Can I Take the Opinion of the Shafi’i School on the Issue of Menstruation Due to Hardship?
Answered by Shaykh Yusuf Weltch
I have a question regarding Haidh. I know Hanafi madhhab says haydh is ten days max, and anything beyond that is istihadha’, but if my menstruation is very inconsistent.
I bleed for long periods and exceed ten days, am I allowed to follow the Shafi’i madhhab of 15 days maximum haydh? Is it okay to choose only this ruling from Shafi’i while following everything else from Hanafi madhhab?
In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate
Suppose there is a need or difficulty in following the rulings of one school. In that case, scholars may encourage or permit one to follow another school with a more relaxed ruling to remove that difficulty or hardship.
Removing Undue Hardship (Haraj)
Removing difficulties from people and hardships is one of the aims of the Sacred law, as found in the following axiom:
Al-Haraj madfu’un Shara’n, which means undue difficulty is averted by Sacred law
[Ibn Nujaym, al-Ashbah wa’l Nadha’ir]
It is also a Prophetic command, “Make things easy (for people) and do not make them difficult.” [Bukhari]
Conditions for Taking Rulings from Other Schools
However, this is not something that one should self-dictate or self-diagnose. This is due to the potential harm of constantly seeking out dispensations due to various spiritual illnesses in basic human nature (nafs).
For this reason, there are two main conditions alongside the encouragement to consult scholars before taking this step. Those conditions are as follows:
- That seeking out dispensations does not become habitual (‘adm tatabbu’ al-rukhas)
- That it does not lead to contradictions in one’s worship (‘adm al-talfiq) [Ibn ‘Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar]
The first condition ensures one is sincere in their need to take from another school. The second ensures that it is done in a way that their worship is still sound according to the Sacred law.
Examples of these Conditions
Someone constantly seeking the easier opinion lives their life in submission to their whims and desires, not to Allah Most High, which is what Islam dictates. [Ibid.]
Someone who takes from another school in a way that their worship is neither valid in their school nor in the school that they are taking from – ends up with worship that are invalid unanimously, according to the scholars. [Ibid.]
Related Legal Issues (Qadiyyat)
For the above reasons, if one is in need of taking an opinion from another school, they are urged to follow the rules of that school in any other issue related to the issue for which they need dispensation. [Ibid.]
For example, if a person is having hardship regarding the rulings in the Hanafi school regarding menstruation and they take a concession from the Shafi’i school, they will also follow the Shafi’i school in other issues related to menstruation: issues of purification, like ghusl and prayer. [Ibid.]
Thus they will perform their purification and prayer according to the Shafi’i school.
Unrelated Legal Issues (Qadiyyat)
If the dispensation is unrelated to other issues, they may take that issue and continue to practice their own school in all other issues. An example is a divorce (talaq), which is unrelated to other worships such as prayer, fasting, business trade, etc.
Contradictory Worship (Talfiq)
If one takes the opinion of another school in a contradictory way, this will lead to their worship being invalid. [Ibid.]
For example, if a person has a nosebleed, such that their wudu is invalid according to the Hanafi school, they take the Shafi’i ruling that bleeding does not invalidate the ablution. Thereafter, they touch the skin of their spouse before leaving home, which invalidates the ablution in the Shafi’i school, so they take from the Hanafi school that such an action does not break the wudu. [Ibid.]
The result is that their prayer with that ablution is invalid according to both the Hanafi and Shafi’i schools. This reason is the same as those informing the urge to follow that school in related legal issues (as explained above). [Ibid.]
Difficulty in Menstruation
Let’s examine the options in the scenario you mentioned that you consistently have blood for more than ten days.
In the Hanafi school, all bleeding not separated by 15 days of purity is added together and considered consistent bleeding. For example, a sister sees five days of blood, four days of no blood, and another five days of blood. These days ( the 5, the 4, and the 5) are considered continuous bleeding, totaling 14 days. [Maydani, al-Lubab fi Sharh al-Kitab]
Since 14 days is above the maximum, how much of it is actual menstruation (haydh) and what is irregular bleeding (istihadha’)?
– If this is not her first menstruation, she will use the number of days from her previous menstruation (known as ‘her habit’, ‘ada in Arabic) to determine how much of the 14 days is actual menstruation (haydh). [Ibid.]
Let’s, for this example, say that her last menstruation was eight days. Thus, the first 8 of the 14 days are considered menstruation (haydh), and the remaining six days are irregular bleeding.
– If this is her first menstruation, she will use a maximum of 10 days to determine how many of the 14 days is actual menstruation (haydh). [Ibid.]
Thus, the first 10 of the 14 days are actual menstruation, and the remaining four days are irregular bleeding.
Note that when the bleeding passes ten days, she will already know that the days above her previous habit are irregular bleeding. She will already perform the ritual bath and return to praying, as she is pure from menstruation.
Is this Difficulty Sufficient to take a Dispensation
If the above is a constant occurrence, such that you rarely have normal menstruation (between 3-10 days), it can be considered unduly difficult.
This is because you may determine that you are experiencing irregular bleeding (istihadha’) after the fact and have to repeat previous prayers.
In the above example, if one’s habit (‘ada) was three days, once the bleeding goes beyond ten days, she discovers that days 4-10 were irregular bleeding, and the prayers of those days must be repeated.
If this repeatedly happened monthly, this would indeed be unduly difficult. So, this would be sufficient cause to take the Shafi’i opinion of a 15-day maximum.
However, as explained above, I would encourage you to learn the basics of the Shafi’i school regarding the ritual bath (ghusl), ablution (wudu), and prayer (salat) before adopting their position.
SeekersGuidance offers some introductory courses on Shafi’i jurisprudence.
Once you learn to perform the ghusl, wudu, and prayer according to the Shafi’i school, you may take the fifteen days maximum position and pray according to their school.
And Allah knows best.
Hope this helps
[Shaykh] Yusuf Weltch
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Shaykh Yusuf Weltch is a teacher of Arabic, Islamic law, and spirituality. After accepting Islam in 2008, he then completed four years at the Darul Uloom seminary in New York where he studied Arabic and the traditional sciences. He then traveled to Tarim, Yemen, where he stayed for three years studying in Dar Al-Mustafa under some of the greatest scholars of our time, including Habib Umar Bin Hafiz, Habib Kadhim al-Saqqaf, and Shaykh Umar al-Khatib. In Tarim, Shaykh Yusuf completed the memorization of the Qur’an and studied beliefs, legal methodology, hadith methodology, Qur’anic exegesis, Islamic history, and a number of texts on spirituality. He joined the SeekersGuidance faculty in the summer of 2019.