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How many days of mourning in Islam?

Islam has prescribed customs and rituals surrounding death that help Muslims confront grief, find comfort, and eventually move forward with their lives. An important part of the Islamic mourning process is the mourning period, which allows time to grieve and pay respects to the deceased.

Who Observes the Mourning Period?

The mourning period is primarily observed by the immediate family members of the deceased. This includes:

  • Spouse
  • Parents
  • Children
  • Siblings

More distant relatives may also participate, but they are not religiously obligated to adhere to all the mourning rituals. However, it is considered virtuous for everyone in the community to show sympathy and support the family in mourning.

Length of the Mourning Period

For most family members, the mourning period lasts four months and ten days. This timeframe is often understood to be divided into two distinct phases:

  1. 3 days of intense, acute grief
  2. 4 months and 7 days of patient, ongoing sadness

However, the Qur’an specifies that for widows, the mourning period lasts four months and ten days in total. This is considered the minimum amount of time a widow should mourn her deceased husband.

Mourning Period for Widows

The Qur’an says in Surah Al-Baqarah 2:234:

And those who are taken in death among you and leave wives behind – they, [the wives, shall] wait four months and ten [days]. And when they have fulfilled their term, then there is no blame upon you for what they do with themselves in an acceptable manner. And Allah is [fully] Acquainted with what you do.

Based on this verse, the mourning period for widows is 130 days from the date of the husband’s death. During this time, the widow is expected to grieve and refrain from adornment, celebrations, and marriage proposals. Once the 130 days have passed, the widow is free to start a new life.

Mourning Period for Others

While the Qur’an explicitly defines the mourning period for widows, it does not provide exact guidelines for other family members. Scholars have derived mourning periods for other relatives based on the practices of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and his Companions.

It is agreed that parents, children, and siblings should observe an initial intense mourning period of 3 days. Afterwards, an extended mourning period applies as follows:

Relationship to Deceased Mourning Period
Parents 4 months and 10 days
Children 4 months and 10 days
Siblings 4 months and 10 days

Parents, children, and siblings of the deceased are expected to mourn for the same duration as a widow, which is 4 months and 10 days.

Practices During the Mourning Period

Observing the mourning period does not simply mean grieving for a set number of days. There are certain practices and restrictions that should be followed to properly fulfill this religious obligation:

Weeping and Remembrance

Crying and remembering the deceased are encouraged during the initial 3 days of intense mourning. Family and friends should gather to weep together and talk about the person who has passed away.

Accepting Condolences

It is sunnah for the community to visit the grieving family and offer their condolences during the first 3 days. The family is expected to welcome these visitors and may offer light refreshments.

Reciting Qur’an

Family members should spend time reciting Qur’anic verses for the departed soul’s forgiveness and mercy. Often Surah Yaseen is recited.

Charity Donations

Giving charity on behalf of the deceased is highly encouraged. It is narrated that the Prophet (PBUH) said:

When a person dies all his good deeds come to an end except three: ongoing charity (sadaqah jariyah), beneficial knowledge, and a righteous child who prays for him.

Donations to mosques, schools, hospitals and other charitable causes continue the deceased’s good deeds and impart mercy into their soul.

Avoiding Beautification

Those mourning should not wear fancy, colorful clothing or jewelry. Makeup, perfume, and scented oils should also be avoided. The purpose is to minimize vanity and worldly delights.

Refraining From Celebrations

It is prohibited for the bereaved family to celebrate any joyous occasions like weddings, parties, or birthdays during the mourning period. However, Islamic holidays like Eid may be observed.

No Marriage Proposals

A widow or widower may not receive or consider marriage proposals until after their mourning period is over.

Can the Mourning Period Be Shortened?

The set durations for mourning cannot be shortened or ignored without valid reason. Valid reasons for reducing the mourning period include:

  • If a widowed woman is pregnant, she may end her mourning period after giving birth even if 4 months and 10 days have not elapsed.
  • Averted danger to life or property that necessitates remarriage.
  • Unbearable financial hardship.

In such exceptional cases, a local scholar should be consulted for advice.

Does Mourning Vary By Region?

While the core mourning rituals remain the same across regions, some minor cultural variations can be observed:

South Asia

  • All close family members usually mourn for 4 months and 10 days.
  • Families often pay female reciters (motakif) to recite the Qur’an during this time.
  • Widows may wear only white clothing.

Southeast Asia

  • Mourning for non-widows may last only 3 or 7 days beyond the initial acute period.
  • Widows may wear colored clothing as long as it is modest.
  • Reciters are uncommon and Qur’an reading is done by family.

Middle East

  • Female relatives take turns hosting daily Qur’an readings.
  • Black clothing and headscarves are customary for widows.
  • Some regions observe an additional mourning period during the Islamic month of Muharram.

West Africa

  • Qur’an reciters may be male rather than female.
  • Widows often return to their family homes during iddah.
  • Senior widows play an important role in consoling the new widow.

However, the core practices of charity, prohibition on celebrating, avoiding adornment, and seclusion for widows remain fundamentally the same across regions.


The mourning period in Islam provides time and structure for grieving families to come to terms with their loss. Widows observe an iddah period of four months and ten days in accordance with the Qur’an. Other close relatives like parents, children, and siblings usually adhere to similar durations. While cultural expressions may vary, the essence of Islamic bereavement rituals revolves around patience, remembrance, worship, and self-reflection. The mourning period ultimately allows the deceased’s loved ones to heal while still honoring their memory.