Is It Permissible for a 36-Year-Old Unmarried Muslim Woman to Dine Alone with Her Younger, Adult Male Cousin?
Answered by Shaykh Yusuf Weltch
My prospective 36-year-old female suitor has informed me that she will have dinner alone with her first cousin’s adult male son, who is younger than her, while she is on a business trip interstate. They’ll be having dinner by themselves. He is unmarried. In addition, he does not live with his parents. Is this permitted?
In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate.
If an adult Muslim woman is having dinner with a potentially marriageable male (in this case her 2nd cousin), it is strictly prohibited if any of the following occur:
- Seclusion: This is if they are eating alone in a private place with no other Muslim woman or unmarriageable kin of the woman in question present. [Nahlawi, al-Durar al-Mubaha]
The Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Let none of you be in seclusion with a woman unless she has with her an unmarriageable family member.” [Bukhari; Muslim]
- Physical contact: This is strictly prohibited if there is any physical contact between the two. [Nahlawi, al-Durar al-Mubaha]
- Sexual desire or lust: If there is sexual desire or lust or the reasonable fear of sexual desire or lust from both or either party toward the other – it is strictly prohibited for them to look, speak, or socialize with the other. [Ibid.]
Precursors to the Prohibited
Allah Most High says, “Do not go near adultery. It is truly a shameful deed and an evil way.” [Quran, 17:32]
The prohibition here is not to abstain from adultery; it is to abstain from anything that may bring one near to committing adultery. All of the above are precursors to adultery, prohibited by this verse.
The Gray Area
If she is dining with her cousin in a public place and there is no physical contact or lust between them – it would technically not be strictly prohibited (haram), but it is prohibitively disliked (makruh tahriman) if there is no need to do so or there is no benefit that is recognized in the Sacred law to be achieved by the meeting.
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 Quran and studied beliefs, legal methodology, hadith methodology, Quranic exegesis, Islamic history, and a number of texts on spirituality. He joined the SeekersGuidance faculty in the summer of 2019.