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Tutorials in Menstrual Matters


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The content in this topic has been taken from Menstrual Matters Whitethread Institute.

Menstruation is a part of every woman’s life. For a young girl, it will mark her entrance into womanhood and the point at which she is responsible for her worship in accordance with Islamic laws (Shari’ah). For a woman, it will be a constant part of her life, through monthly cycles, pregnancies and even menopause. Given the way hayd (menstruation) and nifas (post-natal bleeding) are so intimately connected to a woman, it is imperative that she understands the rules that govern them. She must know when she is obligated to pray and fast and when she must abstain from certain acts of worship. 

The tutorials aim to help women gain clarity and understanding of how to differentiate between the differnt types of bloods they experience.



1. Key Terms - it is very important to know the different types of blood women experience

2. Minimum & Maximum Frames - Shari'ah has stipulated the minimum and maximum limit to the bloods

3. Colours of blood - Women experience different colours of blood. This tutorial shows which colours can be considered

4. Habits - Habits are formed in the number of days a woman bleeds (in menstruation and post-natal bleeding)

5. Recording Cycles - This tutorial shows how imporatnt it is for women to record their cycles

6. Number & Place - It is not just about the number of days a woman bleeds. It is also at which place of the month she   bleeds

7. Early Blood - Women's habits fluctuate and some months she may beging bleeding earlier than expeceted. What does she do?

8. Post-natal Bleeding (Nifas) - Definition and rulings

9. Miscarriage - Rulings on how to determine the bleeding after a miscarriage

10. Menopause - Rulings

11. Attaining Ritual Purity - How and when to attain purity aftre bleeding


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Menstruation (Hayd)

The literal definition of the Arabic term hayd is “to flow.” Legally, hayd refers to the physical blood that exits from the female body as well as the state of impurity a woman enters during the days of menstruation. Both prohibit her from specific ritual worship, such as fasting, prayer, and recitation of Qur’an.

Practically, hayd is blood which originates from the uterus and exits from the vaginal opening. At a minimum, a threshold of 72 hours must be reached and a maximum of 240 hours is allowed to be hayd. This correlates to 3 days/nights and 10 days/nights. When the blood aligns within these parameters, it is classified as valid blood(Sunan al-Daraqutni 406-7/1, Al-Tabrani 129/8)


Post-Natal Bleeding (Nifas)

The literal definition of nifas is to give birth. Legally, nifas is blood which originates from the uterus and exits from the vaginal opening during childbirth. Once more than half of the child has exited from the vaginal canal, the blood is considered nifas. While there is no minimum duration, nifas cannot exceed 960 hours, or 40 days/nights. (Sunan al-Daraqutni 410/1, Al-Mustadrak 283/1)


Irregular Bleeding (Istihada)

Istihada exits from the vaginal opening, but unlike hayd and nifas, it is considered an invalid blood. Practically, it is that blood which a woman sees for less than three days or for more than ten days, i.e. below the minimum or beyond the maximum of menstruation, or for more than 40 days after childbirth. When a woman experiences bleeding out of her norm, it is important that she review her bleeding record to determine whether it falls under the category of hayd or istihada. (Sahih al-Bukhari 55/1 & 68/1, Sahih Muslim 262/1)

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Min & Max Time Frames

A woman’s menstrual cycle can vary in length. On average, a woman menstruates for 3-8 days, and her subsequent purity can range between 21-28 days. These fluctuations are fine as long as they fall within the fixed limits established by Islamic law (Shari’ah). As a woman has her menstrual cycles, it is extremely important that she record the respective dates of any bleeding: menstruation (hayd), post-natal bleeding (nifas) and irregular bleeding (istihada). She should also write down her purity (tuhr) dates as a record for future reference.


The Fiqh of It



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Women experience variation in the colour and flow of menstrual blood – both convey important information regarding their health. While healthy menstrual blood ranges from dark red, brown, and even black, colours like grey and orange are indicative of a possible health issue, such as an infection. If a woman is concerned about changes in her cycle or the odour of her discharge, she should consult with a qualified medical professional.


The Fiqh of It

From an Islamic perspective, any coloured discharge in the habitual days of bleeding, other than clear or white, is considered menstruation (hayd). As long as the bleeding falls within normal parameters, colours such as black, brown, green, yellow and red are hayd. When looking at the colour of discharge, it is important that the sample is fresh and wet. If the discharge is looked at when it has dried, it has undergone a chemical reaction, altering its colour. For example, if the discharge is yellow when fresh, but changes colour after time, the original colour of yellow is considered. (Manhal al-Waridin p.169)

Liners and pads may be used when bleeding. However, they cannot be used to determine the colour of the discharge, as they are placed away from the vaginal opening. Placing a piece of cotton at the point of exit (kursuf) can make it easier to accurately determine the colour of discharge. It allows for the colour of discharge to be seen when wet, before it undergoes a chemical change.


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Habit Fluctuation

One of the most important principles in the rulings regarding menstruation is habit. A woman’s habit is the number of days she normally menstruates, as well as where in the month she experiences her bleeding. For example, a woman has a 5-day bleeding cycle, followed by 20 days of purity. We would say her habit in menstruation (hayd) is 5 days and her habit in purity (tuhr) is 20 days.

It’s completely normal to have fluctuations in one’s habit – it can change each month if the bleeding and purity remain in the allowed limits. For example, a woman bleeds 5 days, followed by 20 days of purity and her next menstrual cycle lasts 7 days, followed by 25 days of purity. These ups and downs are not only normal, and they do not effect the rulings.

Habit comes into play when a woman experiences irregular bleeding (istihada) or has an invalid purity following her hayd. For example, a woman who previously bled for 6 days bleeds beyond the 10-day maximum, for a total of 12 days. In this situation of irregular bleeding, she reverts to her habit and considers the first 6 days hayd and the remaining 6 istihada. (Manhal al-Waridin pp.182-3)

These simple examples highlight another crucial point – the accurate and consistent recording of instances of hayd and tuhr. Without knowing how long her previous hayd lasted, a woman will not be able to determine which days should be marked as hayd and which as istihada.

The concept of habit is also important to applying rulings related to purity. For example, a woman regularly has 25 days of purity between her menstrual cycles, but following her last hayd she continued to spot indefinitely. Her tuhr habit will determine how many days she should treat as istihada before considering the spotting hayd. (Manhal al-Waridin pp.211-2)

A woman should record the exact time her bleeding begins. She should monitor her bleeding throughout her hayd. When the bleeding ends, she should again note down the exact time. Keeping a log from cycle to cycle will help with determining rulings if any irregularities occur.


Mudilla (Woman Without a Habit)

Many women overlook the importance of keeping a written record of bleeding and purity, despite the directive from scholars. A woman who has no recollection or record of a valid blood and purity habit is referred to as a mudillaShould a mudilla find herself in a situation of irregular bleeding, she can be subjected to some of the most stringent rulings in the Islamic law (Shari’ah).  


The Fiqh of It

In his treatise on menstruation, Imam Birgivi writes that it is mandatory for every woman to know her menstruation (hayd), post-natal bleeding (nifas), and purity (tuhr) habit (Manhal al-Waridin p.229). The importance of this rule cannot be emphasized enough, as the consequences of not knowing are very serious. 

For example, if a woman is experiencing irregular bleeding (istihada) and does not have any written record of her habit, there is uncertainty as to whether the blood is hayd or istihada. She will be required to perform a ritual bath (ghusl) before every prayer (salat) and repeat the previous salat in each subsequent prayer time. Not only can this practice become extremely burdensome, it can create a negative disposition toward the prayer. 

Many other restrictions also apply to the mudilla. She cannot perform any optional fasts or prayers and her recitation of the Qur’an is restricted. It will also impact the ability of her and her husband to be intimate with one another. Therefore, women should be extremely diligent about recording their habits.     

Should a woman find herself in this situation, she should consult a knowledgeable and reliable scholar, who can guide her to the correct course of action.

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Recording Cycles

All women are obligated to keep a detailed record of bleeding and purity, referred to as a habit chart, including dates and times. In case of any irregularities, a written record allows her to accurately pinpoint which days are menstruation and purity. Without this, a woman will not know whether she is obligated to fast and pray. 


How to Record Your Cycle

Technology has made it easy for a woman to keep track of her cycle. There are multiple apps available and there is always the traditional method of recording the information on a calendar or in a notebook. Regardless of the method, the following information should be included:

  • Record all days in which there is blood or coloured discharge, whether it is continuous or intermittent. 
  • Record the start/end time of each instance of bleeding, using hours and minutes.  
  • Record the colour of the discharge, such as whether it is black, brown, red, yellow, etc.



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Number & Place

When calculating habit in menstruation (hayd) and purity (tuhr), a woman looks at both the number of days (‘adad) as well as the place in the month (zaman) she bled.


The Fiqh of It

‘Adad refers to the most recent number of days of valid blood (hayd) and valid purity (tuhr sahih)*. For example, Ayesha’s hayd was from September 1-5. Her following hayd was from October 1-5. Her ‘adad is 5 days for hayd and 25 days for tuhr.

Zaman refers to the due date of a woman’s next menstrual cycle, based on her purity from the previous month. In this case it is 5 days of hayd, preceded by 25 days of tuhr. (Manhal al-Waridin pp.180-4)


To really understand the interplay between ‘adad and zaman, let’s look at another example, Ayesha’s habit is 7 days for hayd preceded by 23 for tuhr. Accordingly, she was expecting her hayd to start on May 1, however it did not start until May 5. She then bled for 7 days.


The ‘adad remains 7 days for hayd, but increases from 23 to 27 days for tuhr. This changes the zaman of hayd as the date she is expected to begin bleeding has shifted forward by 4 days.


*A valid purity (tuhr sahih) is a purity that is 15 days or more, is not mixed with any bleeding in the beginning, middle or end and is preceded and followed by hayd.


Determining Purity Habit




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Early Blood

A woman’s menstrual cycle can vary in length each month – it’s important for a woman to know her days of bleeding (hayd) and purity (tuhr) in case she has irregular bleeding (istihada). She will then have to look at her record, in order to align her bleeding with her place of menstruation and the number of days she regularly bleeds.


The Fiqh of It

If a woman experiences bleeding earlier than her normal place of habit, she cannot assume that it is hayd. Her place of habit is when she is due to bleed in relation to her recent hayd and tuhr habits. For a detailed explanation of the place of habit, refer to ‘Number & Place’.

There are three possible rulings that can apply to early blood:



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Post-Natal Bleeding (Nifas)

From the beginning of her pregnancy, a woman wonders what her labour and delivery will feel like. She learns the signs to active labour, such as the baby dropping, the dilation of the cervix and her water breaking. Contractions, which can feel like waves of intense pressure, will increase in frequency and intensity. As a woman goes through this experience, she also has to know what is expected of her in regards to her ritual prayer (salat).

It is important to remember that whatever exits from the vagina during pregnancy is considered an impurity (najasah), including water breaking, losing the mucus plug, and seeing a watery red discharge (bloody show). These situations all invalidate ablution (wudu) and any impurity on the body/clothing must be removed prior to praying. However, they do not indicate the onset of nifas. Hence, a woman in labour is obligated to offer her prescribed (fard) prayers. If she cannot perform wudu (even with assistance), or there is no access to water, she will perform dry ablution (tayammum). If a woman is unable to stand or fears for the safety of the baby, she can perform salat sitting or even lying down. (Radd al-Muhtar 134-6/1, 233/1, 98/2)


The Fiqh of It

Technically, the start of nifas is when “most of the baby” has been delivered. If the baby is born head-first, “most” means after the chest comes out, and if the baby is breech, then after the navel comes out (Al-Bahr al-Ra’iq 129/1). With the onset of nifas, a woman cannot fast, pray salat, or have sexual intercourse until the bleeding ends, or up to 40 days, whichever comes first. If a woman does not have any post-natal blood, she is required to take a ritual bath (ghusl) and begin praying immediately.

A cultural misunderstanding is that a post-natal mother will wait for the full 40 days to pray even if her bleeding ends earlier. This is incorrect, as 40 days is given as a maximum. Many women will stop much earlier. If this is the case, they should purify themselves with ghusl and begin praying. (Manhal al-Waridin pp.200-1)

If the mother’s bleeding, coloured discharge, or spotting extends beyond 40 days, she will resort to her previous nifas habit, i.e. the number of days she bled after her last delivery. If it is her first pregnancy, she will count 40 days as her nifas, and any blood seen thereafter will be treated as istihada until her habit before the pregnancy is applied. (Manhal al-Waridin p.181)

For example, if a woman had 30 days of bleeding after her first baby, and with her second delivery she bleeds beyond 40 days, her nifas will be 30 days. She will make up the prayers she missed from days 31-40, as these are istihada. If her bleeding ends before the 40-day maximum, she will have a new nifas habit.

All the bleeding within the first 40 days after childbirth is considered part of nifas, even if the bleeding is intermittent or stops for some time (Al-Muhit al-Burhani 264/1). For example, a woman sees a spot of blood on the first day, then the bleeding stops. Thereafter, she sees blood again on day 39. She will consider herself to be bleeding for the entire duration, as it is within the 40-day time-frame.


Multiple Births

For multiple births, nifas will begin when more than half of the first baby exits the mother if vaginal, or from the birth of the first baby, if cesarean. This applies if the babies are born less than 6 months apart (Tabyin al-Haqa’iq 68/1). In our contemporary time, most multiple births are born within the same day, so nifas will begin after the first birth.


Cesarean Birth

If a baby is born from a cesarean section, only the blood that exits the vagina is considered nifas. If blood exits from her incision, and not from the vagina, she will perform ghusl and begin praying immediately. (Manhal al-Waridin p.160)

Note: The Sacred Law rulings apply equally to menstruation (hayd) and nifas.

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Even though miscarriages are a fairly common experience, it is completely natural to feel a sense of loss. Some miscarriages take place before a woman even knows she’s pregnant, while others take place in later trimesters. Some of the most common signs of a miscarriage are abdominal cramping, back pain, and vaginal bleeding. Women also notice a discernible decrease in pregnancy symptoms due to hormonal changes, such as breast tenderness, nausea, and sensitivity to smell.

From a spiritual perspective, a miscarriage can feel like a devastating loss, but it is important to be content with Allah’s decree and to seek reward through patience and steadfastness. As believers, we understand that it is through adversity and trials that Allah draws us closer to Him and forgives us our shortcomings. At the same time, it’s important to reach out to a medical professional if the feelings are not something you can work through on your own.


The Fiqh of It

To understand and appropriately apply Islamic rulings related to a miscarriage, the first step is to determine the stage of fetal development. This, in turn, will determine whether the blood that exits from the vagina is classified as menstruation (hayd), irregular bleeding (istihada), or post-natal bleeding (nifas).

If a woman miscarries within the first 12 weeks and the embryo does not have any discernible human features, the blood will be either hayd or istihada. If 15 days from the end of her last menstruation have passed and the bleeding continues for at least 72 hours, it is hayd. If it has been less than 15 days, the blood is considered istihada. In order to pray, she will make sure her body and clothes are free of physical impurity, change her liner or pad, and perform ablution (wudu). If the blood flow is continuous, she may fall under the category of an excused person. In this situation of early embryonic development, the miscarried embryo will be wrapped in a cloth, if applicable, and buried. However, it will not be given a ritual bath (ghusl) or prayed over.

If the fetus has discernible human features, such as fingernails, hair, or limbs, the bleeding will be considered nifas. If the baby dies before or during labour, it will be named, given ghusl, wrapped in a clean cloth, and buried. However, there is no funeral prayer (janaza). If the baby is born and cries, even once, and then passes away, the janaza will be prayed in addition to the above-mentioned.


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Menopause is a time of great change in a woman’s life. Unlike puberty, it isn’t openly discussed nor are women educated about what changes to expect. When it starts, anywhere from 45-55 years of age, and lasting between 5-7 years, women are often caught off guard. After going through menopause, many women feel relieved that they don’t have to worry about tracking their menstrual cycle or having a gap in their ritual worship.

Biologically, menopause is when a woman’s menstrual cycle ends, and she can no longer conceive. The ovaries stop producing estrogen and progesterone and women experience a host of unpleasant symptoms, such as bone loss, hot flushes, insomnia, night sweats, vaginal dryness, and weight gain. Women also describe ups and downs in their emotional well-being, having to cope with anxiety, depression, an inability to concentrate, and a lack of motivation. While menopause can be a challenging time,  these symptoms are temporary. A woman shouldn’t hesitate to reach out to her doctor with any concerns or questions she has.


The Fiqh of It

In Islamic law (Shari’ah) a woman is menopausal when she reaches 55 lunar years (53 solar years and 4 months). Prior to this age, any colour of blood that exits the body is considered menstruation (hayd) (Al-Muhit al-Burhani 212/1). Many women will notice a reduction in the number of days they bleed – as long as they have not reached the age of menopause and the bleeding lasts between 3-10 days, it will be hayd. Essentially, the rulings of hayd apply in their entirety until she reaches 55 lunar years.

Once she reaches this age, vaginal blood will only be considered hayd if it is her regular menstrual colour, or if the blood is  black or red and continues for a minimum of three days (Manhal al-Waridin p.166). Any other colour will be considered irregular bleeding (istihada), in which she continues her prayers and fasts, keeping in mind the rulings of istihada for purity before prayer.

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Attaining Ritual Purity

A woman can experience fluctuations in her bleeding and purity. As long as the bleeding is between 3-10 days and follows a purity of at least 15 days, the bleeding will be menstruation (hayd). To attain purity after hayd, she will always be obligated to take a ritual bath (ghusl). In situations of irregular bleeding (istihada), such as bleeding less than 72 hours or exceeds 240 hours, she is only required to perform ablution (wudu) to attain ritual purity as this bleeding is not hayd (Manhal al-Waridin p.206).

It’s important that she track each instance of bleeding and her respective purity days. This record will help her determine whether she needs to perform wudu or ghusl to exit from a state of impurity. To determine which of the scenarios applies to her, she looks at how many days she’s bled and her usual habit in hayd

See here for an attachment

Keep in mind that the flow of blood does need to be continuous in hayd. If the bleeding stops after 72 hours, a woman should perform ghusl and resume praying – she has no way of knowing if and when the bleeding will return. If the bleeding does not return, her hayd has ended. If the bleeding returns, she should stop praying and wait for it to end. It’s important for a woman to act on what she is seeing prayer time to prayer time and not based on what she anticipates will happen.

If a woman bleeds fewer days than her previous hayd, she should repeat ghusl out of precaution when she reaches her habit mark (Manhal al-Waridin p.204). If she has to retrospectively revert to her previous habit, her prayers will remain valid.

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