Iddat is a concept of Muslim Law useful to identify the paternity of a child with a strong scientific base.
Though Muslim Law may seem quite rigid, conservative and complicated, many of its concepts are logical, reasonable and above all they are scientifically based and have withstood the test of time. It is even more astonishing to note that the entire Islamic Law including these concepts was born out of the Islamic sacred text Quran.
Ever since the marriage as a social institution was developed and accepted in the Islamic society which was predominantly patriarchal, many Islamic principles like Dower, Mehr, Talak and Iddat etc were also adopted for governing the institution of marriage.
Of these, Iddat is quite scientific and it is helpful to identify the paternity of a child. Iddat is nothing but a period of probation a Muslim woman has to undergo immediately after she was divorced by her husband or on his death. In other words, she has to remain under seclusion during the period of Iddat for a specific period.
When a Muslim woman was divorced by her husband by pronouncing Talak and if the marriage has been consummated, she has to undergo Iddat, for a period of three lunar months, before getting remarried.In other words, she should not get remarried without undergoing the period of Iddat.
The purpose of remaining under Iddat is to identify the paternity of the child, if she is conceived at the time of her divorce or when her husband is died.During the period of Iddat, that a woman undergoes immediately after she is divorced by her husband, if the woman’s pregnancy is confirmed during the period of Iddat, the period of Iddat will get terminated only after she delivers a child or when she suffers a miscarriage or abortion.
During the Iddat period undergone by a woman immediately after the death of her husband, she has to remain under seclusion for a period of four months and ten days.
However, there are certain exceptions to the Iddat.
When a Muslim wife below the age of 8 who is under the menopause stage, even if her marriage is consummated, she need not undergo Iddat, when she is divorced or when her husband died.
When there is an irregular Muslim marriage which can be dissolved at will by the couples concerned, if consummated, the woman has to undergo Iddat, even after separation, as per Hanafi Law.However, such irregular marriages are not recognized under the Shia law.
When a Muslim woman was divorced by her husband and the news of divorce reached her only after the completion of three lunar months, she need not undergo Iddat afresh, since the period of Iddat had already commenced immediately after her husband executed the Talak deed.
If a Muslim woman undergoes Iddat for a revocable divorce and during the Iddat period, her husband dies, she has to undergo a fresh Iddat for a period of four months and ten days.
If a woman delivers a child, immediately after her divorce or on her husband’s death, her Iddat period gets terminated immediately.
Thus Iddat is one of the characteristic features of Muslim Law which is quite useful in identifying the paternity of a child beyond reasonable doubt and with a solid scientific base.