DESCRIPTION OF 'IDDAT
(The Waiting Period )
Allah Ta'ala says in the Qur'an regarding the waiting period for the women;
‘If anyone amongst you die leaving behind their wives, they (wives) should wait, keep themselves away from nikaah, for the period of four months and ten days.”
One of the wives of Rasulullah (SAWS) asked him, ‘O Rasulullah, the husband of so and so woman has died. Can she go out of the house to attend some urgent tasks?' Rasulullah (SAWS) expressed his disgust and disappointment to this remark and said to her, ‘What has happened to you? Before I was sent as a Prophet, you were the same women, when one of you became widow, she would pick up the droppings of animals and throw it behind her back and say, “I will not use collyrium (surma) for my eyes; nor comb my hair; nor use mehdi for the whole year.”' I have ordered you to wait only for four months and ten days and yet you cannot have patience. Tell her not to comb her hair, or use mehdi, or use collyrium (surma), or use ornaments, tell her not to go out of her house during the day, and not to stay out of her house at night. The woman said, ‘O Rasulullah (SAWS), what she is supposed to do if an important matter arises?' Rasulullah (SAWS) said, ‘She should go out after the midnight or in the early hours of morning and return after the sunset so that she does not pass the night out of the house.' She can marry after the waiting period of four months and ten days.
Hazrat Ali (AS) has said, “A woman should compulsorily observe the period of ‘Iddat for four months and ten days whose husband had died, whether she has attained the puberty or not, whether she menstruates or not, whether she is pregnant or not.” If a woman is pregnant and gives birth to a child before completing the period of ‘Iddat, then she should complete the remaining days of it before re-marrying, and if she is expected to deliver a child after the period of ‘Iddat, then she should wait until she gives birth to a child.
If the woman is pregnant, and her husband divorces her by a revocable divorce and then dies before childbirth, the woman has to begin the ‘iddat for her deceased husband, so long as her previous ‘iddat of divorce has not been completed. But if the Talaaq is irrevocable, and he divorces her while he is in health, and then dies, and later she delivers her child, then her ‘iddat is considered terminated with childbirth. This law is applicable even if the husband has not yet been buried, or if she delivers the child immediately after his death. Also where a man divorces a woman by pronouncing Talaaq once or twice and dies, she should commence the ‘iddat from the day of his death and consider it as the ‘iddat of her deceased husband.
The woman whose husband is absent and untraceable and she hear of his death, then she should observe the ‘iddat from the date when she is informed of his death. She should reckon the days of the ‘iddat only from the date she receives the news, and not from the date of the date of the husband.
A woman who intends to observe the ‘Iddat should first perform wuzu before sunset (maghrib). She should take the following niyyat in the wuzu:
“Allahumma inni nawaito haza tahoori le ghuslil ahdaade wale salaatil maghribe wal ‘ishaail aakherate wale kulle salaatin usalliha.”
“O Allah, I intend to get pure for the ghusl (ritual bath) of ahdaad (mourning) and for the prayer of maghrib and ‘ishaa il-aakherat and for every prayer that I might perform.”
Then she should take ritual bath with the following niyyat:
“Allahumma inni aghtaselo lil ahdaade bismillahe allaho akbar.”
“O Allah. I am taking the ritual bath for ahdaad (mourning) by taking Your name. Allah is the greatest.”
A woman should wear preferably white clothes and offer the maghrib prayer and begin the period of ‘Iddat. She should observe the ‘Iddat either in the house where her husband has expired and should complete the whole period in the same house or elsewhere as she desires.
The following things should be kept in mind while observing ‘Iddat :
A woman who is observing the ‘Iddat can go for Hajj if she wishes so.
No one should be allowed to enter the room where a widow is observing the ‘Iddat except children, woman and other close relatives with whom it is unlawful for her to marry i.e. mehram.
The windows and the doors of the house should be covered with drapes so that no one can look inside the room.
A woman should keep herself away from all the beautifications. She should not apply mehdi, or comb her hair, or use surma in the eyes, or use ‘itr, or wear ornaments. She should try to be as simple as possible.
She should pray for the deliverance ( maghferat ) of her deceased husband and should spend the time in offering namaaz, reciting the Qur'an, remembering the hardships and sufferings of Ahl-e-Bayt (AS) etc.
Those women who come to pay their condolence should keep themselves away from discussing worldly matters and backbiting; and pray for the salvation of the deceased person.
If a woman observing the ‘Iddat falls ill and if there is fear of life threatening complications, a doctor should be called for a visit or the woman can be taken to the hospital under a veil.
If there is any danger to life in the house where a woman is observing the ‘Iddat, she can shift herself to other house after midnight .
Close relatives or mehramdaar; with whom it is unlawful to marry for a woman who is in ‘Iddat are; son, grandson, son of daughter, father, brother, paternal uncle, maternal uncle, sister's son, brother's son, son in law, father in law etc.
Rasulullah (SAWS) has said, “There are three things since the time of ignorance i.e. from the time before Rasulullah (SAWS) became the Prophet and will remain till the Day of Judgement (Qayaamat). ” First is to seek water from the stars; second is to tease among the dynasties, to insult and to accuse among them; and the third is to scream on the death of the husbands.
He also said that two voices are cursed and Allah never likes it; one is to complain and lament in the time of difficulties and the other is to be over joyous at the time of happiness and to squeal aloud on the death of a person.
Mourning has to be observed only by a widow and it is not lawful for a woman to mourn for more than three days for anyone except her husband. Screaming and squealing aloud on the deceased or complaining is unlawful because it troubles the soul of the deceased.
For every faithful, pure woman whose husband has died, it is mandatory for her to observe the ‘Iddat as it is ordered in the Qur'an with all the rules and regulations of the shari'at that is entitled on her. No excuse or argument is applicable to this law. Woman who disobeys the order of ‘Iddat and does not complete the period of ‘Iddat is indeed going to experience the curse and anger of Allah and Allah will take away the favors from her house and her progeny.
After completing the period of ‘Iddat, on the same day, woman should take ghusl after offering the prayer of maghrib in the same clothes. She should take the following niyyat in the ghusl;
“Allahumma inni aghtaselo le tarkil ahdaade bismillahe allaho akbar.”
“O Allah. I intend to take the ghusl for giving up the mourning with Your name. Allah is the greatest.”
After taking the ghusl, she should give the sadaqah and pray for the salvation of her deceased husband.