Essay on Importance of “Iddat” in Muslims’ Divorce – “Iddat” plays an important role in Muslim divorce cases. “Iddat” denotes a period of awaiting.
Iddat refers to a period of seclusion for three menstrual periods for a woman after the death of or divorce by her husband to ascertain whether she was pregnant.
“Iddat”….implies the period of waiting incumbent on a woman between dissolution of one marriage and the contracting of another.” It is important to note that in this period of waiting [for three consecutive menstrual periods] husband and wife are not supposed to have sexual contact.
Legal and Social effects of Iddat:
(i) In a divorce case the wife involved is bound to wait for “iddat” period, (ii) During the period of “iddat” the husband is obliged to provide for her maintenance, (iii) the wife is not supposed to give her consent for another marriage till the iddat period is completed, (iv) On the completion of ‘iddat’ period, the wife can legitimately demand the “deferred mehr”.
(i) ‘Iddat’ serves as a restraining influence on inconsiderate haste on the part of the husband and on the tempo of divorce. It gives time for the husband to think and act. The husband may simply take back the wife during the period of iddat and suspend the divorce,
(ii) Iddat makes it clear whether the wife is pregnant or not. The fact of pregnancy sometimes brings reconciliation between them,
(iii) It becomes apparent during ‘iddat’ that the divorced wife is pregnant, the husband is recommended to take her back and treat her with consideration till the child is born. The child belongs to the husband if it is not born out of adultery. The wife also cannot marry anyone else until her delivery;
(iv) The iddat period is normally three months. In the case of a widow the duration is 4 months 10 days.
It may be noted that according to the Muslim Women’s Protection of Rights on Divorce Act
1986 and Iddat, a wife can demand from her husband her maintenance during the Iddat.