Iddat: A Curse Or A Boon For Married Women In India

Asme Tiwari
Article By Asme Tiwari | 2nd Year Law student at Bennett University, Greater Noida

Marriage in the ideal term can be defined as the equal partnership between a wife and her husband. But, In India we like to add a little twist of our own i.e., we as a society view marriage as the partnership where the husband is the superior and the wife is the inferior. Personal laws are the most reliable evidence to prove that women are still treated as mere object in this so-called male-patriarchy. One such example is the concept of Iddat in Muslim Personal Laws. It restricts the women into four walls and the safest place in the world i.e., their home converts into a prison just because being a women will be always be a crime in this hypocritic society of India.   

Iddat which can also be referred as Iddah is one of the most significant concepts in the Muslim Personal Laws or Islamic Law. Iddat can be described as the period that a Muslim Married woman has to observe after has marriage has been dissolved either by divorce or by the death of her husband. During the time period, when the Muslim Woman is following the Iddat period, she has to remain in seclusion or in solitude and till the time of Iddat period, Muslim Woman is undergoing Iddat Period is prohibited from marrying again after her first marriage has been dissolved.

There are two purposes or objects that Iddat Period serves of which it is considered to be so important in the Islamic Laws:

  • The first one it is important to observe Iddat Period as to ascertain that whether the wife is pregnant or not and if she is pregnant then it is observed to avoid the confusion and be sure about the parentage or paternity of child, because if the woman will remarry as soon as her first marriage is dissolved without observing Iddat and if she would have been pregnant then it will be very difficult to ascertain the paternity of child.
  • The second object of observing Iddat Period is to give time to the couple after the Talaq in order to ensure that if they want to reconcile, they can reconcile easily without any difficulty and if they want to re-think about their decision of taking Talaq or to revoke the Talaq that has been pronounced because once the Iddat period is complete then the Talaq becomes irrevocable.

The duration of Iddat Period observed by Muslim Women differs or varies from case to case or situation to situation:

  • When the Muslim Women observe Iddat at the time when their marriage has been dissolved due to the death of her husband that is when she observes Iddat in Widowhood then, she has to observe Iddat Period for four Months ten days whether their marriage has been consummated or not.
  • If a Muslim Woman is pregnant at the time of her husband’s death, then she has to observe Iddat period for complete one year which includes nine months of pregnancy and three months of Iddat period.
  • When the Muslim Women observe Iddat at the time when their marriage has been dissolved due to divorce then they have to observe Iddat Period for complete three months. 

There are certain places defined under Muslim Personal Laws or Islamic Laws where a Muslim Woman has to reside at the time when she has to observe Iddat Period:

  • It is mandatory under Muslim Personal Laws that at the time when Muslim Woman has to observe Iddat Period in the very same house where she has been residing permanently at the time of her husband’s death or at the time when her marriage dissolved.
  • If at the time of her husband’s death, the Muslim Woman was on a journey and on the journey itself she was informed or she received the news about her husband’s death then the provision under Islamic Laws states that she must return to her place of residence immediately to observe her Iddat Period but if she is at such place that she cannot reach her place of residence immediately that is it is beyond her reach, then she can return to her place of residence once she has returned from her journey and reached her journey.
  • It at the time when the husband of a Muslim Woman died, and she was at her paternal home and according to the laws that she must return to her husband’s home to complete her Iddat period because as per the rules, the Parental home of a Muslim Woman upon her marriage is not considered as the Permanent Residence of that Woman. Her Husband’s Home is considered as her permanent residence.

There are several things which are prohibited or forbidden to Muslim Woman at the time when is observing her Iddat Period. These things are known as Haraam under the Muslim Personal Laws and those things are as follows:

  • Muslim Woman cannot indulge into any activities which they might do for beautifying themselves through applying any kind of makeup or any other thing till the time she is observing Iddat Period.
  • Muslim Women at the time of Iddat Period are forbidden to wear silken clothes or any bright or gaudy dresses. There are no colors as to be specified but plain colored clothes are enough.
  • Muslim Women are not permitted to leave the house where they are observing Iddat until and unless there is any urgency or emergency such as medical emergency but only to the extent that a house call for Physician will not be able to treat that medical emergency, she can only leave the house with a mahram who is the male member of the family whom according to Islamic law that Muslim woman cannot marry.
  • She is obligated to mourn for her husband’s death by offering prayers to Allah
  • Muslim women are not permitted to attend funerals or visit any ill person during the time they are observing Iddat.

MAINTAINANCE DURING IDDAT:

During the time Muslim woman is observing the Iddat period she is not entitled to claim maintenance out of her husband’s property as wife is herself in an heir to it. The reason behind this is that post marriage the liability of maintenance of the wife lies with the husband and not remaining heirs. If the dower or Mehr is not received by the wife nor did she renounce it once received then she would be entitled to receive it as the very first thing from her husband’s property.

CONCLUSION

The Iddat Period observed by Muslim Woman after the dissolution of their marriage either by divorce or by her husband’s death can be considered as the curse and the boon for Muslim Woman in India because the only thing that is good about Iddat period is that it gives time to the couple for reconciliation and also if they want to work on their relationship, after the Talaq has been renounced and regarding the parentage of the child so that child does not lose his/her identity. But there are several restrictions which seem pointless and even indicates towards the dominance of the thinking of the male patriarchy society while framing those restrictions. With the advancement of the technology so whether a woman is pregnant or not it can be assessed easily and there is no need of any waiting period. The restrictions such as they prohibition of leaving the house where she is observing her Iddat Period is a curse for them as it is the direct attack on their freedom. They are confined in to the four walls of the house. They cannot attend the funeral or cannot visit any ill person no matter how close he/she was which is an insult to their emotions. Women’s identity is beyond being her husband’s wife but the Islamic Laws fail to recognize so and till today they treat women as the object.  

This article was written by Asme Tiwari, a 2nd Year student at Bennett University, Greater Noida. She may be reached at asme4569@gmail.com. The views and opinions expressed in the article are those of the author. They do not purport to reflect the views and opinions of Hello Counsel.

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