Answered by Umm Khaleel
The term ‘iddah (or “waiting period”) refers to the period of time
that follows a woman’s divorce or the death of her husband. The length
of time varies somewhat based on the situation; in general for a
divorcee it corresponds to three menstrual periods for the menstruating
woman; three consecutive months if she is not menstruating (such as a
post-menopausal woman); or the duration of her pregnancy if she
happened to be pregnant at the time of the divorce. For a widow, the
waiting period is generally four months and ten days.
During the ‘iddah, the woman is to continue to reside in the marital
home (where she used to live with her husband), even if this waiting
period must be observed due to divorce. She is asked to remain within
the home as much as possible (unless some dire necessity compels her to
leave or stay elsewhere, such as the need to earn money to support
herself, or the need to find a safer place to live if she is at risk in
her marital home, etc.) She is not allowed to contract a new marriage
with another person, and she is to refrain from looking into new
marriage proposals until after the waiting period is over. The husband
must continue to provide for the divorcee during the entirety of the
waiting period, and if she is a widow then her maintenance must be
taken from the husband’s estate. If she is a widow or has been
irrevocably divorced from her husband, then she must avoid
ornamentation, make-up, etc. However, if she has been given a revocable
divorce (a talaq raj‘i, in which no new contract is needed for the
husband to take her back), she is encouraged to continue to beautify
and ornament herself.
There are a number of wisdoms behind the need for this waiting period.
Some of these are: 1) making sure that she is not pregnant, so that
there would be no confusion on who the father of the child is if the
woman were to remarry and get pregnant right away; 2) to help couples,
families, and communities understand the gravity and sanctity of
marriage; 3) in cases of divorce, the waiting period provides time for
reconciliation and reconsideration, particularly if the divorce took
place on the insistence of the husband; and 4) as an expression of
grief on the passing of the deceased husband.
Please search the archives for more answers relating to ‘iddah.
MMVIII © Qibla.
All rights reserved
No part of this article may be reproduced, displayed, modified, or distributed without the express prior written permission of the copyright holder. For permission, please submit a request at our Helpdesk.
The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, "Knowledge is only through study." While some knowledge can be gained from reading or casually listening to lectures, the best means to gain knowledge is through finding a qualified teacher and then setting up a systematic program of learning. Picking up a book or reading an article and trying to figure things out on our own is no substitute for learning from someone who has a direct link to our living tradition.
Through joining an online class at Qibla, you can benefit from convenient, online courses that will give you access to reliable scholars and our popular curriculum learning tracks. Knowledge gained in these courses will both build your iman and assist you in putting into practice what you learn. Don't give yourself less than you deserve, register today.