The Kitáb-i-Aqdas - The Most Holy Book
Index term: and Obligatory Prayer, under Menstruation
k13.
God hath exempted women who are in their courses from obligatory prayer and fasting. Let them, instead, after performance of their ablutions, give praise unto God, repeating ninety-five times between the noon of one day and the next "Glorified be God, the Lord of Splendour and Beauty". Thus hath it been decreed in the Book, if ye be of them that comprehend.
n20.
God hath exempted women who are in their courses from obligatory prayer and fasting.
Exemption from obligatory prayer and fasting is granted to women who are menstruating; they should, instead, perform their ablutions (see note 34) and repeat 95 times a day between one noon and the next, the verse "Glorified be God, the Lord of Splendour and Beauty". This provision has its antecedent in the Arabic Bayán, where a similar dispensation was granted.
In some earlier religious Dispensations, women in their courses were considered ritually unclean and were forbidden to observe the duties of prayer and fasting. The concept of ritual uncleanness has been abolished by Bahá'u'lláh (see note 106).
The Universal House of Justice has clarified that the provisions in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas granting exemptions from certain duties and responsibilities are, as the word indicates, exemptions and not prohibitions. Any believer is, therefore, free to avail himself or herself of an applicable exemption if he or she so wishes. However, the House of Justice counsels that, in deciding whether to do so or not, the believer should use wisdom and realize that Bahá'u'lláh has granted these exemptions for good reason.
The prescribed exemption from obligatory prayer, originally related to the Obligatory Prayer consisting of nine rak'ahs, is now applicable to the three Obligatory Prayers which superseded it.
n34.
Perform ye . . . ablutions for the Obligatory Prayer
Ablutions are specifically associated with certain prayers. They must precede the offering of the three Obligatory Prayers, the daily recitation of "Alláh-u-Abhá" ninety-five times, and the recital of the verse prescribed as an alternative to obligatory prayer and fasting for women in their courses (see note 20).
The prescribed ablutions consist of washing the hands and the face in preparation for prayer. In the case of the medium Obligatory Prayer, this is accompanied by the recitation of certain verses (see Some Texts Revealed by Bahá'u'lláh Supplementary to the Kitáb-i-Aqdas).
That ablutions have a significance beyond washing may be seen from the fact that even should one have bathed oneself immediately before reciting the Obligatory Prayer, it would still be necessary to perform ablutions (Q&A 18).
When no water is available for ablutions, a prescribed verse is to be repeated five times (see note 16), and this provision is extended to those for whom the use of water would be physically harmful (Q&A 51).
The detailed provisions of the law concerning ablutions are set out in the Synopsis and Codification, section IV.A.10.a.-g., as well as in Questions and Answers numbers 51, 62, 66, 77 and 86.