TO FAST OR NOT TO FAST

It’s the most wonderful time of the year… 🙂 Alhamdulillah. The beautiful month of Ramadan has arrived. Alhamdulillah that Allah allowed us to reach this beloved month again this year…Ramadan, the blessed month in which Muslims all over the planet fast from sunrise to sunset. A month in which we all will abstain from drinking and eating, as well as many other temptations and desires all day long, all month long. For some parts of the world, this means 8-9 hours, in other parts 16 hours and for places like Iceland, an astounding 21 hours! Hard to imagine not eating and drinking for 21 hours, right? But this very virtuous act of worship is mandatory on all of us Muslims and we enter this month wholeheartedly with great enthusiasm. We fast for Him, and Him only. And while it can be difficult, fasting allows us to empty our stomachs, while we feed and nourish our souls.

Fasting is the first principle of medicine; fast and see the strength of the spirit reveal itself.” – Rumi

Aside from being a special commandment from Allah, we can reap numerous spiritual benefits of fasting. Discipline, humility, appreciation, gratefulness, compassion to name a few. Most importantly, self-restraint.

“O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may observe self-restraint (al-Taqwa).”

[Quran Al-Baqarah:183]

And while it’s quite clear and obvious how beneficial fasting is for us spiritually, only recently has modern medicine caught up to realize how beneficial fasting is for us medically.

“Fasting is the greatest remedy, the physician within.”– Philippus Paracelsus

There are some physicians who name fasting as being; “the medicine for the 21st century.” Dr. Otto Buchinger; Germany’s great fasting therapist after more than 100,000 fasting cures says: “Fasting is, without doubt, the most effective biological method of treatment.. it is the operation without surgery… it is a cure involving exudation, redirection, loosening up and purified relaxation. He goes on to say that: therapeutically; fasting cures many of our modern illnesses, including the following: allergies, cardiovascular disease, chronic diseases of the digestive system, degenerative and painfully inflammatory illnesses of the joints, myriad disturbances in one’s eating behavior, glaucoma, initial malfunction of the kidneys, tension and migraine headaches, as well as skin diseases. Preventively, it’s designed to cleanse and to regenerate, rejuvenate and restore a person’s sense of well-being, in body, mind, and soul.

Michael Rosenbaum, M.D., Director of the California-based Orthomolecular Health Medicine Medical Society, notes on the significance of fasting as a detoxification program: “The hidden cause of many chronic pains, diseases, and illnesses may be invisible toxins, chemicals, heavy metals and parasites that invade our bodies…Chances are slim that your doctor will tell you that toxins may be the root cause of your health problems. He or she may not even know how these toxins are affecting your body. As your cells go, so goes your health. If your cells have been invaded by toxins and dangerous chemicals, your resistance to disease is diminished. Clean and nourish your cells, and you’re on the road to better health.”

Studies are ongoing and more and more evident with benefits of fasting is being established. Here I would like to point out some of these amazing benefits. But first, let’s start out by mentioning what exactly is happening when our bodies go into fasting mode.

What is going on inside?

Physiologically the body enters the fasting state 8 hours after the last meal has been fully digested and absorbed. In normal conditions, the body glucose that results from the digestion of the carbohydrates we eat is stored in mainly the liver and muscles. Glucose, (a.k.a blood sugar) is the body’s main source of energy. When we fast, that source of energy has been taken away, and so our body looks to the liver and muscles for its source of glucose for energy. While the body is converting this stored glucose ( a.k.a glycogen) to use for energy, the body’s metabolic rate (BMR) becomes more efficient to conserve energy. Blood pressure and heart rate decrease as well. When this stored glucose runs out, the body then starts using fats for energy. By using fats the muscle protein is preserved and protected from breaking down. In cases of a prolonged fast of many days or weeks, the body starts to break down and use protein for energy. This is when the body enters “starvation.” But because we break our fast every day and have the pre-dawn mean, we are very unlikely to reach a state of starvation in Ramadan.

So as you can see a lot is going on in the body as we deprive it of food. It’s actually quite amazing if you think about the system that Allah has placed inside of us. It automatically does what it needs to do without us even uttering a word to it. Ok, I’m going off on a tangent here. So now we know how the body reacts and compensates for the lack of food.

Now for the benefits:

1. First off we know that glucose (blood sugar along with Insulin levels) is reduced. If you think about it, fasting is then ideal for mild, moderate stable non-insulin dependent Diabetics (Type 2 Diabetes).

2. Studies have shown that when we fast our body releases a surge of Growth Hormone which then speeds up our metabolism and can burn off fat. Beneficial for both Diabetics and those with heart disease.

3. When the body starts to use fats for energy, this results in weight loss, another benefit for those suffering from being overweight or obesity. This too helps those with heart disease.

4. A lot of the processed food that we normally eat contain a lot of additives which transformed into toxins which are then stored in fat. As the body uses up fat, toxins too are dissolved and removed from the body, therefore leading to a cleansing or “detox” effect.

5. More studies and evidence show that fasting reduces inflammatory diseases and allergies. Illnesses such as Rheumatoid Arthritis, Psoriasis, and even Ulcerative colitis.

6. Fasting can help overcome addictions and promotes a healthier diet. Helps you drop bad habits like smoking.

7. Research in neuroscience suggests that when fat is being used by the body for energy, it is converted to ketones bodies which are then used by the neurons (brain cells) for energy. Ketones promote positive changes in the structure of synapses important for learning, memory, and overall brain health.

8. According to Neuroscientist Mark Mattson when the brain is challenged by physical exertion, cognitive tasks, or caloric restriction, the body produces a protein called BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor), which not only strengthens neural connections and increases the production of new neurons but can also have an anti-depressive effect. His research suggests that fasting every can boost BDNF by anywhere from 50 to 400 percent.

9. The shock of fasting leads the brain to create new brain cells, neurons are forced to grow and the brain becomes more resistant to protein plaques that are seen in cases of Alzheimer’s, or the damage created by Parkinson’s.

10. Mattson also claims that cutting your energy intake by fasting several days a week might help your brain ward off neurodegenerative diseases. The shock of fasting leads the brain to create new brain cells, neurons are forced to grow and the brain becomes more resistant to protein plaques that are seen in cases of Alzheimer’s, or the damage created by Parkinson’s. While at the same time improving memory and mood.

11. Fasting reduces the amount of the hormone Cortisol (a.k.a. stress hormone), produced by the adrenal gland, which means that stress levels are greatly reduced both during and after Ramadan.

12. A team of cardiologists in the UAE found that people fasting in Ramadan show a positive effect on their lipid profile, which means there is a reduction of Cholesterol in the blood. Low cholesterol increases cardiovascular health, greatly reducing the risk of suffering from heart disease, a heart attack, or a stroke. If you follow a healthy diet after Ramadan, this newly lowered cholesterol level should be easy to maintain.

13. Fasting causes your metabolism to become more efficient, meaning the amount of nutrients you absorb from food improves. Various studies on a hormone called Adiponectin, (a.k.a. fat cell hormone) have been done on people who are fasting in Ramadan. Adiponectin secretion is increased during fasting state. It improves fat oxidation and improves glucose uptake and insulin sensitivity One study shows that the level of Adiponectin dropped in those who were fasting, which also correlates with drop in weight in those same people. Another study shows that Adiponectin levels were increased along with weight loss. Various factors might contribute to varying levels of Adiponectin in the studies, but the common findings seem to be; better glucose uptake and insulin sensitivity along with weight loss.

14. When you fast, just like when you sleep, the body is focused on the removal of toxins and the regeneration of damaged tissue.

15. One study found that fasting can actually cause a reduction in white blood cells. This means that fasting kills off old and damaged immune cells, and when the body rebounds it uses stem cells to create brand new, completely healthy cells. “During each cycle of fasting, this depletion of white blood cells induces changes that trigger stem cell-based regeneration of new immune system cells. When you starve, the system tries to save energy, and one of the things it can do to save energy is to recycle a lot of the immune cells that are not needed, especially those that may be damaged. What we started noticing in both our human work and animal work is that the white blood cell count goes down with prolonged fasting. Then when you re-feed, the blood cells come back. The research shows that cycles of prolonged fasting protect against immune system damage and induce immune system regeneration. They concluded that fasting shifts stem cells from a dormant state to a state of self-renewal.

16. Prolonged fasting also lowered levels of IGF-1, a growth-factor hormone that has been linked to aging, tumor progression and cancer risk.

17. Another study placed children who suffer from epileptic seizures on calorie restriction or were told to fast. The result was fewer epileptic seizures. It is believed that fasting helps start protective measures that help counteract the overexcited signals that epileptic brains often exhibit. Normal brains, when overfed, can experience another kind of uncontrolled excitation, impairing the brain’s function.

18. Fasting effectively treats cancer in human cells: A study from the scientific Journal of Aging found that cancer patients who included fasting into their therapy perceived fewer side effects from chemotherapy. All tests conducted so far show that fasting improves survival, slow tumor growth and limit the spread of tumors. The National Institute on Aging has also studied one type of breast cancer in detail to further understand the effects of fasting on cancer. As a result of fasting, the cancer cells tried to make new proteins and took other steps to keep growing and dividing. As a result of these steps, which in turn led to a number of other steps, damaging free radical molecules were created which broke down the cancer cells own DNA and caused their destruction! It’s cellular suicide, the cancer cell is trying to replace all of the stuff missing in the bloodstream that it needs to survive after a period of fasting, but can’t. In turn, it tries to create them and this leads to its own destruction!

19. One researcher stated: Fasting marvelously decomposes and burns all the cells and tissue that are aged, damaged, diseased, weakened or dead, a process called in medicine autolyze or self-digest or detoxification. When by fasting you stop the input of nutrition for a while, then a flurry of cleansing starts up, the rugs are lifted and the dirty dishes are brought out of the cabinet where they were stashed.

There you have it! So many benefits and so many studies are still ongoing. The more we research the more we are realizing the amazing benefits fasting has on our bodies. Rightly so, this day in age, when so many foods we eat on a regular basis contain so many questionable ingredients including additives, preservatives, and pesticides. Fasting provides our systems with a much-needed rest and cleanse. If you think about it, we are constantly filling our bodies with food. As soon as we feel a little pang of hunger, we throw food down our stomachs to relieve that hunger. This leaves no time for our systems to focus on other important matters in the body. If we deprive our bodies of food for certain periods at a time, like we do in Ramadan or can do throughout the year, this will give our bodies a chance to go into “spring cleaning” mode, where it can now focus on removing toxins and damaged cells that have been hiding in our bodies.

Take home message here is that even though we know fasting is hard on us physically, it is quite amazing for our bodies medically. Fasting can come with headaches, fatigue and a growling stomach. But it also comes with a growing list of wonderful benefits. Benefits that we are only now discovering. So take fasting as a blessing from Allah (SWT), which truly, truly is!

*By the way, I didn’t even touch the studies and research that is being conducted regarding the 5/2 intermittent fasting method. This method means you eat regularly on 5 days and fast on 2 days out of the week. Sound familiar? This is almost exactly the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ from 1400 years ago and modern medicine is only now realizing that this method is quite beneficial for us. Maybe I’ll save this topic for another day 🙂


Sources:

1. NHS – Fasting and your health

2.StatPearls Knowledge Base – Fasting

3. Fasting – A Body/Mind/Spirit Healing

4. Ramadan Health guide

5. Are There Any Proven Benefits to Fasting?

6. The Scientific Benefits Of Fasting

7. The spiritual and health benefits of Ramadan fasting

8. 7 SURPRISING HEALTH BENEFITS OF RAMADAN

9. FASCINATING EVIDENCE SHOWS WHY WATER FASTING COULD BE ONE OF THE HEALTHIEST THINGS YOU CAN DO

10. SCIENTISTS EXPLAIN HOW FASTING FIGHTS CANCER, TRIGGERS STEM CELL REGENERATION & CHANGES YOUR BRAIN (IN A GOOD WAY)

11. Effects of Ramadan fasting on glucose homeostasis and adiponectin levels in healthy adult males

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To Pray or Not to Pray, That is the Question? (Part 3)

In this article we will discuss some possible reasons for spotting along with my opinion as to whether it is considered HAIZ or ISTHIHAAZA, and whether in that particular situation you can or cannot pray:

1. It’s your first period. EVER. For many girls, your first few years of menstruating are very new and confusing marked by painful feelings like cramps, tampons and pads, and irregular menstrual cycles. Not only do girls experience these off-schedule menstrual periods, many girls experience spotting. This is normal and is usually just a hormonal misstep that makes our uterine lining shed at the wrong time of the month. Essentially, this means our bodies are trying to understand this new “feature” and work out all the nuances of our reproductive system and “becoming a woman.” This would be considered HAIZ, and so you cannot pray.

2. You have done something new with contraceptives. Many of us might use some form of birth control at some point in our lives. Spotting is a common and normal side effect if you are starting, stopping, or switching birth control medications. Estrogen helps keep the lining of the uterus in place. Changing or messing with the estrogen levels in your body as a result of varying your birth control use could lead to spotting in between periods. This type of spotting does not last for longer than 1-3 months as your body tries to adapt to the new estrogen levels. Spotting can also occur with birth controls such as an intrauterine device (IUD). An IUD is a device that is inserted into the uterus and left to prevent pregnancy. The hormones in the IUD are slowly released, which controls the menstrual cycle and reproduction abilities. However, in the first three to six months, it is very common to spot from an IUD, even if the doctor has used a hormonal or copper IUD. The spotting should subside over time though and is a completely normal side effect. I believe the spotting here would be considered ISTHIHAAZA.

3. You just took the morning after pill. Emergency contraception, AKA the morning after pill, can cause light spotting. Although it is not a side effect, the hormones in the medication (either progestin alone or progestin combined with estrogen) can cause women to bleed at off menstrual cycle times. This type of spotting is completely normal. However, it is important to note that this does not indicate you have your period, and therefore does not signify you are not pregnant. This is ISTHIHAAZA.

4. You have implantation spotting. If you are spotting, but your period isn’t due for another few weeks, it could be because of implantation spotting. Implantation spotting, or implantation bleeding, is when a fertilized egg attaches itself to the inside wall of your uterus. When the embryo implants in the uterus, tiny blood vessels can erupt and cause the expectant mother to spot, usually a pink or brown type of discharge. Implantation spotting usually occurs before your next period and five to ten days after conception. Approximately 1/3 of women who reported having experienced implantation spotting claimed that this type of spotting was different than menstrual spotting. Reasons included the different color in the spotting (blood is darker than period blood), texture (more discharge like), and pain associated with spotting (cramps at the same time). The risk level is low, but if you are unsure if you are pregnant, consult a doctor. This would be ISTHIHAAZA

5. You are experiencing ovulation spotting. Ovulation spotting is very regular for certain women and is nothing to be worried about. Women can notice spotting a day or two into ovulating. When you ovulate, it is common to experience light spotting, usually pale pink in color. There are several potential reasons for ovulation spotting. For example, it can be caused by the surfacing of ovarian follicles. When a follicle matures and bursts, it can cause mild pain and some light bleeding. An increase in your estrogen levels during ovulation can result in light spotting or bleeding. It is also important to note that ovulation time is when you are most fertile. Be sure not to mistake this type of spotting with menstrual spotting! This is ISTHIHAAZA

6. You are perimenopausal. When you approach menopause, you may start to experience pink or brown spotting and even light bleeding before your period. During this transitional stage, your periods may be more irregular, sometimes heavier, and you may have occasional spotting about a week before your period. Ovulation occurs in the middle of your cycle, followed by menstruation approximately 2 weeks later. When you are in perimenopause, your hormone levels may become irregular and not follow this usual pattern. Once you enter menopause, all menstrual bleeding stops. However, if you are bleeding into this stage, it is important to consult your doctor and seek immediate attention. Hormonal replacement can be a common cause of vaginal bleeding in menopause, but spotting could also be a sign of cancer or other serious conditions that require medical attention.

7. You have vaginal dryness. Vaginal dryness, or vaginal atrophy, is a common cause of spotting. It occurs when vaginal tissue is no longer moist and elastic, and becomes irritated due to a change in estrogen. When the production levels of estrogen are disrupted, it can cause the vagina to feel itchy, dry and irritated. Women who are in menopause tend to experience vaginal dryness more often than women who are not. This is because their ovaries are producing less estrogen, which leads to a thinner vaginal tissue layer and a reduction in the number of lubricating glands. However, that does not mean women not in menopause can experience vaginal dryness. For women who are experiencing vaginal dryness and are definitely not near perimenopause, there are many factors that can create this condition. Childbirth and its aftermath, friction during sexual intercourse, hormone treatments, contraceptives, medications such as antidepressants, and reactions to substances such as alcohol can trigger vaginal dryness. If you are still menstruating, vaginal dryness is usually nothing to worry about. If you are spotting during menopause from vaginal dryness, consult a doctor immediately. this is ISTHIHAAZA

8. You are stressed. Stress can cause about almost anything in your body. It can create many imbalances in your body and spotting is no exception. Emotional stress (depression, anxiety, worry, insomnia) and physical stress (weight loss or gain, illness, poor diet, over exercising) can affect your period cycle. This is because extreme stress can cause your body to release more amounts of the hormone cortisol, which then causes your body to release less estrogen and progesterone. This hormonal imbalance can mess up your period cycle, and can make them irregular or late, and cause spotting in between. While exercising is a good reliever of stress, over-exercising can also cause an absence of menstruation (amenorrhea) and cause you to spot.

9. You have a decline in estrogen. One out of ten women experience light spotting during ovulation in their menstrual cycle because of a brief decline in their estrogen levels that happens when an egg is released from an ovary. This type of spotting usually occurs about ten to fourteen days before your next period. The decline in estrogen causes women to experience brown vaginal discharge, or spotting. They can also experience cramping and slight pain. This is ISTHIHAAZA

10. You’re experiencing delayed ovulation. If you are a woman who ovulates later in your cycle, it may lead to mittelschmerz. Mittelschmerz is one-sided, lower abdominal pain that is associated with ovulation in the middle of your menstrual cycle, usually about fourteen days before your next period. The pain lasts from a few minutes to hours, but can continue on-and-off for a few days. It usually is on the side of the ovary that is releasing an egg. Aside from mild pain, mittelschmerz can cause mild vaginal bleeding, or spotting. Delayed ovulation can also mean you have a small cyst on the surface of your ovary, which leads to the egg breaking through, causing vaginal spotting. This is ISTHIHAAZA

11. You have a delayed or partial period. During a normal period, the blood coming from the vagina consists of old blood, endometrial lining, and dead tissue. When you have a delayed or partial period, your monthly flushing does not complete and leaves a small amount of lining behind. This lining is left in the uterus for up to a month. When this remaining tissue finally expels, it leaves behind a brownish or pinkish color, or spotting. Again, while you may be alarmed and confused, this type of spotting is normal. As we discussed above, if this type brown spotting occurs after you have bathed (Ghusl), you can ignore it and continue to pray and fast. This would be considered ISTHIHAAZA.

12. You have inserted an object into your vagina or experienced a vaginal injury. If you have just inserted something into your vagina (recent sexual intercourse, etc), you could cause spotting. If you just had sex and your vagina isn’t lubricated enough, the friction can cause you to spot. Cervical bleeding can occur if you have deep penetration during sex. Inserting when you are too dry or too forcefully can also cause spotting. This is ISTHIHAAZA

13. You have a urethral prolapse. The urethra is a tube that connects your bladder to the outside of your body which carries urine from the bladder to the urethral opening. Urethral prolapse occurs when the inner lining of your urethra protrudes through the opening of the urethra. Because of this, the opening of your urethra can resemble a pink donut or ball and seem larger and more swollen than normal. This can cause irritation in the vagina, causing small amounts of blood, or spotting, to occur. This is easily treatable with treatments such as estrogen cream, sitz baths, and antibiotics. This is ISTHIHAAZA

*14. You are impregnated. If you are newly pregnant, chances are you will experience spotting. In the first few months of your pregnancy, it is normal to experience spotting due to all the new hormonal changes. If you are unsure if you are pregnant, take a pregnancy test or consult your gynecologist right away. A doctor can help guide you in the right direction for your pregnancy and confirm the spotting is normal and not caused by an ectopic pregnancy, which if not treated, can be life threatening. This is ISTHIHAAZA.

15. You have Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal imbalance that interferes with normal ovulation and can cause abnormal bleeding, or spotting between periods. It can also cause annoying things like unwanted hair and acne. It is very common in teen girls and young women. One out of every 10 women has PCOS. If you have PCOS, your ovaries are not getting the right hormonal signals from your pituitary gland. Without these signals, you can’t ovulate every month, which affects your menstrual cycle. This causes your period to be irregular and spotting in between. Ask your health care provider if you are experiencing symptoms such as irregular periods, extra hair on your face and other parts of your body, acne, weight gain, and patches of dark skin on the back of your neck and other areas. The most common treatment for PCOS is birth control or other types of hormonal therapy. The spotting due to this condition would be ISTHIHAAZA.

16. You have inflammation or infection in your cervix (cervicitis). Cervicitis is the inflammation or irritation in your cervix. The symptoms are very similar to vaginitis, such as vaginal discharge, itching, pain with intercourse, and spotting. If the urine tube, or ureter, gets infected, you can feel pain and burning when you pee, which also can be a sign of cervicitis. Cervicitis can be caused by non-infections such as trauma, frequent douching, or exposure to chemical irritants. Cervicitis can be also by infections, such as certain sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). A doctor can diagnose and treat cervicitis in just a few days. The most common reason for cervicitis are sexually transmitted diseases, so the best prevention method is using a condom and being protected during intercourse- ISTHIHAAZA

17. You have an ovarian cyst. Spotting between periods can also be caused by ovarian cysts. Ovarian cysts are small sacs that develop in your ovaries and are filled with fluid. You may not know you have ovarian cysts until one rupture. If one ruptures, you can experience lower pelvic pain, spotting, and severe discomfort. It is important to go immediately to the doctor if you are in extreme pain. Normally, doctors will wait and see if the cysts resolve themselves. If they don’t, they can be surgically removed. This is usually more of an emergent case. It is considered Isthihaaza

18. You have Uterine Fibroids. Uterine Fibroids (also known as leiomyomas or myomas) are noncancerous growths of the uterus that can occur during your childbearing years. They can range in size from tiny growths that are almost undetectable to the human eye, to large, bulky growths that can alter and enlarge your uterus. You can also have more than just one fibroid at a time. It is common for women to have fibroids at some point in their life, as they show no symptoms and can be so small it is undetectable. However, some women who experience uterine fibroids have symptoms such as heavy menstrual bleeding, spotting between periods, pelvic pressure or pain, frequent urination, and constipation. Although uterine fibroids are not usually dangerous, they can cause pain and discomfort and can lead to complications, such as anemia from heavy blood loss. See a doctor if you are experiencing pelvic pain that won’t go away, overly heavy, prolonged painful periods, or spotting between periods. The spotting here is ISTHIHAAZA.

Vaginal spotting between periods has many potential causes. They can be normal and just a part of life or they can be serious and even life-threatening. It is important to understand your symptoms and body and routinely go to the doctor.

Disclaimer: The article does not replace an evaluation by a physician and that it should not be used for personal medical decision making.

PART 1     PART 2


Written by FeatherB – (She is a Medical Graduate)

Sources:

buoycurrent

Islam QA

The Book of Cleanliness: Compiled by Iqbal Kailani. Translated by Khaja Abdul Muqtader.

To Pray or Not to Pray, That is the Question? (Part 2)

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.

( Bukhari)

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

(Bukhari)

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).

(Abu Dawood)

 

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.

(Abu Dawood)

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.

(Bukhari) 

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.

(Tirmidhi)

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………………………….

PART 1 


Written by FeatherB – (She is a Medical Graduate)

Sources:

buoycurrent

Islam QA

The Book of Cleanliness: Compiled by Iqbal Kailani. Translated by Khaja Abdul Muqtader.

To Pray or Not to Pray, That is the Question?

Our menstrual cycle!

A hot topic that every woman can relate to. As Muslim women, our periods/menses/menstrual cycle is a huge concern when it comes to things like; when can we start praying and when we cannot? When can we start fasting and when should we not? What does it mean if we see spotting? What if it’s a specific color? The list goes on and on. My attempt here will be to briefly shed some light from a medical perspective, on what the menstrual cycle actually is, what to expect and how to approach various situations we might be faced with every day.

So let’s jump right into it, shall we?

First of all, what is the menstrual cycle?

A full menstrual cycle is the number of days from the first day of one period to the first day of the next. So that means day one of the menstrual cycle is the first of full bleeding day of the period. A typical cycle is approximately 24 to 35 days (average 28 days for most women). Medically this means: The series of changes our body goes through in preparation for the possibility of pregnancy, is the menstrual cycle. Each month, one of the ovaries releases an egg- this is called ovulation. At the same time, hormonal changes prepare our uterus for pregnancy.

If ovulation takes place and the egg is not fertilized, the lining of the uterus sheds through the vagina. This is a menstrual period. When you menstruate, your body sheds the lining of the uterus wall (which would have been the womb). Menstrual blood flows from the uterus through the small opening in the cervix and passes out of the body through the vagina.

Islamically this means: Haiz is the term for menses which 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 time period.

Ok, So what’s normal?

  • The menstrual cycle, which is counted from the first day of one period to the first day of the next, isn’t the same for every woman. The menstrual flow might occur every 21 to 35 days and last two to seven days. For the first few years after menstruation begins, long cycles are common. However, menstrual cycles tend to shorten and become more regular as you get older. For the purpose of this article, our main concern is: Menstrual flow, is the number of days you are bleeding, each month during your cycle. Your menstrual flow can vary from being:
    •  regular — about the same length every month
    •  irregular
    •  light
    •  heavy
    •  painful
    •  pain-free
    •  long
    •  short

At the end of the day, “Normal” is what is normal for you.

What does that mean exactly?

  • There are no definite appointed days for a woman in menses.
  • The number of days may be more in one month and less in another.
  • Every woman knows what NORMAL for her.
  • Every woman and every month can vary.
  • It’s not necessary for the menses to start each month on the same date.
  • It may start early or may be delayed.
  • The duration of menses will vary for all women, varying person to person.

(Keep in mind that use of certain types of contraception, such as extended-cycle birth control pills and intrauterine devices (IUDs), will alter your menstrual cycle. Talk to your health care provider about what to expect) (When you get close to menopause, your cycle might become irregular again. However, because of the risk of uterine cancer increases as you age, discuss any irregular bleeding around menopause with your health care provider.)

Ok, but do I know what is actually normal for me?

Number one: Keep track of your menstrual period by start keeping a record of your menstrual cycle and menstrual flow on a calendar. Begin by tracking your start date every month for several months in a row to identify the regularity of your periods. The best and easiest way to do this in 2017 downloads an app! There are a gazillion apps out there. I personally use “Period Diary.” It’s a very simple basic app, that tracks your start and end date, gives you predictions, etc. If you’re extra concerned about your periods, then also make note of the following every month:

  • End date: How long does your period typically last? Is it longer or shorter than usual?
  • Flow: Record the heaviness of your flow. Does it seem lighter or heavier than usual? How often do you need to change your sanitary protection? Have you passed any blood clots?
  • Abnormal bleeding. Are you bleeding in between periods?
  • Pain: Describe any pain associated with your period. Does the pain feel worse than usual?
  • Other changes. Have you experienced any changes in mood or behavior? Did anything new happen around the time of change in your periods?

My cycle is not normal or irregular, why?

Menstrual cycle irregularities can have many different causes, just a few of those include:

  • Pregnancy or breastfeeding. A missed period can be an early sign of pregnancy. Breastfeeding typically delays the return of menstruation after pregnancy.
  • Eating disorders, extreme weight loss or excessive exercising
    • Eating disorders — such as anorexia nervosa — extreme weight loss and increased physical activity can disrupt menstruation.
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Women with this common endocrine system disorder may have irregular periods as well as enlarged ovaries that contain

What can I do to prevent menstrual irregularities?

For some women, use of birth control pills can help regulate menstrual cycles. Treatment for any underlying problems, such as an eating disorder, also might help. However, some menstrual irregularities can’t be prevented. In addition, consult your health care provider if:

  • Your periods suddenly stop for more than 90 days — and you’re not pregnant
  • Periods become erratic after having been regular
  • You bleed for more than seven days
  • You bleed more heavily than usual or soak through more than one pad or tampon every hour or two
  • Periods are less than 21 days or more than 35 days apart
  • You bleed between periods
  • You develop severe pain during your period
  • You suddenly get a fever and feel sick after using tampons

Remember, tracking your menstrual cycle can help you find out what’s normal for you and what isn’t. If you have questions or concerns about your menstrual cycle, talk to your health care provider!

What about SPOTTING?

Ok, so we know that we cannot pray, fast, have sexual relations with husband during menses. But what about spotting?

This is a very hot topic among all women. All of us have experienced some kind of spotting at some point or another. Spotting before periods is a frustrating bodily function that most of us may or may not understand. For all those times you had to throw out a new pair of underwear, for all those times you thought your period was over, you bathed and started praying/fasting etc, and then feel/see discharge, and for all those times you thought there was something wrong with your reproductive system, for all those times you think you need to stop praying/fasting etc, again after bathing, let’s try to set the record straight.

First, we need to define spotting and understand how it affects you and your body.

 …………………………….TO BE CONTINUED………………………….


Written by featherB – She is a Medical Graduate with a degree in Medicine, is an aspiring writer living in the Bay Area. She is also a student of the Quran. You can follow her at: theselittlethoughtsofmine.com

Sources:

buoycurrent

Islam QA

The Book of Cleanliness: Compiled by Iqbal Kailani. Translated by Khaja Abdul Muqtader.