Chapter of Menstrual Bleeding
Ibn Hajr has a chapter in Buloogh Al-Marām entitled, The Chapter of Menstrual Bleeding. The ahādeeth in this chapter deal with the rulings of menstruation (hayd) and prolonged or irregular bleeding (istahādah), and what a woman is required to do in such situations. Allah has mentioned the rules concerning menstruation in the Qur’an and they have been elaborated in the Sunnah of Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ). So this topic is deserving of concern and discussion. Almost every woman has bleeding of one form or another, and only a very small minority do not bleed. Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) stated, “It is something decreed by Allah upon the daughters of Adam.”  So a woman in her state of menstrual [or another type of] bleeding needs to know what is required of her religiously. So Allah made that clear in His Book as did the Messenger (ﷺ) in the Sunnah, and the scholars from the time of Sahābah till this day. For this reason, the scholars dedicated chapters to the topic in their books.
A note on those who trivialise and mock these kinds of matters:
With great regret, we find people who consider themselves to be enlightened and claim they have an understanding of politics and current affairs — so they denigrate and belittle the men of knowledge and scholarship. They refer to them as the scholars of menstruation and postpartum bleeding! They say this due to their own ignorance and their belittlement of the matters related to their religion. If these people utter these words due to their mockery of the laws of Allah, then they are apostates. And at the least, apostasy is feared for them, and we seek refuge with Allah from that. You find many people who make fun of the scholars – they say, “You have no other job except menstruation, postpartum bleeding and purification after visiting the toilet” and so on. They demean and belittle the laws related to these issues; they do not understand the seriousness of what they say. This is sin and disobedience that requires repentance to Allah (the Mighty and Majestic) because in this mockery of theirs there is the invalidation of their good deeds. Allah (the Most High) stated, “That is because they hate what Allah has revealed, so He invalidated their deeds.”  Whoever knowingly hates anything of what has been revealed has apostatized and has nullified his good deeds as this noble verse proves. So it is obligatory that we think before we speak and that we do not speak haphazardly and without purpose. And we must not allow our disputes with any student of knowledge lead us to mock the Laws of Allah – and we do not disrespect his seeking of knowledge. So the affair of joking and mockery of the religion is an affair connected to one’s belief, so one must pay attention to it.
Regulations of menstrual bleeding in the Qur’an and Sunnah:
Allah made mention of the regulations of the bleeding of women in the Qur’an. He stated:
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 – 2:222
“They ask you concerning menstruation. Say: that is a harmful thing [for a husband to have a sexual intercourse with his wife while she is on her menses], therefore keep away from women during menses and go not unto them till they have purified themselves. And when they have purified themselves, then go in unto them as Allah has ordained for you. Truly, Allah loves those who turn to Him in repentance and loves those who purify themselves.” [Al-Baqarah: 222] So His saying, “They ask you,” is an address to Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ); they would ask him concerning menstruation and its rulings and what it necessitates. So he was commanded, “Say: that is a harmful thing” because it is unclean and impure.
So Allah commanded the husbands to refrain from sexual intercourse with their wives during their menstrual period (and postpartum bleeding): “Therefore keep away from women during menses.” The intent here that the man must not have sexual relations with the woman in her private parts while she is menstruating.
Then Allah stated, “Therefore keep away from women during menses and go not unto them till they are purified.” This is an emphasis from Allah (the Most High) that sexual relations with a menstruating woman are not permitted until they are pure from menses and have taken a ritual bath (ghusl).
However, taking pleasure from one’s wife that does not involve intercourse is permitted such as touching, kissing, enjoying her, fondling and so on. Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) used to participate in these affairs with his wives. He asked his wife, Ā’ishah (radiyallahu ‘anhā) who was on her monthly period, to put on her skirt (izār), then he would take pleasure in her. So all of this is permitted, so long it does not involve sexual intercourse. When this verse was revealed, Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said, “Do everything [with your wives] except sexual intercourse.” We will discuss this hadeeth in detail later part.
So this verse proves that menstrual blood is impure, and the hadeeth proves that the woman herself and her body is pure because she can be touched, kissed and caressed. Her perspiration and her saliva are pure. So her status due to her menstruation is that she is ritually impure and not physically impure. This is further supported by the fact that on an occasion when the Prophet(ﷺ) was in the Mosque, he said to Ā’ishah (radiyallahu ‘anhā), “Pass me my scarf.” She responded, “But I am in my menstrual cycle.” So he said, “You menstruation is not in your hand.” Meaning that the body of the menstruating woman, her hands, her feet, etc. are pure. He impurity is limited and restricted to the menstrual blood itself and where it comes out from.
The Jews would completely disassociate from their menstruating womenfolk (and they still do) – they would not go near them at all, and would not even eat or drink with them (and they would not accept a menstruating woman handing something to the man). So Allah commanded this Ummah to differ from the Jews, and they are allowed to touch and interact with menstruating women; the man is permitted to eat what she cooks and other such things.
So for the menstruating woman, there are two states:
1. It is not allowed to have sexual intercourse with her while she is on her menstrual period.
2. Once her period has come to an end, then sexual intercourse is permitted with the condition that she takes a ritual bath (ghusl) due to the statement of Allah, the Most High:
فَإِذَا تَطَهَّرْنَ فَأْتُوهُنَّ مِنْ حَيْثُ أَمَرَكُمُ اللَّهُ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يُحِبُّ التَّوَّابِينَ وَيُحِبُّ الْمُتَطَهِّرِينَ – 2:222
“And when they have purified themselves, then go in unto them as Allah has ordained for you. Truly, Allah loves those who turn to Him in repentance and loves those who purify themselves.” That is the view of the majority of the scholars to the point that some have cited ijmā’ (consensus) in the issue – i.e. that when the menstrual bleeding of a woman comes to an end, it is not permitted to have sexual intercourse with her until she takes a bath (ghusl).  Imam Abu Haneefah held it permissible to have intercourse with one’s wife once the menstrual bleeding has stopped even if she has not taken a bath so long as she has completed the full days of bleeding according to their view which is ten days.  However, this understanding is clearly erroneous because it opposes what is apparent in the verse. Allah stated, “And when they have purified themselves.”
Definition of Hayd (menstrual) bleeding and Istihādah (prolonged and irregular) bleeding:
Linguistically, Hayd means something that flows. In religious terminology, Hayd (menses) refers to the natural blood and plasma that exits from the cavity of the womb of the woman during specific days. As for Istihādah then it is bleeding due to an illness that exits outside of the normal menstrual cycle of the woman from the lower part of her womb. It is bleeding, or a haemorrhage and has underlying causes.
End of Part 1.
Taken from Shaikh Sālih al-Fawzān’s explanation of Buloogh al-Marām min Adillatil-Ahkām of Al-Hāfidh Ahmad Ibn ‘Alee Ibn Hajr al-Asqalānee (Born 773H, Died 852H). Shaikh Al-Fawzān’s tremendous explanation is entitled Tas-heel al-Ilmām bi-fiqhil-Ahādeeth min Bulooghil-Marām and is printed in seven volumes. The above is a translation of this important and very enlightening chapter (from volume 1), adapted slightly in places, and more detail added to ease understanding.
Footnotes: Bukhāri (294) Muslim (1211)  Qur’an: Muhammad: 9  Kashshāf Al-Qinā’ ‘an Matnil-Iqnā’ 1/472, Al-Muhadhdhab 1/38, Al-Kāfi Fil-Fiqhil-Māliki 1/31.  Al-Bahr Ar-Rā’iq 1/54,213.