When a person dies in the Islamic community, the duration of mourning varies from three days to four months and ten days. Certain customs must be kept during the mourning period; these vary depending on whether the mourner is a female widow, close relative or a more distant relative of the deceased.
Duration of Mourning for a Distant Relative
When a Muslim dies, doctrine dictates that they are to be prepared for burial as soon as possible. However, the period of mourning, called Hidaad, begins as soon as the person dies and three days are allowed. During this period, a distant relative, if he or she wasn't particularly close to the deceased, should follow Islamic custom of bringing condolences to the immediate family. Food may also be brought so that the family has less to worry about.
Duration of Mourning for Immediate Family
Hidaad also consists of three days for the immediate family, again starting from when the person died even though they have funeral preparations to do. During Hidaad, family members are encouraged to share their emotions when preparing the body for burial, during the burial and after the burial. They are also instructed to welcome visitors into their home so that condolences may be offered. During the three days they are mourning, family members should refrain from wearing ostentatious clothing and jewelry.
Duration of Mourning for a Female Widow
When a woman's husband dies, her period of mourning consists of four months and 10 days and is called Iddah. During this time, she is to follow a list of strict guidelines: she is not to move out of the house she shared with her husband and into another; remarrying is prohibited; no jewelery is to be worn and the clothing she wears must be modest and not overly decorative.
Iddah in Scripture
In the Quran, the passage Al-Baqarah 234 - 235 states that the period of mourning for a female widow is four lunar months and ten days so that the woman's reputation in society may be protected from slander or defamation. This passage also recommends that female widows do not make secret arrangements to get married until the period of mourning is over; however, if a man's wife dies, he only has to observe the regular three-day mourning period and is not restricted from making remarriage arrangements.
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