Shar’i rulings regarding Islamic Sisters
Covering (Hijab) during the waiting period (Iddah)
Mufti Muhammad Fuzail ‘Attari
Question: What do the Islamic scholars say regarding the following matter: In front of which people must a woman observe hijab after her husband dies, and in whose presence does she not have to observe it? During this period, must she observe hijab in the presence of her siblings’ sons and her son-in-law? Some people believe that following the death of her husband, a woman in the waiting period must wear a veil when under the open sky. Is this true?
بِسْمِ اللّٰہِ الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِیْمِ
اَلْجَوَابُ بِعَوْنِ الْمَلِکِ الْوَھَّابِ اَللّٰھُمَّ ھِدَایَۃَ الْحَقِّ وَالصَّوَابِ
Unfortunately, many people believe that women have different rules of hijab during the waiting period—this is incorrect. Islam ordains one set of rules of hijab for women, which they must observe, irrespective of whether or not they are in their waiting period. The rulings of hijab do not change with the onset of the waiting period. Women do not have to observe hijab during their waiting period before men in whose presence hijab was not necessary prior to their waiting period, and they must observe it during the waiting period before men in whose presence hijab was required prior to the waiting period.
As for the people in whose presence hijab is and is not required, Islam provides the following guidelines:
1. Irrespective of whether or not a woman is in her waiting period, it is necessary (Wajib) for her to observe the veil in the presence of non-Mahram men, such as her brother-in-law and maternal and paternal cousins.
2. She must not observe the veil before her blood Mahrams (Mahram Nasabi) such as her father, brother, son, father’s brother, mother’s brother, etc. She will be sinful if she observes the veil before them.
3. It is not necessary for her to observe the veil in the presence of a marital Mahram (Mahram Sihri), i.e., someone who is her Mahram through marriage, such as her father-in-law. Likewise, the same ruling is applicable in the presence of a man who is a woman’s nursed Mahram, i.e., someone who is her Mahram through milk kinship, such as the son and husband of her wet-nurse. It is optional for her to observe the veil in the presence of such men. However, she is encouraged to observe it in front of them while she is young.
In light of the details given above, the answer to the given question is clear: as a woman’s nephews are classed as her blood Mahrams, she must not observe the veil before them during the waiting period; she will be sinful if she does. The son-in-law is a Mahram through marriage. Therefore, it is optional to veil before him. However, if the mother-in-law is young, it is more apt for her to observe the veil. And if there is a high probability of any wrongdoing taking place, then it is necessary (Wajib) to observe the veil; this ruling is general and not exclusive to the waiting period.
Moreover, in Islam, there is no concept of observing the veil under the open sky. Hence, a woman is allowed to enter a private space, such as her garden, during her waiting period. In doing so, care should be taken to ensure that the rules of hijab are observed before those in whose presence it is necessary.
وَاللہُ اَعْلَمُ عَزَّوَجَلَّ وَ رَسُوْلُہٗ اَعْلَم صلَّی اللہ علیہ واٰلہٖ وسلَّم