Ruling on a wife of the deceased wears a white dress and does not take a bath

Question:

In Algeria when a man dies, his wife wears a white dress and does not take a bath or change her clothes until the next Wednesday night following the husband’s death. Is this correct? Is she permitted to go out when necessary, such as to visit a sick person or to attend a wedding, on the condition of not spending the night out of the house?

Answer:

A woman whose husband dies must avoid displaying her adornments, whether on her body or clothes, during the period of ‘Iddah (woman’s prescribed waiting period after divorce or widowhood), which is four months and ten days. During this period, she should wear plain clothes not intended to adorn, but there is no restriction on the color. Also, she must avoid perfume, kohl (antimony powdered eyeliner), jewelry, and remain in her deceased husband’s home. There is no objection to bathing and changing her clothes as needed. Moreover, there is no harm in going out when necessary, or to go to court or to the hospital. She is permitted to wear perfume when she makes Taharah (ceremonial purification) from menstruation.

As for going out to visit her relatives, for example, or to attend a wedding or similar occasions, this is not permissible because the Prophet (peace be upon him) said to a widow: “Stay in your house till the term (‘Iddah) lapses.” [1]

May Allah grant us success. May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, and Companions.

[1] An-Nasa’i [Book on divorce] no. 3532; Abu Dawud [Book on divorce] no. 2300; Ibn Majah [Book on divorce’] no. 2031; Musnad Ahmad p. 6/370; Malik Al-Muwatta [Book on divorce] no. 1254; and Sunan Al-Darimi [Book on divorce] no. 2287.

  • Date: Dhul-Qa'dah 21, 1441 AH
  • Source: Fatwas of the Permanent Committee of KSA no.17976-1
  • Muftis: Shaykh Ibn Baz , Shaykh Abdul-Aziz Aal ash-Shaykh , Shaykh Abdullah ibn Ghudayyan , Shaykh Salih Fawzan , Shaykh Bakr Abu Zayd