The husband sitting with his sister-in-law

Q: What is the ruling of the Shari‘ah (Islamic law) on intermixing between men and women in respect to the following: First: The ruling on a husband sitting with his wife’s sister or his brother’s wife. Second: The ruling on a wife sitting with her husband’s brother, her sister’s husband, and the husband of her husband’s sister in the presence or in the absence of her husband. If this is permissible, how should she be dressed in front of them, (Part No. 17; Page No. 414) bearing in mind that the wife wears a Niqab (face veil)? Third: How can social and familial ties be maintained in Muslim homes? Please provide us with a Fatwa (legal opinion issued by a qualified Muslim scholar) and may Allah reward you with the best.

A: First: It is not permissible for a man to be in Khulwah (being alone with a member of the opposite sex) with his wife’s sister, even if she is wearing a Hijab (veil). It is also not permissible for him to sit with her when she is unveiled, even if there is no Khulwah, because she is not a Mahram (spouse or permanently unmarriageable relative) to him, and Khulwah or sitting with her unveiled is a Fitnah (temptation) that can lead to Zina (sexual intercourse outside marriage). Second: It is not permissible for a wife to be in Khulwah with her husband’s brother, even if she is wearing Hijab. It is also not permissible for her to sit with him unveiled, even if her husband is present, due to the previously mentioned fear of Fitnah and Zina. Allah (Exalted be He) says: Tell the believing men to lower their gaze (from looking at forbidden things), and protect their private parts (from illegal sexual acts). That is purer for them. Verily, Allâh is All-Aware of what they do. And tell the believing women to lower their gaze (from looking at forbidden things), and protect their private parts (from illegal sexual acts) and not to show off their adornment except only that which is apparent (like both eyes for necessity to see the way, or outer palms of hands or one eye or dress like veil, gloves, head-cover, apron, etc.), and to draw their veils all over Juyûbihinna (i.e. their bodies, faces, necks and bosoms) and not to reveal their adornment except to their husbands, or their fathers, or their husband’s fathers, or their sons, or their husband’s sons, or their brothers or their brother’s sons, or their sister’s sons, or their (Muslim) women (i.e. their sisters in Islâm), or the (female) slaves whom their right hands possess, or old male servants who lack vigour, or small children who have no sense of feminine sex. And let them not stamp their feet so as to reveal what they hide of their adornment. And all of you beg Allâh to forgive you all, O believers, that you may be successful. (Part No. 17; Page No. 415) It was authentically reported from the Prophet (peace be upon him) that he said, “No man should be in Khulwah with a woman, except in the presence of her Mahram.” The Prophet (peace be upon him) was also asked about Al-Hamu (The in-law, i.e. The husband’s relatives such as his brother or cousin, not including his father/grandfather and sons/grandsons), so he (peace be upon him) said, “Al-Hamu is death.” Third: Allah (Exalted be He) orders us to preserve what helps strengthen the relationship between individuals and groups in families; therefore, He enjoined the maintenance of the ties of kinship, and show of kindness to kin, saying, ...and fear Allâh through Whom you demand (your mutual rights), and (do not cut the relations of) the wombs (kinship). Surely, Allâh is Ever an All-Watcher over you. And: Worship Allâh and join none with Him (in worship); and do good to parents, kinsfolk He also says: Say (O Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم): "Come, I will recite what your Lord has prohibited you from: Join not anything in worship with Him; be good and dutiful to your parents; kill not your children because of poverty - We provide sustenance for you and for them. (Part No. 17; Page No. 416) And: And your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him. And that you be dutiful to your parents. This is in addition to examples from other Ayahs (verses) of the Qur’an. It was also authentically reported that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Anyone who breaks the ties - meaning the ties of kinship - will not enter the Jannah (Paradise).” (Related by Al-Bukhari and Muslim) He (peace be upon him) also said, “Anyone who would like their sustenance to be expanded and to have longevity should maintain the ties with their kin.” (Related by Al-Bukhari) The Prophet (peace be upon him) also said, (Part No. 17; Page No. 417)  “Allah has made it Haram (prohibited) for you to be undutiful to your mothers or to bury your daughters alive.” (Related by Al-Bukhari and Muslim) There are many other Hadith that encourage the ties of kinship to be maintained, adherence to the etiquettes and good morals of Islam, and good companionship. This is how the ties between families can be strengthened and Muslim unity can be achieved; it this will never be achieved by disintegration or the abandoning of the good etiquettes and morals of Islam. (Part No. 17; Page No. 418) May Allah grant us success. May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, and Companions.