Rulings on Istihadah (Bleeding other than Menstruation) – Shaykh Ibn Uthaymeen

Chapter Five – ISTIHADAH

ISTIHADAH is the vaginal bleeding of a woman such that it may not stop or it may stop but for a short period of time (a day or two in each month).

1) Bleeding that does not stop: ‘Aisha (radyAllaahu ‘anha) related that: “Fatimah bint Abi Hubaish said to the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم): “I do not become clean (i.e., bleeding is not ending) and in one narration “I got persistent bleeding (in between the periods) and I do not become clean” [49].

2) Bleeding that stops for a short period of time: Humnah bint Jahsh came to the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) and said: “My menstruation was great in quantity and severe“[50].

Several States of Istihadah

ONE: The woman has a known period of normal cycles of menses prior to Istihadah. The woman in this case refers to her previously known period of menses and during this period she applies all the rules regarding Salat, Fasting etc. Bleeding in days other than this reference period is considered as Istihadah with all associated rules being applicable.

Example: A woman used to get normal bleeding for six days at the beginning of each month. She then started to have prolonged bleeding. For this woman her Haid (Menses) period should be the “first six days of every month”.

The following extra vaginal bleeding is her Istihadah. This is in accordance with the Hadeeth of ‘Aisha (radyAllaahu ‘anha) who narrated that: “Fatimah bint Abi Hubaish asked the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم): “I got persistent bleeding (in between the periods) and do not become clean. Shall I give up prayers? He (صلى الله عليه و سلم) replied: No, this is from a blood vessel. Give up the prayers only for the days on which you usually get the menses and then take a bath and offer your prayers“[51].

And in Saheeh Muslim, the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) told Umm Habeebah bint Jahsh who had a prolonged flow of blood to “refrain (from prayer) during your menstrual period, then wash and pray” [52]. Having done this she should pray and pay attention to any flowing blood.

TWO: The woman does not have a known period of normal cycles of menses prior to Istihadah. To be able to distinguish between her blood from normal menses and her Istihadah blood, she should watch for some characteristics of these two types of blood. Haid blood may be characterized by thickness, darkness or certain distinct odor.

Example: a woman sees a continuous blood flow but she sees it dark for the first ten days and red for the rest of the month. Or it looks thick for the first ten days and soft for the rest of the month, or for the first ten days it has the characteristic odor of Haid blood and it becomes odorless for the rest of the month. So her Haid period is the dark blood flow for the first example, the thick blood for the second and the one with the distinct odor for the third. The bleeding that follows is considered Istihadah. It is related that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) told Fatimah bint Abi Jahsh: “When the blood of menses comes, it is black and can be recognized; so when that comes, refrain from prayer, but when a different type of blood comes, perform ablution and pray, for it is (due only to) a vein.” [53]

THREE: The woman does not have a known period of Haid and lacks the distinctive characteristics mentioned above!. Blood flow is continuous carrying the same quality or flowing with abnormal qualities that make it hard to distinguish the Haid bleeding from that of the Istihadah bleeding. In this case, women encountering this prolonged and undetermined type of flow should consider their Haid period to be the period encountered by most women: 6-7 days of Haid flow per month, starting from the time she sees the flowing blood. Other than this period, the blood flowing should be considered as Istihadah.

Example: A woman sees her blood for the first time on the fifth day of the month and it continues to flow while she is unable to distinguish any difference in color, odor or thickness of blood. Her Haid period should be six or seven days starting on the fifth day of each month. This is in lieu of the Hadeeth of Hamnah bint Jahsh (radyAllaahu ‘anha). She said: “O Messenger of Allah I am a woman who menstruates in great quantity and it is severe, so what do you think about it? It has prevented me from praying and fasting”. He (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “I recommend that you should use cotton, put it on your private part, for it absorbs the blood. She replied: “It is too copious for that…” In this Hadeeth, the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “This is a stroke of the devil, so observe your menses for six or seven days, Allah alone knows which it should be; then wash and when you see that you are purified, and quite clean, pray during twenty three or twenty four days and nights and fast, for that will be enough for you.” [54]

The saying of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) “for six or seven days” is not meant to give Hamnah bint Jahsh the choice but just for her to examine and find out who (amongst other women) is closer to her in age, body structure, number of children, etc. the woman that mostly resembles her condition has a Haid period of six days, then she should consider this period as her reference. The same is true if the Haid period was seven days.

The One Who Resembles The Mustahadah

It is possible that something (e.g. surgery) may cause the flow of blood through the vagina. There are two types of this case:

(1) It is not possible for her to have menses following surgery e.g. removal of the uterus or its blockage. Under this case, the ruling of Istihadah cannot be applicable. If the woman sees blood, then the laws governing the yellowish discharge (see above) apply. Hence she should not refrain from performing prayers or fasting. It is not prohibited for her husband to have sexual intercourse with her and it is not obligatory upon her to have a bath. She must, however, wash, clean, and make ablution at the commencing time of the obligatory prayers and when she intends to offer the optional prayers.

(2) It is not certain that her menses will stop following surgery. It is possible that she may have menses. In this case the rulings applicable on a Mustahadah (woman going through Istihadah) are also applicable on this condition in lieu of the Hadeeth of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) to Fatimah bint Abi Hubaish: “It is from a blood vessel, so when the real menses begins give up your prayers and when it (the period) has finished wash the blood off your body (have a full shower) and offer your prayers.”[55] The saying of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم): “when the real menses begins” indicates that the rules for the Mustahadah woman are applicable upon the woman who, potentially, may have menses (with a beginning and an end). The woman, however, without a potentially occurring menses, her blood is a vessel blood.

Rulings About The Mustahadah

Earlier it was explained when the blood is considered a menses (Haid) blood or Istihadah blood. The rulings applicable for menses and Istihadah depend upon the type of the flowing blood. Rulings about menses were discussed earlier. The rulings about Istihadah are the same as those applicable to a clean woman except for the following:

1) It is obligatory upon the Mustahadah to perform Ablution for each prayer, because of the order of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) to Fatimah bint Abi Hubaish: “Then make Ablution for every Salat” [56], meaning that she should make ablution only when the prescribed time of Salat begins and not before it.

2) Prior to ablution she should wash the traces of blood and covers her private part with a pad of cotton to absorb the blood. The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) told Humnah bint Jahsh:

“I recommend that you should use cotton, for it absorbs blood.” She said: “it is too copious for that”. He (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said; “then take a cloth.” She replied, “it is too copious for that.” He said: “then Talaj’jami” i.e., to prepare a holding around the waist that will maintain the cotton pad tightly attached to her private part. Nothing that comes out should then harm her because the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) told Fatimah bint Hubaish: “Refrain from Salat during the days of your normal menses then wash and make ablution for every Salat and then pray “even if blood drops onto the mat!” (Related by Imam Ahmad and Ibn Majah).

(3) Sexual Intercourse: Scholars disagreed about its permissibility. The correct opinion is that it is permissible because many women (ten or more) had their Istihadah at the time of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم). Allah and His Messenger did not prevent spouses from engaging in sexual intercourse. In fact, the saying of Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) :

( { فاعتَزِلُوا النِّساء في المَحيض } الأية (البقرة، 222
“Keep away from women during menses”
(Qur’an 2: 222),

is an evidence that it is only obligatory to keep away from sexual intercourse with women only during menses. And since offering prayers is allowed while in Istihadah, then there should be no difficulty in having sexual intercourse. To prevent sexual intercourse based upon Qiyass (analogy) with the state of Haid is incorrect, because the two situations are not the same. Deduction of rulings by Qiyass is invalid whenever there are existing variations.

Footnotes:

[50] Related by Ahmad, Abu-Dawoud, and At-Tirmidhi who said it is Saheeh (correct Hadeeth). It is also related that Imam Ahmad considered the Hadeeth to be Saheeh and that Imam Al-Bukhari is reported to have said it is good Hadeeth.
[51] Saheeh Al-Bukhari (Arabic-English) V.1, P.194, Hadeeth # 322.
[52] Saheeh Muslim (English), V. 1, P.189, Hadeeth # 654.
[53] Related by Abu Dawoud and An-Nassaa’ee, Ibin Habban and Al-Hakim said it is Saheeh. This author said: “although there are critical views regarding the chain of narrators and the interpretation of this Hadeeth, it had been a practical reference for some Muslim scholars and it is a better reference than referring to the average period encountered by most women (six or seven days).”
[54] ibid # 51
[55] Saheeh Al-Bukhari (Arabic-English), V.1, P.183, Hadeeth # 303
[56] Saheeh Al-Bukhari (Arabic-English) V.1, P. 149, Hadeeth # 228

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