Rules for a widow in her waiting period

Question

What do the Scholars of Islam say about “the rules for a widow after the death of her husband?

Raja Arslan Leicester

Answer

This is what the Quran has said:

The widows waiting period and encouragement to remarry

“When you die, leaving behind widows, they should wait for four months and ten days. At the end of this period, there is no blame on what they reasonably choose to do with themselves. Allah is well aware of what you do. There is no blame on you if you propose engagement to these women before the end of the waiting period, or you keep your feelings to yourself. Allah knows that you intend to propose to them. However, do not make them any promises unless you speak to them in a respectful way; and do not confirm contracting the marriage until prescribed waiting term has ended. Remember that Allah knows what is in your hearts, so beware. Allah is, indeed, Forgiving, Gentle.” (AlBaqarah:234-5)

From this verse we can conclude that the waiting period for the widow is four months and 10 days during which she cannot marry, neither use makeup nor propose for marriage. Time will be enough for the foetus to be noticed if she is pregnant. It is highly recommended she stays at home, and avoids make up or dressing… she can go shopping if she doesn’t have anyone to support her. She’s allowed to go to the doctor.

A widow who has to provide for herself 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).

A young widow is not allowed to leave the house except for a necessity. According to many jurists, an elderly woman (aayisa, someone who can no longer have children) 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 younger 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.

Therefore, 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.

Allah سبحانه وتعالى   knows better .

This fatwa is written by Dr. Musharraf Hussain Al-Azhari & Dr Hafiz Muhammad Munir Al-Azhari

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