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  • The Social Shariah:(8) Divorce: [(iv)The Directive Of Iddat]

    Posted by Umer on September 5, 2020 at 5:01 am

    Surah Talaq says that divorce should be given keeping in view the iddat. At another place, the Quran has explained that the period of iddat is three menstrual cycles:

    وَالْمُطَلَّقَاتُ يَتَرَبَّصْنَ بِأَنفُسِهِنَّ ثَلَاثَةَ قُرُوءٍ(2:228

    And divorced women must keep themselves waiting for three menstrual cycles. (2:228)

    In this verse, the Arabic word قُرُوْء is the plural of قَرْءٌ. In Arabic, this word means both the “menstrual period” and the “non-menstrual period of purity”. While presenting his research on this word, Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:

    … after much deliberation on the root of the word and its derived forms, I have come to the conclusion that its real meaning is that of “menstruation”. However, since every menstrual period is followed by a period of purity (طُهْر), the word is also used in this meaning. This is similar to the usage of the word “day” for “night” and vice versa. Every language has such words.[1]

    The word قَرْءٌ in the opinion of this writer as well means “menstruation” because in these verses the real issue is to ascertain whether a lady is pregnant or not. It is the “period of menstruation” which actually ascertains this and not the “period of purity”. Moreover, women are asked to wait in this period and this waiting period can only be ascertained through the menstrual cycle because its beginning can be known with certainty.

    In normal circumstances, the iddat is three menstrual cycles; however, if a woman does not menstruate because of advancing age or in spite of reaching puberty, [2] then the Quran has specified in Surah Talaq that this period would be three months. It has also been stated that the iddat of a pregnant lady extends to childbirth. In Surah Talaq, for women who do not menstruate because of old age, there also exists the condition of إِنْ ارْتَبْتُمْ (if you are doubtful). While explaining this condition, Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:

    … it seems to me that the condition of إِنْ ارْتَبْتُمْ (if you are doubtful) is to differentiate between a lady who does not menstruate because of age but has had sexual intercourse with her husband and a lady in similar state but who did not have sexual intercourse with her husband. For if a lady who does not menstruate because of age has had sexual intercourse with the husband there might be a chance of pregnancy if her state was temporary for some reason. A similar situation may arise for a lady who has not menstruated in spite of reaching the age and she has sexual intercourse with her husband … It is possible that the question may arise in the mind of a person that if this was the case, then why did the Qur’an not explicitly state that the ‘iddat of a lady who does not menstruate because of age and who has had sexual intercourse is three months. The answer to this question is that such a statement of the Qur’an would not have pointed to the underlying reason of ‘iddat – which was essential to be highlighted. This underlying reason is not merely the fact that whether a lady has had sexual intercourse or not: it is the possibility that she may be pregnant.[3]

    It also follows from this that since the question of pregnancy does not even arise when a wife has not begun conjugal contact with her husband, hence there should be no iddat for her. In Surah Ahzab, the Almighty has specifically mentioned this fact:

    يَاأَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِذَا نَكَحْتُمْ الْمُؤْمِنَاتِ ثُمَّ طَلَّقْتُمُوهُنَّ مِنْ قَبْلِ أَنْ تَمَسُّوهُنَّ فَمَا لَكُمْ عَلَيْهِنَّ مِنْ عِدَّةٍ تَعْتَدُّونَهَا (49:33)

    Believers! When you marry Muslim women, and then divorce them before you have touched them, no period of iddat have they for you which you can ask them to complete. (33:49)

    The directives of iddat which are mentioned in the relevant verses of Surah Talaq are as follows:

    Firstly, during iddat neither should a wife leave her house nor is the husband authorized to turn her out from her house. Living together in this way might hopefully be beneficial for both and they might reconcile and thus save a family from breaking. The Quranic words لَعَلَّ اللَّهَ يُحْدِثُ بَعْدَ ذَلِكَ أَمْرًا (you know not that God might thereafter create new circumstances) point to this very aspect. Further, a warning is sounded that the directives mentioned are the bounds set by Allah and any one who tries to exceed them would not harm Allah in any way; on the contrary, he would only harm his own well-being. It is not that the Almighty has set these bounds for His own benefit. It is for the welfare of His creation that He has set them forth; so any one who violates them only wrongs his own soul.

    The only exception to the above directive is if the basis on which a divorce has been given is open lewdness which the Quran has termed as فَاحِشَة مُبَيِّنَة. In the Arabic language, this expression implies fornication and other lesser forms of sexual contact. Obviously, in such a situation neither is it proper to demand from the husband to keep the wife in the house nor can the benefit be attained for which this directive had been given.

    Secondly, it is stated that a husband should provide residence and maintenance to his divorced wife according to his status. After divorce, a husband can be very stingy in this regard. Consequently, he has been directed not to provide for her in a manner that damages her self-esteem. He should provide according to his resources and the social status he is maintaining. It is further stated that in this period a husband should in no way try to make life difficult for his wife so that she is soon forced to leave her house herself.

    It is obvious that after the pronouncement of the third divorce also, a husband shall be responsible to provide residence and maintenance to the divorced wife. The reason is that a lady accepts to remain in iddat only to ascertain whether she is the mother of his child or not. It is to protect his lineage that she undertakes this wait. The words فَمَا لَكُمْ عَلَيْهِنَّ مِنْ عِدَّة (then no period of iddat have they for you which you can ask them to complete) of the above quoted verse of Surah Ahzab clearly point to the fact that if pregnancy is a possibility then observing the iddat is an obligation imposed on the wife from the husband. Indeed, after the third divorce, a husband does not have any right to revoke his decision and take back his wife; however, as a result of this, the only thing that can be revoked is their living together. In no way can the responsibility to provide her with residence and maintenance be revoked. Consequently, this is absolutely certain that whether iddat is three menstrual cycles, three months or extends to the birth of the child, a husband is liable to provide her wife with residence as well as maintenance.

    Here some people may object to the above view of this writer by presenting the case of Fatimah bint Qays. It is narrated that her husband Abu Amr had already divorced her twice. Then when he was sent to Yemen with Ali (rta), he sent her the third divorce pronouncement as well. During her iddat, when she demanded residence and maintenance, the relatives of the husband refused this demand. At this, she came to the Prophet (sws), who decided that she has neither the right to be given residence nor any maintenance. [4]

    The above referred to narrative is quoted in some books of Hadith, but it is evident from certain other narratives that when her case was presented before the caliph Umar (rta), he too refused her demand by saying that he could not accept the verdict of a lady which is against the Book of God and the Sunnah of his Prophet (sws). [5] When in the time of Marwan ibn Hakam, this case once again came into discussion, Aishah (rta) severely criticized this narrative. Qasim ibn Muhammad inquired from Aishah (rta): “Are you not aware of the case of Fatimah bint Qays.” She replied: “It is better if you do not mention her matter.” [6] In another narrative, Aishah’s words are: “What has happened to Fatimah; does she not fear God.” [7] A third narrative is from ‘Urwah ibn al-Zubayr. He says that Aishah said: Nothing will benefit Fatimah if she narrates this Hadith. [8] In still another narrative, Urwah says that Aishah expressed her anger for Fatimah and said: “She was in an empty house where none whom she knew lived and hence the Prophet (sws), for her own protection, had directed her to change her residence.” [9]

    This is the real background of the narrative; hence, no one should consider it worthy of any importance.

    Besides the above mentioned directives, the Almighty has given a further directive in Surah Baqarah that no lady should try to conceal her pregnancy during her iddat. It has been indicated a number of times earlier that the very directive to observe the iddat has been given for ascertaining whether a lady is pregnant or not. Consequently, it is an essential outcome of this directive and the Almighty has forcefully directed us to observe it:

    وَالْمُطَلَّقَاتُ يَتَرَبَّصْنَ بِأَنفُسِهِنَّ ثَلَاثَةَ قُرُوءٍ وَلَا يَحِلُّ لَهُنَّ أَنْ يَكْتُمْنَ مَا خَلَقَ اللَّهُ فِي أَرْحَامِهِنَّ إِنْ كُنَّ يُؤْمِنَّ بِاللَّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ (2:228)

    And divorced women must keep themselves waiting for three menstrual courses. And it is unlawful for them, if they believe in Allah and the Last Day to hide what He has created in their wombs. (2:228)

    (Javed Ahmed Ghamidi)

    (Translated by Dr. Shehzad Saleem)


    [1]. Amin Ahsan Islahi,Tadabbur-i Quran, vol. 1, 532.

    [2]. The Qur’anic words are وَاللَّائِي لَمْ يَحِضْنَ. In the Arabic language, the word لَمْis used for total and strong negation. Hence the expression cannot connote those girls who have not started to menstruate; it can only connote girls who have not menstruated in spite of reaching the age.

    [3].Amin Ahsan Islahi,Tadabbur-i Quran, vol. 8, 442.

    [4]. Muslim, Al-Jami‘ al-sahih, 639, (nos. 3697, 3698); Abu Da’ud, Sunan, vol. 2, 296, (no. 2290).

    [5]. Muslim, Al-Jami‘ al-sahih, 642, (no. 3710).

    [6]. Al-Bukhari, Al-Jami‘ al-sahih, 951, (nos. 5321, 5322).

    [7]. Al-Bukhari, Al-Jami‘ al-sahih, 951, (nos. 5323, 5324); Muslim, Al-Jami‘ al-sahih, 643, (no. 3719).

    [8]. Al-Bukhari, Al-Jami‘ al-sahih, 952, (nos. 5325, 5326).

    [9]. Ibid., 952, (nos. 5325, 5326).

    Umer replied 3 years, 7 months ago 1 Member · 3 Replies
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  • The Social Shariah:(8) Divorce: [(iv)The Directive Of Iddat]

    Umer updated 3 years, 7 months ago 1 Member · 3 Replies
  • Umer

    Moderator September 5, 2020 at 5:02 am

    Lectures by Ghamidi Sahab on The Social Shariah (Qanoon-e-Muashrat): (8) Divorce: [(iv)The Directive of Iddat]


  • Umer

    Moderator September 5, 2020 at 5:03 am

    (Part-2) – from 00:00 to 11:09

  • Umer

    Moderator September 5, 2020 at 5:03 am

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