It is noteworthy that Islam is a mercy for all humans and hence its teachings reflect this mercy. It is the religion that caters for all conditions and difficulties that a Muslim undergoes. Consistent with its understanding of the nature of women and their vulnerability to mood swings during menses and postpartum bleeding, Islam has relaxed the rigors of religious discipline and hence they are excused from the duty of prayer as well as fasting during these periods.
Islam did not merely relax the rules for women during menses; it went a step further in insisting that men should take these factors into account in dealing with their wives. Thus the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) ordered men, “Be gentle in dealing with fragile bottles!” He was thus referring to the vulnerability of women to occasional mood swings because of menses, postpartum bleeding, etc.
In Muslim countries, there are usually members of the extended family available to help a woman after she gives birth. In the West there is often no extended family present, and in such a situation a husband should be lenient with his wife and help her as much as possible, especially if she has other children to look after also.
The European Council for Fatwa and Research issued the following Fatwa:
“Allah Almighty knew beforehand that labor is a tiring and exhausting experience for the woman. In the Qur’an, Allah says: “His mother bears him with hardship and she brings him forth with hardship…” (46:15)
For this, Allah excused the woman during this period from performing two main pillars of Islam: Prayer and Fasting, the difference between them being that prayers are not to be compensated whilst fasting must be compensated after this period passes by. The postpartum period (An-Nifas) is that during which the woman bleeds as a result of giving birth and its rulings are identical to that of menstruation. From this we deduce that Allah Almighty considered the woman to be in a condition which requires rest and exemption and we see that Allah Almighty, by His grace and mercy, treated this condition as though a form of illness. It is natural to let the woman rest during this period and to relieve her from all duties and responsibilities which cause her difficulty.
Indeed, the custom in Islamic countries is for the woman who has just given birth to be served and looked after until her full health returns to her and she is fully recovered.
However, a woman who lives in a foreign country finds herself in a position where she must help herself and look after her children and household. In this situation, her duties must be reasonably set and guests and well-wishers must not over-burden such a woman by compelling her to serve them beyond her ability, as Allah does not compel a soul but with what is within its ability. In addition, husbands must not force their wives, who are going through such a period, to perform difficult and exhausting duties. Allah Almighty stated: “Allah intends for you ease, and He does not want to make things difficult for you…” (Al-Baqarah: 185)
The Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) stated: “Make things easy and do not make them difficult and bring glad tidings and do not be deterrents.” (Reported by al-Bukhari and Muslim) He (peace and blessings be upon him) also stated in another Hadith: “Verily, you have been sent to bring ease and have not been sent to bring difficulty.” (Reported by al-Bukhari) Finally, this matter is governed by good taste, beautiful behavior and fine mannerisms.