A Muslim woman should know the rules of purification so as to offer Prayer correctly. If she fails to observe the rules of purification, her Prayer may be invalid without her being aware. Therefore, it is the duty of the Muslim woman to be careful regarding such important and serious issues. A woman experiences certain recurrent signs in her menstrual periods, but these signs may change in such a way that she can no longer differentiate between menstrual and other bleeding. In this case, a woman should consider herself menstruating during the same number of days she used to menstruate before; during that time she may not fast, perform Prayer, or have intercourse with her husband. As for the days other than this period, she should consider herself pure of menstruation; she can perform Prayer, fast, and have intercourse with her husband.
As for the woman whose menstruation is irregular or who has forgotten the timing, if she can recognize the menstrual blood by its thickness, dark colour, or odour, she should consider herself menstruating during the period in which she discharges that kind of blood. But if none of the above cases applies, she can follow the what is normal for menstruating women close to her; if their periods last for six days, she may consider herself menstruating for six days and pure for the remaining days of the month.
Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi states: According to the reported hadiths about the mustahadah (a woman experiencing chronic blood discharge), there are three types:
1. The mu`tadah is the woman who experiences recurrent symptoms of menstruation at a fixed time that she knows because of recurrence, even if for only two times. Some scholars even say that these recurrent symptoms become known by experiencing them for one time only. Such a woman should abstain during this period from Prayer, fasting, and sexual intercourse with her husband. In addition, all what is prohibited for the menstruating women is considered prohibited for her, too, at such periods.
2. The mumayyizah (the distinguisher) is the mustahadah who has no regular menstrual period or who has forgotten the regular time of her period but she can distinguish between the menstrual and the non-menstrual blood by its thickness, dark color, and odor. Thus, she is to abstain from everything that menstruating women abstain from on the days of menstrual bleeding.
3. The mutahayyirah (the confused) or the muhayyirah (the confusing) is the woman who does not experience regular menstrual periods, or she who used to experience such periods but she has forgotten their exact time, and she cannot distinguish between the different colours of blood. So she is named “the confused” because she cannot know when she is menstruating and when she is pure. Sometimes she is also named “the confusing” because her case confuses scholars. Due to this confusion, some scholars imposed many heavy obligations upon her; such obligations contradict the easy tolerant trend of Shari`ah.
It is more appropriate for us to prefer the opinion of the prominent scholar Ash-Shawkani and his student Siddiq Hasan Khan, which involves easiness for the mustahadah in the light of the authentic hadiths. Their opinion is illustrated in Sayl Al-Jirar, Ad-Darary Al-Mudi’ah and Ar-Rawdah An-Nadiyyah. In Sayl Al-Jirar, Ash-Shawkany says, “The reader should know that there are hadiths which refer to the recurrent menstrual periods of women, such as the hadith about the case of Hamnah bint Jahsh. It is an authentic hadith and it includes that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said, ‘Consider yourself in your menstrual period for six or seven days just like other women menstruate.’ In addition, there are reported hadiths about referring to the description of blood, like for example, the hadith about Fatimah bint Abi Jahsh, who used to bleed on days other than the normal menstrual periods. Thus, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said to her, ‘If it is menstrual blood, it is known by its dark color, in which case you must abstain from Prayer. But if it is the other (blood), you must perform ablution and offer Prayer, because it is (the bleeding of) a vein’ (Abu Dawud and An-Nasa’i; Ibn Hibban and Al-Hakim regarded it as authentic). Moreover, there are hadiths about a woman’s reference to her usual menstrual period, like that of Umm Habibah, in which the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, ‘Stay as long as your menstrual period detains you and then perform ritual bathing (ghusl).’”
Deducing a comprehensive ruling from these hadiths is possible by saying that if the woman is at the beginning of experiencing menses or has forgotten the exact time and duration of her menstrual period, she should consider the blood’s des
cription; if the Prophet’s description applies to it, then it is menstrual blood. If she cannot recognize it because the blood comes out in various forms or in a confusing form, she should refer to the menstrual period of women near her (for her period usually does not differ from them). In case the nature of those women’s menstrual periods differs, she should consider the menstrual period of the majority of them. In case there is no majority among them, she should consider herself menstruating for six or seven days, which is the usual duration of most women’s menstrual periods, as illustrated in the hadith.
If the woman is not at the beginning of experiencing menses, but she is regular and knows the exact time and duration of her period and bleeding exceeds that period, then she should consider the blood’s description. If she cannot recognize it and cannot estimate the duration of her period, she should refer to the menstrual period of women near her. In case the nature of those women’s menstrual periods differ, she should consider the menstrual period of the majority of them, but if case there is no majority among them, she should consider herself menstruating for six or seven days. In this way, this controversial matter can be solved.
Sheikh Ibn Taymiyah mentioned stated that: There are three Prophetic rulings about the mustahadah:
1. A ruling about the woman who has a regular menstrual period: ‘Stay as long as your menstrual period, then perform ritual bathing ghusl and observe Prayer.’
2. A ruling about one who can recognize the menstrual blood: ‘If it is menstrual blood, it is known by its dark color.’
3. A ruling involving the consideration of most women’s menstrual periods: ‘Consider yourself in your menstrual period for six or seven days, then perform ritual bathing and observe Prayer for twenty-three or twenty-four days just as other women menstruate and be pure; consider the time of their menstruation and purity.’ He added, “Scholars differ as regards the issue of istihadah. It is a controversial matter because of the existing confusion between the menstrual period and chronic blood discharge. There must be a criterion to distinguish between the two.”