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How Does a Woman Afflicted With Non-Menstrual Bleeding Know When to Resume Praying?

Imām Muḥammad ibn Ṣāliḥ al-ʿUthaymīn

An explanation on the different cases of women afflicted with non-menstrual bleeding and for how long each one should refrain from ṣalāh.

The Opinion of the Ḥanbalī Madh`hab

It is the opinion of the Ḥanbalī madh`hab that the woman experiencing istiḥāḍah (non-menstrual bleeding) should refrain from prayer only for a period equal to that of her normal menses, even if she is able to distinguish menstrual bleeding from istiḥāḍah. By ‘period equal to that of her normal menses,’ we are referring to a woman who had a monthly, regular time for her menses before being afflicted with istiḥāḍah. For example, a woman has her period regularly the first six days of every month without interruption to this norm or sickness [in the form of istiḥāḍah]. Then, she is afflicted with istiḥāḍah to where she bleeds most of the month. She is termed mustaḥāḍah muʿtādah (a women afflicted with non-menstrual genital bleeding who has a regular time for her period). To her we would say: refrain from ṣalāh for the first six days of the month [and then begin praying again].

In their saying ‘even if she is able to distinguish menstrual bleeding from istiḥāḍah,’ there is an implication of a difference of opinion in this issue. It means that this woman should refrain from ṣalāh for the duration of her normal period, even if she is able to distinguish between the blood of menstruation and other than it. An example of this would be if a woman normally has her period the first ten days of every month. Then, on the eleventh day, she sees black blood which lasts for six days. While the rest of the blood was red in colour. This woman is termed muʿtādah mumayyizah (a woman who has a normal period who is able to distinguish menstrual bleeding from other than it by characteristics). According to the Ḥanbalī madh`hab, she should refrain from ṣalāh for the duration of her regular period only.

The Evidence for the Ḥanbalī Opinion

They use as evidence to support this view the ḥadīth of Umm Ḥabībah (رضي الله عنها): “Remain for a duration equal to the period your menses would have prevented you [i.e., from prayer]1 Here, the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) advised her to return to the timings of her regular period even though there was a possibility that she was able to distinguish between the blood of menstruation and istiḥāḍah. The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) never sought clarity on this point. Due to elaboration not being sought and considering the possibility that she could have distinguished normal from abnormal blood, we know that a woman should abide by her regular monthly period in any case [i.e., whether she is capable of distinguishing one from the other or not]. This issue is encompassing, as from among the established principles of Islamic jurisprudence: “Abandoning the request for elaboration in a circumstance that holds multiple possibilities will result in an encompassing ruling [because it proves that those possibilities that were not clarified have no bearing on the ruling itself].”

The Second Opinion in this Issue and Its Evidence

Another opinion, as adopted by al-Shāfiʿī and narrated from Aḥmad, is that she should attempt to distinguish between the two based on their respective characteristics. The evidence for this opinion is as follows:

  1. His (صلى الله عليه وسلم) saying: “Indeed, the blood of menstruation is black, easily recognised.”2 This was said in the context of a woman afflicted with istiḥāḍah [Fāṭimah bint Abī Ḥubaysh (رضي الله عنها)]. It is very possible that her normal menses could have moved from the beginning of the month to the middle due to the affliction of istiḥāḍah [which could only be known by means of the distinguishing characteristics between the two types of blood].
  2. Distinguishing between the two is possible by means of the plainly evident, clear features of both. As such, this methodology is fully applicable to the circumstance.

The Opinion of Shaykh Ibn ʿUthaymīn (رحمه الله)

The correct opinion in this matter is that she returns to the timing and duration of her normal period. This is because there is a difference of opinion concerning the authenticity of the ḥadīth that stipulates distinguishing between the two. Also, a woman returning to her normal period is both easier and clearer for her. As the blood is characterised as black, or putrid, or thick. These characteristics may not consistently be present, or may change slightly, or be present at the end of the month or at its beginning only, or occur continuously changing in intervals such that one day it is black in colour and the next it is red.

Endnotes:

[1] Authentic: narrated by Muslim: 334.
[2] Ḥasan: narrated by Abu Dāwūd: 286, al-Nasāʾī: 215-216, and Ibn Ḥibbān: 1348. Graded Ḥasan by Shaykh al-Albānī in Ṣaḥīḥ Abī Dāwūd: 285-286.

Source: Al-Sharḥ al-Mumtiʿ 1:490-492
Translated by: Riyāḍ al-Kanadī

Published: July 24, 2023
Edited: July 24, 2023

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