Insufficient Purity between two Menstruations

Answered by Shaykh Hamza Karamali, SunniPath Academy Teacher

  I was taught that according to the Shafii school, there needs to be a 15 day period of purity between two menstruations.  What if 10 days after a woman ends her menstruation, she sees blood again?  Is she considered to be menstruating, or is it considered abnormal bleeding?

Answer:
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

In the Name of Allah, Most Merciful and Compassionate

 

Menstruation and Abnormal Bleeding

If we exclude post-natal bleeding (nifas), a woman who sees blood could either be in menstruation (hayd) or in a state of abnormal bleeding (istihadah).  If she is in menstruation, then several things become unlawful (such as prayer, fasting, reciting the Qurâ’an, and sexual intercourse; see Reliance, section e13.4 for a more complete list).  If she is in a state of abnormal bleeding, then these things are not unlawful for her; rather, it is as if she were not menstruating at all.  Reliance refers to such a woman as someone experiencing â chronic vaginal discharge and describes how she should go about performing her prayer in section e13.6. [1]

Three conditions must be met in order for blood to be considered menstruation:

Condition 1: The bleeding must last at least 24 hours.  If the bleeding is intermittent, then the sum of all intermittent bleeding periods must add up to at least 24 hours.

Condition 2: The menstruation must not exceed 15 days, regardless of whether the bleeding is intermittent or continuous.

Condition 3: There must be at least 15 days of purity between two menstruations.

If any one of these conditions is not met, then abnormal bleeding is taking place and the woman must pray and fast, for example, and it is permitted for her husband to have intercourse with her.

Insufficient Purity

Returning to the question, if a woman stops bleeding and then sees blood again after less than 15 days, then depending on her situation, the blood is could either be abnormal bleeding or menstruation”she cannot just assume that it is abnormal bleeding.  There are two cases to consider: (1) the initial bleeding plus the interval of non-bleeding is less than 15 days, and (2) the initial bleeding plus the interval of non-bleeding is 15 days or more.

Case 1: Initial Bleeding + Interval of Non-Bleeding < 15 Days

If the initial bleeding plus the interval of non-bleeding is less than 15 days, then she must treat the blood she sees as menstruation and she has retroactively discovered that the entire period of non-bleeding that she underwent was not purity, but rather menstruation.  Depending on how long this new bleeding lasts, she may or may not enter into a state of abnormal bleeding.  The two examples below illustrate both possibilities.  The red boxes in the tables are days of bleeding and the white boxes in the table are days of non-bleeding.

Example 1: No Abnormal Bleeding

 

 

 

 

1

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…

 

Purity

Menses

Purity

 

 

If a woman sees blood initially for 4 days and then stops bleeding for 9 days, and then starts bleeding again, she would treat the new blood as menstruation because the maximum duration of menstruation is 15 days, and 4 days (initial bleeding) plus 9 days (interval of non-bleeding) is only 13 days, i.e., she can bleed for 2 more days without violating condition 2 mentioned in the previous section.  By seeing this blood, she has now discovered that the 9 days of non-bleeding were actually menstruation and not purity, and all the prayers and fasts that she performed during that time were actually invalid.  If the new bleeding does not last more than 2 days, then she considers everything menstruation, as illustrated in the table above.

Example 2: Abnormal Bleeding

 

 

 

 

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…

 

In the previous example, the bleeding that started on day 14 did not exceed 2 days, and it was possible to combine the two bleeding periods and the non-bleeding period to make up a menstruation of 15 days.  If the bleeding that starts on day 14 exceeds 2 days, it is no longer possible to consider everything as menstruation, since this violates condition 2 (that menstruation cannot exceed 15 days).  When the woman sees blood on day 16, she will discover that she has entered into a state of abnormal bleeding.  This is illustrated in the table above.

Women in a state of abnormal bleeding fall into one of seven categories, and depending on which category this particular woman is in, she will follow a different set of rules.  Note, however, that it is not as simple as assuming that everything beyond day 15 is abnormal bleeding and everything before it is menstruation.  If a woman bleeds for more than 16 days, she needs to go back and retroactively re-calculate which days were menstruation and which days were not.  How this is done is dealt with in a separate post, in-sha’Allah.

Case 2: Initial Bleeding + Interval of Non-Bleeding > 15 days

If the initial bleeding plus the interval of non-bleeding is more than 15 days, it is no longer possible to combine any subsequent bleeding with the initial bleeding as one menstruation.  Now, however, another problem surfaces: if the interval of non-bleeding is less than 15 days, the new blood violates condition 3.

Example

 

 

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…

P

Menses

Purity

Menses

P

 

This is illustrated in the table above.  A woman bleeds for 5 days, then does not bleed for another 13 days, and then sees blood again.  The first two days of this blood will be considered to belong to the period of purity between two menstruations in order to complete the minimum 15 day period of purity.  Condition 3 (that there must be a minimum 15 day purity between two menstruations) is now fulfilled, so any subsequent blood will be considered menstruation.  Depending on how long this new blood lasts, the woman may or may not enter into a state of abnormal bleeding.  In the example shown in the table above, it only lasts for an additional 4 days, so these 4 days will be considered menstruation.

Sources: Bughyat al-Mustarshidin, 31; Hashiyat al-Sharqawi, 1.152-156 ; see also Reliance, section e13)

And Allah knows best.

Hamza.

 

Notes:

[1] A woman with chronic vaginal discharge should wash her private parts, apply something absorbent to them and a dressing, and then perform ablution (N: with the intention discussed above at e5.3).  She may not delay (N: commencing her prayer) after this except for reasons of preparing to pray such as clothing her nakedness, awaiting the call to prayer (adhan), or for a group to gather for the prayer.  If she delays for other reasons, she must repeat the purification.

She is obliged to wash her private parts, apply a dressing, and perform ablution before each obligatory prayer (N: though she is entitled, like those mentioned below, to perform as many nonobligatory prayers as she wishes, carry and read the Koran, etc. until the next prayer’s time comes (n: or until her ablution is broken for a different reason), when she must renew the above measures and her ablution).  (Reliance of the Traveller, e13.6)