What is the ruling on attending religious events or socialising during the iddah period?


Someone enquired about widows attending Lajna Imaillah events, going to the mosque for congregational prayers and visiting the homes of relatives during the iddah period.  The person also suggested that there should be no iddah-related restriction for older women. 

In a letter dated 2 February 2019, Huzooraa provided the following guidance on these matters: 

“The argument for marrying the same husband after divorce, which you have presented in your letter as a premise in favour of changing the rules around widows’ iddah, is unfounded.” 

(The argument of the lady is as follows: According to the Holy Quran, after the completion of the iddah period upon divorce, a woman can only marry the same man if she first marries another man and he divorces her too. However, nowadays, one is allowed to remarry the first husband after divorce even without first marrying another man. Thus, just like this commandment has been changed, there should also be a review of the rulings around the iddah period of widows while taking their age into consideration.)

Huzooraa said:

“There was no such ruling before and there has been no change in the actual commandment. You have confused two separate rulings on divorce due to your lack of knowledge.

“Similarly, you are not fully aware of the Islamic teachings regarding the iddah of a widow. Islam commands a woman to mourn the death of her husband for four months and 10 days and does not make any exception to this, nor does it grant any age-related exemption. Therefore, it is incumbent upon a widow to spend this period of iddah in her home as much as possible. She is not allowed to adorn herself, participate in social events or leave the house unnecessarily during that period. 

“During the iddah period, a widow may go to her husband’s grave to pray, provided that the grave is in the town where the widow resides. Moreover, if she has to go to the doctor, she would be exempt due to compulsion. Similarly, if a widow’s family’s livelihood depends on her job or she has no other arrangements for taking the children to school and bringing them back or doing the shopping, then all these circumstances would grant her an exemption due to being compelled.

“In such a case, it would be incumbent upon her to go straight to work and return home after completing the work. That is the maximum extent of the permission to leave the house under compulsion and necessity. She is not allowed to participate in any kind of social gatherings or programmes. Therefore, no one is allowed to introduce new things in the Shariah or to create innovations.”

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