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Monthly Courses



In addition to what I said last week, it is important to mention something about the laws governing monthly courses for both men and women. It is clear, as seen last week, from verse 222 of al-Baqarah that the question came from the men to the Messenger of Allah (SAW): “They ask thee concerning women’s courses…” And Allah answered the question. There is no shyness in matters of religion and knowledge. Just say it as revealed by the Law Giver.

Menstruation refers to the flowing of blood from a woman’s uterus that happens every month from puberty to menopause. It differs from woman to woman in relation to its commencement and duration. It could last 15 days in some, but usually, it lasts less than that period in many, to the extent that some scholars said if it exceeds 15 days, it is no longer menstruation. The minimum period for menstruation, they said, is a day and a night, i.e. 24 hours; anything less than 24 hours, or more than 15 days is not menstruation; it is irregular bleeding, outside the period of menstruation. Its smell and colour differ from that of normal menstruation. Also, the laws governing both types of blood are different.

This irregular bleeding occurs outside the period of menses. A woman will be able to differentiate between irregular bleeding and her menses by two things: first, the colour; in menses the blood is slightly darkened, but in irregular bleeding the blood is pure red like the one coming out of a wound; and second, the time; irregular bleeding comes outside the time of normal menses.

Another form of blood (the third in what we have mentioned so far) is the postnatal bleeding which comes after childbirth. Normally it lasts for about forty days, but the scholars said the minimum period for postnatal bleeding is the very moment the woman delivers; it could come with the delivery of the child and cease immediately thereafter. It could also linger until after 60 days. Any period of postnatal bleeding beyond 60 days, is no longer postnatal but irregular bleeding.

There are obligations and prohibitions on the menstruating woman.

It is haraam for a menstruating woman to pray both obligatory and naafilah prayers, and they are not valid if she performs them. Prayers are not obligatory on her during such periods, thus she is not to repay sallah after her menses. But fasting is obligatory on her that is why she will make up missed days of Ramadan after Eid, even though she will not fast during menses.

If a woman gets her menses when she is fasting, her fast becomes invalid even if that happens just before Maghrib, and she has to make up that day if it was an obligatory fast.

But if she feels that the period was coming before Maghrib, but no blood came out until after the sunset, then her fast is complete and is not invalidated, according to the correct view, because there is no ruling connected to blood that is still inside the body, and when the Prophet, sallaahu alaihi wa sallam was asked about a woman who sees in a dream what a man sees (i.e., an erotic dream), does she have to do ghusl? He said: “Yes if she sees water.” So the ruling is connected to seeing water, not feeling body sensations. The same applies to menses: the rulings do not apply until it is seen outside the body, not just the body sensations.

If dawn comes when the woman is menstruating, it is not valid for her to fast that day though if she becomes pure even a moment after dawn.

If she becomes pure just before dawn and fasts, her fast is valid even if she does not do ghusl until after dawn. This is like the one who is junub – if he intends to fast when he is junub and does not do ghusl until after dawn breaks, his fast is valid, because of the hadeeth of ‘Aa’ishah (may Allaah be pleased with her) who said: “The Prophet, sallaahu alaihi wa sallam used to wake up junub as the result of intercourse, not a wet dream, and he would fast in Ramadaan.”

She will neither touch the Mushaf nor read from the Qur’an according to the majority opinion among the scholars.

Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah said in al-Fataawa:

‘There is no report saying that she should not read Qur’an. The hadeeth “No menstruating woman or person who is junub should recite anything from the Qur’an” is a weak hadeeth, according to the consensus of the scholars who are well-versed in hadeeth. Women used to menstruate at the time of the Prophet, sallaahu alaihi wa sallam and if reading was haraam for them as prayer is, this would have been something that the Prophet, sallaahu alaihi wa sa llamexplained to his ummah and the Mothers of the Believers would have known that, and it would have been something that they told to the people. But since no one narrated any prohibition concerning that from the Prophet, sallaahu alaihi wa sa llam, it is not permissible to regard it as haraam, since it is known that he did not forbid that, and as he did not forbid that despite the fact that menstruation was widespread at his time, it is known that it is not haraam.’

It is haraam for a menstruating woman to circumambulate the Ka’bah, whether that is obligatory or naafilah, and it is not valid if she does it, because the Prophet, sallaahu alaihi wa sallam said to ‘Aa’ishah when she got her menses: “Do everything that the pilgrims do, but do not circumambulate the House until you become pure.”

As for the other actions of Hajj, such as sa’yi between as-Safa and al-Marwah, standing at ‘Arafah, staying overnight in Muzdalifah and Mina, stoning the jamaraat and other rituals of Hajj and ‘Umrah, they are not haraam for her. Based on that, if a female does tawaaf when she is pure, then her period begins immediately after she does tawaaf, or during sa’yi, there is nothing wrong with that.

It is haraam for the menstruating woman to stay in the mosque and even in the Eid prayer-place, because of the hadeeth of Umm ‘Atiyyah (may Allaah be pleased with her), who said that she heard the Prophet, sallaahu alaihi wa sa llam say: “Let the girls who have attained puberty, women in seclusion and menstruating women go out – i.e., to the Eid prayer.” In this hadeeth it says: “But let the menstruating women avoid the prayer place.”

And of course she cannot have intercourse with her husband, as we all know. A man who cannot control himself during such periods will be in great difficulty, especially the newly-wed, or youth generally. The scholars said it is permissible for him to do that which will satisfy his desire without having intercourse, such as kissing, touching and intimacy that is less than intercourse, but it is better not to be intimate with that which is between the navel and the knee except through a barrier, because ‘Aa’ishah (may Allaah be pleased with her) said: The Prophet, sallaahu alaihi wa sallam used to tell me to wear a waist wrapper, then he would be intimate with me when I was menstruating.

The same thing applies to those affected by prenatal bleeding; such women will not fast or pray but they will make up for fast after Ramadan, and not make up for the sallah. Everything that we have learnt concerning women in their menses equally applies to cases of prenatal bleeding: entering the masjid, touching or reading of the Qur’an, doing Tawaaf, and whatnot.

In irregular bleeding, the woman is not prevented from performing her prayers, observing fast, and the rest. What is required of her is to do the following after the call to prayer, not before the adhaan: she will clean the spot where the blood flows from (her privates), put fresh sanitary pad, perform ablution, offer her sallah and the naafilah associated with prayers, like the one before and after Zuhr, Magrib, and so on. She will do all that.

When the time for another prayer comes, even where she discovers that she is dry, no fresh drops of blood visible, she will not offer sallah until she repeats the entire process as she did before offering Zuhr for example. She has to wait for the adhaan of the next sallah, say Asr, before cleaning herself, putting a fresh sanitary pad a second time even though the first one is spotless, then she performs ablution, offers any naafilah she desires and then Asr prayers. If she is on hajj, the same process is followed before she comes to Haram for Tawaaf: she cleans herself, puts on a fresh sanitary pad, performs ablution, then goes for the Tawaaf and the two rak’ahs after it. She will not offer any other devotion with the same ablution until the process of cleanliness is repeated.

Can the husband of a woman experiencing irregular bleeding have intercourse with her? Some scholars said no he cannot approach her because Allah said the blood is dirt and hurt.

Another position is that since Allah has permitted such a woman to pray and observe fast, and for the fact that her condition may last for a very long time, her husband can have intercourse with her if she follows the same process as explained before performing sallah: cleaning her privates, then the husband may approach her. This is the better opinion among the scholars.