Are Step Siblings Mahram?

My Step Dad Favors One Child Over the Others. What Can I Do to Protect My Siblings?


Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam

Question: Assalam alaykum,

I have four younger siblings and my step dad favors only one of them. He doesn’t care to show it either. My mother consistently tells him that it’s wrong and that it is affecting the other kids. What can I do?

Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,

The basis is that gifts should be given and divided fairly between children. Although there is some leeway in favouring a child with more, for instance, if the father does not intend to hurt or harm the others, or if there is a genuine reason for doing so.

The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Be fair and just among your children with respect to gifts.” [Bukhari] The commentators explain that this is a recommendation to ward off any ill-feeling and envy between the children, and to also ensure that the resultant situation doesn’t become worse for the parents and family as a whole.

Consider tactfully reminding him of the immediate harm it is causing the other children, and similarly the long term harm that can arise from such treatment of children, or of the discord it is causing within the family unit. If he persists, you can pray the Prayer of Need (salat al-hajah) [see: How Does One Perform The Prayer Of Need (salat al-haja)?] and consult about the specifics with a local scholar to try to figure out the best way to change or improve his behaviour.

[Kasani, Bada`i al-Sana`i; Ibn `Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar `ala al-Durr al-Mukhtar]

Please also see: Estate Division and the Sunna of Equal Treatment of Children in Gift Giving and: Transferring Property to Children in One’s Lifetime

And Allah Most High alone knows best.


Tabraze Azam

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani