Questions on Iddat

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Relevant Material

Rules on Iddat After Divorce or the Death of the Husband
(Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanwi)

Miscellaneous Fatwas Related to Marriage
(Maulana A S Desai)


Q. What is Iddat?

A. Iddat is a waiting period a woman has to undergo after either Talaaq (Divorce) or death of her husband. The Iddat of Talaaq is a period of three haidhs (menstrual cycles) according to the Hanafi Mathhab, and according to the Shaafi’ Math-hab it is three tuhrs. A tuhr is the clean period after haidh. The Iddat of Talaaq commences from the very moment the husband has issued Talaaq. However, if he has sinfully issued Talaaq during the wife’s haidh, then although the Iddat begins immediately, this haidh period is not enumerated among the three. The Iddat consists of three full haidh cycles, not two and a part. If the husband had issued Talaaq Raj’i (Revocable Divorce), and if he does not reconcile with his wife before expiry of the Iddat, the Talaaq is transformed into Talaaq Baain. Such a Talaaq is irrevocable. Reconciliation without Nikah is not valid. However, a new Nikah does not cancel the Talaaq. The Talaaq remains suspended and comes into effect with any future Talaaq. Thus, if after two Talaaqs, reconciliation took place, one more Talaaq issued will be the end of the road. All three Talaaqs take immediate effect and reconciliation is then no longer valid.


Q. Is the iddat of a divorcee three months?

A. The iddat of a menstruating woman is three haidh periods. The haidh period in which the Talaaq is given is not counted. Three full haidh periods will be her iddat. The iddat of an old woman beyond the age of haidh is three months from the day of Talaaq.


Q. How long is the Iddat of a woman whose marriage was annulled by Khulah?

A. The iddat in any form of divorce is three haidhs (menstrual cycles).


Q. What is the Iddat of a woman in a Khula’ separation?

A. The iddat of Khula’ is the same as the iddat for Talaaq which consists of three haidh (menses) periods, and if the woman is pregnant, then until delivery of the babe.


Q. My husband died a month ago. I have read somewhere that after the death of the husband the wife should spend a period known as the Iddat in her husband’s home. What I would like to know is whether it is permissible for the wife of the deceased to visit her relatives while she is in her Iddat?
A. When the husband dies the wife has to spend a while in lddat. The lddat, if she is not pregnant is four months and ten days and if pregnant is until delivery of the babe. During the Iddat it is not permissible for the woman to leave the residence of her husband, i.e. the home in which she resided at the time of her husband’s death. However, she will he permitted to leave her home if there is strong cause or a valid Islamic reason. Thus leaving the home during the Iddat for visiting relatives is not permissible.


Q. A woman was given Talaaq during her haidh period. Is this haidh period counted as the first of the three haidhs which form her iddat?
A. The period during which the Talaaq was given is not part of the three haidhs. The first haidh will be after she gets her tuhr (period of purity). Her iddat commences from the time she was given Talaaq, but the three haidhs have to be three complete cycles.


Q. A woman was divorced. After one haidh period ended, several months have lapsed without the next haidh commencing. How should her iddat be determined?
A. The divorced woman has to wait until she receives her third haidh and after its ending will she be free from her Iddat. Regardless of the delay in the third haidh, she has to wait in Iddat until the haidh arrives. The iddat of a woman beyond the age of haidh is three months. But for a woman who does experience haidh, the iddat will remain three haidhs, irrespective of the time.


Q. A practicing Shaafi lady married to a Hanafi man was divorced during her tuhr. Does she have to observe iddat in terms of the Hanafi or Shaafi Math-hab? Also explain how the three periods of the iddat have to be calculated.
A. She has to observe iddat according to the Shaafi Math-hab. Her iddat consists of three Tuhr periods. A Tuhr is the period of purity between two haidh (menses) periods. In her case the Tuhrs will be counted after the haidh which followed the Tuhr period in which she received her Talaaq. The Tuhr in which the Talaaq was given will not be counted.


Q. A man divorced his wife the same day the Nikah was performed. After the Nikah the woman remained by her parents. They never were together. What is the rule of the Iddat for her?
A. Since the marriage was not consummated in any way whatsoever, the divorced woman does not have to sit in iddat. There is no iddat for her.


Q. A woman whose husband has died is 75 years old. What is her Iddat?

A. The iddat of a woman whose husband has died is four months and ten days even if she is 75 years old.


Q. A person said that a very old woman who does not menstruate does not have to observe Iddat when her husband dies. Is this correct?

A. Even a very old woman of more than a century, has to observe the Iddat of four months and ten days when her husband dies. What some people are saying is baseless.


Q. Is it permissible for a woman in Iddat to go in her backyard to hang up clothing?
A. It is permissible.


Q. Is it permissible for a lady in Iddat to go into her enclosed backyard?
A. It is permissible for a lady in her iddat to go into her enclosed yard for any valid purpose, whether to relax, do washing, gardening, etc.


Q. Can a woman spend her iddat in the home of her sister and brother-in-law?
A. It is not permissible. She has to compulsorily spend her iddat in the house which was at one time her marital home. If for some valid reason she is unable to stay in her previous marital home, she should live with her parents or brothers or some other mahram, not with her brother-in-law. This is not permissible.


Q. A woman in her Iddat moves from house to house. Is this permissible?

A. It is haraam for a woman in her iddat to move from house to house without valid Shar’i reason.


Q. Is it permissible for a widow to attend a court hearing during her Iddat? The man who had killed her husband is being tried in court. The widow attends the hearing.

A. It is haraam for the widow to attend the court hearing during her iddat if she has not been subpoenaed to attend. If she attended merely to hear the proceedings, then she was sitting in court under the La’nat (Curse) of Allah Ta’ala. In fact, it is not at all permissible for women to attend courts merely to listen to proceedings even if they are not in Iddat.


Q. A female who is in iddat has to leave home to write exams. Is it permissible?

A. It is not permissible to leave the home to write exams during your iddat. The iddat is Waajib. It is Allah’s command. You may not violate the command of Allah Ta’ala for a worldly need which is not even a role ordained for woman by Allah Ta’ala.


Q. If medical tests confirm beyond doubt that a widow is not pregnant, will it be permissible for her to end her Iddat before four months and ten days?
A. It will never be permissible for a woman to forego her iddat regardless of the conclusions of medical examination. Even if it is confirmed that she is not pregnant, she has to observe the mandatory Iddat period.

Q. A Muslim woman's non-Muslim husband died. Does she have to observe Iddat?

A. The Muslim woman did not have a husband. Marriage to a kaafir male is not valid. She was therefore living in the state of adultery with the man. Nevertheless, she has to remain in Iddat which is a period of three haidhs (menses) from the time of separation.


Q. Some people say that immediately the Iddat of a widow expires, she should dress smartly and step out of the house. Is this correct?

A. No, a woman does not have to step out of the house immediately or at any time after expiry of her iddat. The claim of the aunties regarding dressing smartly, etc. is baseless.

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