wa `alaykum al-salam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu
Note: Some answers assume that the woman in
question is both free of pregnancy and still has a
A1) It is the sunnah
when pronouncing a divorce that it be a single
divorce, in between two periods, and without any
sexual intimacy taken having taken place since the
last period. It is a bid`ah to pronounce two or
three divorces at once, to do so during the period,
or to do so after there has been sexual intimacy
since the last period. A bid`ah divorce is still
binding. This is according to the Shafi`i and
Hanbali schools, according to the books that are
relied upon and used for giving fatwa
(mu`tamad and mufta bihi).
A woman must wait to complete three quru'
(plural of qur', see next paragraph)
before the divorce becomes final if she has a
period and is not currently pregnant.
There word qur' carries two opposite meanings:
menstruation and purity. The Hanafis and Hanbalis
hold it to mean menstruation, and the Malakis and
Shafi`is hold it to mean the purity between two
menstruations. Both opinions have evidence and
arguments supporting them, and neither one can be
easily written off.
The difference in understanding leads to
differences in the length of the `iddah. To
demonstrate this, let me tell you about an
imaginary man named Majnun:
Majnun has three wives: Hammamah the Hanafiyah,
Shahrur the Shafi`iyah, and Bulbul the Hanbaliyah.
(The names of these imaginary wives have been
changed to protect their fictional identities, and
as a precaution that no husband gets practice in
divorcing his wife.) Realizing the stress of
keeping three wives he decides to divorce them all.
While Majnun has never divorced Shahrur or Hammamah
before, he has divorced Bulbul twice, only to take
her back before the end of the `iddah. It is very
convenient that all of his wives have completely
identical menstrual cycles. The wives are going to
have a slightly different `iddah because of the
difference over whether the period or the purity
counts as the cycle in `iddah. There will also be a
slightly different twist with Bulbul because of the
previous divorces. We'll let our poor imaginary
sisters fight over which position is stronger or
Here's a chart to make it easier to follow the
`iddah of each wife:
Tuhr 1 -- Majnun has just pronounced
divorce to his beloveds Shahrur, Hammamah and
Bulbul. At any time up until the end of the `iddah
he is entitled to take back Shahruh or Hammamah
since it is not an final divorce (talaq
raj`i), but not Bulbul because this is a third
and final divorce (talaq ba'in). For
Shahrur this will be the first qur' of her `iddah,
but not Hammamah and Bulbul.
Haydh 1 -- Shahrur has completed her
first qur`. Hammamah and Bulbul have started the
Tuhr 2 -- Shahrur is now starting her
second qur`; Hammamah and Bulbul have just finished
Haydh 2 -- Shahrur has completed her
second qur`; Hammamah and Bulbul have just started
Tuhr 3 -- Shahrur is now starting her
third qur`; if Majnun wants to take Shahrur back he
will need to do so now. Hammamah and Bulbul have
just finished the second qur`.
Haydh 3 -- Shahrur's third qur` is
over, so is her `iddah, and Majnun is no longer her
husband. If he wants to marry her he's just one of
many suitors who have already lined up at her door.
Shahrur's not even sad because she just married one
of them, but unfortunately she has to wait to
consummate the new marriage (since she ended her
`iddah with haydh). Bulbul is beginning her third
qur`. Majnun has taken back his first love,
Hammamah, quite to her dismay.
Tuhr 4 -- Shahrur can now consummate
her new marriage. Bulbul has finished the third
qur` and her `iddah is now over. Just like Shahrur,
she ended her `iddah with many suitors at her door,
including Majnun. But even if she had been
interested in his proposal, it is unlawful for them
to marry because he has now divorced her three
times and she will not be lawful for him until she
consummates a marriage with another husband (a
difficult issue for some other time). In any case:
she immediately found a new husband and they
consummated their marriage (since she ended her
`iddah with tuhr).
End of story, at least for Shahrur and Bulbul.
Poor Hammamah: after attending Bulbul's wedding
celebration Majnun got upset and did it again. So,
here we go again:
Tuhr 1 -- Majnun has just pronounced
divorce to his beloved Hammamah. At any time up
until the end of the `iddah he is entitled to take
her back since it is not an final divorce
Haydh 1 -- Hammamah starts the first
Tuhr 2 -- Hammamah finishs the first
Haydh 2 -- Hammamah starts the second
Tuhr 3 -- Hammamah finishs the second
Haydh 3 -- Hammamah begins her third
qur`. If Majnun wants to take her back, he better
do it soon.
Tuhr 4 -- Hammamah has finished the
third qur` and her `iddah is now over. Just like
her ex-co-wives Shahruh and Bulbul, she ended her
`iddah with many suitors at her door, including
Majnun who tries to take her back several days
after the `iddah is over. He begs and begs that she
agree to marry him again. She finally agrees, so
they get married with a brand new marriage
contract (since they are no longer married once the
`iddah ended) and immediately consummate the
marriage (since she ended her `iddah with tuhr).
And if Majnun does this again, her `iddah will be
just like Bulbul's.
End of story.
As for short cycles, the following table lists
the lengths for three mathabs:
In the above story, Shahrur's `idda consists of
3 tuhrs and 2 haydhs. We'll assume that she was
divorced one moment before her, and we'll assume
that she has a minimum period and a minimum tuhr
between periods. So, we get
(1 moment + (2 * 1)) + (2 * 15) + 1
moment = 32 days + 2 moments
If we assume the same for Bulbul, we get:
(1 moment + (2 * 1)) + (2 * 13) + 1
moment = 28 days + 2 moments
This actually happened during the time of
Sayyidina `Ali bin Abi Talib (Allah be well pleased
with him): a wife claimed to have finished her
`iddah during one month, and he asked about other
women from her family and found that it was normal
for them to have three periods in one month(*).
For Hammamah, the Hanafis give the following as
a minimal `iddah:
(3 * 3) + (2 * 15) + 1 hour = 39 days + 1
where "hour" means some period of time and not
necessarily 60 minutes.
And Allah knows best.
A2) The `iddah is
over the instant after the three quru` are done.
This varies according to which mathhab you follow.
For Shafi`iyahs the `idda ends with the end of the
third tuhr, and for Hanbalis it ends with the end
of the third haydh.
A3) One single,
simple talaq and three quru` is all it takes.
A4) Once the `iddah
is over, the husband is entitled to step in line
with the other men lining up to propose--if and
only if he has pronounced one or two divorces. If
he has pronounced three divorces, then she will
need to have consummated a marriage with another
man and then finished her `iddah from that marriage
before her first husband can marry her again.
If they do agree to marry, it must be with a new
A5) If there are no
children, the husband does not have to pay spousal
support once the `idda is complete. It is
recommended that he give his former wife some sort
of gift (mut`a), and in some cases it is
obligatory. But divorce does not free him of the
need to pay anything that is remaining from the
mahr, unless the wife had freed him of it (and
that's another story).
waiting period (`iddah) is to guarantee
that there is no pregnancy. In the case where the
husband can potentially take her back, it also
gives him time to think things through again and,
bi idhni Allah, take her back. It is also a time
for everyone involved to think about the value of a
good marriage and how important it is to effort
into keeping it that way.
As for the waiting period for a widow
(ihdad), in addition to guaranteeing that
there is no pregnancy, it is also out of respect
for the husband. It is obligatory to do for a
husband who has passed away. During this second
type of waiting period, the wife must stick to the
house and avoid adornment of various types. (Please
consult references like The Reliance or
the Hanafi, Shafi`i, and Hanbali groups for details
of what this means.)
There are many differences between the
mathahib regarding ihdad:
The Hanafis consider it obligatory
when there is no possibility for the husband to
take the wife back. The woman may go out during
the day to attend to business needs; she is
should not have to buy food, since this is
obligatory on her husband.
The Shafi`is consider it
recommended in cases of divorce where there is
no possibility for the husband to take the wife
back. The woman may go out during the day to
buy food and attend to business needs. She may
go out at night to visit, provided she returns
to the house and sleeps there.
The Hanbalis consider it
permissible not not a sunnah. The woman may go
out during the day to buy food and attend to
Although the issue was not mentioned
in the books: a woman who has an ongoing job that
she depends on is unlikely to be to just take off
work for her ihdad. Even if her housing and upkeep
are being provided for, she has an excellent case
for going to work each day so she does not lose her
job and with it her future earnings.
And Allah knows best.
Anyone who has gone through a divorce knows how
difficult and trying things can get. This is a time
for getting closer to Allah through reciting
Qur'an, doing adhkar, making du`a, and making extra
prayers. It's also a good time to remember that
when Allah takes something from us, He gives us
And lest we take Allah's bounties and blessings
for granted and risk losing them, we should all
take the time to have shukr for what Allah has
given us, and ask Him to be generous and gentle
with the less fortunate.
wa al-salamu `alaykum,
Resources consulted: Ï Hanafi: Al-Lubab;
Zahir, Faraz, and two other students w/Al-Barqawi
Ï Shafi`i: `Umdat Al-Salik, Sharh
Ibn Qasim Al-Ghazi (especially good for
ihdad), Kifayat Al-Akhyar; Sa`imah Ï Hanbali: Nail
Al-Ma'arib, Ghayat Al-Muntaha, Al-`Uddah
Please direct mathhab specific
questions to its living scholars, or consult the Hanafi,
groups on Yahoo!
(*) The athar is
related in Al-Darami's Sunan (754). Nasr
Al-Din Al-Albani does not seem to have found it in
his takhrij of Manar Al-Sabil. `Abd
Al-Razzaq Al-Mahdi considers is well authenticated
in his takhrij on Al-`Uddah.