Is It Sinful to Have Sexual Thoughts about My Sister-in-Law?

Answered by Shaykh Yusuf Weltch

Question

We live in a joint family, and my sis in law has been with us for 10+ years. She is beautiful n attractive, but I never sexually thought about her. Last week three days in a row, I had a sexual dream about/with her, which was random, and now whenever I see her in the house, it reminds me of those dreams, and I started thinking about her differently. I know it’s terrible, and I will never try to do anything with her which will ruin our family.

Please tell me if this is normal or. It’s hard to avoid her as we live in the same house, and I see her all day/evening around me, and seeing her makes me think about her differently. I need guidance on whether it is normal, and since we live in the same house, how can I avoid or eliminate the feelings about her?

Answer

In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate

Shaytan tries to misguide people by putting sinful thoughts in their hearts; these are dreams that Shaytan puts in someone’s heart.

Natural Desires

Is it natural to have sexual thoughts and/or desires about the opposite gender, especially if they are attractive? This is also normal if the person is not a blood relative.

Due to this desire, one must be very cautious about cutting off any avenues for these desires to be exacerbated or, worse, acted upon.

Taking the Means of Caution

The Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Beware of entering upon women (i.e., those impermissible to see uncovered).” One of the Ansar said, “What about the inlaws.” He said, “The in-laws are death.” [Bukhari; Muslim]

In-laws in the above narration apply to the relatives of one’s spouse: the brother/sister-in-law are included in this.

The fact that you live in the same house as she makes the matter even for concern, and you must take all the means possible to control your thoughts and especially actions; the following are some of those means:

  • Guard your gaze: Never look at any part of her body except the face, if necessary, for customary kindness. Do not look at all if there is desire or fear of desire at the moment. Try not to look at her, especially for any extended period. [Tahtawi/Shurunbulali, Hashiyat Maraqi al-Falah]
  • Never enter unannounced or anywhere she or other unrelated women can be uncovered.
  • Never be in seclusion with her. If you are both in the home with no third party, it is not seclusion if each or one of you remains in their private quarters [Nahlawi, al-Durar al-Mubaha]
  • Keep all interactions as formal as possible without being impolite.

Summary

If you can move out of your home without causing yourself or your family any undue hardship, it may be worth looking into. The best thing for you, if you are able, is likely for you to get married. This will give you a permissible avenue for fulfilling sexual desires and aid in controlling your thoughts.

Hope this helps
Allah knows best

[Shaykh] Yusuf Weltch
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Yusuf Weltch is a teacher of Arabic, Islamic law, and spirituality. After accepting Islam in 2008, he then completed four years at the Darul Uloom seminary in New York where he studied Arabic and the traditional sciences. He then traveled to Tarim, Yemen, where he stayed for three years studying in Dar Al-Mustafa under some of the greatest scholars of our time, including Habib Umar Bin Hafiz, Habib Kadhim al-Saqqaf, and Shaykh Umar al-Khatib. In Tarim, Shaykh Yusuf completed the memorization of the Qur’an and studied beliefs, legal methodology, hadith methodology, Qur’anic exegesis, Islamic history, and a number of texts on spirituality. He joined the SeekersGuidance faculty in the summer of 2019.