#99: A Woman Going to Work After the Death of Her Husband

Question:

Assalamualaikum ustaz. What is the ruling of a woman who went to work just after her husband died?

Answer:

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 Last Day.

We’ll start our answer with the statement of Allah SWT:

وَالَّذِينَ يُتَوَفَّوْنَ مِنكُمْ وَيَذَرُونَ أَزْوَاجًا يَتَرَبَّصْنَ بِأَنفُسِهِنَّ أَرْبَعَةَ أَشْهُرٍ وَعَشْرًا

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

Surah al-Baqarah (234)

From Ummu Habibah R.Anha, she said:

لاَ يَحِلُّ لاِمْرَأَةٍ تُؤْمِنُ بِاللَّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الآخِرِ تُحِدُّ عَلَى مَيِّتٍ فَوْقَ ثَلاَثٍ إِلاَّ عَلَى زَوْجٍ أَرْبَعَةَ أَشْهُرٍ وَعَشْرًا

“It is not lawful for a woman who believes in God and the last day to observe mourning for one who has died more than three nights, except for the four months and ten days in the case of a husband.”

Sahih al-Bukhari (5024) and Muslim (1486)

According to the above evidence, a woman who has just lost her husband should mourn (ihdad) for four months and 10 days. This is what has been set by Allah SWT.

The Wisdoms of the Sanctioning of Mourning

There are too many wisdoms behind the sanctioning of mourning for a woman whose husband passed away. Among them are:

  • Displaying her loyalties.
  • Celebrating the great rights of a husband.

The reason is a marriage bond is a pure bond according to syarak and it is the common manner for it not to be just forgotten. It is unreasonable after his death for his wife to adorn and perfume herself before going out just like other women. This is disrespect towards her husband who has just died. Hence, scholars and imams of the four madhhabs have concluded the matters related to ihdad, among others they say:

  • Indeed, ihdad is obligatory after the death of her husband to showcase her sadness and fulfilling her promise. The same for the severing of a blessing of the marriage of not just in this world but transcends to the hereafter. The reason is marriage is a reason they are successful in this world and the hereafter.
  • Likewise, for the sanctioning of ihdad to prevent other men to want to be with her for if she did adorn herself surely, it could lead to this and it is impermissible. (See Hasyiah Sa’di Jalbi ‘ala Syarh Fath al-Qadir, 3/291)

However, scholars have exempted several matters for a woman to go out for certain purposes. Among the necessary purpose which makes it permissible for the woman to go out of the house is to go to work, get treatment, buy her necessities (if there is no other family member or another person that could do it) and other important and desperate need on the condition that they follow the rules and manners sanctioned in Islam.

The permissibility of going out of the house is on the condition that it is during the day and not at night. However, the exception is given for an individual who doesn’t have a choice and has to work at night, for example, a doctor, nurse or others. The prohibition against travelling, includes travelling to perform hajj and umrah. (See Garis Panduan Ber`Iddah Bagi Wanita Yang Bercerai Atau Kematian Suami, by JAKIM)

Our Suggestion

In such a situation, going out of the house should be in a limited form. Which is only to the workplace, receiving treatment or buying necessities.

Second, one should ask for consideration from the government or the employer to offer facilitation for a woman so that she can complete her iddah at her house by working from home like what has been implemented during the surge of the COVID-19 pandemic. This could help lighten the burden bore by the wife whose husband died and it includes under the ihsan by the employers towards their staff or workers.

Hopefully, this enlightenment could give us the strength in upholding the shariah of Allah even when one’s beloved husband died. May Allah forgive all our sins. Amin.

Wallahu a’lam.

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