By Sayyid Sābiq
In the name of Allāh, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful;
All the praise and Thanks is due to Allāh, the Lord of al-‘ālamīn. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allāh, and that Muhammad, Sallallāhu `alayhi wa sallam is His Messenger.
In Arabic, the word for Menstruation (Haid) literally means “running.” Here it refers to the discharge of blood during a woman’s state of health, not from giving birth or breaking the hymen.
Most scholars say that its time begins at the age of nine. If blood is seen before that age, it is not menstrual blood, but is considered to be putrid blood. As there is no evidence about when a woman stops menstruating, if an elderly lady finds blood flowing it is considered menstrual blood.
1 - Requirements for Blood to Be Considered Menstrual
Once, when Fatimah bint Abu Habash (radiyallāhu`anha) had a prolonged flow of blood, the Allah’s Messenger (Sallallāhu `alayhi wa sallam) told her, “If it is the blood of menstruation, it will be dark and recognizable. If it is that, then leave the prayer. If it is other than that, then make ablution and pray, for it is only due to a vein.” This is related by Abu Dawud, an-Nasa’ie, Ibn Hibban and ad-Daraqutni, who said all of its narrators are trustworthy. Al-Hakim also related it, and said that it meets Muslim’s standards.
2- Red. It is the original color of blood.
3- Yellow. It is a liquid, like pus.
4- A muddy color. It is an intermediate color between black and white, like dirt.
Imam Malik and Muhammad al-Hassan (and al-Bukhari in mu’allaq form) recorded that women would send ‘Aishah (radiyallāhu`anha) small boxes with yellow-stained cotton, and she would tell them, “Do not be in haste until you see the pure white cotton.” If the discharge is yellow or muddy during the days of menstruation, it is to be considered as part of the menses. During other days, it is not regarded as such. Umm ‘Atiyyah (radiyallāhu`anha) said, “After we were pure, we did not consider the yellow or muddy discharge to be anything.” This is related by Abu Dawud and al-Bukhari, but without the words “...after we were pure...”
2 - There Is No Stated Minimum or Maximum Length of Time for the Menses
All statements dealing with this topic have no sound backing. If a woman has a customary length of time for her menses, she should according to it. Umm Salamah (radiyallāhu`anha) asked the Allah’s Messenger (Sallallāhu `alayhi wa sallam) about a woman with a prolonged flow of blood. He said, “She should look for the number of days and nights that she usually has her menses and the time of the month during which it occurs. Then she should leave the prayer (during those days, and then afterwards) perform ghusl, tie something around her vagina and pray.” (Related by “the five’’ except for at-Tirmidzi.) If she has no customary period to go by, then she can try to distinguish between the different types of blood. This practice is based on the previously quoted hadith of Fatimah bint Abu Hubaish, which states that menstrual blood is distinguishable and well-known to women.
All scholars agree that there is no minimum or maximum time limit between two menstrual periods. Some say that the latter period is fifteen days, while others say it is three days.
3-The Childbirth Bleeding
Such bleeding occurs after the birth of a child, regardless if the child survived the birth or not. This type of bleeding has no minimum duration, for it could stop right after the birth, or there could even be no blood. Therefore, her confinement would end and she would be obliged to fast, pray, and so on. The maximum duration is forty days. Umm Salamah (radiyallāhu`anha) said, “During the lifetime of the Allah’s Messenger (Sallallāhu `alayhi wa sallam), the post-childbirth woman would be in confinement for forty days.” (Related by “the five,” except for an-Nasa’ie.)
After recording the hadith, at-Tirmidzi states, “The knowledgeable companions, the following generation and those that came later agree that a woman experiencing post-childbirth bleeding had to stop praying for forty days unless her blood stopped. If her bleeding stops before that time, she is to make ghusl and start praying. If she sees blood after forty days, most scholars say that she is not to stop praying.”
4 - Forbidden Acts for Women Experiencing Menstruation and Post-Childbirth Bleeding
All acts forbidden for a person who has not yet cleansed himself from sex or a wet dream are prohibited to women in these two conditions, as these are considered major impurities. But, there are also two further prohibitions:
4.1 - They cannot observe solat.
The Allah’s Messenger (Sallallāhu `alayhi wa sallam), said to Fatimah bint Abu Habish, “Do not pray during your period. After it has ended, perform ghusl and pray.” (Recorded by al-Bukhari and Muslim)
4.2 - They cannot fast.
If women fast, their fasting will be considered null and void. If they fast during the month of Ramadan, they will still have to make those days of fasting up later on. Mu’azhah said, “I asked ‘Aishah (radiyallāhu`anha), ‘Why must we make up the fasts missed due to our menstruation, and not the prayers?’ She said, ‘That was what the Allah’s Messenger (Sallallāhu `alayhi wa sallam) told us to do. We were ordered to make up the fasts, and we were ordered not to make up the prayers.” (Related by “the group.”)
4.3 – They cannot enter masjid
4.4- She Can Not Engage In Sexual Intercourse
Anas bin Malik (radiyallāhu`anhu) said, “When a Jewish woman was menstruating, her husband would not eat or sleep with her. The companions asked the Allah’s Messenger (Sallallāhu `alayhi wa sallam), about that, and Allah revealed: “They question you concerning menstruation. Say: ‘It is an illness, so let women alone at such times and go not in unto them until they are cleaned. And when they have purified themselves, then go in unto them as Allah has enjoined upon you. Truly, Allah loves those who turn unto Him and loves those who have a care for cleanliness” (al-Baqarah, 2: 222). The Allah’s Messenger (Sallallāhu `alayhi wa sallam) also said, “Do everything except intercourse.” (Related by “the group,” except for al-Bukhari.)
In his comments on the subject, an-Nawawi (rahimallāh) states, “If a Muslim believes it is permissible to have intercourse with his menstruating wife, he becomes an unbelieving apostate. If he does it, not thinking that it is permissible, but out of forgetfulness or not knowing that it is forbidden or not knowing that his wife was menstruating, then there is no sin or expiation upon him. If he does it on purpose, knowing that it is forbidden, he has committed a grave sin and must repent. There are two opinions on this: the more correct one is that there is to be expiation.” He further says, “All scholars say that one may touch anything above the navel or below the knees. Most scholars say that it is permissible to touch what is between the navel and the knees, but not the vagina or anus.” An-Nawawi (rahimallāh) concludes that it is permitted but hated, as that is the strongest position from the evidence. This evidence is based upon the practice of the Allah’s Messenger (Sallallāhu `alayhi wa sallam)’s wives: when he wished to be with them during their period, they would put something over their vagina. (Related by Abu Dawud) Al-Hafez observes, “Its chain is strong.” Masruq ibn al-Ajda' asked 'Aishah, "What is off limits to me sexually during my wife's menstruation?" She said, "Nothing, except the vagina." (Related by al-Bukhari in his Tarikh)
5 - Women with Prolonged Flows of Blood
Islam defines such an occurrence as the flowing of blood outside of the regular time. This usually happens in three specific cases. In the first case, the woman knows that her flow of menstrual blood is lasting longer than usual. In such a case, she will act according to her customary period, and the remainder will be considered days of prolonged blood flows. This is based on the hadith of Umm Salamah (radiyallāhu`anha) in which she asked the Allah’s Messenger (Sallallāhu `alayhi wa sallam) about this condition. He (Sallallāhu `alayhi wa sallam) said, “She should wait for the days and nights of her normal period and figure them out of the month, and she should leave the prayer during those days. (Afterwards) she should perform ghusl, tighten something around her vagina and then pray.” (Related by Malik, ash-Shafi and “the five,” except for at-Tirmidzi.)
Evaluating the report, an-Nawawi (rahimallāh) says, “Its chain meets the conditions (of al-Bukhari and Muslim).” Al-Khattabi (rahimallāh) holds, “That regulation is for the woman who is experiencing prolonged blood flows. If the blood is flowing, the Allah’s Messenger (Sallallāhu `alayhi wa sallam) ordered her to leave the prayer during her regular period, and to perform ghusl after her customary time has passed. Then, she becomes just like any other purified person.”
In the second case, a woman does not know her period well enough to determine if she is experiencing menstrual bleeding or a prolonged flow of blood. In that case, her menstruation is considered to be six or seven days, which is the most common among women.
Jamnah bint Jahsh (radiyallāhu`anha) said, “I had a very strong prolonged flow of blood. I went to the Allah’s Messenger (Sallallāhu `alayhi wa sallam) to ask him about it. When I asked him if I had to stop praying and fasting, he (Sallallāhu `alayhi wa sallam) said ‘Tie around a cloth, and it will stop.’ I said, ‘It is greater than that.’ He said, ‘Curb it.’ I said, ‘It flows greatly.’ He then (Sallallāhu `alayhi wa sallam) said, “You may do one of two things: either one will suffice; which one you are able to do you know best. This is a strike from Satan. Be on your period for six or seven days, which Allah knows, and then perform ghusl until you see that you are clean. Pray for fourteen nights or thirteen nights and days and fast, and that will be sufficient for you. Do that every month as the other women become pure and menstruate. If you can, you may delay the noon prayer and hasten the afternoon prayer. Perform ghusl and pray the noon and afternoon prayers together. Then delay the sunset and hasten the night prayers and pray them together. Perform ghusl for the Morning Prayer and pray it. This is how you may pray and fast if you have the ability to do so...”.” And he (Sallallāhu `alayhi wa sallam) said, “That is the more loved way to me.”
As to the authenticity of the hadith, it is related by Ahmad, Abu Dawud and at-Tirmidzi, who grades it as hassan sahih. He says, “I asked al-Bukhari about it, and he called it hassan.” Ahmad Ibn Hanbal (rahimallāh) says it is hassan sahih.
Al-Khattabi (rahimallāh) observes, in a note to this hadith, that this is for the woman who is a “beginner” and does not know her regular days of menstruation. The Allah’s Messenger (Sallallāhu `alayhi wa sallam) told her to act according to the customary situation of women, and to consider herself as having her period only once a month, like most women. His statement, ‘As women menstruate and as they become pure’ points to this fact. This is by analogy to the affairs of women with respect to each other in menstruation, pregnancy, maturity and other affairs of theirs.”
In the third case, a woman has a regular period, but she is able to distinguish the blood. She should, therefore, behave according to the type of blood she sees. Fatimah bint Abu Hubaish had a prolonged flow of blood, and the Allah’s Messenger (Sallallāhu `alayhi wa sallam) told her, “If it is menstrual blood, it is dark and recognizable. If you have that, abstain from the prayer. If it is other than that, make ablution and pray, for it is a vein.” In the case normal period the Allah’s Messenger (Sallallāhu `alayhi wa sallam), said to Fatimah bint Abu Habish, “Do not pray during your period. After it has ended, perform ghusl and pray.” (Recorded by al-Bukhari and Muslim)
6 - Women Who Fall Into Any Of These Categories Must Abide By The Following Regulations:
6.1 - Ghusul
She does not have to perform ghusl for every prayer, except for the one time when her period or blood flow has ended.
6.2 - She Must Make Ablution for Every Prayer
The Allah’s Messenger (Sallallāhu `alayhi wa sallam) said, “Make ablution for every prayer.” According to Malik (rahimallāh), this is only preferred and not obligatory (unless she nullifies her ablution, of course).
6.3 - Keeping the Blood in Check
She is to wash her vagina before she makes ablution, and she should wear something which soaks up the blood. It is preferred for her to do what she can to keep the blood in check.
6.4- Wudhu' (Ablution)
She should not make ablution before the prayer’s time begins.
6.5 – She may have sex
She may have intercourse with her husband even while the blood is flowing, according to most scholars, because there is no evidence to the contrary. Ibn ‘Abbas (radiyallāhu`anhu) said, “If she can pray, her husband can have intercourse with her.” Al-Bukhari says that if she is pure enough for prayer, she certainly must be pure enough for intercourse. Abu Dawud and al-Baihaqi related that ‘Akramah bint Hamnah had a prolonged flow of blood and that her husband had intercourse with her. An-Nawawi (rahimallāh) holds its chain to be hassan.
7- What She Can Do When She Purified Herself
When she purified herself she is considered a pure person, and she may observe solat, fast, remain in the mosque, recite the Qur’an, and touch a copy of the Qur’an, and so on.
And Allāh Almighty Knows best.
Excerpted from Fiqh-us-Sunnah, Volume 1: “Menstruation” by Sayyid Sābiq
SEE: ALL ABOUT SOLAH
6. The Adzān;
13. Places Where Offering Solāh Is Prohibited; 14. Placing a Sutrah In front of One Who is Performing Solah.;
15. What is permissible During the Solāh?; 16. The Acts that Renders Solāh Invalid; 17. Disliked Actions during the Solāh; 18. The Solāh in Times of Fear or Danger; 19. The Solāh of a Sick Person ;
29. Solāh al-Jumu`ah; 30. The Sanctified Hour of Jumu’ah.