Iddah literally means counting. Meanwhile, according to the majority of scholars, iddah is the waiting period for a woman to clean her womb, as a form of worship or the period of mourning when her husband leaves. Sayyid Sabiq argues that the word iddah also means holy days which are counted by women:
ما تحصيه المرأة وتعده من الايام والاقراء
“Holy days and periods counted by women.”
Meanwhile, in terms, the scholars formulate the meaning of ‘iddah with various expressions, including:
اسم للمدة التي تنتظر فيها المرأة وتمتنع عن التزويج بعد وفاة زوجها أوفرقه لها
“Iddah is a name or designation for the time for a wife who is waiting and is prohibited from marrying after the husband’s death, or after the husband and wife are separated.”
So the term iddah, according to the Ulama, is a waiting period that must be done by a woman (wife) after she is abandoned by her husband or after being divorced, either by waiting for the birth of her baby if she is pregnant, or the completion of several quru’ (holy period), or by completing three months and ten days. From this explanation, it can be concluded that iddah is a certain period that must be carried out by a woman (wife) after she is separated from her husband by being divorced by her husband or because her husband died; during this period women (wives) are prohibited from marrying men. another man before the end of the iddah period.
Shaykh Kamil Muhammad Uwaidah explains the legal details of women who are iddah as follows:
First, a woman who performs iddah because her husband has died, her iddah period is four months and ten days provided that she is not pregnant.
Second, a woman whose menstruation has stopped due to a cause must wait for her menstruation to return to normal and then carry out the iddah period according to her menstruation. But if there is no cause, then she should wait for one year with details of nine months to find out if she is pregnant or not and three months for her iddah period.
Third, a woman who has never had intercourse with her husband is not obliged to perform iddah
Do scholars have different opinions about whether a woman during her iddah period can leave the house or not? Hanafi Madzab scholars are of the opinion that it is not permissible for a woman to leave the house, whether raj’i divorce or ba’in divorce. But if the woman is left by her husband, then she is allowed to leave the house. Ibnu Qudamah is of another opinion that women are allowed to leave the house if the aim is to fulfill their needs, either by being divorced or by the death of their husband.
The purpose of iddah in Islamic law is to liberate the woman’s womb from her ex-husband’s child before marrying another man, but that is not the only purpose of iddah; scholars of the Shafi’i madzab explained that the purpose of iddah is a form of worship, or grieving over death her husband.
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