Q: What is the Islamic ruling on vaginal discharge that females commonly experience? Many ladies are confused about this issue, especially when they get different answers from various Ulema.
A: There are basically three types of vaginal fluid that Shariah has ruled on. Two are mentioned above, viz. Moisture inside the vagina, secreted from membranes that line the vagina, and fluid that flows from the cervix into the vagina. The third type of moisture is that which is found on the outer labia or the lips of the vagina. Sometimes this fluid also flows onto the area outside the vagina.
Medically fluids that exit from the vagina can come from the cervix or neck of the uterus, or from glands inside the vagina itself. Sometimes the source of these fluids is attributed to the fallopian tubes. Clearly this is difficult for a woman to determine. Therefore, the following rules, based largely on the view of Imam Abu Hanifa (rahmatullahi alayhi) will perhaps ease matters for our sisters:
1) Moisture that is secreted from the lining of the vagina is a matter of dispute among the former Jurists. Imam Abu Hanifa, and majority of the Shaafi’ Scholars hold that such moisture is paak or clean, and does not nullify wudhu if it flows out. We, therefore, maintain that the normal discharge a women experiences will not nullify wudhu.
2) A ‘normal’ discharge is usually clear, cloudy or whitish, moderate in quantity, thin or slightly viscous, and with a mild odour. This does NOT break wudhu.
3) A discharge that is yellowish or greenish, and very thick, with a strong odour or bad stench should be regarded as impure and will nullify wudhu, for such a discharge is definitely from an area beyond the vagina, and may include the fallopian tubes, the womb, or ovaries.
4) Underwear that is soiled by this fluid has to be washed. Women who suffer excessive discharge of this nature shall have to use pads to absorb the flow and thus protect the underwear. These pads also have to be changed regularly, as mentioned under the rules of istihaadha.
5) If the discharge is so continuous that the woman qualifies as a ma’zhoor, then the same rules will apply as that of istihaadha.
6) Salaah in underwear that is soiled to the extent of about 12 centimetres in diameter will not be valid and will have to be repeated.
7) Moisture that is found on the lips of the vagina (outer labia or labia minora) is paak and does not break wudhu. If this fluid gets onto the underwear, it is not necessary for a woman to wash them. Likewise, it is not necessary to wash the private part when such moisture is noticed. However, it is sunnah to wash the outer labia before making wudhu for salaah. This is sunnah, not compulsory; so if a woman does not wash there, her salaah will still be valid.
The above is my humble view on the matter. If this view is correct then it is from Allah Ta’ala. If wrong then it is the incompetency of this sinful slave.
Mufti Siraj Desai