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|Widow Observing ‘Iddah Traveling to Another Country
My father passed away about two weeks ago, and my mother now is 70. She is currently ill, and my brother wants to take her back to Saudi Arabia. Will her travel interrupt her ‘iddah?
Praise be to Allaah.
We ask Allaah to reward you for your calamity and ask Him alone to Bless your deceased and shower him with His Mercy.
The basic principle is that a woman should observe ‘iddah in the house in which news of her husband’s death came to her, because of the report narrated by the authors of al-Sunan, that the Prophet SAWS (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said to Furay’ah bint Maalik: “Stay in the house in which the news of your husband’s death came to you, until your ‘iddah is over.” Abu Dawood (2300), al-Tirmidhi (1204), al-Nasaa’i (200) and Ibn Majaah (2031); classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh Sunan Ibn Majaah.
Ibn Qudaamah (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: Among those who regarded it as obligatory for a newly-widowed woman to observe ‘iddah in her house were ‘Umar and ‘Uthmaan (may Allaah be pleased with them). That was also narrated from Ibn ‘Umar, Ibn Mas’ood and Umm Salamah, and it was the view held by Maalik, al-Thawri, al-Awzaa’i, Abu Haneefah, al-Shaafa’i and Ishaaq. Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr said: This was also the view of a number of fuqaha’ in the regions, in Hijaaz, Syria and Iraq.
Then he said: If she fears the collapse (of her house) or drowning or an enemy and so on, then she may move, because she is excused in that case … and she may live wherever she wants. End quote from al-Mughni (8/127).
The ‘iddah of a woman whose husband has died is four months and ten days, because Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“And those of you who die and leave wives behind them, they (the wives) shall wait (as regards their marriage) for four months and ten days” [al-Baqarah 2:234]
This period begins when the husband dies, and ends when the time is over, whether the wife adheres to the rulings on mourning or not, and whether she knows of her husband’s death or not. When four months and ten days have passed from the time of his death, then her ‘iddah ends.
Ibn Qudaamah (may Allaah have mercy on him) said (8/93): The scholars are unanimously agreed that the ‘iddah of a free Muslim woman who is not pregnant is four months and ten days from the death of her husband, whether the marriage had been consummated or not, and whether she was an adult who had reached puberty or very young and had not yet reached puberty. That is because Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): “And those of you who die and leave wives behind them, they (the wives) shall wait (as regards their marriage) for four months and ten days.”
A woman who is observing iddah following her husband’s death may go out of the house during the day to meet her needs, such as dealing with government procedures if there is no one who can do that for her. But at night she should not go out except in cases of necessity.
Ibn Qudaamah (may Allaah have mercy on him) said in al-Mughni (8/130): The woman who is observing 'iddah may go out and do errands during the day, whether she is divorced or widowed, because of the report narrated by Jaabir who said: My maternal aunt was thrice divorced and she went out to harvest her palm trees. A man met her and told her not to do that. She mentioned that to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and he said: “Go out and harvest your palm trees; perhaps you will give some of it in charity or do some good.” Narrated by al-Nasaa’i and Abu Dawood.
Mujahid narrated: Some men were martyred on the day of Uhud and their wives came to the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and said: O Messenger of Allaah, we feel scared at night; can we stay in the house of one of our number, then in the morning we will go to our own houses? The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Chat together in the house of one of your number, then when you want to sleep, each one should go to her own house.” She does not have the right to stay overnight anywhere but in her own house, or to go out at night, except in cases of necessity, because night is a time of suspicion, unlike the day, which is the time when people go about their errands and earn a living, and buy what they need. End quote.
It says in Fataawa al-Lajnah al-Daa’imah (20/440): The basic principle is that a woman should mourn in the house of her husband where he died, and she should not go out except in cases of need or necessity, such as going to the hospital if she falls sick or buying what she needs from the marketplace such as bread and the like, if she does not have anyone who can do that. End quote.
The Scholars of the Standing Committee for Issuing Fatwas was asked: What is the ruling on a woman whose husband dies in her home and she wants to complete her ‘iddah in another city because there is no one who can take care of her affairs in the city where her husband died?
If the situation is as described and she has no one in the city where her husband died who can take look after her affairs, and she cannot look after her own affairs, then it is permissible for her to move to another city where she can be safe and can find someone to look after her affairs. End quote from Fataawa al-Lajnah al-Daa’imah (10/463).
It also says (20/473): If your newly-widowed sister moves from the marital home to another house during the 'iddah because of some essential need, such as if she fears for her life by staying there alone, then there is nothing wrong with that, and she may complete her ‘iddah in the house to which she moved. End quote.
Based on that, there is nothing wrong with this woman moving to Saudi Arabia and completing her ‘iddah there, and she is not regarded as breaking her ‘iddah, because she is going out for a need which is medical treatment or for something essential.
And Allaah knows best.
Question Date: 2011-04-23
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