The fiqh behind “Istihadah Helper”

Most of the fiqh behind Istihadah Helper is included in the following excerpt from The Evident Memorandum. The basic text comes from Ibn Mulaqqin’s short introduction to Shāfiʿī fiqh al-Tadhkirah. The commentary and evidence comes from his commentary on Mukhtaṣar al-Tibrīzī, with some evidence added in from other Shāfiʿī sources. You can use the buttons to toggle different parts of the text.

Menstruation, Postnatal & Irregular Bleeding

(فصل) أقل الحيض – وهو الخارج على سبيل الصحة من غير سبب الولادة – يومٌ وليلة، بشرط رؤيته بعد تسع سنين تقريبًا، وأكثره خمسة عشر بلياليها، وغالبه ستٌ أو سبعٌ.
وأقل طهر فاصل بين الحيضين خمسة عشر، ولا حد لأكثره، وغالبه بقية غالب الحيض.

The minimum duration for menstruation (bleeding that occurs while healthy and not due to giving birth) is one day and night.

What is significant here [in this chapter] are the durations that were actually found.

Menstruation being part of normal health is indicated by ʿĀʾīshah (may Allāh be pleased with her) saying: “We set out with the sole intention of performing Ḥajj. When we reached Sarif I got my menses. The Messenger of Allāh ﷺ came to me while I was crying. He ﷺ said, “What’s wrong? Have you got your menses?” I said, “Yes.” He ﷺ said, “This is a thing that Allāh has ordained for the daughters of Adam. So do all that pilgrims do, except for circumambulating the Kaʿba.” In an another version: “…until your become pure.”[1]

It is a condition that it was seen after completing approximately 9 lunar years.

Imām al-Shāfiʿī said, “The earliest time I heard for women menstruating is the women of Tuhama who menstruate at nine years of age.”[2]

Its maximum duration is 15 [days] with their nights.

ʿAlī (may Allāh be pleased with him) said, “whatever is above this is istiḥāḍah.”[3]

The average duration is 6 or 7 days.

He ﷺ said to Ḥamnah bint Jaḥsh (may Allāh be pleased with her): “You menstruate – as Allāh knows – for six or seven days, just like women menstruate and are pure, in their times of menstruation and their times or purity.”[4] Al-Tirmidhī transmitted it and said ḥasan.

The minimum duration of purity separating two menstrual cycles is 15 days.

Since this is the least that has been established to exist.

It has no maximum limit.

According to consensus.[5]

Its average duration is what remains from the average duration for menstruation.

Meaning 24 or 23 days.

Moments of purity that occur between menstrual bleeding are given the ruling of menstruation. So if one sees a day of purity and then a day of bleeding, both days are considered menstruation. This because if the times when she does not see bleeding are considered pure, then the post-marital waiting period would be finished through just three of these events.

Al-Ghazālī said in Al-Basīṭ, “The Ummah has consensus that each individual day cannot be made a complete duration of purity.”[6]

If it is not surrounded by bleeding on both sides, then the times without bleeding are not menstruation. It is also a condition that the total duration of bleeding not be less than one day and night.


Pregnancy & Nifās


وأقل الحمل ستة أشهر، وأكثره أربع سنين.
وأقل النفاس – وهو الخارج عقيب الولد – لحظة، وأكثره ستون يومًا. وغالبه أربعون.

The minimum duration for pregnancy is 6 months. Its maximum is 4 years.

The minimum duration for pregnancy is understood from Allāh Most High saying “…and his gestation and weaning [period] is thirty months…” [Q46:15], and “…and his weaning is in two years…” [Q31:14]. If the combination of pregnancy and weaning is 30 months, and weaning itself is two years (24 months), pregnancy must then be 6 months.

The minimum and maximum duration are based upon a partial census.

The minimum duration for lochia (bleeding after giving birth) is a single instant.

Due to taking a census.

The soundest opinion is that lochia [nifās] includes the blood that exits with the child, but not the blood that the precedes it after contractions.

Its maximum is 60 days.

According to census.

If the bleeding exceeds sixty days, she is referred back similarly to how she is with menstruation. That is: she is referred back to her habit[ual cycle] if she has one, or to distinctions between bleeding if there are any, and to the least possible amount if it is her first time.

The most average duration is 40 days.

Due to the hadith of Umm Salamah: “Women with lochia during the time of the Messenger of Allāh ﷺ would sit [refraining from prayer] for forty days.”[7] Abū Dāwūd and al-Tirmidhī transmitted it, and al-Bukhārī lauded it.

This is understood to be the average and does not negate it being longer.


Irregular bleeding


والإستحاضة: الخارج في غيرهما، فإن كانت مبتدأة ردت إلى يوم وليلة في الحيض وباقي الشهر في الطهر، أو معتادةً فالعادة، أو مميزةً فالتمييز، أو متحيرةً فتحتاط.

Irregular bleeding is [bleeding] outside menstruation or lochia.

Evidence that irregular bleeding has its own rulings is supported by hadiths such as this one transmitted by ʿĀʾīshah about Fāṭimah bint Abī Ḥubaish (may Allāh be pleased with them both) coming to the Prophet ﷺ concerning the subject.[8] Abū Dāwūd and al-Tirmidhī transmitted it.

If it is her first period ever, her menstruation is assumed to be single day and night, and the rest of the month is assumed to be pure.

If she [already] has a habit[ual cycle], she follows it.

So if she would menstruate for fifteen days of the month and then be pure for a month, and then menstruate for fifteen days and then be pure for a month (or more or less), and then her bleeding is excessive in the next month: she is returned back to her habit[ual cycle]. A single time is enough to establish a habit[ual cycle].

If her bleeding is distinctive [in that it can be divided into heavy or dark, and light], then she follows it [with the heavy or dark assumed to be menses, and the light being purity].

If she is confused, she must follow precaution.

If she forgets the time or the duration, her menstruation is considered whatever is certain or possible, except with respect to obligatory actions, and she takes the purificatory bath whenever it is possible that it has stopped.

An example of forgetting the time is if she says, “My menstruation is one of three thirds of the month, and I forget which one it is.” In such a case, she will make ablution during the first third of the month for each obligatory act, make the purificatory bath at the end of each ten days, and make ablution for each obligatory act during each of the sets of ten days. She has no menstruation nor purity with certainty.

If she said, “My menstruation is ten days during the last twenty days,” then the first ten days of the month are purity with certainty. During the second ten days she makes ablution for each obligatory act. At the end of the third set of ten days she makes the purificatory bath.

An example of forgetting the duration is her specifying thirty days and then saying, “I know that my bleeding would start at the beginning of the thirty days.” [Here] the first day and night are menstruation with certainty, and it is possible to finish at any time up through the end of fifteen days, so she bathes for each obligatory act [up to the end of those fifteen days] and after that she is pure until the end of the month.

If she forgets both the time and the duration (like if she says, “I do not know the place of my menstruation nor its amount”), then the sound opinion is that she employs precaution by praying and fasting (due to the possibility that she is pure) and avoiding intercourse with her husband (due to the possibility that she is menstruating), and making up sixteen days of fasting for Ramaḍān, and six days out of eighteen – since if she fasted Ramaḍān, she achieves fourteen of those days, due to the possibility that the bleeding began during that day and ended in the next. She achieves the same from another month. Two days remain for her to fast from eighteen, so the two are achieved however one estimates the beginning and ending of the bleeding.

If she does not have a habit[ual cycle] and does not have distinctive bleeding, she returns to one day and night of menstruation and twenty nine days of purity. This is because it is certain that she is not required to pray during this amount of time, while there is doubt concerning anything else. And doubt is not removed except with certainty and [with] an indicator – like distinctive bleeding or a habit[ual cycle].

If she does not have a habit[ual cycle] but does have distinctive bleeding, (such as by her bleeding becoming lighter after passing the minimum duration of menstruation and before reaching the maximum), then she it referred back to it in that month. She continues to refer back to it it in future months until the duration of the strong bleeding is specified.

So, if a girl during her first menses sees dark blood for a day and a night, and then has lighter bleeding until the end of the month, she is referred back the dark blood for her menstruation. It is the same if she sees dark blood up to fifteen days and then red blood for the rest: her menstruation is the dark. And if she were to see in the next month five days of dark bleeding and the rest red, we would refer her back in this month to the five dark days. If she sees one day and night of dark blood and then the rest is red, and then the next month she sees five dark and the rest red, she is referred back to the dark. This is what is meant by “until the duration of the strong bleeding is specified” [at the end of the previous paragraph].

Note: the duration of the red (weaker) blood must not be less than the lowest amount of purity between two menstruations.


Actions Unlawful Due to Menstruation & Postnatal Bleeding


(فصل) ويحرم بالحيض والنفاس ما حرم على الجنب، والصوم، ودخول المسجد إن خافت التلويث، والوطء، والإستمتاع بما بين السرة والركبة، والطلاق.

The things that menstruation and postnatal bleeding render unlawful are:

1–7. the things that are unlawful for someone in the state of major ritual impurity

The scholars have consensus that post-partum bleeding is analogous to menstruation with respect to everything that is lawful or prohibited, and what is offensive or recommended.

[As for evidence specific to menstrual and postnatal bleeding]: prayer is unlawful because Q2:222 was revealed concerning them. There is also the case of Fāṭimāh bint Abī Ḥubaysh (may Allāh be pleased with her): her blood kept flowing, so the Prophet ﷺ said to her: “When the blood of the menses comes, it is black blood which is known: when this happens, refrain from prayer. But when it is a different type, perform ablution and pray, for it is hemorrhaging.”[9] Abū Dāwūd transmitted it.

Recitation is unlawful since the Messenger of Allāh said: “No one in the state of janābah is to read anything from the Quran.” Al-Dāraquṭnī transmitted it. Al-Tirmdhīdhi’s transmission has: “nor a woman who is menstruating.”[10]

8. fasting

According to consensus.

This is until the bleeding stops.

Fasts missed due to menstruation and lochia must be made up. Prayers are not.

As for menstruation, it is due to ʿĀʾīshah, saying “We were ordered to make up fasts, but we were not ordered to make up prayers.”[11] Agreed upon.

As for lochia, it is because it is [like] collected menstrual blood.

9. entering the mosque if worried she will soil it

In the Sunan of Abū Dāwūd from the hadiths of ʿĀʾīshah (may Allāh be pelased with her) who said, “the Messenger of Allāh ﷺ said, ‘I do not permit the mosque to women during menstruation nor to those in the state of major ritual impurification [janābah].’”[12]] Ibn al-Qaṭṭān said it is a ḥadīth ḥasan.[13]

Other hadiths indicate the permissibility of entering and passing through the mosque. ʿĀʾīshah (may Allāh be pleased with her) reported: The Messenger of Allāh ﷺ said to me: “Get me the mat from the mosque.” I said: “I am menstruating.” He then said: “Your menstruation is not in your hand.”[14] Muslim transmitted it.

10. intercourse

Intercourse remains impermissible until making the purificatory bath.

Allāh Most High says, “…so keep away from wives during menstruation. And do not approach them until they are pure. And when they have purified themselves, then come to them from where Allāh has ordained for you…” [Q2:222]. ‹In this verse, “so keep away” and “do not approach them” mean to abstain from intercourse; “purified themselves,” refers to making the purificatory bath after menstruation has ended; and “then come to them,” refers to intercourse.

11. seeking sexual enjoyment from the area between the [woman’s] navel and knees

ʿAbd Allāh ibn Saʿd al-Anṣārī (may Allāh be pleased with him) asked the Messenger of Allāh ﷺ: “What is lawful for me to do with my wife when she is menstruating?” He ﷺ replied: “What is above the waist-wrapper is lawful for you.”[15] Abū Dāwūd transmitted it.

11. divorce

The divorce is still effective.

  1. ʿĀʾīshah: Bukhārī (294); Muslim (1211).  ↩
  2. Al-Shāfiʿī, Al-Umm (5:229)  ↩
  3. ʿAlī: Bukhārī, with a suspended chain (before 325).  ↩
  4. Ḥamnah bint Jaḥsh: Abū Dāwūd (287); Tirmidhī (128) – ḥasan [ṣaḥīḥ]; Ḥākim (615).  ↩
  5. Al-Anṣārī, Asnā al-maṭalib (1:100); Ibn Ḥajar, Tuḥfat al-muḥtāj (1:385); al-Ramlī, Nihāyat al-Muḥtāj (1:327).  ↩
  6. I could not source this as Al-Basīṭ is not yet published at this time. However, al-Nawawī quotes the same text in Al-Majmūʿ (2:502). In Al-Wasīṭ, Imām al-Ghazāli says, “There is no disagreement…” (1:412).  ↩
  7. Umm Salamah: Abū Dāwūd (311); Tirmidhī (139); Ḥākim (648).  ↩
  8. ʿĀʾīshah: Bukhārī (228); Muslim (333). See: al-Baghawī, Al-Tahdhīb (1:445).  ↩
  9. Fāṭimāh bint Abī Ḥubaysh: Abū Dāwūd (286).  ↩
  10. Ibn ʿUmar: Dāraquṭnī (1:124 #413); Tirmidhī (131).  ↩
  11. ʿĀʾīshah: Bukhārī (321); Muslim (335 #69).  ↩
  12. ʿĀʾīshah: Abū Dāwūd (232); Ibn Khuzaymah (1327).  ↩
  13. Maimūnah (may Allāh be pleased with her) said, “One of us would take a mat to the masjid and spread it out while she was menstruating.” [Nasāʾī (273). See: al-Bughā, Al-Tadhhīb fī adillat Matn al-ghāyat wa al-taqrīb (39)]  ↩
  14. ʿĀʾīshah: Bukhārī (298).  ↩
  15. ʿAbd Allāh ibn Saʿd al-Anṣārī: Abū Dāwūd (212).  ↩