Updated: Nov 5, 2022
Table of Contents
A google search on Islam and menstruation yields unclear and sometimes contradictory information, with few resources available in English for Maliki fiqh. Learning the fiqh related to acts of worship is part of fard al-ayn (what’s obligatory upon every person). Knowledge of the fiqh of menstruation is pertinent especially for women, as lack of knowledge in this area can jeopardize one’s worship. It is also important for men to study to teach the women in their family, and be aware of the rulings of what they can and can't do when the wife is in hayd.
Please consult a local scholar for specific, individualized questions.
What is Hayd?
Hayd - often translated as menstruation, but there is a distinction between the medical and fiqhi definition of menstruation:
The medical definition of menstruation roughly means the shedding of the uterus lining.
The fiqhi definion of hayd refers to vaginal bleeding that:
Is not caused by injury or medication (i.e. it is “untriggered”)
Does not come from a young girl or post-menopausal woman.
Color - the color of hayd can only be the following:
Istihadha - Abnormal bleeding, i.e any bleeding that does not meet the fiqhi definition of hayd. When experiencing istihadha, what's prohibited during hayd does not apply (a woman resumes praying, fasting, etc.).
Tuhr (purity) - everything besides hayd (includes istihadha and no bleeding).
How to Calculate Hayd Length
Some things to keep in mind about length:
There is no minimum hayd length. Even one drop of blood is considered hayd.
In between hayd cycles, there must be at least 15 days of tuhr.
1 day = from fajr to the next fajr
You start counting the number of days from the first fajr after the bleeding begins.
Example 1: Bleeding begins right before Fajr on December 2 and continues till Dhuhr on December 10. The first Fajr after the bleeding begins is the Fajr of December 2. So we count days 2 to 9 as 9 days. The hayd is 9 days.
Example 2: The bleeding starts at Dhuhr on December 1 and continues till Dhuhr on December 10. The first Fajr after the bleeding begins is the Fajr of December 2. So we count days 2 to 10 as 9 days. The hayd is again 9 days.
When it comes to calculating maximum period (hayd) length, there are 3 categories of women.
A woman in her first hayd
A regular: a woman who already had her first hayd
A pregnant woman
1. A woman in her first hayd
Ruling: up to 15 days of bleeding can be considered her hayd. Anything beyond this is considered istihadha.
Scenario 1: she has less than 15 days of bleeding. Her hayd ends when the bleeding stops → she does ghusl and can pray.
Scenario 2: she has more than 15 days of bleeding. Her hayd ends at 15 days → she does ghusl and can pray. Any further bleeding is considered istihadha.
Sarah starts her first hayd and sees blood for 9 days. Her hayd was 9 days.
Zainab starts her first hayd and sees blood for 15 days. Her hayd was 15 days.
Aisha starts her first hayd and sees blood for 17 days. Her hayd was 15 days and she had 2 days of istihadha.
More detailed case studies:
Maryam starts her first hayd right before Fajr on December 1 and continues until after Fajr on December 9. We start counting days from the first Fajr after her hayd begins. The first Fajr after the bleeding begins is the Fajr of December 1. So we count days 1 to 9 as 9 days.
Fatima starts her first hayd and sees blood from Dhuhr on December 1 till 'Asr on December 9. Her hayd is 8 days, from December 2 - December 9.
Hafsa starts her first hayd and sees blood from Dhuhr on December 1 till 'Asr on December 16. Her hayd is 15 days, from December 2-December 16.
Noor starts her first hayd and sees blood from Dhuhr on December 1 till 'Asr on December 17. Anything beyond 15 days is istihadha. Her hayd is 15 days, from December 2 - December 16.
2. A Regular: a woman who already had her first hayd
This is probably the case for most readers.
The maximum duration of her hayd is her longest hayd duration to date plus 3 days, as long as this total does not exceed 15 days.
Any bleeding past this is istihadha, so she does ghusl and resumes praying.
Case Study #1: Normally, Aisha has a 3-day hayd, but the longest hayd she has ever had to date was 4 days. This means that this month, her hayd can be a maximum of 4 + 3 days = 7 days. This month, she bleeds for 7 days. Her hayd is 7 days, and after this she does ghusl and resumes praying.
Now that she has had a hayd of 7 days, her new maximum duration of her hayd in the future is 7 + 3 days - 10 days.
Case Study #2: The longest hayd Zainab had to date was 7 days. This January, she bleeds for 10 days. Her hayd is 10 days.
Now Zainab’s longest previous hayd is 10 days. In February, she bleeds for 14 days. Her hayd is only 10 + 3 days = 13 days. The 14th day is istihadha.
Moving forward, Zainab’s longest previous hayd is 13 days. In March, she bleeds for 16 days. Her hayd will only be 15 days, because the maximum duration of hayd is always capped at 15 days. The 16th day is istihadah, and for the rest of her life the maximum duration of her hayd will be 15 days.
3. A Pregnant Woman
While pregnant women do not experience medical menstruation, you’ll notice that they can experience fiqhi menstruation based on the definition we gave earlier. The ruling of their hayd depends on the month of their pregnancy
Months 1-2: They are the same as a non-pregnant woman, and should refer to the above two categories depending on if they are a first-timer or a regular.
Months 3-5: her maximum number of days of hayd is 20 days.
Months 6+: her maximum number of days of hayd is 30 days.
Tools of Calculation
Some scholars today also recommend keeping track of your period using an app, journal, or a means you prefer. Tracking your period helps you ensure that you're properly calculating when your hayd starts/ends so you know when to fulfill obligations like praying or fasting. It also makes it easier when you're asking an 'alim or 'alimah about personalized situations.
What is Impermissible and Permissible During Her Hayd
The following is not permissible for a woman experiencing hayd:
Touching a mushaf (unless she is learning or teaching the Qur’an)¹
Entering a masjid
This is not just the musalla area but also includes areas traditionally considered a masjid like the entrance before the musalla area. However in larger masjids, the community center, gym, and school areas would not be considered part of the masjid.
Dhikr, making supplication, and reciting Qur’an is permissible.
When Her Hayd Ends
She should check at least once every prayer time for whether her hayd has ended.
Her hayd ends either when:
She notices the bleeding has stopped. It is considered “stopped” if there is:
An emission of clear or whitish liquid
No more blood. To check this she must insert a cloth lightly into her vaginal area to check for no traces of blood.
She bleeds for more than the maximum duration mentioned above.
She must do ghusl before she can pray again.
She does not make up missed prayers due to hayd.³
If her hayd starts near sunset and she had not yet prayed Dhuhr or Asr yet, she does not need to make them up.
If her hayd starts near fajr and she had not yet prayed Maghrib or Isha yet she does not need to make them up.
If her hayd starts near sunrise and she had not yet prayed Subh, she does not need to make it up.
If her hayd ends during ‘Asr time, she must pray Dhuhr and then ‘Asr.
But if there’s not enough time to make ghusl and pray Dhuhr and 1 rak’ah of Asr before ‘Asr time ends, then she prays only ‘Asr.
But if there’s not even enough time to make ghusl and pray even 1 rak’ah of Asr, then she does not pray ‘Asr either.
If her hayd ends during Isha time, she must pray Maghrib and then Isha.
But if there’s not enough time to make ghusl, pray Maghrib and 1 rak’ah of Isha before Isha time ends, then she prays only Isha.
But if there’s not even enough time to make ghusl and pray 1 rak’ah of Isha before Isha time ends, then she does not pray Isha either.
Missed fasts in Ramadan due to hayd are obligatory to make up.
In Ramadan, the intention to fast should be renewed after her hayd ends.
If her hayd ends before fajr (dawn) rises, but she’s unable to do ghusl before then, she should still starting fasting that day and her fast will be valid, as long as she intended to fast sometime between her menses ending and fajr rising.
If her hayd ends after sunrise, she does not fast and can eat for the rest of the day.
She must do ghusl to resume the other activities that were impermissible during her hayd.
It is understandable that a woman feels the rules of hayd are complex, complicated and daunting. Remember that Allah does not burden a person, man or woman, with what she cannot bear - so the fact He has obligated each individual woman to know these rules conveys that our Creator understands our potential to grasp religious matters. Second, following these individual obligations is in of itself a great worship like prayer, fasting, charity and other acts of worship. Your taking the time to understand these rules, your calculation of what needs to be done - all of these are also great acts of worship. Third, for centuries, Muslim women around the world from the Saharan desert to the Indonesian archipelago, the educated among them and the illiterate, learned, understood and implemented the fiqh you have just read. Learning and implementing the above is a means for us to reconnect with their legacy. More on the hikmah of the fiqh of menstruation can be found in this article by Traversing Tradition.
 Many scholars especially in the more western African countries say a teacher or student who is on her menses can only touch a portion of the Qurān like an individual juz’ and not the entire mushaf. Shaykh Zohayr Qazzān has said before that one should use a "mushaf" that has more tafsir or other things in it, so it is not actually considered a mushaf. Additionally, a mushaf on the phone is not considered a mushaf, so one can use their phone as well.
 There is an opinion often mentioned that it is completely forbidden for her husband to derive pleasure from her skin between the belly button and knees during her hayd. Yet another opinion mentions that it is allowed for him to derive pleasure in this area but not with his penis. Shaykh Al-Burzuli narrates a third opinion. He says this issue was debated in front of Imām Ibn ‘Arafah and the conclusion was that everything but sexual intercourse was halāl. Shaykh Zohayr Qazzān prefers this opinion as the most suitable for a husband especially in today’s age of fitnah.
 There is a small exception that will be mentioned in a future article.
This article was written by Markaz Imam Malik students Tariq Patanam and Heraa Hashmi. Advanced Markaz student Abdallah Mathieu Gallant also checked this article and generously provided his notes. Other students including Safiyya Patanam also reviewed this article.
Finally, the article was done in consultation with and approved by Markaz teacher Shaykh Zohayr Qazzān.