When does the menstrual period of a woman begin and end? The Sharīʿah defines the rulings of menstruation (ḥayḍ) that remove doubts and whisperings.

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If a woman sees yellowish or brown/muddy discharge before her period (menstrual cycle) begins, she should not stop praying. When she sees that her menstrual blood has started (which is clearly blood, and usually dark, but may differ from woman to woman), she must stop praying, fasting and from sexual relations with her husband. And she does not cease to be in this state until she is pure from her menses. Her purity from menses is known from one of two signs: (1.) Dryness in her vagina, so she inserts a white tissue (or cotton) and it comes out still being white without any blood, or yellow or muddy discharge. (2.) That she sees a white thread or white discharge that exits from her place of menses. So long as one of these two signs does not appear, she is considered to be in a state of menstruation (ḥayḍ). A woman should not be hasty in judging herself to be free from menstruation until one of these two signs is apparent.

Likewise, she should not consider herself to be menstruating until she is actually bleeding which is known by the appearance of actual blood. It is not allowed for a woman to judge that she is menstruating on the basis of a stomach ache or stomach cramps (i.e., period pains), or muddy or yellow discharge. The beginning and end of menstruation are clearly defined.

As for the return of yellowish or muddy discharge after she has become pure, Shaikh Ibn Bāz stated: “If there is some yellowish or muddy discharge after she has become pure from her menstruation, then it does not affect her purity from the menstruation, i.e. she is still pure. And the ruling of this discharge is like urine (it should be cleaned).

If however, the discharge is clearly menstrual blood, then she returns to being in a state of menses. So when she becomes clean again (which could be a short time later), she must take a bath (ghusl). This is due to what is established from the Companion, Umm ʿAtiyyah (may Allah be pleased with her) who said: ‘We did not consider the yellowish and muddy discharge after becoming pure from menses to be of any consequence.’” (See al-Jāmiʿ fī Fiqh al-ʿAllāmah Ibn Bāz p. 99) So the rule is that yellowish or muddy discharge during the menstrual cycle is considered part of her period. But if this discharge comes after one of the two signs of purity, then no attention is paid to it, and its ruling is like urine (it should be washed clean).

And if small amounts of menstrual blood appear at the beginning of the period of a woman – if it is clearly blood (and each woman knows her menstrual blood) – then she withholds from Prayer, fasting and sexual relations with her husband. That is because menses is not connected to the amount of blood because it is known that women bleed differently – some start with a small amount of bleeding and then it becomes greater over a number of days before it ceases, while others bleed heavily from the outset and then it reduces over a number of days, yet others bleed on and off over a number of fixed days.

The woman who starts bleeding should stop praying, and fasting and refrain from sexual intercourse while she’s bleeding until she becomes pure so long as her bleeding does not exceed 15 days from when the bleeding began (this bleeding is menstrual). This is the position of the majority of scholars. If her bleeding continues beyond 15 days, then it is now considered abnormal (istihādah).

So, the menses of a woman begins when she is certain there is blood or the flow of blood, and so she checks herself when she senses there is something taking place. At that point, her period begins – and it can begin with spotting or smearing of blood.

This clarity should bring comfort to women who are sometimes afflicted with uncertainty, hesitation or whisperings. Once a woman knows these clear demarcations in the Sharʿīah, she does not allow doubts to plague her and cause her discomfort or anxiety. She should simply ignore the doubts and whispers and cling to these clear rulings. Knowing the religion and acting upon it without hesitation will repel the influence of shaytān. And success lies with Allah.

Abu Khadeejah ʿAbdul-Wāḥid (24/5/2022).

الحمد لله رب العالمين وصلى الله على نبينا محمد وعلى آله وصحبه وسلم


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