In the name of Allah,
Nifass is bleeding that results from pregnant women giving birth. It may occur before, during, or after birth. The utmost recognizable length of nifas according to Islam is forty days, but it may be less for some women. Bleeding after 40 days is Istihadah.
A pregnant woman sees blood a few days before she gives birth
If blood comes two to three days before birth with signs like discomfort or cramping, it is nifaas blood. If not, it is irregular bleeding, which does not require her to stop fasting or praying. This has been discussed here.
Minimum postnatal bleeding length
According to the four schools of law and Ibn Hazm al-Zahiri, there is no minimum postnatal bleeding length. As mentioned in The Mukhtaṣar of al-Akhḍarī, a Maliki book:
Nifās is like ḥayd in terms of what it prevents. The longest it can be is 60 days. If the blood stops before that, even on the day of the birth, she performs ghusl and prays[i].
The maximum period of Nifas
Scholars disagree about how long nifaas are (the post-natal bleeding period). Some scholars say 40 days, some say 60 days, and some say no limit. Most agree that 40 days is the limit.
The timeframe is sixty days, according to Maaliki and Shaafi’i. This number is based on a census that Imaam Ash-Shaafi’i carried out during his lifetime[ii].
Ibn Rushd (a Maliki Scholar) mentioned that Imam Malik initially said sixty days was the maximum, but he later altered his mind and said the lady should be asked, but his followers kept to his first opinion. This was Al Shafis’s opinion. Most of the companions agreed that it is forty days, as Abu Haneefah did. Some scholars said that male births take 30 days and female births take 40.[iii].
A woman can experience postnatal bleeding for a maximum of forty days. This is the Hanafi/Hanbali view. The Permanent Committee, Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr, and al-Shawkani all favor it. Al-Tirmidhi and Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr cite the Companions as agreeing with this, which is the opinion of most scholars. (Allah be pleased with them).
At-Tirmizhi states, “The knowledgeable companions, the succeeding generation, and those that followed after agree that a woman having post-childbirth bleeding had to stop praying for forty days unless her blood stopped.” If the blood ends before then, she should make a ghusl and pray. If she sees blood after 40 days, many scholars say she shouldn’t stop praying.[iv]”
The classical Hanafi book Al Hidaya stated:
The longest a nifaas can last is forty days. After that, it’s called “extended bleeding.” “The Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) fixed a limit of forty days for a woman with postnatal bleeding,” said Umm Salamah (Allah be pleased with her). It is proof against al-Shafii (Allah have mercy on him), who claimed that the maximum is sixty days[v].
Imam ash Shawkani said:
Another view is that post-natal bleeding women should sit for 60 days. Some said seventy days, others fifty, and still others twenty-plus days. The truth is however the first view. (That says it forty)[vi].
However, Sheikh Uthaymeen as well as Ibn Taymiyyah does not restrict the time to forty days. He said:
‘Postpartum blood has no set length. While bleeding, the woman should not pray or fast, nor should have sex with her husband. If a woman becomes pure before the forty days, she should pray and fast and her husband can have sex with her. Post-partum blood is visible and its rulings depend on it. So, postpartum bleeding rules apply when there is blood, but not when there isn’t. If the bleeding lasts longer than sixty days, it is vaginal bleeding, not postpartum bleeding, and she should stop praying only for the normal number of days of menstruation. After sixty days, she should perform Ghusl and pray[vii].
Shayekul Islam Ibn Taymeeyah stated: “Nifass has no limit on its shorter or longer periods. If a woman’s blood flow ends after forty, sixty, or seventy days, It’s Nifass. However, if the bleeding persists, Nifass is set at forty days because most women experience this time.
This author stated that if a woman’s bleeding persists beyond forty days and there are signs that it will stop (based on prior pregnancies or other signs), she should wait until it stops. If a woman doesn’t have any of these signs, she bathes after forty days, as most women do. If she gets her period after 40 days, she should wait. If the blood continues after her usual period, she is a Mustahadah[viii].
It is narrated by Umm Salama who said, “A Prophet’s (peace and blessings be upon him) wife used to remain in (a state of) nifaas for forty nights and the Prophet would not ask her to make up the prayers she missed during the period of nifaas”[ix].
Ibn Majah also reported that Anas, may Allaah be pleased with him, narrated that “The Prophet had specified a period of forty days for the nufasaa’ unless she achieves tuhr before that.’[x]
Thus, if a woman with post-childbirth bleeding sees blood after forty days, it is istihaadha. (womb bleeding between periods). This doesn’t prevent her from praying or fasting as long as the conclusion of the forty days does not coincide with her monthly cycle. In this case, she would regard this blood to be menstruation blood. This view is the most convincing because it is supported by evidence.
May Allah’s peace and blessings be on the last and final prophet
[i] The Abridgement of al-Akhdari By the great scholar Abdul Rahman al-Akhdari Translated by Muhammad Rami Nsour al-Idrisi, page 24
[ii] Differences in Fiqh Made Easy: At-Taharah (Purification) As-Salaah (Prayer) Prepared by: Mohamed Baianonie Imam, Page 70
[iii] The Distinguished Jurist’s primer, Bidayat al Mujtahid wa Nihayat al Muqtasid, Ibn Rushd Vol 1- page 54
[iv] Fiqh us sunnah, Sayed Sabiq, Page 42
[v] Al-Hidayah THE GUIDANCE, Burhan Al Din Al Farghani Al Marghinani, Book of Fasting, page 67
[vi] Shawkani, Muhammad bin Aliy, (2019). Comprehensive Islamic jurisprudence, According to the Quraan and authentic Sunnah, trans: Abu Aisha Murtadha Salahuddin. Malaysia: Dakwah Corner Bookstore. Page 77
[viii] NATURAL BLOOD OF WOMEN By Shaykh Muhammad bin Salih Al-Utheimeen, Translated & Researched by Saleh-As.Saleh S . Dr, Published & Distributed by Daar Al-Bukhari, page 35
[ix] Imam Ahmad, Abu Dawood, Ibn Majah, and Al-Daraami and is classified as hasan by Al-Albaani in Irwaa’ Al-Ghaleel # 201. Al-Albaani has supported this narration by another hadeeth reported by Abu Dawood