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Fatwas Regarding Women

In the Name of Allâh, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful

Questions Related to the Waiting Period (Iddah) and Mourning

What Must the Mourning Widow Abide By

Question: What are the laws by which the widow whose husband had just died must abide by?

Response: The Hadith states what a mourning widow is prohibited from doing and what she is requested to do.

First, she must remain in her house in which she was living when her husband died. She remains therein until her iddah (mourning period) comes to an end. This is four months and ten days. Unless she is pregnant, wherein her mourning period ends when she gives birth. Allah says in the Quran,

"For those who are pregnant, their waiting period is until they deliver" (al-Talaq 4).

She does not leave the house except due to need or necessity, such as visiting the hospital due to illness, buying what she is in need of from the market, such as food or other items, if she cannot find others to do such for her. Similarly, if the house is destroyed, she leaves

it for another house. Finally, if she does not find anyone who she knows close to her and she fears for her safety, she may move due to that need.

Second, she may not wear any kind of beautiful clothing, either yellow, green or other. She must wear clothing which is not beautiful or attractive, regardless of whether it be black, green or otherwise. The important aspect is that it is not beautiful or attractive.

This is what the Prophet (peace be upon him) ordered.

Third, she must not wear jewelry, either gold, silver, diamonds, pearls or anything of that nature. This is regardless if it be bracelets, chains or rings. She may not wear anything of this nature until her mourning period is over.

Fourth, she must refrain from using perfume. She cannot perfume herself with either incense or any other kind of items that make the body smell good. The only exception to this is when she cleanses herself after her period. In that case, there is no harm if she applies some kind of incense.

Fifth, she should not apply kohl. She can neither use kohl nor anything similar to kohl which is a beautification for the face, a beautification that may be considered something that attracts people. As for the normal beautification of using water and soap, there is nothing wrong with that. But the kohl which is a beautification of the eyes and other similar items that woman put on their faces are not to be used.

These are the five items that a woman must attend to when her husband dies.

However, there are many other acts that the general masses believe or have fabricated concerning a mourning woman. For example, they say that she cannot talk to anyone, she may not talk on the phone, she can only take a shower once a week, she cannot walk barefoot in her house, she cannot go out under the light of the moon, and other superstitions that are simply false. There is no basis for any of these. She may walk barefoot or with shoes in her house. She fulfills her needs in the house, such as cooking her food and the food of her guests. She may go out in the light of the moon on her roof 1 or in her garden. She may wash herself whenever she wishes. She may speak to anyone she wishes as long as it is not suspicious speech. She may shake hands with women and men she is related to-- as for those men she is not related to, she may not shake their hands. She may remove her head scarf if she is not in the presence of men she is not related to.

However, she should not use henna or saffron either on her clothing or in her coffee. This is because saffron is a kind of perfume and it is not allowed for her to perfume herself. She cannot be proposed to. One may indirectly make a statement intent to her but a clear proposal is not allowed.

Shaikh ibn Baz


1. Many of the houses in the Middle East have gardens and meeting places on the rooftops.--JZ

Ruling Concerning Wearing a Watch During the Mourning Period

Question: Is it allowed for a woman to wear a watch to know what time it is and not for the sake of beautification during her mourning period?

Response: Yes. That is allowed for her due to he intention. However, if she even avoids that, that would be best because it does resemble jewelry.

The Standing Committee

What is the Mourning Period of the Pregnant Widow

Question: The questioner states that his father's wife is pregnant. Is her mourning period due to his father's death four months and ten days or is it until she gives birth?

Response: The conclusion of the study of the Committee is that her mourning period is until she delivers.

The Standing Committee

Does the Elderly Woman Mourn and What is the Ruling Concerning That

Question: A man died and his wife was elderly, over seventy years old, with little ability to think and no servant. He died while she was still married to him. Does she have to go through the mourning period like others? What is the wisdom behind such an act if someone is old like her? Why then is it that the pregnant woman mourns only until she gives birth, implying that the mourning period is just to make certain that the woman is or is not pregnant? In a case like this woman, that possibility is not present.

Response: The woman mentioned in the question goes through the mourning period of four months and ten days since she falls under the generality of Allah's words,

'Those of you who die and leave wives behind, they [the wives] shall wait for four months and ten days" (al-Baqara 234).

From the Shariah wisdom of the waiting period and mourning even if the woman is old and could not possibly be pregnant is: honoring the seriousness of the marriage contract, raising the status and demonstrating the honorableness of the marriage, and fulfilling the rights of the husband, and showing the effects of one's loss by not beautifying or adorning oneself. Therefore, her mourning in that case is more than her mourning in the case of the death of a father or child. The ruling concerning a pregnant woman is until she gives birth based on the generality of Allah's statement,

"For those who are pregnant, their waiting period is until they deliver" (al-Talaq 4).

This verse particularizes the generality of the other verse,

'Those of you who die and leave wives behind, they [the wives] shall wait for four months and ten days" (al-Baqara 234).

A wisdom behind relating the end of the waiting period to giving birth is that the pregnancy is the right of the first husband. If she gets married after the first husband's death or other [type of separation from him] and she is pregnant, then the second husband may be mixing his sperm with another man's. This is not allowed due to the statement of the Prophet (peace be upon him),

"It is not allowed for a Muslim man who believes in Allah and the Hereafter to water what another has sown with his water [that is, to have intercourse with a woman impregnated by another man]."

This was recorded by Imam Ahmad, Abu Dawud and ibn Hibban on the authority of Ruwaifi ibn Thabit al-Ansari.1

It is obligatory upon a Muslim to apply the laws of the Shariah regardless of whether he knows the wisdom behind then or not. He must have belief that Allah regulates what is best and proper in His Law and His Decrees. However, if Allah blesses one with the knowledge of the wisdom, then that is light upon light and goodness in addition to goodness.

The Standing Committee


1. According to Abdul Qadir al-Amaut, this hadith is hasan. See his footnotes to Al-Mubarak ibn al-Atheer, Jami al-Usul fi Ahadith al-Rasoot (Maktaba al-Halwani, 1972), vol. 8, p. 121.-JZ

May a Student Whose Husband Dies Continue Her Studies During Her Mourning Period

Question: A woman's husband died and now she must observe the mourning-waiting period while she is a student. May she continue her studies or not?

Response: It is obligatory upon the widow to observe the waiting and mourning period in the house she was living in when her husband died. This is for a period of four months and ten days. She may not stay anywhere else but there. She must avoid anything that beautifies her and makes her attractive, including perfume, kohl, attractive clothing and so forth. It is allowed for her to go out during the day if there is a need to do so. Therefore, the student in question may go out to attend her classes due to the need for such. However, she must do so while avoiding everything that a mourning woman must avoid and which may attract men and attract them to propose to her.

The Standing Committee

If a Woman's Husband Dies After the Marriage Contract but Before Consummation, She Must Still Observe the Waiting-Mourning Period

Question: A man married a woman and died before consummation, does she still have to observe the waiting mourning period?

Response: The woman whose husband dies after the marriage contract yet before consummation must still observe the waiting mourning period because simply by the conclusion of the contract she becomes his wife and falls under the command of the verse,

"Those of you who die and leave wives behind, they [the wives] shall wait for four months and ten days" (al-Baqara 234).

She also falls under the hadith that al-Bukhari and Muslim recorded in which the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said,

"It is not allowed for a woman to mourn for a dead person for more than three days-- except if it is for her husband, in which case it is for four months and ten days."

Ahmad and the compilers of the Sunan recorded that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) decreed concerning Buru bint Washiq, a woman whose husband had died before consummation, that she must observe the waiting period and that she was entitled to inheritance from him.

The Standing Committee

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