#330: A Wife Following the Funeral Procession of Her Husband

Question:

Assalamualaikum ustaz. Is it permissible for a woman whose husband just died to perform the funeral prayer and follow the funeral procession of her husband when her iddah has just started?

Answer:

Waalaikumussalam wrt. wbt.,

Alhamdulillah, praise and gratitude to Allah SWT for His countless blessings for us all. Praise and salutations to our beloved Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his family, companions, and all those who follow his footsteps until the Final day.

‘Iddah lexically means calculation, count or number. The reason is it includes the number of pure from menstruation and also the number of months.

The ‘iddah terminology is named for certain periods of time for a woman to wait, solely obeying the commandment of Allah (ta’abbudi) or as a sign of mourning for the loss of one’s husband or ensuring her womb is clean from pregnancy. [1]

‘Iddah for a woman whose husband died is 4 months and 10 days and included in the calculation of iddah is the ihdad ruling (mourning) for the wife. This is based on the statement of Allah SWT:

وَٱلَّذِينَ يُتَوَفَّوۡنَ مِنكُمۡ وَيَذَرُونَ أَزۡوَٰجًا يَتَرَبَّصۡنَ بِأَنفُسِهِنَّ أَرۡبَعَةَ أَشۡهُرٍ وَعَشۡرًاۖ

“And those who are taken in death among you and leave wives behind – they, [the wives, shall] wait four months and ten [days].” [2]

If the husband died when the wife is pregnant, then her ‘iddah is until she gives birth. This is based on the statement of Allah SWT:

وَأُوْلَٰتُ ٱلۡأَحۡمَالِ أَجَلُهُنَّ أَن يَضَعۡنَ حَمۡلَهُنَّۚ

“And for those who are pregnant, their term is until they give birth.” [3]

In going through the number of days of mourning for a widow, a woman isn’t permissible to go out of her house throughout her ‘iddah period except in exigent situations or to fulfil her needs. This is based on the statement of the Prophet PBUH to Furay’ah binti Malik bin Sinan when she went to meet the Prophet PBUH and asked whether she can return to her family, Bani Khudrah after the death of her husband. The Prophet PBUH answered:

امْكُثِي فِي بَيْتِكِ حَتَّى يَبْلُغَ الْكِتَابُ أَجَلَهُ

“Stay in your house, until the term prescribed is fulfilled.” [4]

Furay’ah R.Anha completed her ‘iddah of 4 months and 10 days and during the rule of Caliph Uthman bin ‘Affan RA, he sent someone to ask regarding the incident and Furay’ah narrated the incident and Caliph Uthman RA followed it and ruled with it.

Al-Imam al-Khattabi stated that according to the above hadith, a woman whose husband died should complete her ‘iddah at her husband’s house and it is impermissible for her to go out of the house except in exigent situations and need and this is the opinion of al-Imam Malik, al-Thauri, al-Syafi’e, Ahmad and Muhammad bin al-Hasan. [5]

Likewise, al-Imam Ibn Abd al-Bar stated in his book al-Istizkar, a woman whose husband died should complete her ‘iddah in the house she lives in whether she owns it or it is her husband’s. It is impermissible for her to complete her ‘iddah except at this house and this is the opinion of al-Imam Malik, al-Syafi’e, Abu Hanifah and his followers, al-Thauri, al-Auza’ie, al-Laith bin Sa’ad and Ahmad bin Hanbal.[6]

According to the above Quranic and prophetic evidences, scholars agreed that the ruling of a woman in ‘iddah after her husband died, it is impermissible for her to go out and she should stay in her husband’s house until her ‘iddah is completed.

The wisdoms of ‘iddah for a woman whose husband died is sanctioned is for the following purposes: [7]

  • Showcasing her loyalty to her dead husband. Thus, Allah SWT obligates the wife to respect, be loyal, and serve him. Hence, it is inappropriate for the wife to act as the consequence after her husband’s death.
  • Replace the custom during the time of jahiliyyah that obligates a wife to seclude and lock herself in a dark place for a year after the death of her husband.

According to the above question, we state that Islam came to celebrate the innate characteristic of women. When a woman loses her husband, father and close family member, most wouldn’t be able to contain their feelings and would weep loudly, pulling at their clothing and hitting themselves in sadness. These acts originated from jahiliyyah customs prohibited by Islam. From Abdullah bin Mas’ud R.anhuma, Rasullullah PBUH said:

لَيْسَ مِنَّا مَنْ ضَرَبَ الخُدُودَ، وَشَقَّ الجُيُوبَ، وَدَعَا بِدَعْوَى الجَاهِلِيَّةِ

“He is not one of us who strikes his cheeks, rends his garment, and calls the calls of the Jahiliyyah.” [8]

From Umm Atiyyah R.Anha, she said:

نُهِينَا عَنْ اتِّبَاعِ الْجَنَائِزِ وَلَمْ يُعْزَمْ عَلَيْنَا

“We were forbidden to accompany funeral processions, but this prohibition was not mandatory for us.” [9]

According to Imam Nawawi in the book al-Majmu’: The restriction is makruh tanzih. This is as stated in madhhab Syafie and jumhur while in madhhab Malik, it isn’t considered as makruh except for young women. It is narrated from al-Abdari, Imam Malik considered it makruh except if the deceased is her child, parents and husband. [10]

Some scholars considered the act of following a funeral procession as makruh tahrim according to a hadith of Rasullullah PBUH, where the Prophet PBUH rebuked the women who waited for the deceased:

ارْجِعْنَ مَأْزُورَاتٍ غَيْرَ مَأْجُورَاتٍ

“Then go back with a burden of sin and not rewarded.” [11]

Thus, according to the above arguments, in our opinion, it is enough for the woman to stay at home and if she wishes to perform the funeral prayer, then do so at her house without following the deceased to the graveyard. This is to respect the ihdad ruling (mourning) during the ‘iddah duration, thus, when her ‘iddah ended, then she can visit her husband’s grave while minding the manners of visiting the graves.

May Allah grant us all the understanding and strength to follow every commandment of Islam’s shariah in attaining Mardhatillah. Amin.

Wallahu a’lam.

[1] See al-Fiqh al-Manhaji, 3/61

[2] Surah al-Baqarah: 234

[3] Surah al-Talaq: 4

[4] Narrated by Abu Dawud (2300) and al-Tirmidzi (1204)

[5] See Ma’alim al-Sunan, 3/287

[6] See al-Istizkar, 6/214

[7] See al-Fiqh al-Manhaji, 3/61

[8] Narrated by al-Bukhari (1297)

[9] Narrated by al-Bukhari (1278)

[10] See al-Majmu’ 5/277-278) 

[11] Narrated by Ibn Majah (1578), al-Bazzar (653) and al-Baihaqi (7452). This hadith is evaluated as dhaif according to the book al-Silsilah al-Dhaifah (2742)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.