Majority of scholars say that it is not allowed for a widow to go outside of the house without any valid excuse. They cite the following hadith as an evidence for that.
Yahya related to me from Malik from Said ibn Ishaq ibn Kab ibn Ujra from his paternal aunt, Zaynab bint Kab ibn Ujra that al-Furaya bint Malik ibn Sinan, the sister of Abu Said al-Khudri, informed her that she went to the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and asked to be able to return to her people among the Banu Khudra since her husband had gone out in search of some of his slaves who had run away and he had caught up with them near al-Qudum, (which is 6 miles from Madina), and they had killed him.
She said, “I asked the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, if I could return to my people in the Banu Khudra, as my husband had not left me in a dwelling which belonged to him, and had left me no maintenance. The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said,’Yes.’ So I left. When I was in the courtyard, the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, called me or summoned me, and I answered him. He said, ‘What did you say?’ I repeated the story about my husband. He said, ‘Stay in your house until what is written reaches its term.’ I did the idda in the house for four months and ten days.”
She added, “When Uthman ibn Affan sent for me, I told him that, and he followed it and made decisions by it.” -[Malik Muwatta and others]
I am interested to know how we should interpret the above hadith which is in contradiction to your opinion on the issue.
The cited words of the Prophet (pbuh), ‘Stay in your house, until what is written reaches its term’, should not be seen as restricting the woman to the house where she was living with her husband. These words simply mean that even after moving to where her relatives are living, she should complete her iddah generally confining herself to her house and not moving around without a reason.
The narrative should, obviously, be seen in the light of the law given by the Qur’an. it should remain clear that such cases decided by the Prophet (pbuh) are not an independent source of the law, but are, in fact, an application of the law given in the Qur’an.
I hope this helps.
September 28, 2004