Answered by Shaykh Hamza Karamali, SunniPath Academy Teacher
If a female bleeds continuously for 6 days, does not bleed on day 7, and then bleeds again on day 8, should she pray on day 7 if this is the regular pattern of her menstruation? Also if all bleeding stops on day 8 and she does not bleed on days 9-16, and then bleeds again on day 17, is this considered menstruation? If her regular pattern has a period of continuity at the beginning, no flow, and then bleeding again intermittently until her next cycle, what should she do in terms of prayer, fasting, etc.?
In the Name of Allah, Most Merciful and Compassionate
The scenario under consideration is as follows:
Days 1-6: Bleeding
Day 7: No bleeding
Day 8: Bleeding
Days 9-16: No bleeding
Day 17: Bleeding
General Rule: Act according to what you see
First, I encourage you to read a short introduction to the rulings of menstruation:
The Fiqh of Menstruation
In summary, menstruating women must act according to what they see. Since they cannot foresee the future, their assumptions may later turn out to be incorrect. If this happens, they take corrective measures after they discover their mistake.
If we apply the rules outlined in the above article The Fiqh of Menstruation to this case, we obtain the following.
Days 1-6: You notice bleeding. If you have had 15 days of non-bleeding prior to this, you assume that you are in your menses.
Day 7: You notice the bleeding has stopped. You assume that your menses have ceased. This means that you must perform a purificatory bath and then pray the obligatory prayers. If you are in the month of Ramadan, you must also fast.
Day 8: You notice bleeding again. Looking back to day 7, you now conclude that you were mistaken in assuming that your menses had ceased. You now cease praying, consider the prayers (and, if you fasted, the fast) of day 7 as invalid, and assume that you have been in your menses since day 1.
Day 9: You notice the bleeding has stopped. You again assume that your menses have ceased, perform a purificatory bath, and start performing obligatory prayers and fasts.
Day 17: You notice bleeding again. Unlike the bleeding of day 8, this bleeding cannot be considered menses because the maximal period of bleeding (whether intermittent or continuous) is 15 days and therefore this period cannot be added to previous periods of bleeding to create a valid duration of menses. You therefore assume that this is abnormal uterine bleeding (AUB), and continue to perform your obligatory prayers and fasts, following the special rulings of someone in a chronic state of annulment of ritual purity. Any bleeding until day 23 will take this ruling. Any bleeding beyond day 23 will be considered menses because you will have undergone the minimum 15-day period of purity.
Exceptions to the rule
The rule “act according to what you see” is a general rule, and there are some exceptions. One exception is when you have a regular period of non-bleeding within your menses. So, for example, if you regularly bleed from days 1 to 6, regularly do not bleed on day 7, and then regularly bleed again on day 8, then there is a strong position in the Shafi`i school that permits you to assume that day 7 is part of your menses even if you do not see blood that day. This is contrary to what Imam Nawawi said in some of his works, but Shaykh Ibn Hajar al-Haytami classified it as “strong” (wajih) in his commentary on the Minhaj al-Talibin (Tuhfa, 1.400). Shaykh Amjad told me that he asked his teacher, Shaykh Muhammad al-Khatib, whether it was permissible to follow this position and he replied in the affirmative.
And Allah knows best.