Nifas (postnatal bleeding) is the blood that is discharged after a woman gives birth. Puerperal bleeding that occurs after a fetal miscarriage is also nifas, so long as the hands, feet, and head of the fetus have been formed. There is not a minimum duration for nifas. If no blood emerges from the vagina of a woman after childbirth, she is considered not to have experienced postnatal bleeding, so she continues to perform salat. If blood emerges, she discontinues salat. She has to take a ghusl (purificatory bath) and resume salat when bleeding ceases. However, she cannot engage in sexual intercourse before as many days as her habit pass [if she previously gave birth]. The maximum duration for postnatal bleeding is 40 days according to the Hanafi Madhhab. She has to take a ghusl and resume salat, even if there is bleeding, after 40 days are over. The blood discharged after she has completed 40 days is regarded as istihada (flux of blood from a woman other than menstrual and postnatal bleeding). Therefore, it is necessary for a woman to keep track of the duration of her postnatal bleedings and to record them.

In the case of a miscarried fetus on which finger, mouth, or nose has appeared, it is treated as if she gave birth to a whole baby. If none of its body parts have been formed, the blood coming after miscarriage is not considered postnatal bleeding. But if it flows for 3 or more days and if 15 or more days have passed since the end of her last menstruation, then this bleeding is considered menstrual bleeding. If it lasts for less than 3 days or if 15 days have not passed since the end of her last menstruation, then this bleeding is considered istihada. A woman experiencing this bleeding can perform salat and fast. She does not have to take a ghusl to engage in sexual intercourse.

If 1 day or 2 days of purity fall within the 10-day period of menstruation or 40-day period of postnatal bleeding and if a woman in this state, thinking that the bleeding has stopped, takes a ghusl and observes fasts and then the bleeding restarts within the duration mentioned, she has to make up those fasts as this bleeding is considered menstruation or postnatal bleeding. She has to take a ghusl again when it stops. If [in the case of menstruation] blood flows for 3 days or more and ceases before the length of her habit, she has to take a ghusl and resume salat. But it is not permissible for her to have sexual intercourse before as many days as her habit pass. The case is the same with postnatal bleeding.

If bleeding goes over the length of her habit for menstruation and continues during 10-day period or ceases before 10 days are over, the days on which blood flowed are considered menstruation. If bleeding exceeds 10 days, then the days going over the length of her habit do not count as menstruation. She has to make up later the salats that she missed during the days that have exceeded the length of her habit and thus are considered the days of istihada. The 40-day period of postnatal bleeding is like the 10-day period of menstruation. That is, if bleeding goes over the length of her norm in postnatal bleeding and continues to flow within the 40-day period or ceases before 40 days are over, the days on which blood flowed are considered postnatal bleeding. If the bleeding exceeds 40 days, then the days going over the length of her habit are considered istihada. She has to make up later the salats that she missed during the days that have exceeded her norm in postnatal bleeding and thus are considered the days of istihada.

Examples concerning a woman who has given birth to her first baby:

1. If a woman bleeds for 30 days after the birth of her first child, then the full 30 days are considered postnatal bleeding (nifas). She takes a ghusl and resumes salat when the bleeding ceases. As blood has not flowed from the 31st day to the 40th day, her habit for postnatal bleeding is considered 30 days.

2. If a woman bleeds for 40 days after the birth of her first child, the full 40 days are considered postnatal bleeding. She takes a ghusl at the completion of 40 days and resumes salat, even if the bleeding has not stopped.

3. If a woman bleeds for 45 days after the birth of her first child, 40 days are considered postnatal bleeding and 5 days are considered istihada. She takes a ghusl on the 41st day and resumes salat, even though there is bleeding.

4. If a woman, after the birth of her first child, bleeds for 5 days and does not see blood for 30 days and bleeds for 5 days, 30 days of purity in between are treated as if blood flowed during these days as well. The full 40 days are considered postnatal bleeding. After 40 days are over, she takes a ghusl and resumes salat, even if there is bleeding.

5. If a woman, after the birth of her first child, bleeds for 5 days and does not see blood for 30 days and bleeds for 10 days, 30 days of purity in between are treated as if blood flowed during these days as well. This bleeding involves istihada as it has exceeded 40 days. The first 40 days are considered postnatal bleeding and the last 5 days are considered istihada. She takes a ghusl on the 41st day, though blood continues to flow, and resumes salat because the blood flowing thereafter is considered istihada.

6. If a woman bleeds for 60 consecutive days after the birth of her first child, it means that there is istihada as the bleeding has exceeded 40 days. The first 40 days are considered postnatal bleeding and the following 15 days are considered istihada. As 15 days of istihada are counted as the days of purity, the blood coming after these days is considered to be the blood of menstruation. That is, the last 5 days of 60 days of bleeding are considered menstruation. She takes a ghusl on the 41st day and resumes salat. She discontinues it at the completion of 15 days of istihada, that is, on the 56th day. She takes a ghusl and resumes salat on the 61st day, when the bleeding stops.

Examples concerning a woman who has given birth to her second or third baby:

7. Supposing a woman’s habit for postnatal bleeding is 35 days. If she bleeds for 29 days this time, her habit for postnatal bleeding changes to 29 days. She takes a ghusl when the bleeding ceases and resumes salat. But it is not permissible for her to engage in sexual intercourse until she completes 35 days, which was her previous habit.

8. Supposing a woman’s habit for postnatal bleeding is 33 days. If she bleeds for 42 days this time, there is istihada as the bleeding has exceeded 40 days. In this case, the length of her previous habit is considered to be her postnatal bleeding for this birth. That is, the first 33 days are considered postnatal bleeding and the next 9 days are considered istihada. Her norm in postnatal bleeding has not changed.

She has to take a ghusl on the 41st day and resume salat, even though there is bleeding, as it is considered istihada. Additionally, she has to make up later the salats that she missed during 7 days, namely, from the 34th day to 40th day, which are considered to be the days of istihada.

9. Supposing a woman’s habit for postnatal bleeding is 20 days. If she, after she has given birth to her second baby, bleeds for 5 days and does not see blood for 30 days and bleeds for 1 day, 30 days of purity in between are treated as if blood flowed during these days as well. Her norm changes to 36 days. She takes a ghusl and resumes salat when the bleeding stops.

Şamil Aykut

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