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What Can a Woman Do During Her Waiting Period?

Shafi'i Fiqh

Answered by Shaykh Abdurragmaan Khan

Question: Assalam alaykum,

I have been told that if a woman enters her waiting period after the death of her husband she cannot leave her home until this period is completed.

I wanted to know if leaving the home refers to seclusion (not going out of the home at all during the whole period) or to her not being able to change her residence (shifting to another home)?

Answer: Wa alaykum al-Salam

Thank you for writing to us.

Iddah refers to the waiting period a lady has to observe after the passing on of her husband or being divorced. She has to remain in the home of seperation for either three clean periods in the case of divorce and four months ten days in the case of her husband’s death. The reason for this iddah is both logical and ritual. Logical, in that during this period a lady would ascertain with certainty that she is not pregnant and ritual in that it’s an obligation she offers to her Lord, Allah subhana wa ta’ala.

During the iddah, the most common rule is that a lady should not leave home unless there’s necessity (darurah) or, at times need (hajah). Similarly, relocating to a different home to spend one’s iddah is by default not allowed. However, if circumstances require it, it would be permitted.

The questioner should feel free to write to us once again explaining her situation, if she is uncertain whether the situation of the mu’taddah warrants moving home or not.

May Allah bless and protect, Amin.

[Shaykh] Abdurragmaan Khan

Shaykh Abdurragmaan
received ijazah ’ammah from various luminaries, including but not restricted to: Habib Umar ibn Hafiz—a personality who affected him greatly and who has changed his relationship with Allah, Maulana Yusuf Karaan—the former Mufti of Cape Town; Habib ‘Ali al-Mashhur—the current Mufti of Tarim; Habib ‘Umar al-Jaylani—the Shafi‘i Mufti of Makkah; Sayyid Ahmad bin Abi Bakr al-Hibshi; Habib Kadhim as-Saqqaf; Shaykh Mahmud Sa’id Mamduh; Maulana Abdul Hafiz al-Makki; Shaykh Ala ad-Din al-Afghani; Maulana Fazlur Rahman al-Azami and Shaykh Yahya al-Gawthani amongst others.