Question # 221: As salaamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatu. Please clarify whether maintenance should be given only for the iddat period OR till the woman remarries or dies?

Bismi-llahi r-raḥmani r-raḥīm,

Assalamu ‘laikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh,

All praise and thanks are due to Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم).

Dear questioner,

First of all, we implore Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) to help us serve His cause and render our work for His sake.

Shorter Answer: A revocably divorced woman is entitled to be maintained by her husband as long as she is in her ‘iddah (waiting period), as she is regarded as a wife. However, a major or minor irrevocably divorced woman is not entitled to any alimony except when she is pregnant until she delivers. Next, if she has custody of her children from him, then in that case the husband must also give her: payment for custody and breastfeeding and maintenance of the children. In case of khula’, she cannot claim any maintenance, except payment for breastfeeding and custody, and maintenance of the child who is still being breastfed. Lastly, a widow is to be provided for by herself because she is not entitled to have the alimony out of her husband’s estate, which belongs then to his heirs. However, a pregnant widow is entitled to be maintained from the estate of her husband due to the existence of the fetus. (For definition of revocable and major/minor irrevocable divorce, please refer Question # 192)

Long Answer: Once a wife is divorced and becomes in her waiting period, the following cases are to be observed:

  • A revocably divorced woman is entitled to be maintained by her husband as long as she is in her ‘iddah (waiting period), as she is regarded as a wife. This is because Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) says in the Qur’an: “… And their husbands have more right to take them back in this [period] …” (Soorah Al-Baqarah, 2:228) [The woman who has been revocably divorced is still a wife so long as the ‘iddah continues, and she is entitled to the same as other wives of maintenance, clothing and accommodation (Al-Mulakhkhas al-Fiqhi)]
  • A major or minor irrevocably divorced woman [such as divorced through a third talaaq] is not entitled to any financial support or housing by her husband. This is based on the hadith narrated in the Two Authentic Books of AI-Bukhari and Muslim that when the husband of Fatimah Bint Qays (رضي الله عنها) irrevocably divorced her, the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said to her: “There is neither alimony nor lodging for you…” (Narrated by Muslim)

With regard to this, the great scholar lbn ul-Qayyim (may Allah have mercy on him) said: “According to the authentic Sunnah (Tradition) of the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) which agrees with the Glorious Qur’an, an irrevocably divorced woman is not entitled to any alimony or lodging. This also comes in conformity with the analogical deduction and is the view of the scholars of Hadith as well.” (Zad ul-Ma’ad)

  • However, a pregnant irrevocably divorced woman is entitled to alimony, for Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) says in the Qur’an: “Lodge them [in a section] of where you dwell out of your means… And if they should be pregnant, then spend on them until they give birth…” (Soorah At-Talaq, 65:6)

Moreover, the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said to Fatimah Bint Qays (رضي الله عنها): “There is no alimony for you except if you are pregnant.” (Narrated by Abu Dawood, An-Nasa’i and Muslim) This is because since the husband is the father of the unborn child, he then is to financially support it and this cannot be achieved except through maintaining the mother.

[Next,] if she has custody of her children from him, then in that case he must also give her:

  1. Payment for custody and breastfeeding.
  2. Maintenance for the children.

Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) says in the Qur’an: “The mothers shall give suck to their children for two whole years, (that is) for those (parents) who desire to complete the term of suckling, but the father of the child shall bear the cost of the mother’s food and clothing on a reasonable basis. No person shall have a burden laid on him greater than he can bear” (Soorah Al-Baqarah, 2:233) So Allah has made it obligatory for the father of the child to spend on the mother who breastfeeds her child. This includes the woman who is pregnant or divorced; the father must pay for maintenance.  (Tafseer al-Sa’di)

Shaykh Muhammad ibn Saalih al-‘Uthaymeen (may Allah have mercy on him) said: “The woman who is thrice-divorced is not entitled to maintenance from her husband for herself, but he should spend on her for the sake of the pregnancy. On that basis, whatever she needs of maintenance because of the pregnancy, the husband must provide it, and after the delivery, he should pay for the breastfeeding and clothing and the like of the child, but he is not obliged to provide the mother’s food after the delivery… (Liqaa’aat al-Baab il-Maftooh)

  • [In case of khula’, she cannot claim any maintenance], except payment for breastfeeding and custody, and maintenance of the child who is still being breastfed. ‘Abd al-Razzaaq narrated in al-Musannaf that al-Sha’bi said: “… [In case of khula’,] the husband cannot take her back, so she is like one who is irrevocably divorced, and is not entitled to maintenance.”
  • [Lastly, a] widow is to be provided for by herself or whoever is responsible for her if she is poor. This is because she is not entitled to have the alimony out of her husband’s estate, which belongs then to his heirs. [However,] a pregnant widow is entitled to be maintained from the estate of her husband, if he has left any, due to the existence of the fetus; if the deceased husband has left nothing, the well-off among the fetus’ legal heirs (in case the fetus dies} is to maintain the mother.

(The above is based on the book ‘A Summary of Islamic Jurisprudence’ (Volume two) by Sheikh Salih AI-Fawzan and answer provided by Islam Q&A on similar topic)

Allahu A’lam (Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) knows best) and all Perfections belong to Allah, and all mistakes belong to me alone. May Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) forgive me, Ameen.

Wassalaam