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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.


Must I Marry My Cousin?

Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil is asked about being urged to marry a cousin when one is interested in someone outside the family.

Question:

Assalam alaykum wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

I really like a girl from outside my family and I believe that she will be a good partner for me. My family wants me to marry my cousin. Although she is also good, I’m not comfortable with her.

However, there is no suitable match for my cousin if I don’t go for her, and she may suffer if I say no. What do I do? Am I Islamically and morally bound to marry my cousin?

Answer:

Wa alaykum assalam wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

I pray this finds you well. May Allah reward you for reaching out to us.

Marriage

You are not Islamically and/or morally bound to marry your cousin. Please do not marry her out of guilt. Marriage is a sacred contract, and you must take responsibility for who you choose to marry. You need to talk honestly with your family about how you are not comfortable with marrying your cousin.

Please know that Allah is Most Merciful, and He will not let your cousin down. I pray that she marries a kind and pious man who will cherish her.

Expectation

You are probably under a lot of pressure to marry your cousin. May Allah make this easier for you. Because of this, be realistic and expect your family to be unhappy about your intention to marry outside of your family.

Please do the groundwork by completing the course Marriage in Islam: Practical Guidance for Successful Marriages and reading the book Before You Tie The Knot.

If you go ahead with this, then the woman you have in mind must be strong enough to withstand the disapproval of her in-laws. That stress could break a marriage.

Prayer

I encourage you to perform the Prayer of Need, and the Prayer of Guidance, in the last third of the night.

Family Ties

Please do everything in your power to maintain family ties if you choose to marry outside of your family. Bring in a respected family elder to advocate for you, if need be.

Baraka

If you can find it in your heart to consider marrying your cousin, then I encourage you to at least give it a shot, to bring happiness to your parents’ hearts.

Please see Love, Marriage and Relationships in Islam: All Your Questions Answered and Selected Prophetic Prayers for Spiritual, Physical and Emotional Wellbeing by Chaplain Ibrahim Long.

May Allah bring you the clarity to do what is most pleasing to Him.

Wassalam,

Raidah

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.


Are My Cousins Mahrams to Me? (Shafi’i)

Answered by Shaykh Jamir Meah

Question: Assalamu alaykum

Are my cousins mahrams to me? Can I marry one of them?

Answer: Assalam alaykum. Jazakum Allah khayr for your question.

The children of aunts and uncles are cousins to one another. Cousins are not mahrams to each other, and therefore, it is permissible for cousins to marry each other.

[al Yaqout al Nafis]

Please see also: Who is Mahram

Warmest salams,
[Shaykh] Jamir Meah

Shaykh Jamir Meah grew up in Hampstead, London. In 2007, he traveled to Tarim, Yemen, where he spent nine years studying the Islamic sciences on a one-to-one basis under the foremost scholars of the Ribaat, Tarim, with a main specialization and focus on Shafi’i fiqh. In early 2016, he moved to Amman, Jordan, where he continues advanced studies in a range of Islamic sciences, as well as teaching. Jamir is a qualified homeopath.

Do I Need to Wear Hijab in Front of My Male First Cousins?

Answered by Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil

Question: Assalam aleykum,

My family is very close-knit, and my male first cousins are like my brothers. Coming from a European background, cousins do not marry cousins, and I struggle to wear the hijab in front of them.

Are there any exceptions to the ruling? Is it fine for me to not wear hijab in front of them?

I began wearing the hijab about four months ago and so am still getting used to it.

Answer: Assalamualaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray this finds you well. May Allah reward you for reaching out to us.

Hijab

MashaAllah, congratulations on wearing hijab! Know that this pleases Allah Most High, and brings joy to the heart of the Prophet (upon him be blessings and peace). I pray that Allah increases your love for Him, through your obedience of His sacred law.

Cousins

Your male cousins are not mahram to you, so you must wear hijab in front of them. There is no exception to this.

The only scenario in which cousins are permitted to not observe hijab is when they are milk siblings through nursing. Please read this for more information:Breastfeeding Leading to Mahram Relationship.

Practically speaking, this does not apply to you. However, this does offer you something to think about when you have children of your own some day, inshaAllah.

Practical suggestions

1) Let your cousins know that you are wearing hijab, how important it is to you, and how you would appreciate their support.

2) Start drawing firm boundaries – ask them to knock or ring the bell before they come into the house.

3) Keep a slip-on hijab close by so you can always wear it quickly when you hear the bell ring.

4) Perform the Prayer of Need daily and ask Allah to respond to this trial in the way that pleases Him.

5) Reflect on your outward hijab and your inward hijab with your male cousins. Ultimately, even though you were raised to be close to them, they are not mahram to you. It would be wiser for you to slowly distance yourself from them, with the intention of pleasing Allah.

Please see:

Wassalam,
[Ustadha] Raidah Shah Idil

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil has spent almost two years in Amman, Jordan, where she learned Shafi’i’ fiqh, Arabic, Seerah, Aqeedah, Tasawwuf, Tafsir and Tajweed. She continues to study with her Teachers through Qibla Academy and SeekersHub Global. She also graduated with a Psychology and English degree from University of New South Wales.