Wednesday, April 16, 2008

A Woman mourning the death of her Husband

Assalamu alaikum, below are notes from the next hadeeth - Hadeeth 650 from Lesson 170 which was delivered on Friday 26th October 2007 by Shaykh Abu Yusuf Riyadh ul Haq.


باب: إِحداد المرَأَةِ عَلَى غَيْرِ زَوجِهَا

Chapter 14 - Chapter of a woman’s mourning someone other then her husband

650. عَنْ أُمَ حَبِيبَةَ رَضِيَ اللهُ عَنْهَا زَوْجِ النّبِيّ صلى الله عليه وسلم, قَالَتْ: سَمِعْتُ رَسُولَ اللهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم يَقُولُ: (لاَ يَحِلّ لاِمْرَأَةٍ تُؤْمِنُ بِاللهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الاَخِرِ, تُحِدّ عَلَى مَيّتٍ فَوْقَ ثَلاَثٍ, إِلاّ عَلَى زَوْجٍ أَرْبَعَةَ أَشْهُرٍ وَعَشْرًا). رواه البخاري: 1281

650. Narrated Umm Habiba رضى الله عنها , wife of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم : I heard the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم saying: It is not legal for a woman who believes in Allâh and the Last Day to mourn for more than three days for any dead person except her husband, for whom she should mourn for four months and ten days. (2:370O.B.)

This hadeeth is related by Umm Habibah (رضى الله عنها) whose real name was Ramlah (meaning beautiful). She was the wife of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم), and the daughter of Abu Sufyan ( (رضى الله عنه. She has only related 4 hadeeth from Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم). This dispels the idea that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) married again and again only to educate the ummah. Umm Habibah (رضى الله عنه) actually relates some hadeeth from other wives but the ones she heard directly from the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) are four in number and this is one of them.

There is a longer narration of this hadeeth related in Bukhari itself.

Three days after the news arrived of the death of Umm Habibah’s (رضى الله عنها) father, Abu Sufyan ((رضى الله عنه) she asked for some yellow paste/power, called sufrah, which also had a fragrance. Safrah is similar to henna. She applied this to her arms and her legs to adorn herself. Umm Habibah ( (رضى الله عنها said that she did not have any need to adorn herself but she was simply doing this because she had heard the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) say that it is not permissible for any woman who believes in Allah and in the final day to mourn anyone for more then three days other then her husband whom she should mourn for a total of three months and ten days.

There are two things to note; itida’ad – to wait i.e. to observe the iddah – the waiting period and ehdad – to mourn. These are two separate issues.


When a woman is divorced with one talaq which is revocable, all the ulema agree that she will observe the iddah i.e. wait but not be in mourning. Her iddah begins but she doesn’t have to mourn (idea of mourning – shun adornment, beautiful clothes etc.) Similarly, for two revocable divorces, where there is the possibility of her husband taking her back there will be a waiting period but no mourning, therefore, she can adorn herself and all the ulema say she should behave normally so that there is some hope of reconciliation.

According to Imam Shafi (رحمة الله عليه), however, it is desirable for her to actually mourn as well if she feels there is no hope of reconciliation. Just like death is a thing of sorrow and concern and a great loss, similarly when a marriage comes to an end it is a great loss according to the shari’ah, for everyone. Marriage is a great blessing; it prevents one from committing sins, gives one solace, comfort, and security. Thus, when a marriage comes to an end, then the Shari’ah stipulates that you should wait and then, if it is irrevocable, mourn.

If there is an irrevocable divorce, whether one or two, or three and no possibility of taking her back then there is waiting and no mourning according to Shafi, Maliki or Hanbali schools of fiqh. According to Hanafi fiqh, there is the iddah and mourning, and, in fact, mourning is wajib. It is not just a case of waiting - she should also be mourning. This means there should be no adornment, fragrance, leaving home, nor wearing beautiful clothes and makeup – all these rules apply.

If her husband dies then according to all the schools of fiqh, there is waiting and mourning – four months and ten days – so all the rules mentioned above apply. If someone else dies, other then her husband, it’s not permissible to mourn for more then three days. This shows how great a position and responsibility Allah has placed upon a woman in marriage in terms of respect. It shows the position of her husband.

The Shaykh highlighted that mourning in this context does not mean the sorrow of the heart – one has no control over that. Mourning means in terms of adornment.

The Arab women observed mourning for a whole year if their husband dies – this is mentioned in the Qur’an. Then another verse was revealed which abrogated this verse and Allah reduced the length of time.

The Shaykh also mentioned that if a man is married to a woman of the ahle kitab i.e. a Christian or a Jew then she must observe the iddah according to all the schools of fiqh if he dies. According to the Maliki, Hanbali and Shafi schools of fiqh, she has to mourn as well but according to the Hanafi school of fiqh she does not have to mourn.

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