Menstruation comes from the word meaning movement of water on the ground. Hayd literally means to flow. The Arabs used it to refer to the water that comes in a valley and takes away everything. As per the Shariah, it is the natural blood that comes from the lowest part of the womb at a specific time. It was created by Allah to sustain and feed the child in the womb.
Is there any specific age period for Hayd?
Scholars of Islam differed on this topic, but the safest and correct opinion is that which was concluded by Imam al-Darimi, Sheikhul Islam Ibn Taymiyyah and others. They state that it is the occurrence or absence of the blood itself that states the time period and this can vary from woman to woman depending on her family, environment etc.
Sheikhul Islam Ibn Taymiyyah states an easy principle, “Basically everything that comes out from the womb is Hayd until an evidence can be established to indicate that it is Istihadha.” and “Any released blood is Hayd blood unless it is known to the the type of wound blood or bleeding from a blood vessel.”
Is there any time duration of Hayd?
Just like the previous answer, there is a difference of opinion and we go back to the principle that it is considered hayd as long as the blood occurs.
Surah al-Baqarah, Ayah 222 clearly states that it is the duration of a lack of purity that is taken into account and not the time duration.
وَيَسْأَلُونَكَ عَنِ الْمَحِيضِ قُلْ هُوَ أَذًى فَاعْتَزِلُوا النِّسَاءَ فِي الْمَحِيضِ وَلَا تَقْرَبُوهُنَّ حَتَّىٰ يَطْهُرْنَ فَإِذَا تَطَهَّرْنَ فَأْتُوهُنَّ مِنْ حَيْثُ أَمَرَكُمُ اللَّهُ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يُحِبُّ التَّوَّابِينَ وَيُحِبُّ الْمُتَطَهِّرِينَ
And they ask you about menstruation. Say, “It is harm, so keep away from wives during menstruation. And do not approach them until they are pure. And when they have purified themselves, then come to them from where Allah has ordained for you. Indeed, Allah loves those who are constantly repentant and loves those who purify themselves.” [Surah al-Baqarah, Ayah 222]
Other evidences include how the Prophet instructed Aisha during Hajj. Narrated Al-Qasim: Aisha said, “We set out with the sole intention of performing Hajj and when we reached Sarif, (a place six miles from Mecca) I got my menses. Allah’s Messenger ﷺ came to me while I was weeping. He said ‘What is the matter with you? Have you got your menses?’ I replied, ‘Yes.’ He said, ‘This is a thing which Allah has ordained for the daughters of Adam. So do what all the pilgrims do with the exception of the Tawaf (circumambulation) round the Kabah.” `Aisha added, “Allah’s Messenger ﷺ sacrificed cows on behalf of his wives.” [Sahih al-Bukhari]
There is no time limitation for Hayd except based on what the woman sees of the menstrual blood which determines the condition of hayd. If the flow of blood exceeds what is the general period of hayd or stops for a few days and continues again then it falls under the category of Istihadha (irregular bleeding).
Imam Ibn Taymiyah further added, “Menstruation (al-hayd): Allah has attached numerous rulings to it in the Quran and Sunnah, but He did not state the shortest or longest length (of a menstrual period), or the length of the period of taharah between two menstrual periods, even though the need to know that exists.”
Then he said: “Some of the scholars defined a maximum and minimum, but they differed concerning that, and some stated a maximum length without defining a minimum. The third view is most correct, which states that there is no minimum or maximum.” [Majmoo’ al-Fataawaa, 19/237]
The First Period
For the woman experiencing her first period, abstains from praying, fasting and the likes simply by seeing bloody discharge whether red, yellow or murky in color for the minimum duration (a day and a night). If it stops in this duration, then she then does ghusl and can pray and fast with the exception of engaging in sexual intercourse. Otherwise she takes a ghusl when the blood stops at the end of her cycle.
How does one determine her cycle? If the menses occur at the same time for 3 continuous cycles,without variation then this is considered the cycle of the said woman. Her cycle is not established with less than 3 cycles.
Sheikh Ibrahim Nuhu in his commentary of Zaad al-Mustaqni state that if the woman cannot distinguish her period because of the blood or other reasons then she stops fasting, praying etc for 6-7 days every month based on the culture or occurrence of the women in her family and take for herself the one with more number of days.
Menstruation and Pregnancy
Imam Ahmad said, “Women are able to recognize being pregnant, when their Hayd stops.”
Sheikh Ibrahim Nuhu in his commentary of Zaad al-Mustaqni states that it is very rare to see pregnant women in a condition of hayd. This blood turns to milk which is used to nourish the child. He adds that everything which is said about hayd also applies to nifas (post-partum bleeding).
If the pregnant woman sees Hayd shortly before the delivery (2-3 days) coupled with contractions, then it is considered to be the blood of nifas (post-partum bleeding). If it occurs way befire this duration then it is not nifas. In this case, based on the basic principle, this is considered as the blood of hayd. This was the position held by Imam Malik, Imam Shafi’i, re-adopted position of Imam Ahmad and Imam Ibn Taymiyyah.
All the rulings governing hayd are applicable to the hayd of a pregnant woman except in 2 cases:
1. Divorce: A non-pregnant woman can be divorced only in a duration of purity where she hasn’t been approached by her husband and is not in a state of hayd. [Surah at-Talaq, Ayah 1]
2. A pregnant woman’s iddah (waiting period) is the duration of her pregnancy irrespective of the state of hayd. [Surah at-Talaq, Ayah 4]
Changes in the State of Menses
Sometimes that hayd that lasts 7 days increases to 8 days or reduces to 6 days. Sometimes hayd which is observed at the end of the month is observed at the beginning of the month.
Whenever she sees the blood of hayd then she is in a state of hayd and when it stops she is considered to be in a state of purity irrespective of increase, decrease, advancement or delay in her menses.
Why? The application of rulings depend on the actual existence of hayd blood and not time duration.
Occurrence of yellowish discharge (looks like yellow pus) or kudrah (between yellowish and blackish discharge)
1. If this occurs during the period of hayd or immediately after it but before the white discharge of purity then it takes the ruling of hayd.
2. If it occurs after the period of purity then it is not considered hayd.
Discontinuity in Menstrual Blood
Such that it flows one day and stops another. This will be of 2 types:
1. If this kind of discontinuity occurs all the time then this blood is considered the blood if Istihadha and all rulings of Istihadha are applicable to it.
2. If the discontinuity occurs only some times and there is a period of cleanliness
a. Imam Abu Haneefa, Imam Shafi’i and Imam Ibn Taymiyyah associated this period as part of Hayd as white discharge of purity was not seen.
b. The Hanabila state that, if the blood stops for less than one day then it cannot be considered as a state of purity unless she sees a clear sign of it like the white discharge.
Our Sheikh, Mashhoor al-Suhaibi summarizes hayd in a very easy manner in the following diagram:
Menstruation as per the Hanbali Madhab can be read here
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