States Peculiar to Women (Menstruation - Puerperium - Excuse)
When states peculiar to women are mentioned, three states which consist of menstruation, puerperium and excuses are meant. Let us deal with them one by one:
THE STATE OF MENSTRUATION (MONTHLY PERIOD)
• What is menstruation?
Menstruation is blood coming regularly from the uterus of a woman apart from an illness or giving birth every month between puberty and menopause. It is also called period, monthly bleeding, menses, catamenia, etc.
Menstruation is a natural state peculiar to women. The dirty and poisonous matters that accumulate in the body are thrown out through menstrual bleeding; the body is relieved and becomes healthy. Therefore, there is no need to fear from, and to disgust at the state of menstruation. It should be seen and regarded as something normal and as a will of Allah. As a matter of fact, the following narration confirms it:
While Hazrat Aisha was on hajj with the Prophet, she started to menstruate; she started to cry because she taught she would have to stop hajj. The Prophet asked her:
– What is the matter? Are you in menstruation? Then, he stated the following:
– It is the preordainment of Allah for women. Do everything that hajjis do except circumambulating the Kaaba; you can circumambulate the Kaaba after your menstruation period ends.”
• When does it start, until what age does it last?
Menstruation starts at the age of 9 the earliest. Young girls reach puberty when it starts.
It goes on with certain periods each month until the age of 55 the latest. It ends after that age.
The bleedings that take place before the age of 5 and after the age of 55 are not regarded as menstruation. They are regarded to originate from a disease.
According to Malikis, the blood coming from a girl who is younger than 9 originates from an illness; it is not menstruation. The blood coming from a girl aged between nine and twelve is shown to specialists. If they say it is definitely menstruation or if they cannot decide, it is regarded as menstruation. If it is definitely decided that it is not menstruation, it is regarded as blood originating from an illness. The blood coming from a girl or woman between the age of thirteen and fifty is definitely regarded as menstruation. The blood coming from a woman between the ages of fifty and seventy is shown to specialists and is decided based on their views. The blood coming after the age of seventy is definitely due to an illness.
According to Shafiis, there is no time limit for the end of menstruation. Menstruation can go on as long as a woman lives. The climate of the region affects it because the period of menstruation varies based on the hot or cold climate. However, in general, menstruation stops at the age of sixty-two.
According to Hanbalis, the age of menopause is fifty. The blood coming after this age is not the blood of menstruation even if it is strong; it is regarded as blood originating from an illness.
• How is it understood?
Menstrual fluid can be red, black, yellow, blurry green and ginger. If one of these colors is seen on the pad or cotton, the menstruation period is regarded to have started. When the menstruation ends, the fluid becomes white; it is the natural fluid of the vagina.
The blood coming out when a woman is pregnant is not regarded as menstrual blood.
• How long does it last?
The state of menstruation lasts at least 3 and at most 10 days. The flow that lasts fewer than 3 days (72 hours) and more than 10 days (240) hours is not regarded as menstruation. It is regarded to be originating from an illness.
The flow does not have to be continuous during the menstruation period. It may sometimes stop. If a woman menstruates for three days, if the flow stops for three days and if it flows again for three more days, the menstruation period of that woman is regarded as 9 days. The two days that pass without any flow are also regarded among menstruation days.
• How many days are there between two menstruation periods?
The clean period between two menstruation periods is called the period or “the state of tuhur (cleanness)”. This period cannot be fewer than 15 days, but it can be more than 15 days. Accordingly, the flow that takes place before 15 days is not regarded as menstruation.
According to Malikis and Hanbalis, the clean days within the menstruation period is called “yawm an-naqa”. The woman is regarded to be clean in those days. She is regarded like the other women who are not in the menstruation period and she has to worship like them. The minimum number of the days of cleanness is eight, ten or seventeen days. According to Hanbalis, it is thirteen days.
• Is the number of the days of menstruation certain every month?
The menstruation days of some women are certain. For instance, they menstruate 5, 7, or 9 days every month.
Others do not have fixed days; they change every month. For instance, they may menstruate for 5 days in a month and 6 days in another. It is necessary to act cautiously in this case. That is, such a woman should make ghusl on the 6th day, and perform fasting if it is Ramadan because the blood coming on the 6th day might originate from an illness. However, she cannot have a sexual intercourse with her husband before the 6th day ends because she might be in the period of menstruation.
• How is it understood that the period of the days of menstruation has changed?
For a period of menstruation to have been regarded as changed it is necessary to undergo two periods of menstruation different from the usual one two times on end. For instance, if a woman who always menstruates for 5 days every month menstruates 4 or 6 days two months on end, her menstruation period is regarded to have changed to 4 or 6 days. Thus, the change of the period of the menstruation is possible when two different periods take place on end.
The bleeding that lasts more than the usual period of menstruation but does not exceed 10 days is regarded as menstruation, too. In this case, the period of menstruation is regarded to have changed. For instance, if a woman who menstruates 7 days every month starts to menstruate 10 days, she is regarded to be in the menstruation period for 10 days. However, in a bleeding period that lasts more than 10 days, the bleeding days that are more than the usual number are regarded as the state of illness not as menstruation.
• What should a girl who has reached the age of puberty do when she experiences the first bleeding?
A girl who has reached the age of puberty has to stop performing prayers and fasting as soon as she starts to menstruate. Such a girl is called a “mubtadia”. If the period of bleeding lasts fewer than three days, it is understood that she did not menstruate. She needs to perform the worshipping that she has abandoned.
According to Imam A’zam, it is not permissible to abandon performing prayers and fasting unless the bleeding lasts for three days and it becomes certain that she is menstruating.
* It is not permissible for a woman to lie to her husband and tell him that she is not menstruating although she is, or to tell him that she is menstruating although she is not.
* * *
PUERPERIUM (POSTNATAL PERIOD: POSTPARTUM PERIOD)
• What is puerperal bleeding?
Puerperal bleeding is the blood that comes from a woman after birth. The state is called puerperium.
• How many days does it last?
It is not certain how long puerperium lasts. It may even last only one day. The maximum limit is 40 days. It does not last longer than 40 days. The blood that continues to flow after 40 days is regarded as bleeding due to an illness.
Some women have puerperal bleeding for about 15-20 or 25 days. Then, the bleeding stops. Thus, the puerperium ends for them. They can make ghusl, and start to perform prayers and fasting.
According to Imam Malik, the maximum limit for puerperium is seventy days and according to Imam Shafii, it is 60 days. The usual limit is 40 days.
• Is a woman who has a miscarriage regarded to be in puerperium?
If the organs like the hands, feet, fingers of the fetus have become apparent, puerperium is valid. However, if the organs have not become apparent, puerperium is not in question.
• Is the temporary cleanness, that is, temporary stop of the bleeding, within the period of puerperium regarded as part of the puerperium?
Yes, it is. For instance if bleeding continues for 10 days and stops for 5 days, and if it starts again and lasts for 10 days, that whole period of 25 days is regarded as puerperium.
When the baby comes out of the uterus during birth, it is regarded to have been born. The state of puerperium starts.
According to Malikis, if the period of cleanness lasts for half a month, it is regarded as a period of cleanness. The blood coming after that period is regarded as menstruation. If the clean days last less than half a month, all of the days are regarded as menstruation.
According to Shafiis, if the clean days last at least fifteen days, it is regarded as a state of cleanness. However, if this cleanness lasts for fewer than fifteen days, the whole period is regarded as menstruation.
According to Hanbalis, those days of cleanness are definitely regarded as a state of cleanness. It becomes wajib for that woman to perform worshipping like the other women who are clean.
* * *
BLOOD OF ILLNESS (ISTIHADA)
The blood that comes at a time other than the periods of menstruation and puerperium is called the blood of istihadha, that is, illness.
The blood of istihadha is different from the blood of menstruation and puerperium. This blood is thin and odorless since it comes from blood vessels. It is like the blood coming from the nose and other organs. It is the blood of excuse and illness.
JUDGMENTS ABOUT THE STATES PECULIAR TO WOMEN
I – Judgments regarding menstruation and puerperium:
There are 8 judgments regarding menstruation and puerperium:
1 – A woman in the state of menstruation and puerperium are not responsible for performing prayers. It is forbidden for women to perform prayers when they are in the state of menstruation and puerperium. They do not have to perform those prayers when they are clean. Allah removed such a responsibility due to His grace and generosity.
The same thing is valid for the state of puerperium. It is obvious that it will be difficult for a woman who abandoned prayers for 20, 30 or even 40 days to perform those prayers later.
Islam, which is a religion sent as mercy to the realms, does not hold women responsible for the prayers that they do not perform during the state of menstruation and puerperium.
* It is haram for women who are in the state of menstruation and puerperium to perform prayers but it is permissible for them to glorify Allah, to mention His names and attributes and to pray to Him. A woman who is in the state of menstruation and puerperium is encouraged make wudu when it is time for prayer and to sit facing the qiblah for a period of time as long as a prayer takes and glorify Allah, say salawat and prayers if it possible and if she has enough time. Thus, she will not forget her Lord and will not miss the pleasure of worshipping; she will also show how enthusiastic she is about worshipping Allah if she could.
2 – It is forbidden for women who are in the state of menstruation and puerperium to perform fasting just like prayers. However, unlike prayers, they have to perform fasting after they are cleaned because fasting is not performed during the whole year unlike prayers but only one month; therefore, a few days of fasting will not be very difficult for women to perform after they are cleaned. Thus, women are not asked to perform the prayers that they miss during the state of menstruation and puerperium but they are asked to perform fasting that they miss.
Hazrat Aisha states the following regarding the issue:
“When we were in the state of menstruation and puerperium, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) ordered us to perform fasting that we missed later. He did not order us to perform the prayers that we missed.”
3 – It is haram for a woman who is in the state of menstruation and puerperium to read the Quran. The Messenger of Allah said, “A woman who is in the state of menstruation and puerperium cannot read the Quran.” It is permissible for women who are in the state of menstruation and puerperium to read various prayers like the qunut prayer glorify Allah and say salawat for the Prophet. Women who are in the state of menstruation and puerperium cannot read the Quran but they can listen to it.
4 – It is haram for women who are in the state of menstruation and puerperium to touch the Quran. Let alone the whole Quran, it is even haram to touch one verse or one word of a verse.
A woman who teaches the Quran must leave it to somebody else to teach the Quran if she starts to menstruate; if there is nobody else to do it, it becomes permissible for her to go on teaching the Quran according to Hanafi scholars Karhi and Tahawi. Imam Karhi says it is permissible for a woman teacher to continue teaching the Quran in the form of separate words when she is in menstruation and Tahawi says in the form of half verses.
Based on some narrations reported from the scholars of the Companions and those who followed them, Maliki scholars state that a woman can read the Quran when she is in menstruation but that she cannot read the Quran when the bleeding of menstruation ends unless she makes ghusl. Ibn Hazm does not regard it necessary. Malikis and some Islamic scholars including Ibn Hazm found it necessary to make a positive discrimination in favor of women in menstruation because the state of menstruation is involuntary whereas the state of janabah is voluntary; especially Malikis acted upon the need of permission for teaching and learning the Quran for women.
5 – It is haram for women in the state of menstruation and puerperium (or janabah) to enter mosques unless it is obligatory. If it is necessary, they can enter mosques.
6 – It is also haram for a woman who is in the state of menstruation and puerperium and for a woman or man who is junub to circumambulate the Kaaba, the qiblah of believers. According to Hanafis, circumambulation in the state of menstruation is valid but it is necessary to slaughter an animal as punishment.
7 – It is haram for a woman who is in the state of menstruation and puerperium to have a sexual intercourse with her husband. Such an intercourse is regarded as one of the major sins.
The following is stated in the Quran:
“They ask thee concerning women's courses. Say: They are a hurt and a pollution; so keep away from women in their courses, and do not approach them until they are clean.” (al-Baqara, 222).
The following hadith reported by Hazrat Anas explains the meaning of the order ‘do not approach them’:
“Jews did not eat or drink together with women when they were in menstruation. Our Prophet said,
“– Do whatever you do with them except sexual intercourse...”
It is not religiously and medically permissible to have sexual intercourse with a woman who is in the state of menstruation and puerperium. The woman is regarded as ill in those states. She needs elaborate care and cleaning then. She should avoid being tired and she should rest as much as possible. Besides, the strong smell a menstruating woman emits can cause her husband to feel disgusted. Therefore, the sexual intercourse during this period can cause the husband to feel disgusted against her and can also some gynecological diseases.
It is haram for a man to approach his wife when she is in menstruation; it is also haram for a woman to give consent to it.
If a husband and wife have a sexual intercourse, both of them have to repent. In addition, it is necessary for them to give one or half a dinar of gold or the equivalent to the poor. [One dinar is a gold coin equal to one mithqal (4 gr.)>.
It is not necessary to sleep in a separate bed away from the woman. Such an attitude exists in the belief of Jews. Jews did not sleep in the same bed as menstruating women and they did not even eat together with them. They even used different towels. Islam abolished this unjust custom, which disdained women; Islam does not even regard it makruh to sleep in the same bed as a menstruating woman, to eat the food that she has cooked and to use the same towel.
Hazrat Aisha stated the following: “When I was in menstruation, the Prophet put his blessed head on my lap and recited the Quran.”
Another narration is as follows: “When I was in menstruation, I combed the hair of the Messenger of Allah.”
It is understood from those hadiths that women in menstruation are not najis (materially dirty). Those who are in puerperium are not najis, either. Those states are spiritual obstacles that prevent them from performing some religious duties.
* * *
Is it permissible to have a sexual intercourse with a woman whose menstrual or puerperal bleeding has stopped before she makes ghusl?
When the maximum limits (10 days for menstruation, 40 days) end, it becomes halal to have a sexual intercourse with a woman. It is not necessary to wait for ghusl. However, she is recommended to have an intercourse after making ghusl. If the period of menstruation ends before 10 days and the period of puerperium before 40 days, instant sexual intercourse is not permissible. In this case, either the woman has to make ghusl or she has to wait for a period of time for prayer to pass after the bleeding stops. Sexual intercourse becomes permissible after those conditions are met.
8 – The husband can touch only the parts of the body of a woman who is in menstruation over the navel and below the knees.
It is obvious that women are materially and spiritually sensitive in the period of menstruation and that they should be treated thoughtfully. Women should pay more importance to their body cleaning and hygienic rules, have a shower or bath more often and take necessary measures so as not to disturb the people around.
II – Judgments regarding the state of illness (istihadha):
The blood of istihadha does not prevent performing prayers or fasting. It does not prevent sexual intercourse, either. However, the women in the state of istihadha are regarded as excused. They perform worshipping in accordance with the judgments regarding the excused people.
Once, a woman came to the Prophet and asked him,
“I always have bleeding; shall I abandon performing prayers?”
The Prophet answered,
“No, it is because of an illness in the blood vessels; it is not menstruation. When your period of menstruation starts, stop performing prayers; when the period of menstruation is over, make ghusl; if the bleeding continues, make wudu for each prayer and perform your prayer. Do like this until the next period of menstruation starts.” This narration shows clearly that the state of istihadha is subject to the same judgments as the state of excuse.