Iddah For A Pregnant Widow

Question

If an established pregnant women becomes widow, must she observe Iddat of 4 months and 10 days (or whatever it is) before marrying someone else? Her pregnancy is established beyond any doubt visibly, medically (X-rays, Ultra sound, MRI etc.). There will be no doubt that the child she will bear will be from her previous husband. The new husband knows it and is willingly to marry her. Must the widow complete her Iddat period before marrying this man?

Please do not treat the query just perfunctorily. I have given this problem lots and lots of thought. You must also think and ponder over the reasons for ordaining Iddat period, and if the reason is to establish the lineage of the child to come, then in this case it is already established. Hypothetically, the circumstances of the widow are such that there is no one to support her. She doesn't have a home to live in. No money to eat or buy medicine or sustain her. She needs immediate support and help. If she waits for 4 months and 10 days, she will die or the child inside the womb will perish, etc. etc. (Please do not quote, "everything is halal if it can save your life. That doesn't apply here in this case)

In another situation, suppose after 4 months and 10 days it becomes obvious that she is pregnant. Can she marry now immediately after completion of the Iddat period?

And my last question is. Why Iddat was not observed by early Companions? I do not want to go in to details, Khalid bin Walid marrying Laila Malik is one such case in question?


Answer

Since the woman is pregnant then her Iddah period as ordained by the Almighty extends to the birth of the child. Thus such a woman may need to observe the iddah period as long as nine months, if her husband has died right after the conception of the baby, and may be reduced to some days if he has died in the last days of pregnancy. Since she is forced to observe a long period of iddah in first case she must be given allowance to marry after she has given birth even before passing of the four months ten days period. The Almighty has ordained that people should make a will in favor of their wives for the provision of one year.

And those of you who die leaving widows should bequeath a year's provisions for their widows without causing them to leave their homes. (2:240)

The Shari`ah has not left us with a choice to discover the reason and then cancel the commandment in its absence. The Almighty has stressed upon the relatives of the husband to provide for the woman and bear the financial burden which may be additional to normal circumstances.

Just after mentioning the Iddah period of woman the Almighty has exhorted the believers not to coil from the responsibility put upon them regarding these women. He says that whoever fears God and fulfills these commandments will be provided by God who will create ease for them. The Qur'an specially mentions the pregnant widows and requires of the heirs of the deceased to provide for such woman who have no financial support. It says:

And if these widows are pregnant then you should spend on them until they deliver the baby. And if after that they decide to give suck to your babies then give them their due reward. You may enter into a contract according to the custom. If you find any difficulty in doing so (i.e. the woman's giving suck) then some other woman may give the baby suck. The wealthy should spend according to his means and the man of restricted means should spend from what we have blessed him with. God does not burden anyone more than He has blessed him. God will certainly grant abundance after restriction. (65:6-7)

In case the family of the deceased cannot discharge their duties in this regard the state and the society and his other relatives should provide her with all her needs. She can, of course, not break the divine ordinance and cannot marry before completion of the Iddah period.

And for the permission of nikah after passing of the Iddah Islamic Shari'ah has not put any restrictions on the widows and the divorced women. Islam strictly stops the husbands, their relatives from hindering the women from marrying the people of their choice and they must not be hampered anyway.

God Almighty says:

And when they have reached their (waiting) term there is no blame on you for what they decide for themselves according the custom. And God is fully aware of whatever you do. (2:234)

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