Islamic law touches upon most aspects of Muslim life, including worship and health. Muslim women refrain from prayer during menstrual periods and lochial (after childbirth) bleeding, but resume prayer if the bleeding is ruled to be abnormal. This ruling may not coincide with a medical diagnosis, so Islamic jurists have developed rulings to help women determine when to cease prayer and how to resume prayers.
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Menstruation in the Koran
The Koran mentions menstruation explicitly in two verses, but these do not connect menstruation with any sort of worship. The Koran does discuss worship and cleanliness in Surah al-Ma'ida, ayah 6: "O ye who believe! when ye prepare for prayer, wash your faces, and your hands (and arms) to the elbows; Rub your heads (with water); and (wash) your feet to the ankles. If ye are in a state of ceremonial impurity, bathe your whole body. But if ye are ill, or on a journey, or one of you cometh from offices of nature, or ye have been in contact with women, and ye find no water, then take for yourselves clean sand or earth, and rub therewith your faces and hands, Allah doth not wish to place you in a difficulty, but to make you clean, and to complete his favour to you, that ye may be grateful." Menstruation is presumed by traditional Islamic jurists to include menstrual periods, but Quranist Muslims, who use only the Koran to derive Islamic rulings, disagree.
Menstruation in Ahdith
Statements made by the Prophet Muhammad (ahdith) and the women residents of Medina during his lifetime discuss the prohibition of women praying during their menstrual periods. Aisha, one of his wives, stated "The Prophet said to me, 'Give up the prayer when your menses begin and when it has finished, wash the blood off your body (take a bath) and start praying.'" Islamic jurists recommend that a woman keep records of the beginning and end of her menstrual periods, to help determine a change in menstrual period patterns or diagnose abnormal bleeding.
Abnormal vaginal bleeding does not exempt a woman from prayer. According to Hanafi and Shi'a rulings, bleeding less than three days or beyond ten days is deemed abnormal, and a woman must resume worship, but make the minor cleansing (wudu) for each prayer. According to Shafi'i fiqh, menstruation must last at least one full day, but not exceed 15 full days. Maliki scholars state that any blood that comes from the vagina is counted as menstruation up to 15 days.
When Menstruation is Completed
When a woman completes her menstrual period or lochial bleeding, she should bathe in a specific manner described by jurists. This includes washing the outer genitalia, then the entire body, including the hair. While statements of the Prophet Muhammad recommend using musk on the outer genitalia, this is not required by Islamic jurists. This may involve complete immersion of the body or washing the different parts of the body in stages. The second method is more common, and is more consistent with the way the Prophet Muhammad regularly bathed.
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