What is that Spotting I get in between my Periods?
This is ISTHIHAAZA.
Like I mentioned earlier in the previous part of this article, a normal menstrual cycle occurs every 28 days, where menstrual bleeding usually lasts for about 4-7 days (+/-). Some women experience menstrual cycles for longer times, some women experience less. Spotting is the vaginal bleeding after your menstrual period has ended and before your next period starts.
You may not notice this spotting (mild bleeding) because it can be light or heavy. It can be a pink or brown spot on your underwear or toilet paper while wiping. Spotting can also be noticed as a blood spot or two, or more, and can even potentially resemble a menstrual period. Spotting can occur for many reasons, ranging from normal to abnormal.
Our main concern here is, can we or can we not pray when this happens? Let’s first recall the definition of HAIZ: HAIZ (menses) literally means something that issues forth or is in running state. It refers to that flow of blood which women experience every month for a given period. Simply put, HAIZ is your period. This is the time that a woman cannot pray, fast, have sexual relations with her husband. Why? Because the blood that is being expelled is your menstrual blood. Meaning it is the blood that your uterus wall is shedding, due to the fact that no fertilization of the egg occurred. It is the discarding of the endometrium. This blood contains cell debris, dead cells, and waste products as your uterus sloughs off the wall/womb it had prepared in case your egg gets fertilized. And since it didn’t (meaning you are not going to be pregnant) your body sheds off that uterus lining. This is your menstrual blood. Since there are cell debris and waste products in it, this blood is considered unclean and impure. And therefore we cannot pray (or fast, etc) during this time.
ISTHIHAAZA is the name given to describe the flow of blood which is not in continuation of menses discharge. It is any blood that is discharged that is not part of menstruation. It is sometimes for a few days and sometimes it covers the rest remaining days of the month. It is a disease/illness and one suffering from it is called a “Mustahazza.” So basically this refers to the bleeding outside of the monthly menstruation.
Another term for this is Abnormal Uterine bleeding (AUB). This can be due to many reasons. The main cause for it these days is a bad diet. Unlike HAIZ (menses), the state of ISTHIHAAZA is a state of purity. Why? Because in AUB or ISTHIHAAZA, the wall of the uterus is not being sloughed off. Here the main problem is due to the fragility of the blood vessels (veins) of the uterus. It can be due to a number of reasons.
It is basically blood leaving from blood vessels (the veins in particular.) It is NOT due to the shedding of the uterus wall. In ISTHIHAAZA, the uterus wall is very much intact, and therefore this blood/spotting is NOT unclean or impure.
Ayesha (RA) narrates:
Fatima bint Abi Hubaish (RA) came to the Prophet (saw) and submitted: Oh Messenger of Allah, I am unable to attain purity from menses, should I give up prayers? Prophet (saw) informed her that it was only blood from the vein and not menses discharge. Therefore when the menses starts, give up prayers and after the usual menses have passed, wash off that blood and resume prayers.
OK, so what does that mean for me, a Muslim woman?
We all know (or should know) the duration and details of our menses. If the blood/ spotting continues beyond menses, it comes under ISTHIHAAZA. After the usual days of menstrual bleeding have passed a Mustahaaza (one experiencing spotting/AUB) can take her bath (Ghusl) and carry on with the routine acts of Ibadah. This includes praying, fasting, and even having sexual relations with the husband. It is important to note here, that a woman suffering from ISTHIHAAZA should still perform wudu before each prayer. If she wants to wear a pad, she can put a clean one on before each prayer, wudu, and pray. The discharge/spotting/ISTHIHAAZA that occurs while praying is fine and not considered impure.
Fatima bint-e-Abu Hubaish (RA) relates that she had a prolonged flow of blood (after menses) and the Messenger of Allah stated to her:
During menses the color of blood is dark which can be recognized and when that is the case, then avoid prayer. Otherwise, (when the color of the blood ceases to be dark) then perform ablution and observe prayer for that is the blood from the vein.
( Abu Dawood)
A woman suffering from ISTHIHAAZA can perform all worships in the usual manner after the bath (Ghusl)
Ayesha (RA) relates: Among the consorts of purity, some performed I’tikaaf during the state of Isthihaaza
It is also lawful to have sexual intercourse with the wife who is suffering from Isthihaaza after her bath.
Ikrima states: Umme Habiba (RA) was suffering from Isthihaaza. Her husband Abdur Rahman bin Auf (RA) sued to have sexual intercourse with her ( after her bath).
How can I tell the difference between HAIZ (menstrual) blood and ISTHIHAAZA (nonmenstrual or AUB) blood?
HAIZ (menstrual) blood will have the following features:
- Darker in color ‧ may contain clots
- thicker (due to dead cells, cellular debris etc)
- may contain an odor
- may be warmer in temperature
- some say there will be slight pressure.
ISTHIHAAZA (non-menstrual) blood will have the following features:
- Bright red in color ‧ thinner (because its blood from a blood vessel) ‧ usually will no odor
- it is cooler in temperature
What if I still can’t tell the difference?
Sometimes there are situations where we cannot tell whether the blood being discharged is part of our menstrual flow or part of ISTHIHAAZA. Meaning sometimes our menstrual cycles (and menstrual flows) are so habitually irregular each month, that we cannot differentiate when our menstrual flow ended and when ISTHIHAAZA has started. And so in this situation, you’ve already observed the blood for the key features (color, thickness, and odor) but still cannot tell.
What to do here? In this situation, you must recall the date of your last normal period. It might have been several months ago, but try to recall the date of that last normal period/menstrual cycle/menstrual flow. Using that earliest date, try to calculate forward from then, when your period would occur in the subsequent months until today. And depending on that, you can determine what state you are in currently. (HAIZ or ISTHIHAAZA)
(I hope that made sense)
What if my menses have never been normal?
Ok so what if you cannot even recall a time when your menstrual cycle has been normal. Meaning from the day that you first got your period, you have experienced irregular cycles. Always. In this situation, you will not be able to calculate anything, because you have never had a normal cycle. In this situation, one will look to her sisters or mother (closest female blood relative) and follow their cycles. Because if anything your cycles will resemble theirs.
What if I see brown discharge?
So now let’s say, a few days after attaining purity from the menses (after ghusl, after you’ve started to pray) you see some brownish discharge. What does that mean? This is not to be assumed that your period is starting over. This brown discharge usually represents left over menstrual blood that is just being discharged a little late. Brown or even blackish discharge appears towards the end of your period. It just means that the blood is flowing out of the body at a slower rate. Older blood turns brown- or even black and is typically not a sign that anything is wrong. This is basically the tail of your menstrual flow. If you see brownish discharge after you have taken a bath (Ghusl) you can continue to keep praying and fasting.
Umm Atiyya (ra) relates: We did not attach any importance to brown or yellow colored water if it appeared after attaining purity from menses.
It’s therefore, also important to note, not to hurry into prayers and fasting. As much as we would like to get back to our daily acts of Ibadah, we should give our menses the days they deserve. Our menstrual flow usually starts out as Red/Dark Red, eventually becoming Brown/black, then light brown, deep yellow and then eventually white or colorless. It’s important to wait until you see the white/clear discharge before you resume praying and fasting.
The ladies used to send to Ayesha (RA) a small box containing cotton wool which was slightly tainted yellow.
Ayesha (RA) stated: Until you see clear and clean water do no hurry (in acquiring purity). From this statement Ayesha(RA) meant attaining purity from menses.
What if the bleeding just never stops?
Hamna bint Jahash (RA) relates: I was undergoing constant flow of Isthihaaza blood and I decided to raise this subject before the Prophet ﷺ. According for this I waited on him when he happened to be in the house of my sister Zaineb int Jahash. I said, O Messenger of Allah! I suffer from Isthihaaza and on that account there is incessant and profuse bleeding which is keeping me from prayers and even fasting. What is your verdict? He ﷺ said: I advise you to use a cotton wool for it will absorb the blood. I said: it will not do. He said: Place a tight apparel over it. I said: That too will not help. He said: Use cloth instead of coot wool. I said: even that has failed as the bleeding is so copious.
Then, the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: I tell you two things, you may act on both or either of the two, as you wish, and that will serve you. Isthihaaza is a blood from the devil. Haiz condition lasts for six or seven days, that is destined by Allah. Therefore, leaving this much number of days, have a bath, cleanse yourself free to offer prayers and to observe fast. You may follow this routine in the same manner as other women do in the ordinary circumstance.
From this, we learn that some women experience some type of bleeding at all times of the month or even continuous profuse bleeding. It goes without saying that in these circumstances, it is important to consult your physician.
But when it comes to your Ibadah, and according to the above hadith, you can do either of two things:
- 6-7 days can be set as your period. Then you must bath and cleanse yourself (Ghusl), and then the rest of the 23-24 days of the month you may pray and fast.
- Or you can follow the cycles of your closest female blood relatives (mother or sister) So there you have it. I hope, insh’Allah that this kinda clarified some of your common questions and concerns when it comes to our menstrual cycle, spotting and praying. Again, it is incumbent upon every woman that she track her cycle, know her period/ menstrual flow, and consult a physician for any irregularities.
…………………………….TO BE CONTINUED………………………….
Written by FeatherB – (She is a Medical Graduate)
The Book of Cleanliness: Compiled by Iqbal Kailani. Translated by Khaja Abdul Muqtader.