The waiting period and its purpose

The waiting period and its purpose

source :Osoul Global Center

A waiting period is the time a woman waits after her husband's death to remarry. If she is not pregnant her waiting period is 4 months and 10 days, if she is pregnant her waiting period lasts until she gives birth.

The waiting period and its purpose

Definition: The [iddah is an Arabic word which refers to a specific period, caused by divorce or her husband’s death, during which a woman should wait by herself as an act of worship, or to ensure that she is not pregnant, or in mourning for her husband.[1] It is valid according to the Qur’an, the Sunnah and the unanimity of scholars.

In the Qur’an, Allah says:

‘Divorced women shall wait, by themselves, for three monthly courses’

(2:228)

‘As for those of your women who are beyond the age of monthly courses, as well as for those who do not have any courses, their waiting period, if you have any doubt, is three months. As for those who are with child, their waiting term shall end when they deliver their burden’

(65:4)

‘Those of you who die leaving wives behind, their wives shall wait, by themselves, for four months and 10 days’

(2:234)

Al-Miswar ibn Makhramah, a Companion of the Prophet, (peace be upon him), says that:

‘Sabi'ah al-Aslamiyyah became a widow, and a few days later, she gave birth to her child. She went to the Prophet (peace be upon him) to ask permission to get married. The permission was granted and she got married.’

Related by al-Bukhari, hadith No. 5,320

Other hadiths confirm this.

The waiting period is required to ensure that the woman is not pregnant, so that parenthood of the child cannot be confused. On the other hand, in cases of divorce it allows the husband to reconsider his action if the divorce is revocable. When he has thought carefully about the matter he may consider the reinstatement of his marriage. Thus, it serves as a cooling off period and safeguards the rights of the child in case the woman is pregnant.

The waiting period is of two types:

1-After her husband’s death: A woman whose husband has died must observe a waiting period. If she is pregnant, her waiting period lasts until she has given birth, even if the birth takes place within an hour of the husband’s death.

:Allah  says

‘As for those who are with child, their waiting term shall end when they deliver their burden’

(65:4)

This is confirmed by the above-quoted hadith concerning Sabi'ah al-Aslamiyyah.

If the widow is not pregnant her waiting period is four months and 10 days, whether the marriage has been consummated or not. The following verse applies to all women who lose their husbands and are not pregnant:

‘Those of you who die leaving wives behind, their wives shall wait, by themselves, for four months and ten days’

(2:234)

2-After divorce: When a marriage is terminated by divorce or a judge’s order, the woman must observe a waiting period. If she is pregnant, her waiting period lasts until she has given birth. Allah says:

‘As for those who are with child, their waiting term shall end when they deliver their burden’

(65:4)

If she is not pregnant, her waiting period lasts until she has completed three periods of cleanliness from menstruation after the termination of the marriage. Allah says:


‘Divorced women shall wait, by themselves, for three monthly courses. It is unlawful for them to conceal what God might have created in their wombs, if they believe in God and the Last Day’

(2:228)

. If the woman does not go through the menstrual cycle, either because of some condition or because she is  past-menopause, her waiting period is three months.

:Allah says

‘As for those of your women who are beyond the age of monthly courses, as well as for those who do not have any courses, their waiting period, if you have any doubt, is three months’  

(65:4)

If a man divorces his wife before their marriage has been consummated, i.e. without having sexual intercourse, she does not have to observe any waiting period.

:Allah says

‘Believers! If you marry believing women and then divorce them before the marriage is consummated, you have no reason to expect them to observe a waiting period. Hence, provide well for them and release them in a becoming manner’

(33:49)

references

  1. Ibn Qudamah, Al-Mughni, vol. 7, p. 448


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