Answered by Shaykh Yūsuf Badāt
Can you please refer me to any references regarding the duration of menstrual periods? I’m discussing it with my girls health class. It has always been my understanding that it is considered menses up to 10 days. I have recently read that it can be up to 15 days. Can you provide any input or clarification?
In the Name of Allāh, Most Merciful, Most Compassionate
Jazāk Allāh Khayr/ Thank you for your question.
Regarding the maximum days for menses, there are several views amongst the Islamic jurists.
Opinions recorded in manuals of Islamic jurisprudence are 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 15 and 17.
In general, for the three schools, meaning Shāfiʿe, Mālikī and Ḥanbalī, the verdict is that the maximum days for a menstrual period is 15 days. The Ḥanafī school’s verdict is 10 days.
The varying views are in result of the source texts either being considered vague or not too strong in authenticity and also considering the general reality of women experiencing menses.
Some jurists have left the matter, as a case by case scenario with consultation of medical experts.
Imam Ibn Sirīn (may Allāh’s mercy be upon him) stated, “Women know best regarding their menses [and its duration].” (Ghāyat Al-Maqṣūd Fī Sharḥ Sunan Abī Dāwūd)
Imam Shawkānī (may Allāh’s mercy be upon him) said, “Whatever has been specified in terms of the extent of a menstrual period, is only a guideline, one cannot absolutely adhere to this [as if it is written in stone].” (Al-Ikhtiyārāt Al-ʿIlmiyyah)
The three schools base their verdict on the fact that it is very unlikely a woman will have menses for more than 15 days. This is the ʿurf (common custom) and ʿādah (common routine). The Ḥanafī school base their verdict on what is mentioned in some sound ḥadīths (prophetic reports), such as what is quoted below.
“The most days for menses are 10.” (Ṭabrānī)
“The furthest extent for menses is 10 days.” (Al-Dār Quṭnī)
And Allāh Knows Best