According to the Qur'ān, a widow should not
remarry for four months and ten days after her husband's death:
If any of you die and leave widows behind, they should
restrain themselves for a period of four months and ten days. When they have
fulfilled their term, there is no blame on you about whatever they decide
about themselves according to the [general] custom [of the society]. (2:234)
There are two basic objectives for this waiting period (iddat)
for the widow:
1) To ascertain whether she is pregnant or not. If she
is, this waiting period extends to the birth of the child.
2) To provide her with some time to mourn for her
During this time neither should the relatives of the
husband trouble her nor should she look for a new spouse.
Staying at home during iddat is no directive of the
Sharī`ah, as is generally understood.
However, a widow, during this period, should not go
about doing things which are against its objectives stated above. The mourning
period has its own sanctity and a widow should observe this period with
solemnity and austerity. If she is pregnant, she should be careful in her life
style lest someone may try to cast aspersions on the lineage of the child she
is carrying. Keeping these objectives in consideration, she can lead her life
in any way she wants.