The site “http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abdullah_Yusuf_Ali
” says that:-
Abdullah Yusuf Ali was born in Bombay, India to a wealthy merchant family with a Dawoodi Bohra father
. As a child, Ali received a religious education and, eventually, could recite the entire Qur'an from memory. He spoke both Arabic and English fluently. He studied English literature and studied at several European universities, including the University of Leeds. He concentrated his efforts on the Qur'an and studied the Qur'anic commentaries beginning with those written in the early days of Islamic history. Yusuf Ali's best-known work is his book The Holy Qur'an: Text, Translation and Commentary, begun in 1934 and published in 1938 by Sh. Muhammad Ashraf Publishers Lahore in India (later Pakistan). While on tour to promote his translation, Ali helped to open the Al-Rashid Mosque, the first mosque in North America, in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, in December 1938.
Now about Iddat:
The word ‘Iddat’
in Quran appears in many places in the meaning of “counting” or “a prescribed term or period”
for example in Surah Ibrahim V 34 it says “Wa in tauddoo animal Allah laa tosoohaa."
(But if you were to COUNT all the favours of Allah you will not be able to calculate them.) Surah Al-Baqar V 185 “Wa man kaana mareedhan aw aalaa safarin fa IDDATUN min ayyaamin ukhara. (And whoever is sick or in course of travel, the PRESCRIBED PERIOD shall be made up by fasting on other days.)
The verses which deal directly with the injunction relating to what we call ‘IDDAT’ use word “YATARABBASNA’
Meaning “Shall Restrain” For Example in Surah Al-Baqar V 234 ‘Wal lazeena yutawaffawna minkum wa yazaroona azwaajan YATARABBASNA be anfuse henna arbaata ash-horin wa aashran.
(And if any of you die and leave widow behind, such widows shall ‘KEEP THEMSELVE WAITING
for 4 months and 10 days.)
There are two types of Iddat, Iddat of Death and Iddat of Divorce.
The Iddat serves the purpose of a cooling off period during which the widow has the opportunity to decide whether to continue living as a widow or to remarry after Iddat. It is also helpful in determining if there is a pregnancy. The reasons for the observance of Iddat are:
1) Mourning for the deceased husband
2) Determination of pregnancy
3) For widow to decide her future plans
During Iddat she is permitted to go out if it is necessary.
During Iddat if intends to perform Hajj she is allowed to do so.
No one will disagree on the mourning part and deciding the future plans. But today with the advancement in science there are methods available to determine pregnancy.
As far the prohibiting the widow not to look attractive and coming in contact with men other than her blood relation, I personally disagree. I can not imaging doubting my own mother or sisters that they would do some thing disgraceful to the family. The restrictions of aged widows and the widows in the secured family have to be rethought. Why do you want to confine a woman in a closed room to mourn over her deceased husband, to plan for future? Will she not be more comfortable when she is among the other members of the family?
In many a family the widow is the only bread earner and after the death of the husband the situation gets aggravated. In such circumstances how can she confines herself to a closed place at home?
Except Dawoodi Bohras in no other Muslim sect the observation of Iddat is so torturous.