Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Idda Definition:

Muslim law: The mandatory waiting period before a divorce created by talaq becomes effective.

Related Terms: Talaq, Divorce, Nashiza

Also spelled iddah or iddat.

This aspect of Muslim law is derived from this extract from the Koran:

“Oh Prophet! When you divorce women, divorced them for the prescribed period (idda)....”

Under the law of idda, the woman who leaves her husband must remain secluded for a period of time, prevented even from travelling and if she does not abide by idda, she may lose any entitlement to spusal support.

Indeed, some Muslin law jurisdictions will only extend spusal support to women during their idda period.1

De Seiefe, in his Muslim law treatise, writes:

“When the divorce has been pronounced, the idda, or waiting period follows, during which time the divorcing party has a right to revoke the divorce.”

IddaAs to the duration of idda, Pearl and Menski write:

“If he wishes the divorce to be final (after pronouncing talaq), he must then refrain from sexual intercourse with the wife he has divorced during the iddat period of three menstrual cycles.... [I]f the wife is beyond the age for menstruation, or if she does not menstruate, or if irregular, then three lunar months form the iddat period.”

Verma points out that:

“It is by the completion of iddat that a new marriage becomes lawful, as the object of iddat is to ascertain whether the woman is pregnant or not.”

Or as Pearl writes in his Textbook on Muslim Law:

“The idda provides a period of time for the parties to ascertain the state of the womb at the moment of the divorce or death....

"If the woman is pregnant at the time of repudiation (or death of the husband) the idda period is prolonged until the delivery.”

During the idda period, the wife is not allowed to remarry.

Even when her husband dies, a Muslim wife is obliged to wait through the period of idda before she can remarry. In that case, the waiting period is four months and 10 days.


  • De Seife, R., The Shar’ia: An Introduction to The Law of Islam (London: Austin & Winfield, 1994), page 60
  • Duhaime, Lloyd, Legal Definition of Nikah
  • NOTE 1: Hinchcliffe, Doreen, Legal Reforms in the Shi'i World - Recent Legislation in Iran and Iraq, 10 Malaya L. Rev. 292 (1968), page 299.
  • Pearl, D., A Textbook on Muslim Law (London: Croom Helm Ltd., 1979)
  • Verma, B.R., Islamic Law-Personal Being Commentaries on Mohammedan Law in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, 6th Edition (Allahabad, India: Law Publishers, 1986), page 92

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