In Islam, iddah or iddat (Arabic: period of waiting) is a period after a divorce, during which a woman may not marry another man. The period is calculated on the number of menses that a woman has, usually three. Iddah was intended to ensure that the male parent of any offspring produced after the cessation of a nikah would be known

Iddat after death of husband-

Qur’an prohibits widows to engage themselves for four  lunar months and ten (10) days after the death of their husbands. This is also to ascertain whether a woman is pregnant or not, since four and a half months is half the length of a normal pregnancy.

 Husbands should make a will in favor of their wives for the provision of one year’s residence and maintenance, unless the wives themselves leave the house or take any other similar step.

The directive of the Qur’an regarding the waiting period of a widow, are as under:
Whoever from amongst you dies and leaves behind wives, the wives will hold themselves [from marriage] for four months and ten days. Then, when they have expired this period, there is no blame upon you in whatever they do regarding themselves, according to the recognized traditions. And God is fully aware of whatever you are doing. And there is no blame upon you in proposing [marriage] to these women or in keeping such proposal to yourself – God is aware that you would mention it to them – but do not make with them any secret commitments, except that you say a noble word to them. However, do not commit the marriage-contract with them, until the law has reached its prescribed time.

Iddat after divorce

Comparing this waiting period with the one prescribed for a divorced woman (i.e. three menstrual periods of the divorced woman), we see that the waiting period prescribed for a widow exceeds that, which is prescribed for a divorced woman by at least a month and a half.

Duration of Iddat

The Iddat of divorce commences immediately upon the pronouncement of repudiation and in case of invalid marriage if they are separated voluntarily then from the time of separation but if the separation is effected by the court then it starts with the issuance of judicial decree. In case of widowhood the period of Iddat begins with the decease of husband. If the information of divorce or of her husband’s death does not reach the wife until after the expiration of Iddat period, she is not bound to observe Iddat. The period is considered to have been passed.

Iddat of A Pregnant Widow

In case of pregnancy, the widow is bound to observe the Iddat for a period which ever is the longest. i.e. if the child is born before the period of four months and ten days then her Iddat is not over with the delivery but she will complete the normal specified period of Iddat (four moths & ten days). If the child is expected to be born after the specified period, then the Iddat will lost up till the delivery of a child. They consider it binding upon all widows who are pregnant or non pregnant, so according to their view the fore mentioned period of four months and ten days is the minimum obligatory period for a widow

Maintenance During Iddat

The husband is under obligation to pay for the wife’s maintenance during her period of Iddat, regardless of its duration. Thus, in the following cases the wife is entitled to maintenance during Iddat:
When the marriage is dissolved by repudiation, no matter the repudiation was revocable or irrevocable, it was perfect or imperfect.
When the marriage is dissolved by Lien (oath of imprecation) or by Illa (a vow of continence) or by way of Khula provided she has not renounced her right to maintenance.
When the husband on attaining puberty, exercises the right of option and dissolves the marriage.
When the marriage is dissolved by reason of the inferiority of dower or by reason of the husband’s inequality or his impotency.
When a wife, who is not subject to menstruation, observing Iddat by months becomes subject to menstruation before the completion of specified period. She is entitled for maintenance in the additional period of Iddat because she is obliged to stay in Iddat for three full monthly courses.
# Widow is not entitled to maintenance even if she is pregnant; almost all the Muslim jurists have the same opinion in this regard.

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