Death is inevitable and divorce happens…
According to Islamic law, when either one happens, the divorced female or widow must observe a wait period, known as Iddah, before she can remarry again. Reasons for the iddah are to a) ensure there is no pregnancy and thus confusion of lineage, b) Reconciliation period for the couple before the divorce becomes final. Some might add c) to give a woman the proper space to mourn her husband.
The period of the iddah is:
- A widowed woman has a wait period of 4 months and 10 days.
- A divorced woman has a wait period of 3 menstrual cycles.
- The wait period of a pregnant woman, whether widow or divorced, ends with the delivery of the baby.
- A female who was separated from her husband for a while before the divorce was final does not need to follow the Iddah law yet it is recommended as a cautionary measure.
- A divorced woman where the marriage was not consummated does not require observing the Iddah.
- Post menopause women: have to comply with Iddah. Their wait period is three months.
- No makeup or jewelry.
- Be very sad and grievy looking. (the color black is the cultural color for mourning)
- Do not leave the house unless you absolutely must (some claim work is not necessary enough) …
- Going out for a walk to smell some fresh air is not an excuse to leave the house.
- If you must leave the house, be back by night-time. Always spend the night at your house…(3-5 in particular are not supported with religious texts: Quran and Hadeeths.)
- Not looking at the moon or at the mirror are old wives’ tales but most likely practiced by a few. It has been added to the list for entrainment purposes.
What will the neighbors Say?
It is worrisome when Muslims use social factors to explain Iddah. Sadly, many religious scholars have added that Iddah is a social formality to ensure the female’s safety from being judged for not looking or feeling sad enough. God forbid a woman fails to show sufficient mourning over her dead husband or greave over a husband who has abused and mistreated her. Why is a man not required to show sufficient greave over his deceased wife
What others see is more important than how you feel!
Financial Support: How can a female breadwinner observe iddah when she cannot afford to miss work for 4 months or even during an entire pregnancy? This is no longer relevant to only non-Muslim societies but a reality that is inflected in Arab/ Islamic countries due to today’s modern day demands.
Iddah and Modern Science: How does Iddah comply with modern science when the latter can confirm, through simple lab tests, the state of pregnancy and thus, invalidating reasons behind the iddah?
Female grieving: Some believe that the widower should feel “broken and feel sad because of cruel separation…”– as one website described – doesn’t this enforce a certain way of mourning and grieving as well stereotype of gender roles?
Male grieving: When a man shows grieve he becomes a saint! While women are forced to show a certain way of mourning, men are exempt from it. Some claim that this is not necessary because men need to be taken care of and their needs fulfilled. Their social responsibility demands from them to go to work and earn end’s meat. Once again, women’s needs have become nonexistent in order to satisfy the social outlook towards a man’s death. Also, this reinforces the claim to reexamine the need for the Iddah in light of financial support.
Pregnancy! A Miracle? : In view of the reasons behind Iddah it becomes questionable why a post menopause widow should adherent to the wait period. Chances of a pregnancy would be deemed a miracle and there is no reconciliation to consider. So, perhaps the only valid reason for a wait period would be to give her the time and space to mourn and grieve her husband before she may move on. However, is the griever given the proper tools to move on? It should be put into consideration that people do not show grieve the same way (see the Elizabeth Kübler-Ross five stages of grieve) and forcing a person to grieve in a specific way will only prolong the grieving time. In addition, the wait period, also becomes a period of isolation. This could be deemed very harmful, both physically and mentally, especially if she lives in an apartment building, where there lacks adequate space for a woman to move around for 4 months . And again, what is the the role of modern science?
It almost seems as though a woman is punished for the death of her husband … or entirely blamed for the divorce…
Suggestion: the purpose of Iddah, and the religious texts covering issues of Iddah need to be examined, along with input from science and feminine views
Is there a Computer in you? While researching the topic, I came across a website that a claim a woman’s uterus is like a computer that stores the code of men she mates with. Each sperm or man carries a unique code. When the computer is infested with many codes, they become virus like and infect the whole computer. This is why all prostitutes will eventually suffer from cervical cancer. (Disturbing thought!!! This analogy is not new and has been used many times against women to prove that women, as oppose to men, cannot be promiscuous by nature. It also reinforces the idea that cancer as a divine punishment rather than an illness.)