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Some Questions on the Waiting Period (Iddah)

Answered by Shaykh Ilyas Patel

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QUESTION: Can you please help me to understand the rulings on iddat? My current understanding is that a woman is not supposed to leave her house for the entire duration, unless necessary for earning a living or some other unavoidable task. This means, of course, that she would be indoors all the other days. If she has no need to work, then she would be inside all days.


In the Name of Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful,

The divine rulings of the Shariah are not based on our understanding from our intellect, but on the wisdom of the All-Wise and All-Merciful.

It is generally due to the lack of our faith that we do not understand the divine rulings and due to the extremely materialistic environment and mentality that has overcome us. It would be advisable to read a commentary on Surah al Talaq and the specific verses related to this issue. It is our duty to submit to Allah’s guidance, the Qur’an, for the Creator knows what is best for His creation.

It is mentioned in Hidaya as follows:

“And it is not permissible for a woman who was given a revocable divorce or one given a decisive divorce, to go out of her house; night or day. And the woman whose husband has passed away, can go out during the day and some part of the night but cannot stay the night in other than her house.

“As for the divorcees [mentioned above] because Allah mentions in the Qur’an , “Fear Allah your Lord. And do not make them go out of their houses, nor should they themselves go forth, unless they commit indecency. (Qur’an, Surat al Talaq: 1).

“It is said that indecency (fahisha) means mere going out. Others said it means adultery.

“And “…Nor should they themselves go forth,” means to perform the punishment [if adultery has been committed].

“And for the woman, whose husband has passed away, [she may go out] because she has no financial support, there she needs to go out during the day to a earn living, and it can be as long as the night enters. And this is not the case for the divorcees [mentioned above] because her financial support is coming from the wealth of her husband, and if she took divorce (khul’a) in return for remuneration given to the husband, it is said, she will go out [to seek her living] and it is said, she cannot go out, because she has given up her own right.” (Marghinani, Hidaaya, Babul Idda, pg 428)

It is mentioned in Hidaya in regard for the woman who was given a decisive divorce:

“As for the divorcee [who’s right of return to her husband has ceased because of completion of idda [waiting period]. And whose husband has passed away, if she is an adult is to avoid adornment. ……………..And our proof is which is narrated that the Prophet (Allah bless Him and give him peace) said, “It is prohibited for the one who is in her idda (waiting period) to dye (her hair) using henna.” And He said, “It [=henna] is a fragrance.” And it is compulsory upon her, to show remorse for the end of the favour of marriage, which was a means to protect her from indecency and support.”

“If a qualified Muslim doctor prescribes for her to go out of the house due to lightening and easing her sadness and distress. She will also be allowed to go out to her parents and return at night. If this is not enough, then enough to relieve her distress also, then she can remain in her parents house until she is in need to do so. For dire necessities make allow the prohibited.” (Zafar Uthmani, Imdad al Ahkam, 2: 827)

“If one has the fear of life, wealth or feels dire isolation, then one can live in a nearby house.” (Mufti Rashid, Ahsan al Fataawa, pg 441 Vol.5)

The wisdom of the idda (waiting period) is because to know if the womb of the woman is free i.e. if she has conceived or not. This can be known only during the three months.

This is mentioned in Hidaaya:

“And the idda (waiting period) is compulsory to know the womb being free, in the separation, which occurred after marriage.” (Marghinani, Hidaaya, Babul Idda, pg 422)

Note that divorcees are three types:

1) who has been given threefold divorce in return for remuneration given to the husband.

2) who has been given threefold divorce.

3) who was given a decisive divorce. (al-`Inaya Sharh al-Hidaya)

[Source: SunniPath]


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