What Is the Wisdom Behind Iddah?
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What Is the Wisdom Behind Iddah?

Questioner

Nihal

Reply Date

Oct 09, 2019

Question

As-salamu `alaykum! Can you explain the wisdom of iddah (waiting period)?

Mufti

Answer


What Is the Wisdom Behind Iddah?

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful. 

All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.


In this fatwa:

1- In case of revocable divorce, the wisdom of iddah (waiting period) is giving a chance for any attempts of reconciliation between the husband and wife.

2- In case of irrevocable divorce, the iddah serves as a period for ascertaining that the woman is not pregnant in order to prevent mixing of lineage.

3- In case of the death of the husband, iddah serves as a period of showing grief and sadness for the late husband and safeguarding the woman’s fame from being subject to gossips.


Answering your question, Dr. Abdel-Fattah Idrees, Professor of Comparative Jurisprudence at Al-Azhar University, states:

A woman is asked to observe iddah (waiting period) even if she is sure that she is not pregnant.

Some people claim that there is no need for iddah so long as it can be confirmed by the modern medical means that a woman is not pregnant.

Such a group of people have got themselves into a very dangerous abyss. Muslim jurists have noted that a Muslim woman is commanded both in the Quran and Sunnah to observe a waiting period after she is divorced or widowed.

The majority of jurists go further to say that once there happens a khalwah (privacy) between the husband and a wife, iddah becomes obligatory.

In the Quran, we read:

{Women who are divorced shall wait, keeping themselves apart, three (monthly) courses.} (Al-Baqarah 2:228)

Also,

{Such of you as die and leave behind them wives, they (the wives) shall wait, keeping themselves apart, four months and ten days. And when they reach the term (prescribed for them) then there is no sin for you in aught that they may do with themselves in decency. Allah is Informed of what you do.} (Al-Baqarah 2:234)

In another place, we read:

{And for such of your women as despair of menstruation, if you doubt, their period (of waiting) shall be three months along with those who have it not. And for those with child, their period shall be till they bring forth their burden. And whosoever keepeth his duty to Allah, He maketh his course easy for him.} (At-Talaq 65:4)

In trying to grasp the wisdom behind this waiting period, scholars only manage to understand part of this wisdom, not all aspects of it.

After revocable divorce, the wisdom of iddah is giving a chance for any attempts of reconciliation between the husband and wife.

However, in case of irrevocable divorce, the iddah serves as a period for ascertaining that the woman is not pregnant in order to prevent mixing of lineage.

But after the death of the husband, iddah serves as a period of showing grief and sadness for the late husband and safeguarding the woman’s fame from being subject to gossips.

However, it goes above all that the main wisdom behind iddah is that Muslims show obedience to the commands of their Lord and surrender to His will, for He knows them better than they know themselves.

In this way, claiming that there is no need for iddah once it is ascertained that the woman is not pregnant is a lame argument, for following such an idle way of thinking will mean abandoning many other legal rulings.

By the same token, there will be no need prohibiting adultery once a condom or the like is applied to prevent mixing of lineage.

This is surely an idle way of thinking that will take the person completely out of the fold of Islam.

It is the trait of believers to surrender to the will of their Lord and accept His commandments once they receive it. Almighty Allah says:

{The saying of (all true) believers when they appeal unto Allah and His messenger to judge between them is only that they say: We hear and we obey. And such are the successful.} (An-Nur 24:51)

Almighty Allah knows best.

Editor’s note: This fatwa is from Ask the Scholar’s archive and was originally published at an earlier date.




About Dr. `Abdul-Fattah Idrees

Professor of Comparative Fiqh (Islamic Jurisprudence) at Al-Azhar University

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