Bismi Llahir Rahmanir Rahim
by Naielah Ackbarali
The rulings of the excused person are used by anyone whose ablution (wudu) continues to break due to the reoccurrence of a wudu nullifier for an entire prescribed prayer time.
A woman who is experiencing abnormal vaginal bleeding (istihada) may resort to these rulings, providing that she first meets the conditions for establishing the excused person status.
This means that a woman is not automatically considered an excused person by merely seeing istihada. Rather, it depends on the nature of her blood flow and if it is possible for her to block the bleeding from exiting. For more details about how a woman with istihada prays, please refer to this article.
The remainder of this article will detail:
- What is the excused person status?
- How is the excused person status established?
- What happens after establishing the excuse?
- How is the excused person status maintained?
- Does wudu break for the excused person?
- How is the excused person status lost?
WHAT IS THE EXCUSED PERSON STATUS?
For a woman with normal ritual purity, whenever blood exits the vagina, her wudu breaks. However, for the excused person, this is not the case. She is granted a special status which permits ease in practicing specific rulings related to ritual purity.
With the excused status, a woman with istihada can make wudu, and even if the bleeding continues to flow from her vagina, her wudu remains valid. She can perform regular acts of worship – such as praying, making tawaf, and touching the Qur’an – without being obliged to renew her wudu if the bleeding continues to exit within the same prayer time.
However, the excused person’s rulings do not apply to every woman who is experiencing istihada. The matter returns to the amount of blood she is seeing and if she can establish the excuse based on the conditions stated by the scholars.
HOW IS THE EXCUSED PERSON STATUS ESTABLISHED?
A woman with istihada cannot resort to the rulings of the excused person without first establishing the excused person status.
There are three conditions that must be met in order to establish the excused person status. ALL three of these conditions MUST be fulfilled.
- The excuse is constant (which in this case would be vaginal bleeding),
- such that a person cannot make wudu and pray the obligatory prayer without the excuse occurring,
- and this circumstance lasts for an entire prescribed prayer time.
Thus, the vaginal bleeding must be a constant flow to the extent that it is impossible for a woman to make wudu and pray her obligatory prayer without vaginal blood exiting. This obviously poses a problem because she is obliged to pray, but she cannot keep a valid wudu due to the blood exiting.
Additionally, this circumstance must last for an entire prescribed prayer time – meaning from the very beginning of a prescribed prayer time to its end. The prescribed prayer times refer to any of the five obligatory prayer times, which are Fajr, Zhuhr, Asr, Maghrib, and Isha.
For example, Fajr enters at 5 am and exits at 6:30 am. The excuse would need to be active for the entire prescribed prayer time – meaning from the entrance of Fajr at 5 am all the way until its exit at 6:30 am.
The time between the exiting of Fajr to the entering of Zuhr is not a prescribed prayer time, and it would not count towards establishing the excuse.
The following scenario is a straight-forward example of how to establish the excuse:
A woman sees istihada at 12 pm and it is a heavy flow. Zhuhr enters at 12:30 pm. She sees blood from the time Zhuhr enters all the way until it exits at 3 pm.
The first step is to see if it is possible that the bleeding will stop within the prayer time such that she can make a valid wudu and offer the Zhuhr prayer. For this reason, she does not pray immediately because she needs to see if the blood will cease.
If the bleeding ceases at any point within Zuhr, then she makes wudu and prays normally. Moreover, if the bleeding does not last an entire prescribed prayer time, she will not establish the excused person’s status.
However, in this situation, the bleeding continues within the prayer time. Thus, she is obliged to wait until the very end of Zhuhr, such that she has enough time to make wudu and pray the obligatory prayer completely before Zhuhr exits.
At 2:55 pm, she makes wudu and prays the entire Zhuhr prayer in its prescribed time, despite the blood exiting while she makes wudu and prays.
When Asr time enters, the bleeding continues. She has officially established the excused person status at the entering of Asr.
In this scenario, all three conditions were met to establish the excuse.
- Was the blood constant? Yes
- Was it impossible for her to make wudu and pray her obligatory prayer without something exiting? Yes
- Was this her situation for an entire obligatory prayer time? Yes
A question may arise of what one does if bleeding starts in the middle of the prayer time. How does one establish the excuse? Please read this article for details.
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER ESTABLISHING THE EXCUSE?
After establishing the excused status, a woman is now classed as an ‘excused person.’ Having the excused person status means that she can perform all her worship within each subsequent prayer time with the same wudu.
For example, she can make wudu and pray her obligatory and sunna prayers, even though vaginal bleeding exits during the wudu or prayers. The same applies to touching the Qur’an, making tawaf, and all acts of worship that require ritual purity.
Thus, the wudu of an excused person is not nullified by the reoccurrence of the excuse within the same prayer time.
However, this is ONLY if the wudu was made for the excuse. Making wudu for the excuse means that a woman saw vaginal bleeding and this is the reason that she is performing wudu.
When the prayer time exits, ritual purity is nullified and she will need to make a new wudu.
HOW IS THE EXCUSED PERSON STATUS MAINTAINED?
There is only one condition needed in order to maintain the excused person status:
- The excuse occurs at least once in every subsequent prayer time.
After the excuse is established, in order to maintain this special status and keep the ability to resort to its rulings, the excused person needs to see the excuse happen at least once in every subsequent prayer time.
Thus, in order to establish this status, the excuse must be ongoing for an entire prayer time – from its beginning to its end. Thereafter, it becomes easier. In order to maintain this status, the excused woman only needs to see vaginal bleeding at least once in every subsequent prayer time – meaning that there is no condition for the bleeding to remain constant.
For example, looking at the sample scenario again, she established the excuse when the Asr prayer time entered. As a result, she only needs to see vaginal bleeding once in Asr, and once in Maghrib, and once in Isha in order to continue using the dispensations associated with this status.
DOES THE EXCUSED PERSON’S WUDU BREAK?
There are three basic ways that an excused person’s wudu breaks:
- With the exiting of every prayer time if wudu was made because of the excuse.
- Due to other wudu nullifiers occurring that are not because of the excuse.
- When the excuse becomes active after it was inactive.
Case 1: With the exiting of every prayer time if wudu was made because of the excuse.
Whenever the prescribed prayer time exits, the excused woman’s wudu is automatically nullified, providing that the wudu was made due to the excuse.
This does not mean that she loses the excused person status. Rather, it means that she must make a new wudu for each new prayer time, providing that the wudu was originally made for the excuse.
For example, a woman established the excuse with the Zhuhr prayer time. She sees constant bleeding for the next 48 hours. Every time the prayer time exits, her wudu automatically breaks and she will need to make a new wudu before she performs her worship.
There are two consequences to this ruling.
The first consequence is that an excused person cannot make wudu before the upcoming prayer time enters since the wudu nullifies once the current prayer time exits.
The second consequence is that the excused person must finish praying the obligatory prayer of that prayer time before the prayer time elapses. Otherwise, the prayer is invalid since the excused person’s wudu breaks with the exiting of the current prayer time. The excused person is not permitted to build on this prayer once the prayer time exits.
Case 2: Due to other wudu nullifiers occurring that are not because of the excuse.
This means that the excused woman’s wudu breaks by another wudu nullifier that is not related to the excuse. For instance, the excused woman urinates, defecates, passes gas, or blood flows from her cut finger.
She did not originally establish the excuse for these wudu nullifiers. Her excuse was established because of vaginal blood exiting and not for any other reason.
Thus, even though she may see a constant flow of vaginal blood, whenever another wudu nullifier occurs, her wudu breaks.
Case 3: When the excuse becomes active after it was inactive.
This applies to an excused person whose excuse is no longer constant, but rather it is seen on and off within a prayer time.
The scholars give several examples to demonstrate the various rulings related to this type of situation. For the sake of brevity, a simple scenario will be shared.
For example, an excused woman’s istihada is dying down; she is now only seeing spotting in-between prayer times. At 1 pm, she goes to the bathroom, and she does not see any vaginal bleeding. She makes her wudu and prays Zhuhr while the excuse is not active. At 2 pm, vaginal blood exits.
Her wudu is nullified with the exiting of vaginal blood at 2 pm. Because her excuse was inactive when she made wudu at 1 pm, once it becomes active again at 2 pm, her wudu will be nullified. However, her Zhuhr prayer remains valid.
If the excused woman is experiencing an on and off flow, it is possible that she may make wudu when the excuse is inactive and the prayer time exits while she is still on this same wudu.
In such a situation, the wudu will not break due to the exiting of the prayer time because this wudu was not made for the excuse. It is a complete and valid wudu that was made without any blood exiting. Therefore, the prayer time exiting will not impact its validity.
However, if the excuse becomes active again or another wudu nullifier occurs thereafter, this wudu is nullified.
HOW IS THE EXCUSED PERSON STATUS LOST?
There is only one condition needed for the excused person status to be lost:
- The excuse does not occur for an entire prescribed prayer time.
Losing the excused person status means that the excused person is no longer able to resort to its rulings.
It is lost whenever there is no occurrence of the excuse whatsoever from the beginning to the end of a prescribed prayer time.
For example, a woman established the excuse and has been praying with its rulings for the past two days.
On the third day, she sees blood until 4 pm at Asr time. When Maghrib enters, she does not see anything. She makes wudu and prays Maghrib.
When Maghrib exits, she still has not seen anything. Therefore,from the beginning to the end of the entire Maghrib prayer time, she does not see any vaginal blood.
When Isha enters, her excused status is lost. She cannot use the rulings related to the excused person anymore. Rather, she must go through the whole process again for establishing the excuse.
Thus, losing the excused person status is only known in hindsight when an entire prayer time elapses without experiencing the excuse. When this happens, it is confirmed that the status is lost.
The following is a basic summary of the rulings:
Check out these articles related to istihada and the excused person:
Check out our courses for more details about the general rulings of worship and menstruation.
- Imam ibn Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar
- Imam ibn Abidin, Manhal al-Waridin
- Imam Shurunbulali, Maraqi al-Falah
- Imam Shurunbulali, Imdad al-Fattah
- Imam Tahtawi, Hashiyya al-Tahtawi
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