Why is the Waiting Period (iddah) of Divorce More Than One Menstruation? Answered By Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi


What is the sense in prolonging a woman’s waiting period when her pregnancy can be determined (by ultrasound, etc) on her first menstruation?


The waiting period (Iddah), is prescribed for certain reasons which are explained here:

  • 1) One of these is the right of Allah that is obedience to His command and seeking His pleasure.
  • 2) To ensure that a woman is not pregnant. This prevents the sperm of two men being carried by the womb at one time and causing confusion about the real father. If a waiting period is not prescribed, there would have been much mischief which Shari’ah aims at preventing.
  • 3) The reason for setting a long ‘iddah period is to express the greatness, dignity and nobility of marriage.
  • 4) The prolonged period is prescribed to allow sufficient time to the husband who has divorced her to give a second thought to his decision and retract and compromise with his wife. This is the right of the husband who has given the divorce and that is to give him ample time to think over and reconcile with her either through revocation of divorce (ruj’at) or renewal of marriage.
  • 5) The ‘lddah, is prescribed to allow the woman to fulfill the rights of her husband. On the death of a husband, such behavior on her part displays her reaction and it is done by giving up self-adornment.

It is thus known that the purpose of the waiting period is not merely to find out pregnancy or otherwise. It is only one of the purposes and there are others too, which cannot be realized within the period of first menstruation of the woman.

Thus, the limit of three menstrual periods as iddah (for a divorced woman), is to guarantee fulfillment of all these rights together, some of these cannot be fulfilled after the first menstruation. Of the rights mentioned in the waiting period of a divorcee, some are common to the waiting period of a widow. These can be known by a little reflection.

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