In Islam, when a man passes away, his wife practices a ritual called "Iddah" (in Arabic). In this practice, she is not allowed to marry another man for a duration of 4 months and 10 days, not allowed to get out of house, wear makeup or bright clothes. This term is generally referred to "waiting of a widow" so I wonder if is there a single word in English language which clearly means "Iddah"?

  • "She didn't go to shopping while she ritually mourned her husband" would be understood, but most people wouldn't know the time period or what the traditional practices are. The practice hasn't been common in the west since the Victorian era. – jejorda2 May 21 '16 at 10:26
  • 1
    Given that it's a specific cultural practice, I suspect you'd stick with Iddah, just as you'd use Ramadan or Eid (yes, I know those are formal terms for specific events, but it's similar in concept: there is no cultural/linguistic equivalent). – Prof Yaffle May 21 '16 at 10:38

The English term would be the Christian equivalent: mourning. Iddah could be quickly described as "Islamic mourning" or "Islamic widow's mourning".

| improve this answer | |
  • 2
    Good answer. I want to add that the word mourning has no Christian associations, as far as I know (although certainly some Christian churches do have a lot to say about mourning). – Peter Shor May 21 '16 at 11:21
  • 1
    Actually, the term is: "in mourning." "It's been a year since Carol's husband died - do you think I should fix her up with my bother-in-law?" "Nope... She's still in mourning ." – Oldbag May 21 '16 at 11:41
  • OP asked for "a single word ... which clearly means Iddah". 'Mourning' does not have the specific connotations that OP mentions as part of Iddah. I therefore question whether this actually answers the question. – TrevorD May 21 '16 at 13:32
  • @TrevorD I think you did not read the link I gave about mourning, specifically in Victorian times. If there exists an English word for Iddah, then it is "mourning". If OP wants to specifically indicate Iddah, then he can only write Iddah, and if the readers are not familiar with the term then a quick parenthesis or footnote can define it as Islamic widow's ritual mourning. – Law29 May 21 '16 at 23:40
  • @Law29 We are now in the 21st century - not the Victorian era, so your link is irrelevant. In any event, being in mourning does not mean that "she is not allowed to marry another man ... [etc.]". She may choose not to, but there are no religious laws against it. Hence, IMHO, "mourning" cannot be equated to Iddah, which is what OP asked for. I agree with the second part of your comment . – TrevorD May 21 '16 at 23:53

As @Prof Yaffle mentioned in the comment, I don't think it is meaningful to find or use an English equivalent for Iddah as it seems to be a unique practice in Isalam.

Mourning in the Western culture doesn't include restrictions such as not being allowed to go out or wear make-up.

You should stick with "Iddah" and the Wikipedia article uses "period of waiting" for it and I think it is closer than just "mourning".

Or "(Islamic) period of mourning" would be more appropriate.

| improve this answer | |
  • Yes, it is a unique practice in Islam but there is another practice in Islam where they remove the covered skin of penis of newly born baby which is called "Khatna" and it has a english equivalent called "Circumcision". That is why I asked for a English. – Ehaan May 21 '16 at 13:11
  • 1
    @Ehaan Well, that is also a unique practice in Islam and Judaism. Not all Western cultures follow it. Circumcision is not a practice, it is just a translation of the word like "period of waiting" or "period of mourning" for Iddah. The exact translation of "Khatna" should be "Circumcision of a baby". – user140086 May 21 '16 at 13:14
  • 1
    I believe that circumcision (of a baby - altho' it can be carried out on older children & adults) is far more common in the USA than in the UK; in the UK I think it would be unusual outside the Jewish (and possibly Islamic) population. I've never heard of "circumcision" with any meaning other than removal of the foreskin - certainly not to mean "period of waiting" or "period of mourning". – TrevorD May 21 '16 at 13:41
  • Not a hundred years ago, mourning in western culture very definitely included such restrictions. – Law29 May 21 '16 at 23:56
  • Hey Rathony, I just remembered this question that I asked about a similar structure to the one that you were discussing on the other site. You can read my question here. Btw, I never got a good answer to that question. However, my feeling is that we need an indefinite article like that whenever the adjective (for example whopping or amazing) is modifying a numeral, and that numeral is in Determiner function in a larger noun phrase. So we get [[two] [days]] ... – Araucaria - Not here any more. May 22 '16 at 16:59

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.