Are the Relatives of My In-Laws My Non-marriageable Kin (Mahram)?

Shafi'i Fiqh

Answered by Shaykh Irshaad Sedick

Question

Are my father-in-law’s brothers my unmarriageable kin (mahram)? Since my father’s brother is a mahram for me. Who is unmarriageable kin from one’s in-laws?

Also, from the husband’s mother’s side, who are mahrams?

Answer

In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate. May Allah guide every dimension of our lives to that which pleases Him.

The relatives referred to in the question are not your unmarriageable kin. Allah knows best. Please refer to the details below for a complete list of your unmarriageable kin. [Nawawi, Minhaj Al-Talibin]

Non-Marriageable Kin in the Quran

Allah says: “Prohibited to you [for marriage] are your mothers, your daughters, your sisters, your father’s sisters, your mother’s sisters, your brother’s daughters, your sister’s daughters, your [milk] mothers who nursed you, your sisters through nursing, your wives’ mothers, and your step-daughters under your guardianship [born] of your wives unto whom you have gone in. But if you have not gone in unto them, there is no sin upon you. And [also prohibited are] the wives of your sons who are from your [own] loins, and that you take [in marriage] two sisters simultaneously, except for what has already occurred.1 Indeed, Allah is ever Forgiving and Merciful.” [Quran, 4:3]

Sacred Law on Non-Marriageable Kin

It is unlawful to marry one’s ancestors, descendants, parents’ descendants, or the first

generation of one’s grandparent’s offspring, meaning one’s paternal or maternal aunts (or uncles, if one is female). One’s unmarriageable kin (mahram) are those whom one is forbidden to marry forever. [Misri, ‘Umda Al-Salik]

It is unlawful (meaning both sinful and legally invalid) for a man to marry his:

(1) mother.

(2) grandmothers (O: from his mother’s or father’s side) and on up.

(3) daughters.

(4) daughters of his children, children’s children, and on down.

(5) sisters.

(6) daughters of brothers or sisters, their children’s daughters, and on down.

(7) mother’s sisters, grandmother’s sisters, and on up.

(8) father’s sisters, father’s father’s sisters, and on up.

(9) wife’s mother.

(10) wife’s grandmother.

(11) the wives of his father, father’s father, and on up.

(12) the wives of his children, children’s children, and on down.

All of whom ((9) through (12)) are unlawful for him to marry by the mere fact of marriage. As for a man’s wife’s daughter (from a different husband), it is not unlawful for him to marry until he has had sexual intercourse with her mother. Were he to divorce the mother before intercourse, it would be permissible for him to marry the daughter.

(13) (and all those considered unmarriageable kin to him by having been breastfed by a particular wet nurse in infancy). [ibid.]

It is unlawful and invalid for a woman to marry her:

(1) father, grandfather, and on up.

(2) son, son’s son, daughter’s son, and on down.

(3) brother.

(4) father’s brother, meaning the brother of any male ancestor.

(5) mother’s brother, meaning the brother of any female ancestor.

(6) brother’s son, sister’s son, or any other descendants of brothers or sisters.

(7) the husband of her mother, grandmother, and up.

(8) the husband of her daughter or other female descendants.

(9) her husband’s father, grandfather, and up, and husband’s son and descendants.

(10) and unmarriageable kin to her by having been breast-fed by a particular wet nurse

in infancy. [ibid.]

It is unlawful for a man to marry both:

(1) a woman and her sister.

(2) a woman and her father’s sister.

(3) or a woman and her mother’s sister.

But if a man is no longer married to one of the above and the waiting period has expired, then he may marry the other.

The same categories of relatives who are unlawful for one to marry because of one’s kinship relation to them are also unlawful to one by “foster relationships,” through having been breast-fed by a particular wet nurse in infancy since someone nursed in infancy by a woman is prohibited from marrying those whom her offspring and her husband’s offspring are prohibited from marrying. [ibid.]

I pray this is of benefit and that Allah guides us all.
[Shayh] Irshaad Sedick
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Irshaad Sedick was raised in South Africa in a traditional Muslim family. He graduated from Dar al-Ulum al-Arabiyyah al-Islamiyyah in Strand, Western Cape, under the guidance of the late world-renowned scholar, Shaykh Taha Karaan. 

Shaykh Irshaad received Ijaza from many luminaries of the Islamic world, including Shaykh Taha Karaan, Mawlana Yusuf Karaan, and Mawlana Abdul Hafeez Makki, among others.

He is the author of the text “The Musnad of Ahmad ibn Hanbal: A Hujjah or not?” He has served as the Director of the Discover Islam Centre and Al Jeem Foundation. For the last five years till present, he has served as the Khatib of Masjid Ar-Rashideen, Mowbray, Cape Town.

Shaykh Irshaad has thirteen years of teaching experience at some of the leading Islamic institutes in Cape Town). He is currently building an Islamic online learning and media platform called ‘Isnad Academy’ and pursuing his Master’s degree in the study of Islam at the University of Johannesburg. He has a keen interest in healthy living and fitness.