When I wanted to perform prayer in congregation with other women, there is only one person whose recitation is better than all of us. However, she is experiencing istihadah at the time. My question is, is it permissible for her to perform the prayer in congregation together with us and is my prayer valid if my imam is a person experiencing istihadah?
Hope for an explanation. Thank you.
Alhamdulillah, praise and thanks to Allah for the countless blessings He has blessed us all with. Blessings and salutations to the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his wives, his family, companions and all those that follow his teachings to the day of judgement.
Istihadah according to syarak is irregular uterine/vaginal bleeding due to an illness or disease in the vessel at the end of the vagina known as (العاذل) which occurs after the maximum duration of menstruation or lochia (post-natal bleeding) or continuous blood flow after the normal days of menstruation. (See al-Wajiz fi al-Fiqh al-Islami 1:126)
Woman experiencing istihadah is ruled as pure. Thus, it is permissible for istihadah woman (mustahadah) to perform prayer, fast and other worships. Imam al-Nawawi said:
الْمُسْتَحَاضَةَ كَالطَّاهِرِ فِي الصَّلَاةِ وَالصَّوْمِ وَالِاعْتِكَافِ وَالْقِرَاءَةِ وَغَيْرِهَا
“A woman experiencing istihadah is like (follows the ruling of) a pure person in (rulings of) prayer, fast, iktikaf, reciting al-Quran and others.” See al-Majmu’ (2/372).
The obligation commandment to pray for a woman who is experiencing istihadah is according to a hadith from Aisyah R.Anha, Fatimah binti Abu Hubaish came to meet the Prophet PBUH and asked:
يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ إِنِّى امْرَأَةٌ أُسْتَحَاضُ فَلاَ أَطْهُرُ أَفَأَدَعُ الصَّلاَةَ فَقَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ: لاَ إِنَّمَا ذَلِكِ عِرْقٌ وَلَيْسَ بِحَيْضَةِ فَإِذَا أَقْبَلَتْ حَيْضَةُ فاترُكي الصَّلاَةَ فإِذَا ذَهَبَ قدرها فَاغْسِلِى عَنْكِ الدَّمَ وَصَلِّى
“I am a woman whose blood keeps flowing (even after the menstruation period). I am never purified; should I, therefore, abandon prayer? He (the Holy Prophet) said: Not at all, for that is only a vein, and is not a menstruation, so when menstruation comes, abandon prayer, and when it ends wash the blood from yourself and then pray.”
Sahih al-Bukhari (306) and Sahih Muslim (333)
Imam al-Nawawi said that a woman makmum is permissible to pray with a woman imam who is experiencing istihadah and in a continuous state of hadas (impurity) and their prayer is valid. However, a woman makmum is impermissible to pray with a mutahayyarah woman . This is the sahih opinion in madhhab Syafie. (See Mughni al-Muhtaj (1/484); See Raudhah al-Tholibin (1/351). Mutahayyarah (مُتَحيَّرَة) woman is impermissible to be an imam regardless even if her makmum is also another mutahayyarah woman. (See Nihayah al-Muhtaj (2/172); See Tuhfah al-Muhtaj (2/289)
Imam Ibn Hajar explained the reason the prayer of the woman makmum who prays with a mustahadah woman is valid is because the prayer of a mustahadah woman is valid. If the makmum is also a mustahadah woman, then the congregational prayer is valid without any difference of opinions. (See Tuhfah al-Muhtaj (2/289; See Nihayah al-Muhtaj (2/172). Thus, a woman who is experiencing istihadah is permissible to perform congregational prayer whether it is to be the imam or makmum.
The ruling of a woman experiencing istihadah (mustahadah) is the same as those who are experiencing urinary incontinence (سَلِس الْبَوْل) which does not prevent her from performing prayer or fast. It is wajib for a woman experiencing urinary incontinence to wash her vagina and cover it (place wool and wear sanitary pad). Next, she has to perform the ablution after the time for prayer begins and immediately perform the prayer. If her prayer is delayed because of the preparation before prayer (matters related to prayer) such as covering the awrah, waiting for the congregation and others. All these do not affect her ablution (does not invalidate her ablution). However, if she delays her prayer without any necessity, then her ablution is invalidated according to the sahih opinion. It is wajib for a mustahadah to perform ablution for every obligatory prayer and change her cover (sanitary pad) according the most sahih opinion (al-ashah). (See Minhaj al-Thalibin 1/19)
For further information, please refer to our previous article titled Irsyad al-Fatwa Series 148: Ablution for Those Who Are Experiencing Urinary Incontinence and The Ruling of Them Being the Imam.
The best material to stop the flow of blood is an absorbent material such as cotton or cloth.
عن حَمْنةَ بِنتِ جَحشٍ، قالتْ: كُنتُ أُستَحاضُ حَيضةً كثيرةً شديدةً، فأَتَيْتُ رسولَ اللهِ صلَّى اللهُ عليه وسلَّم أَستَفتيهِ وأُخبِرُه، فوجَدْتُه في بَيِت أُختي زينبَ بنتِ جَحشٍ، فقُلْتُ: يا رسولَ اللهِ، إنِّي امرأةٌ أُستَحاضُ حَيضةً كثيرةً شديدةً، فما تَرى فيها؟ قد مَنَعَتْني الصَّلاةَ والصَّوْمَ، قال: أَنعَتُ لكِ الكُرْسُفَ؛ فإنَّه يُذهِبُ الدَّمَ، قالتْ: هو أَكثَرُ مِن ذلكَ، قال: فاتَّخِذي ثَوبًا
“Hamnah said my menstruation was great in quantity and severe. So I came to the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) for a decision and told him. I found him in the house of my sister, Zaynab, daughter of Jahsh.
I said: Messenger of Allah, I am a woman who menstruates in great quantity and it is severe, so what do you think about it? It has prevented me from praying and fasting.
He said: I suggest that you should use cotton, for it absorbs the blood. She replied: It is too copious for that. He said: Then take a cloth.”
Sunan Abu Daud (287)
After analysing the arguments of jurists, it is permissible for a woman experiencing istihadah to pray in congregation, whether she is the imam or makmum. Furthermore, a woman makmum who are not in hadas (in pure state) is permissible to be the makmum of a woman experiencing istihadah. However, what should be taken into consideration for imam or makmum who is experiencing istihadah is the correct method of purifying herself before prayer:
- Wash the vagina
- Wajib to change the cover of her vagina every time the time for prayer begins
- Perform ablution after the time for prayer begins (each ablution is only for one obligatory prayer and several sunnah prayers)
- Hasten the prayer unless for matters related to the preparation of prayer such as covering the awrah or waiting for the congregation
These matters are crucial to be practised by mustahadah to ensure the validity of her prayer.
Lastly, hopefully, this explanation will give a sahih understanding in practising the religion and living our lives in accordance with the real shariah. Amin.
 Mutahayyarah (confused/uncertain) woman is a term used to describe a woman who experiences continuous bleeding and forgets the duration of her normal menstruation cycle of when it starts and ends. (See al-Majmu Syarh Muhazab 2/459)