Islam defines such an occurrence as the flowing of blood outside of the regular time. This usually happens in three specific cases. In the first case, the woman knows that her flow of menstrual blood is lasting longer than usual. In such a case, she will act according to her customary period, and the remainder will be considered days of prolonged blood flows. This is based on the hadith of Umm Salamah, in which she asked the Messenger of Allah, upon whom be peace, about this condition. He said, “She should wait for the days and nights of her normal period and figure them out of the month, and she should leave the prayer during those days. (Afterwards) she should perform ghusl, tighten something around her vagina and then pray.” (Related by Malik, ash-Shafi and “the five,” except for at-Tirmizhi.)
Evaluating the report, an-Nawawi says, “Its chain meets the conditions (of al-Bukhari and Muslim).” Al-Khattabi holds, “That regulation is for the woman who is experiencing prolonged blood flows. If the blood is flowing, the Prophet ordered her to leave the prayer during her regular period, and to perform ghusl after her customary time has passed. Then, she becomes just like any other purified person.”
In the second case, a woman does not know her period well enough to determine if she is experiencing menstrual bleeding or a prolonged flow of blood. In that case, her menstruation is considered to be six or seven days, which is the most common among women.
Said Jamnah bint Jahsh, “I had a very strong prolonged flow of blood. I went to the Prophet to ask him about it. When I asked him if I had to stop praying and fasting, he said ‘Tie around a cloth, and it will stop.’ I said, ‘It is greater than that.’ He said, ‘Curb it.’ I said, ‘It flows greatly.’ He then said, ‘You may do one of two things: either one will suffice. Which one you are able to do you know best. This is a strike from Satan. Be on your period for six or seven days, which Allah knows, and then perform ghusl until you see that you are clean. Pray for fourteen nights or thirteen nights and days and fast, and that will be sufficient for you. Do that every month as the other women become pure and menstruate. If you can, you may delay the noon prayer and hasten the afternoon prayer. Perform ghusl and pray the noon and afternoon prayers together. Then delay the sunset and hasten the night prayers and pray them together. Perform ghusl for the morning prayer and pray it. This is how you may pray and fast if you have the ability to do so…” And he said, “That is the more loved way to me.”
As to the authenticity of the hadith, it is related by Ahmad, Abu Dawud and at-Tirmizhi, who grades it as hassan sahih. He says, “I asked al-Bukhari about it, and he called it hassan.” Ahmad ibn Hanbal says it is hassan sahih.
Al-Khattabi observes, in a note to this hadith, that this is for the woman who is a “beginner” and does not know her regular days of menstruation. The Prophet told her to act according to the customary situation of women, and to consider herself as having her period only once a month, like most women. His statement, ‘As women menstruate and as they become pure’ points to this fact. This is by analogy to the affairs of women with respect to each other in menstruation, pregnancy, maturity and other affairs of theirs.”
In the third case, a woman has a regular period, but she is able to distinguish the blood. She should, therefore, behave according to the type of blood she sees. Fatimah bint Abu Hubaish had a prolonged flow of blood, and the Prophet told her, “If it is menstrual blood, it is dark and recognizable. If you have that, abstain from the prayer. If it is other than that, make ablution and pray, for it is a vein.”
Women who fall into any of these categories must abide by the following regulations: