Iddah after Death of the Husband

Bahishti Zewar, Fiqh, Part 4-Nikah (Marriage) in Islam / Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

1. A woman’s husband passed away. She must now observe the ‘iddah for four months and ten days. She must live in the house in which she was staying at the time of her husband’s death. It is not permissible for her to go out of that house. However, if a woman is very poor and does not have the resources to lead a normal life, and she takes up a job of cooking for someone or takes up some other similar job, it will be permissible for her to leave her house. However, she will have to spend the night in her home.

This ‘iddah is applicable irrespective of whether sexual intercourse had taken place or not, whether they had met in privacy or not, and whether she experiences hayd or not. The same rule will apply in all cases. That is, she will have to observe the ‘iddah for four months and ten days.

However, if the woman was pregnant at the time of her husband’s death, her ‘iddah will be complete the moment she gives birth to the child. There is no need to calculate according to the number of months. Even if she delivers the child a few hours after her husband’s death, her ‘iddah will be complete.

2. The woman who is observing her ‘iddah can live in any part of the house. The custom of setting aside a specific place and setting aside a specific bed for mourning, and remaining there in mourning and refusing to come out of that place is all nonsense and meaningless. Customs of this sort should be given up.

3. The husband was an immature child. At the time when he passed away, his wife was pregnant. Even in this case her ‘iddah will be until she delivers the baby. However, this child is illegitimate. It will not be attributed to the husband.

4. If the husband passed away on the first day of the lunar calendar and his wife was not pregnant, her ‘iddah will be four months and ten days. If he did not pass away on the first day, she must calculate each month as 30 days and after the completion of four months and 10 days her ‘iddah will be complete.

The same rule applies to the ‘iddah after divorce. That is, if the woman does not experience hayd nor is she pregnant, and her husband divorces her on the first day of the lunar calendar, she must calculate three months according to the lunar calendar. This is irrespective of whether the months are of 29 days or 30 days. If she was not divorced on the first day, she must calculate 30 days for each month until she completes three months.

5. A person’s nikâh was performed in an unlawful manner, e.g. the marriage was performed without any witnesses. Alternatively, a woman married her brother-in-law while her sister was still married to him. Thereafter, the husband passed away. Such a woman whose nikâh was not valid must not observe the ‘iddah of four months and 10 days. Instead, she must observe the ‘iddah of three hayd periods after her husband’s death. If she does not experience any hayd, she must observe the ‘iddah for three months. If she is pregnant, then until she delivers the child.

6. While a person was ill, he issued a talâqul bâ’in to his wife. Before she could complete the ‘iddah of talâq, her husband passed away. In such a case we will have to see which of the two ‘iddahs (‘iddah after talâq or ‘iddah after death) will take longer to complete. She will have to observe the ‘iddah that will take longer to complete.

If the husband issued a talâqur raj’î and he passed away prior to his wife completing her ‘iddah, it will be necessary on such a woman to observe the ‘iddah for death. (i.e. four months and 10 days).

7. A woman’s husband passed away but she did not receive the news of his death. She only received the news after four months and 10 days. In such a case her ‘iddah will be complete. It is not necessary to observe the ‘iddah from the time one receives the news. Similarly, if the husband divorces his wife and she does not know of this until after some time. When she is informed of this the ‘iddah which she would have had to observe had already expired. Her ‘iddah is also complete and there is no need to observe the ‘iddah now.

8. A woman had left her house for some work or to visit her neighbour. While she was away, her husband passed away. She should immediately return from that place and remain in the house in which she had been living all along (with her husband).

9. When a woman is observing the ‘iddah after the death of her husband, she is not entitled to receive any food, clothing, etc. She must spend her own money for this purpose.

10. In certain places there is a custom of observing the ‘iddah for a full year after the death of the husband. This is absolutely harâm.

6 Replies to “Iddah after Death of the Husband”

  1. Asalam alaikum.

    i just wanted to ask few questions about what a widow should do or shouldn’t do. My sisters husband passed away. Is it must she should wear white clothes? can she communicate with her uncles and cousin brothers just through text messages or its not allowed? Can she watch tv serials with no bad parts? as to make her forget the sadness? please give me as much details as u can as to what she should do.


  2. I have a question about iddah… I do nikahh 3 years ago but I still live in my parents home my rukhsati is not done yet.. I talk to husband on phone and we meet but we never meet in darkness… We dont have any physical relationship… He died now before our wedding my parents say I cant sit in iddah Cuz he not touch tell me is iddah necessary for me too

  3. If a woman in iddat has to shift houses due to some reason, is it allowed or she has to stay in the same house. The house was on rent after the death of her husband the sons have bought a new house they want to take her there.Does she have to stay back to complete her iddat there or can she go to the new place and continue her iddat there or not

  4. I am living seprated since 7 years from husband pay me any maintaice he also marry again last year .last month my husband died suddenly I am 49 years I don’t get periods any more please tell me do I still do iddat even I was separated for 7 years please advise

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