The Fiqh of Menstruation [Basics of Hayd]

Definition of Ḥayḍ (Menstruation)

• In the terminology of sharīʿah (Islamic Law), ḥayḍ (menstruation) is the periodical discharge of blood that a female of ‘child bearing age’ releases naturally from her womb each month. Blood released due to pregnancy or an illness or by a woman in her menopause is not classed as ḥayḍ (menstruation). The mere flowing of blood is not a condition for the discharge to be legally termed as ḥayḍ (menstruation).

Length of Ḥayḍ (Menstruation)

• The sharī’ah classifies ḥayḍ (menstruation) as that blood which flows for a minimum of 3 days and 3 nights (72 complete hrs) and a maximum of 10 days and 10 nights (240 complete hrs). Any blood which flows for less than 3 days or more than 10 days, will not be classed as the blood of ḥayḍ (menstruation), with the condition that there is no discharge of blood for 15 days (360 complete hrs) after that.

Chief Element of Ḥayḍ (Menstruation)

• Once a woman’s menstrual flow has reached the outside of the vagina, she is henceforth considered to be in the state of hayd even if the blood is not flowing at a given moment. In other words, she might experience a visible flow of blood, after which the flow stops before the time when her period customarily ends, and then begins to flow again. In such a case, she is still considered to be menstruating even during the period of time in which the flow has stopped. Hence, one cannot say that menstruation is the blood itself; otherwise, how could a woman be considered to be menstruating even during the cessation of her blood flow? Rather, a woman is declared, legally speaking, to be menstruating in the sense that the sharīʿah (sacred law) has declared her to be in this state even if no blood is actually flowing.

Commencing and Ending of Ḥayḍ (Menstruation)

• Hayḍ (menstruation) begins when the blood reaches the visible portion of the vagina, that is, the portion of her vagina which is visible when she is in a sitting position. If she becomes aware of a flow of blood internally and places a piece of cotton or some similar material in the opening, thereby preventing the blood reaching the visible portion of her vagina, she will not be considered to be menstruating; similarly, if she is fasting and senses that menstrual flow has begun internally, and if she then inserts a piece of cotton, cloth, etc. in the opening to keep it from reaching the outer part of the vaginal area, her fasting will remain valid.

• A kursuf (cotton cloth or wool), if used properly can determine the end of ḥayḍ (menstruation). Immediately after the removal of the khursuf (cotton cloth or wool), if there is a secretion of a white or clear substance it will not be classed as ḥayḍ (menstruation), but will rather signal the completion of a ḥayḍ (menstruation) cycle. If this substance dries and turns yellow as it oxidises, it will also determine the termination of her ḥayḍ (menstruation).

• If a woman places a pad or khursuf (cotton cloth or wool) at night and in the morning upon awakening sees blood, she will be regarded as being in the state of ḥayḍ (menstruation) from the time she sees the blood.

• If a woman in ḥayḍ (menstruation), places a pad or khursuf (cotton cloth or wool) at night and in the morning upon awakening there is no sign of blood, she will be regarded as clean from the time she placed the pad or khursuf (cotton cloth or wool). Hence, she will have to perform the ‘ishā ṣalāh of the previous day as she was in effect clean from the time she placed it.

Colour of Ḥayḍ (Menstruation)

• The blood of ḥayḍ (menstruation) does not necessarily have to be red but can be any of the following six colours, namely: red, brown, green, soil-colour, yellow and black. Any of these colours will be considered as ḥayḍ (menstruation) when the appropriate conditions are met.

Conditions for Establishing Ḥayḍ (Menstruation)

There are a total of 11 conditions for the blood discharged from the vagina to be legally considered as ḥayḍ:

(1) The age of the woman has reached the legal age of puberty (i.e. 8 solar years and 9 months)

(2) The woman is not pregnant.

(3) The woman is not in her menopause (i.e. has not reached the age of approximately 53 solar years and 4 months). There are exemptions from this ruling.

(4) The blood which is discharged, exits from the womb. Thus, blood which is discharged from anywhere besides the womb will not be legally termed as the blood of ḥayḍ.

(5) The blood discharged is not due to a wound or the like in the womb.

(6) The blood is not due to childbirth.

(7) The onset and termination of the blood is at least for 3 days (72 complete hrs) or more.

(8) The onset and termination of the blood is for 10 days (240 complete hrs) or less.

(9) The blood reaches the outside of the vagina.

(10) Before the onset of this blood, no blood should have preceded it by 15 days or less. Thus, if this blood was preceded by blood for 15 days or less, then this entire duration will not be considered ḥayḍ (menstruation); but, a combination of ḥayḍ (menstruation) and istiḥāḍa (dysfunctional uterine bleeding).

(11) The blood should be the colours of blood mentioned previously. Thus, blood which is different to the aforementioned colours will not be legally termed as ḥayḍ (menstruation).

Any blood which comprises of the above 11 conditions will be legally deemed as the blood of ḥayḍ, and any blood which is void of even one condition will not be legally considered as the blood of ḥayḍ.

Ṭuhr (Purity) in Ḥayḍ (Menstruation)

The interval of purity between two ḥayḍ cycles is known as ṭuhr (state wherein no menstruation occurs and a woman is considered ritually pure). Ṭuhr is used in contrast to when a woman is not in the state of ḥayḍ (menstruation) or nifās (post-natal bleeding).

• The minimum period of ṭuhr (purity) is 15 days (360 complete hrs).

• There is no maximum limit for the period of ṭuhr (purity). Hence, if a woman’s menstrual flow stopped and she remained free of it for the rest of her life, she would be considered ritually pure and in the state of ṭuhr (purity).

Rulings Related to Ḥayḍ (Menstruation)

• If a woman bleeds for 3 days (72 hours) then stays pure for 15 days (360 hours), and again bleeds for 3 days (72). The first 3 days and the 3 days after the 15-day purity will be regarded as ḥayḍ (menstruation). The 15 days of purity will be ṭuhr.

• A continuous blood flow is not necessary for menstruation e.g. a woman bleeds for 3 days and then stays clean for 2 days, and then bleed again for 3 days. All of these 8 days will be regarded as one ḥayḍ cycle.

• If after a menstrual cycle a woman stays pure for less than 15 days bleeds again, this blood will be classed as istiḥāḍa (dysfunctional uterine bleeding) because a minimum 15-day purity period is necessary between two ḥayḍ (menstruation) cycles.

[Taken from the ‘The Fiqh of Menstruation’; a treatise containing the injunctions pertaining to menstruation in light of Ḥanafī Fiqh, and soon to be published by Baḥr-ul-Midād Publications, ʾIn shāʾ Allāh.]

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