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Verse 2:234 talks about 4 months and 10 days of Iddah if a women's husband dies. She must not re-marry during this time.

And those who are taken in death among you and leave wives behind - they, [the wives, shall] wait four months and ten [days]

However I stumbled on a site that says, after conquering khayber and capturing prisoners of war, the prophet married Safiya without waiting for this Iddah. Safya husband was killed after they were captured.

What is the ruling of Iddah in this case. Was it a special privilege to Muhammad PBUH who can bypass it. Or the claim is simply wrong?

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In fact the ruling for a prisoner of war is different as you can clearly read in this Hadith and also here in Sunan abi Dawud which is also supported by same or similar narrations in al-Mustadrak of al-Hakim and Musnad al-Imam Ahmad (see also here in Arabic).

So in case of a prisoner of war the 'iddah is either her first menses or if she was pregnant the birth of her child!

And this Narrations by Anas ibn Malik (May Allah be pleased with him) in Sahih al Bukhari (1,2,3) clearly states that

her menses were over

which is a (to some extent bad) translation for -in our case- the most important word in this Hadith

حَلَّتْ

which means she became halal or free (to marry) and should explain that her 'idah has ended. (see also here)

You can find a similar Hadith in Sunan abi Dawud (حَلَّتْ was translated purified in this Version).

An other Hadith in Sahih Muslim shows that our Messenger (Peace be upon him) kept Safiyya (May Allah be pleased with her) at the home of Umm Sulaim (May Allah be pleased with her) to spent the period of her 'Iddah!

And Allah knows best!

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The ruling is that the only reason for Iddah is to clarify what is in the womb (if any). If a child is born the next day of Iddah, it ends. If some other means can indicate this clearly, that there is no child in the womb, it ends.

I don't know if that was the case with Hazrat Safya (PBUH)

In fact, that was the case with Safiya bint Huyai as mentioned in this hadith:

Narrated Anas bin Malik:

The Prophet (ﷺ) came to Khaibar and when Allah made him victorious and he conquered the town by breaking the enemy's defense, the beauty of Safiya bint Huyai bin Akhtab was mentioned to him and her husband had been killed while she was a bride. Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) selected her for himself and he set out in her company till he reached Sadd-ar-Rawha' where her menses were over and he married her. Then Hais (a kind of meal) was prepared and served on a small leather sheet (used for serving meals). Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) then said to me, "Inform those who are around you (about the wedding banquet)." So that was the marriage banquet given by Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) for (his marriage with) Safiya. After that we proceeded to Medina and I saw that Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) was covering her with a cloak while she was behind him. Then he would sit beside his camel and let Safiya put her feet on his knees to ride (the camel).

Menses indicate that she had no child from previous marriage.

  • Clearly no child was born in Safiya case and no one knew if there was a child in her womb, they should have observed the iddah in this case? – muslim1 Aug 4 '13 at 21:39
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    @goto: would you add this hadith to your answer? Safiya had menses which indicated that she had no child from previous marriage. – ozbek Aug 5 '13 at 8:02

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