Last year at about late December, a good friend of mine lost her Father to a long and vicious battle with Leukemia. He was a great great man, who was admired and shall be missed be many; me included. He left behind a son, a daughter and a wife.
This was the first time that I have ever had someone so close to me lose someone so close to them. It was the first time that I witnessed the process and procedures that come along with Islamic mourning. I learned for instance that mourners are forbidden to wail so as to discourage attracting attention to their loss, that the body must be washed and cleansed by the deceased’s closest family members and friends of the same sex as they re-sight the necessary prayers and it is very rare for someone as close as the wife and daughter to see the corpse.
The main thing that intrigued me and caused me to partake into some research on the topic is that process of Iddah (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iddah for more detailed information). This is basically the mourning period for women. Fundamentally, this has five main directives;
- The waiting period (Iddah) of a widow is four months and ten days;
- During this period, the woman is not to marry another husband;
- During this period, a person may declare his intentions of marrying the widow – in a socially acceptable manner – or he may keep such intentions to himself, yet he should not make a secret commitment of marriage with the widow; and
- The time and place of the marriage-contract should be finalized and committed to only after the period of four months and ten days has expired.
- During the waiting period the woman shall not see a man that she is allowed by law to marry, wear perfume and flashy clothes etc.
Now number five is the main thing that caught my attention. I later learned that this is so as to ensure that the woman is not pregnant with the child of the deceased. In my eyes this is just a tiny bit outdated. At the time the scripture was written, pregnancy tests hadn’t been invented. I mean shouldn’t exceptions be made for this simple reason? I guess though that this process also plays the role of helping the woman heal after the hurt that losing a lost one can cause. The thing is the prescribed mourning period for men once they have lost their wives is three days. During this period is the male is not allowed to marry another woman, but once it is over may he feel the need it is completely allowed. At first this got to me, I mean is a woman’s life less valuable then a man’s that it takes a woman 100 days to mourn a man and only 3 days for a man to mourn a woman’s? But alas, these are only questions that bounce around in my head when I start thinking about these things. Allah knows why he directed us this way and his way, is the only way.