how oppressive the pain becomes,
For You is praise, afflictions are bestowals,
And suffering is of Your bounty.
Did You not give me this darkness?
And did You not give me this dawn?
Does the ground then thank raindrops,
But become angry if the clouds do not find it?
For long months, this wound
Has been cutting my sides like a knife.
The affliction does not calm at morning,
And nighttime does not bring death to wipe out the agony.
But if Job was to cry, he would cry,
“For You is Praise, for suffering is like drops of dew,
And wounds are presents from the Beloved,
The stacks of which I hug to my chest.
You presents are before me, they do not leave,
Your presents are accepted, bring them on!”
I hug my wounds and call out to visitors:
“Look here and be jealous,
For these are presents from my Beloved!”
And if the heat of my fever approaches fire,
I would imagine it a kiss from You fashioned from flame.