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Living with Non-Mahram Male Relatives

Shaykh Abdul-Rahim Reasattackles the delicate question of a mother’s amana and a young woman living with non-mahram male cousins.

Question:

Assalam alaykum wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

My mother whose health isn’t the best has given my close auntie (her sister) an amanathree — that if (Allah forbid) my mother passes away before I am married and have my husband looking after me, this auntie of mine should take care of me until I get married, Inshallah.

The problem is that if this does happen, this auntie of mine who is close like a mother to me, has three grown up and baligh sons (my cousins). If I were to live with my auntie and her family because of this promise between my mother and her, what should I do about those cousins of mine?

I know in Islam it is haram to mix with men who are not my mahram such as my cousins. Also if this were to happen my extended family members would gossip and create rumors from me living with these three men which I don’t want to be part of. Thus, I have three options:

    1. 1. I marry one of the two younger sons who are more suitable in terms of age and personality for me or

 

    1. 2. live with them without marrying any of my auntie’s sons or

 

    3. don’t live with them.

The problem is I can’t not live with them as I will be my auntie’s amana as it will be my mother’s final wish. Yet I can’t just live with them either because even though they are my cousins at the end of the day they are still men and I too still am a woman.

So if I were to have to live with my auntie’s family which I don’t want to live there in a manner that may result in haram taking place, I would rather marry one of her two younger sons, how should I bring the topic up with my auntie?

Should I mention the proposal directly to my auntie and uncle or should I send it in form of a letter or text message, as there isn’t really anyone else I can trust with the matter?

Answer:

Wa alaykum assalam wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

I pray you are well.

This is a delicate situation, so you should mention it to your mother – if possible – first; otherwise speak to your aunty. Ask Allah for help, pray Salat al Haja and Salat al Istikhara before proceeding.

The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, warned about close interaction with members of the opposite gender when he said, “Beware of mixing with women.” One of the Ansar asked about the brother-in-law (hamu, which also can mean any male relative of the husband), and the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, replied, “The brother in law is death!” (Bukhari)

Meaning that this individual is able to get into situations of seclusion with a lady without criticism in a way someone not part of the family could not do. This increases the chances of the Devil causing them to slip.

Should you move into this household you may be placed in a difficult situation. Your desire to avoid such a scenario is commendable and will be rewarded by Allah, Most High. Ask Him for a way out of this situation.

Marriage to one of the younger brothers may be a possible solution for you – yet living in a house with his two brothers would become the scenario warned about in the hadith. You a should speak to your mother and your aunt, and try to find a solution — even if it is marriage to one of your cousins – before anything should happen to your mother.

May Allah facilitate the solution most pleasing to Him for you.

Abdul-Rahim

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.