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The wisdom of specifying the mourning periods in Islam


I am not muslim, but very interested in learning. I notice that the mourning periods following the loss of a family member are very specific. Could you explain how such specific times are established please as I am unable to see the logic and I know it is there somewhere. Thank you for your assistance


All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah, and that Muhammad, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, is His slave and Messenger.

First of all, we welcome you and we thank you for visiting our site, and we hope you will continue to visit it and ask about any question you might have. We will endeavour to the best of our ability to answer your questions.

It is good that you are keen on acquiring knowledge, and this keenness will undoubtedly lead you to goodness; we notice that you have a sound reasoning which will lead you to that.

As regards the mourning period in Islam, a woman should mourn her husband for four months and ten days, and she should mourn her relatives other than her husband for three days if she wants to, but this is not an obligation on her. As you mentioned, there must be a wisdom behind this specification, and indeed there is. This is because the Islamic Law was revealed by Allaah who created the entire creation and He knows what is beneficial for them; He is The All-Wise, The All-Knower. It is for this reason that we, Muslims, believe in this wisdom whether or not we know it.

The Muslim scholars  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  them stated that among the wisdom of specifying the mourning period of a woman over her husband to four months and ten days, is in order to make sure that she is not pregnant. Medical doctors stated that in general the foetus takes a full human form after the period of 120 days, so this period is taken as the waiting period [which a woman is obliged to observe before she remarries], and a period of ten days is added to that period just for being on the safe side. This is because the lunar month –which is the Islamic calendar –sometimes comes as 29 days while sometimes it completes 30 days, so the ten days are for making up for the probability of any lack in the calculation.

As regards specifying the woman’s mourning period on her relatives other than her husband to three days only, this is because mourning a dead is glorifying the disaster of death. This disaster must happen to a person who loses a loved one, as being saddened for their loss is part of human nature.

The permissibility of mourning for three days is a recognition to this human nature so that after this, a woman feels a kind of comfort after having expressed her feelings of sadness and sorrow.

The reason of specifying the mourning period to three days only is because this period is usually enough, and there is a preponderant expected harm in the mourning which lasts more than three days. On the contrary, there is not much harm in mourning for three days only. This indeed shows the excellence of this Islamic Law.

On this occasion we advise you to embrace Islam which is the true religion which abrogated all previous religions. It is by following this religion that a person achieves happiness and success in this world and in the Hereafter. In this regard, please refer to Fataawa [plural of Fatwa] 88906, 88051, 88176, 86091, 81979 and 85234.

Allaah Knows best.

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