Assalaamu alaikum..I wanted to know why the topic if haidh is soo complicated if its something every girl or woman should know about …such as knowing exact number of blood ,purity , habit place etc…shouldn’t this have been a simple topic ? And what about women from today or in the past who didn’t have access to calendars or clocks to always be recording this information? Why is it soo complicated now?
In the name of Allah, the Inspirer of truth
Thank you for your question. I will make two broad points which may help us understand this topic better.
Islamic Universalism and the differences between women across history, location, and socio-economic and political contexts.
There are a few inescapable truths in the fiqh of menstruation (hayd) that account for its complication. To understand this, consider the following.
Firstly, the Islamic message is universal – it has come for the whole of humanity. Islam has come for people of the far-east, Africa and the middle-east as much as it has come for people of the West. The final message has been upheld as the absolute truth from the Prophet’s time to the last day. The Islamic message has come for all locations and places, irrespective of cultures, socio-economic, political or historical contexts.
Place the female Muslim in all this diversity. While we can agree that women are not all the same, consider how women may differ based on location, culture, socio-economic, political and historical context. Consider how all of these varying factors may affect their menstrual cycle. Consider how something like diet, stress, or illness may affect one’s menstrual cycle, then consider how these may be amplified or decreased based on the woman’s location, historical context, socio-economic position. Consider all these various levels of intersectionality.
Moreover, a woman’s menstrual cycle is also different depending on her stage in the life-cycle. Thus, not only does the variation of menstrual cycles cut across various levels of intersectionality, but it is also affected by one’s stage in the life cycle.
Thus, the only conclusion we will take from this is that women will have different menstrual cycles by design. Their birth generation will affect their menstrual cycle; their diet will affect their menstrual cycle, and their cultural attitudes and practices will affect their menstrual cycle.
Based on all the above, we understand that it is not Islam that is making the rules of menstruation complicated. In fact, the laws of menstruation are reasonably simple in theory. It is only difficult in application because it must contend with the realities of life and the very nature of menstruation.
Islam has come with a universalistic message for all times and places – and as such, its rules of menstruation can also be applied to all times and places, irrespective of where they place at the intersection of cultures and histories. Therefore, the fiqh of menstruation is broad and comprehensive, and in principle, reasonably easy to understand. But differences across the various levels of intersectionality and the life-cycle make the rules so diverse.
Cultural habits and the example of navigation.
Think about navigation. Not long ago, people would use paper maps when driving. They would pull-up on the side of the road and would be able to read a map and know where they must go. What would be the result if one was to ask a millennial to navigate to a foreign destination using only a map? They are likely to struggle because there is a general culture of ignorance when it comes to using paper maps. If this millennial was to use the map for a year, they would not struggle to overcome this previous culture of ignorance. In comparison, our previous generation was used to using paper maps. What I am alluding to is that one’s culture – a culture of ignorance or awareness – affects their ability to compute and undertake certain tasks.
If one is attuned to the rules of menstruation, tracks their menstrual habit and is consistent with this, they will not find the rules nor the application of the rules too complicated. The difficulty is that we are trying to use paper-maps in an age of GPS navigation. Because one is not used to tracking these things, it seems difficult from the beginning.
The technology available to us now – calendars and clocks – have not made this task more difficult. The usage of calendars or clocks are not innovations that the jurists have made in recent memory. These considerations were taught to women from the medieval period who would use calendars, prayer-times, and other such markers of the day to track their habits. It is not more complicated now than it was previously. In actual fact, it has become easier because our tracking habits can be more precise.
I hope that these two reasons offer some insight into the perceived complications you are experiencing. I pray that Allah makes things easier for you, Ameen.
And Allah knows best.