What do the scholars and experts of shari’ah say regarding my situation? My aunty who is 80 years old became a widow few weeks ago. We will also have our son’s wedding in three weeks’ time, so we invited her to attend the walimah. Her son is telling us she cannot come out of the house, because she is in her ‘iddat. Is this right?
Suhaib Hasan, Leeds
The divorced woman is not allowed to leave the house except for a necessity. Imam Muslim narrated from the hadith of Jaber, may Allah be pleased with him, who said: “My aunt is divorced and she wanted to tend her date-palms, but a man forbade her to go out, so she came to the Prophet, may Allah’s blessings and peace be upon him, and he said: Yes, tend to your date-palms, for perhaps you will give charity or do some good.”
In the case a widow who does not have provisions to provide for herself, then she can leave her house to work but should spend the night at home. Similarly, the jurists say that an elderly woman can participate in marriage and other events, Imam Ibn Qudama has adopted the same opinion in ‘Al-Mughni’ (8/130).
An 80-year-old woman is considered an aayisa (someone who can no longer have children) in the shar’iah. According to many jurists, an aayisa has no iddah period. However, those who say that an aayisa must observe the ‘iddah do not require that she isolate herself in her husband’s home. This rule is not for a widow. The rule that a woman stay in her husband’s home is only in for a divorced woman, and even then, most jurists said that she is allowed to go out and visit and be visited.
In short, there is no basis to prevent an aasiya widow from attending a family wedding if she wishes. Unfortunately, people confuse custom and cultural habits with Shari’ah rules.
Dr Musharraf Hussain OBE, DL