Menstruation and Prayer

Answered according to Shafi'i Fiqh by

Answered by Shaykh Hamza Karamali, SunniPath Academy Teacher

I have a question about resuming prayers after the end of menstruation. I read a fatwa by Shaykh XYZ (name omitted) that if a woman ends her menses before sunset, she must perform the zuhr and asr prayers.

(… long excerpt omitted …)

I thought that a woman should resume her prayers at the time she stops bleeding: for example, if she stops bleeding during the time of ‘asr, she should pray ‘asr without needing to make up any other prayers that she missed during the day. I don’t understand why a woman has to pray both zuhr and ‘asr if she stops bleeding before sunset, but not fajr, for example.

Could you clarify this for me with dalil, please?

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

In the Name of Allah, Most Merciful and Compassionate

The Ruling

According to the Shafi’i school, it becomes obligatory for a woman who stops menstruating to perform the prayer of the time she is in and also the prayer of the previous time if it can be joined with the current prayer while traveling. This means that (1) a woman who stops menstruating during the time of ‘asr must pray both ‘asr and zuhr and (2) a woman who stops menstruating during the time of ‘isha must pray both ‘isha and maghrib.

For clarity, the five possibilities are summarized below:

Case 1.Menstruation stops during fajr time:

Performing the fajr prayer becomes obligatory.

Case 2.Menstruation stops during zuhr time:

Performing the zuhr prayer becomes obligatory.

Case 3.Menstruation stops during ‘asr time:

Performing the zuhr and ‘asr prayers becomes obligatory.

Case 4.Menstruation stops during maghrib time:

Performing the maghrib prayer becomes obligatory.

Case 5.Menstruation stops during ‘isha time:

Performing the maghrib and ‘isha prayers becomes obligatory.

The Reasoning

Many scholars mention that the linguistic meaning of the word “fiqh” is “deep understanding” (fahmu ma daqq). The deep understanding of the fuqaha shines brightest when they go deep into the meanings of verses and hadiths and extract rulings from them that aren’t explicitly stated anywhere. The rulings recorded in the books of the four Sunni schools are all a product of this deep understanding. Just because there isn’t a clear verse or hadith to indicate a ruling mentioned by the fuqaha doesn’t mean that the rulings are baseless.

In this case, the legal reasoning that the fuqaha use to establish the above ruling is that there is in certain situations (i.e., when traveling), the time of zuhr extends into the time of ‘asr and one can voluntarily pray the zuhr prayer during the time of ‘asr. This is established by various hadith evidences. In the case of a woman who stops menstruating during ‘asr time, the time of ‘asr must a fortiori be a time for zuhr because she was forced to delay zuhr until the time of ‘asr (waqtu’l-‘asri waqtun li’l-zuhr halata’l-‘udhr fa halata’l-darurati awla). [1] The same applies for maghrib and ‘isha.

(source: al-Hawashi al-Madaniyya, 1.208)

And Allah knows best.


[1] There may also be more explicit hadith evidence to indicate this ruling. If so, I don’t know what it is.

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