Bismillahi al-rahmani al-rahim
Some Questions About Divorce

Q Salaam 'Alaikum

A sister who can not access the group has asked and needs to know:

1) If the husband pronounces the divorce at the end of one tuhur, just before the womans period is due, does that few days before her period count as one tuhur (period of purity not sure if I spelt right) or does the iddah have to be the length of three full tuhur, regardless of when the talaq was said?  Details please.  Also if the woman has a short cycle is there any minimum time in regard to this?

2) When does the divorce end on the first day of the next tuhur, or on the first day of her period after the three tuhur have finished?

3) Does the woman have to have had three talaqs said to her in order for her to be able to remarry another man after the expiration of the iddah; or is one or two talaqs enough?

4) Can the woman who has been divorced only one or two times remarry her first husband after the iddah has expired?

5) Does the husband only have to financially maintain the woman during the iddah or are there anythings he has to pay after that (if the woman is childless?)

6) Can the woman go out during the iddah for neccesary reasons such as work, education etc? For social reasons?

Jazak Allah Khair.


A 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 menstrual cycle.

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 better.

Here's a chart to make it easier to follow the `iddah of each wife:

  Tuhr 1 Haydh 1 Tuhr 2 Haydh 2 Tuhr 3 Hayhd 3 Tuhr 4
Shahrur (Shafi`i) 1   2   3 finished finished
Hammamah (Hanafi)
Bulbul (Hanbali)
  1   2   3

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 first qur`.

Tuhr 2 -- Shahrur is now starting her second qur`; Hammamah and Bulbul have just finished the first.

Haydh 2 -- Shahrur has completed her second qur`; Hammamah and Bulbul have just started the second.

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 Haydh 1 Tuhr 2 Haydh 2 Tuhr 3 Hayhd 3 Tuhr 4
Hammamah (Hanafi)   1   2   3 finished

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 (talaq raj`i)..

Haydh 1 -- Hammamah starts the first qur`.

Tuhr 2 -- Hammamah finishs the first qur`.

Haydh 2 -- Hammamah starts the second qur`.

Tuhr 3 -- Hammamah finishs the second qur`.

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:

  Min hayd Max hayd Min tuhr
Hanafi 3 days 10 days 15 days
Shafi`i 1 day 15 days 15 days
Hanbali 1 day 15 days 13 days

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 hour

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 marriage contract.

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).

A6) The 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 business needs.

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 something better.

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, Shafi`i, and Hanbali 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.


Originally posted to the Hanbali group on Yahoo! Permission is hereby granted to reprint and repost for non-profit purposes, provided the text and this notice remain in their original form. Please send corrections and suggestions via the Hanbali group.