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Greeting, Hugging Non-Mahram Men and Women

Ustadh Salman Younas is asked about a wife seeing his husband hug a non-Mahram woman in front of her children and how to deal with this.

Question:

Assalam alaykum wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

I have been married for almost six years and have two daughters. My husband usually shakes hands with non-Muslim women and I don’t. I was thinking to talk to him about that. It was first time after six years that my husband’s non-Muslim friend invited us to a dinner. I was surprised to see when my husband’s friend’s wife asked to hug him and he said yes. They hugged each other and then we left. It was a shame for me because they did it in front of me and our kids. I want to raise my children on Islamic manners and now I am getting concerned about it because i believe that our children do what they see.

I talked to him about it and he acknowledged his mistake but I didn’t get any answer that he would not do that again or not. And now after that I am having doubts about our relationship that whether I should continue it or not.

Answer:

Wa alaykum assalam wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

Unless there is something more to the situation that you have failed to disclose, it would seem ill-advised to think of ending your marriage solely based on this action of your husband, which he himself admits is a mistake.

Often, even practicing Muslims find it difficult to avoid shaking hands with the opposite gender in certain situations. There is a social and psychological pressure that people often succumb to when confronted with the choice of shaking someone’s hand or not doing so in both casual and professional settings. Your husband is certainly not the first person to slip in this regard. In fact, it is a common problem that people report and inquire about.

If your husband is a good partner otherwise and someone who tries to practice his faith, I would advise you to be a loving and supporting spouse. Nudge him in the right direction. Try to understand his struggle and speak to him like a friend and sincere confidant. Help him overcome the difficulties he is facing. But don’t suffocate him. Rather, advise him and then give him some space to take it in and work on himself.

People slip, and sometimes they do so repeatedly. It does not mean they are bad people, nor does it mean that they do not care for their religion and practice. As the Prophet, blessings upon him, said, “Every son of Adam is a sinner, and the best of sinners are those who repent.” (Tirmidhi)

It is also important to ensure that other areas of your life are ones where both you and your husband are practicing your faith as this may eventually be the key to overcoming one’s vices.

Finally, you should continue making supplication for him and your family. In the end, God is the one who changes hearts.

Salman

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.


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.


How Should I Interact With My Male Cousin?

Answered by Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil

Question: I used to like my cousin, but don’t anymore. He got my number and is texting me, and I feel guilty when I respond to him. He isn’t religious so it doesn’t bother him. He likes to ask my advice and doesn’t say anything inappropriate. Am I doing something wrong?

Answer: Assalamualaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray this finds you well. Dear sister, may Allah reward you for wanting to do what is pleasing to Him.

Boundaries

Listen to your conscience. If you are feeling guilty, then this is an indication that it would be better for you to stop responding to his texts. You don’t need to be awkward about it; when he comes to visit you in your family home, just explain that you don’t feel comfortable texting him, and you’d appreciate it if he would stop.

Be polite and kind, but don’t go out of your way to give him advice via text message. InshaAllah he will respect your decision and find advice from elsewhere. Use this as a lesson in setting boundaries with non-mahram men. This is a useful skill which you’ll get better at with practice.

Liking someone

It’s normal to like boys as you grow up. What’s important to remember is that for Muslims, the only acceptable romantic relationship is between a husband and a wife. Pre-marital relationships are impermissible, so anything that can lead to that is also impermissible (e.g. being in seclusion, flirtation etc).

If you like someone enough to want to marry him, then let your parents know, and inshaAllah they can help you arrange chaperoned talks with the young man in question. This course is also very helpful for you to learn more about marriage: Islamic Marriage: Guidance for Successful Marriage and Married Life

Please refer to the following links:

How Should I Interact With Non-Mahram (Marriageable) Males?
Limits of Relationship between Males and Females

Wassalam,
Raidah

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Must a Woman Cover in Front of Her Parents’ Cousins?

Answered by Ustadh Torab Torabi
Question: Does a Woman have to observe hijab in front of her mother’s and father’s cousins?
Answer: Walaikum Asalaam Wa Rahmatullah Wa Barakatuh.
A woman has to observe the Hijab in front of her mother’s and father’s cousins.
Please refer to this very informative and succinct answer by Mufti Muhammad ibn Adam.

Who is Mahram?

Also, please read this great reminder by Shaykh Faraz on modesty.
Attire Around Non-Mahrams
May Allah grant us modesty, both inwardly and outwardly.
Torab
Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

Is It Permissible to Walk Around Topless in Front of Unmarriageable Kin?

Question: I am a married woman living with my in-laws i.e. father-in-law, mother in-law and my husband’s sister. My husband says I can merely cover between my navel and knees in front of them because they are unmarriageable to me and there is no sign of lust or fitna. My husband also says that they can also touch those parts if needed as they are unlawful to marry and if there is no lust. Please tell me if this is correct or not.
Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,
I pray that you are in the best of health and faith, insha’Allah.
The nakedness (`awra) of a woman in front of her unmarriageable kin (mahram) is from navel to knee, stomach and the back. [see: A Detailed Exposition of the Fiqh of Covering One’s Nakedness (awra)]
Note that the entire back is considered to be from the nakedness, not just the back of the stomach.
Uncovering the chest area would not be prohibited in and of itself, yet would be contrary to the dictates of modesty and what is befitting for a dignified Muslim woman. A sense of bashfulness and covering up are keys to taqwa. The Holy Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Modesty is from faith.”
See: Modesty in Islam – Shaykh Ibrahim Osi-Efa – Video and: IslamCast Daily Hadith – 018 – Modesty is From Faith
And Allah alone gives success.
wassalam,
Ustadh Tabraze Azam
Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

How to Approach Getting Married

Answered by Shaykh Rami Nsour

Question: I’m 31 years old and still not married. My younger sister and younger brother are married which stressed me out. Also, I have two suitors who I’m not interested in due to age, maturity and religiosity. I know that I won’t find a perfect guy but when I pray istikhara I didn’t feel anything.

My parents won’t decide for me. They just tell me the guy’s name, and sometimes no details at all. I’m totally lost. How can I make decision without some details about the guy and just some basic information for example their name, age, occupation?

Sometimes, my father just chast with them after they come to the house then asks me do I want to accept them. Some of them ask if I’m willing to get know the man thru sms/email/phone first. I’m against this as I tried it once and I know I’m not good at it and I don’t like to have useless chatting with boys. Please advise me.

Answer:

Marriage is From your Provision (rizq)

The first thing to remember when approaching marriage is that it is part of your provision (rizq) which is guaranteed by Allah. Allah says, “There is not a single creature on the earth except that Allah takes care of it’s provision” [Quran 11:6]. So, no matter how old or young one is, their wealth or whether or their siblings married before them, these and other factors do not affect the provision that is guaranteed.

Depending on Allah

Although we know to depend on Allah for provision, He also instructed us to take the necessary means to achieve the provisions. True depending on Allah (tawakkul) is defined as “taking the necessary means while recognizing that Allah is the true provider” [Mawlud, Purification of the Heart]. So in the case of quenching our thirst, for example, we don’t just wait for it to be quenched, we drink water as a means and recognize that Allah quenches our thirst not the water.

Tying the Camel

Anas (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that a person asked the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him), “Should I tie my camel and have Tawakkul (trust in Allah for her protection) or should I leave her untied and have Tawakkul.” The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) replied, “Tie her and have Tawakkul” [Jami At-Tirmidhi].

Getting to Know Someone

Before getting married, one should take the means to get to know the person. The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) encouraged one of the Sahaba to look at a woman before marrying her [Ahmed and others]. The reason for this is that there are traits a person may have in their personality or body that might complicate a strong relationship from forming.

The Limits of Interaction for non-Mahram

As long as one follows the rules of gender interaction, they can communicate with a potential suitor to ensure that there is compatibility. A woman can speak to a non-mahram as long as they do not maintain constant gaze at each other, there is no flirting, and their is no pleasure being derived from the voice or conversation [Mawlud, Prohibitions of the Tongue]. The two also must be in plain sight of other as to avoid the prohibition of being alone together (khalwa) and there cannot be any physical contact. Just as one can keep a conversation “strictly business” in a school or work environment, the same can be applied to a conversation about marriage.

Rami

Guidelines for Interacting With the Opposite Sex

Answered by Ustadha Zaynab Ansari

Question: Being put in situations with women leaves me confused with no idea about how to interact with them.  I know the issues of khalwa and modesty are important, but I don’t really understand what they practically mean or how to put everything together.  Could  you provide some detailed guidelines on how brothers should interact with sisters in a way that is completely in line with the shariah?

Answer: In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.

Praise be to Allah. May His peace and blessings shower upon our beloved Messenger. May Allah reward you for seeking knowledge of His deen.

In Islam, interactions between the sexes are permitted within certain limits specified by the Quran and the Sunna. To some, these limits might appear to be very strict. However, there is a divine wisdom underpinning the limits set down by the Shariah. In adhering to the boundaries set by the Sharia, we can uphold the Quranic command to the believing men and women to be awliya of one another, or protecting friends, while at the same time maintaining the modesty and purity of heart that come from obeying Allah and His Messenger in this regard.

In brief, when interacting with a woman who is not a member of your unmarriageable kin or your wife, you must avoid khalwa, or seclusion; guard your gaze; and obviously, avoid any physical contact.

In more detail:

Khalwa

Khalwa takes place when one man or more than one man are alone with one woman in a place where no one can see them or enter. If there are two women and a man, for example, this is not khalwa. However, when there is only one woman, this situation is considered as seclusion, and becomes unlawful. Obviously, this is for the protection of the woman and the man (or men) so that a situation will not arise where the male becomes tempted and the woman possibly harmed.

If you are in a situation where you are in a room with two or more women, this is not khalwa and there is no need for you to be uncomfortable.

Guard Your Gaze

Guarding your gaze is a good practice that fosters modest interaction between the sexes. The Quran commands both believing men and women to guard their gaze. Unfortunately, many Muslims have lost this practice. What guarding the gaze means is that you should refrain from staring at a woman’s face (if she’s not a member of your unmarriageable kin or your wife). It does not mean keeping one’s eyes glued to the ground. In Western societies, guarding one’s gaze can sometimes be interpreted as a lack of assertiveness or respect for the other person.

However, with Muslims, guarding one’s gaze indicates respect for the other person’s space and modesty of intention. Our scholars have said that looking at a woman’s face is permitted in certain occasions. For example, if you are seeking a woman in marriage, it is permitted to look at her face. If you work in any type of job that requires you to look at people and interact with them, looking is permitted as long as you don’t look with desire. If you are a teacher, looking at your female students is permitted as long as you don’t look more than necessary or with desire. In short, be modest and respectful.

If You Can’t Look, You Can’t Touch

According to the Shariah, where looking is not permitted, then touching is also unlawful. This can be a sensitive topic for Muslims living in the West where handshaking is commonplace and is considered a polite thing to do. Shaking the hand of someone from the opposite sex is unlawful.

According to our scholars, the Prophet, peace be upon him, never shook the hand of a woman who was not a member of his unmarriageable kin or his wife. So you should do your utmost to avoid shaking hands. But try to do it in a way that does not offend the other person. For many non-Muslims, if you simply explain to them that your religion (or culture) does not permit shaking hands and that you mean no offense, then usually people are okay with that.

Covering the Awrah (Nakedness)

Covering the awrah or one’s nakedness. Another requirement of interaction between the sexes is that everyone should observe Islamic modesty or covering the awrah. For men, this means covering what’s between the navel and the knee. For women, this means covering the whole body except the face and hands. Obviously, this is possible in a Muslim gathering. But there are very few places in this world where you will encounter women who are always covered. Obviously, if you live and work in the West, everyday you will see women who are not properly covered. What you need to do here is to simply be modest, behave respectfully, and avoid looking at women without need.

Conclusion

In conclusion, when you find yourself in a situation with women, Muslim or otherwise, simply be modest and respectful. There is no problem with talking to a member of the opposite sex or working with that person when there is a need. As long as we adhere to these boundaries, inshallah everything should be fine.

There is no need to be uncomfortable when there are women around. I have seen some Muslim brothers who when they sight a woman or hear her voice, immediately start scowling or act very tense. This is unnecessary. I have also seen Muslim brothers who feel very comfortable chatting with non-Muslim women, but as soon as a Muslim woman comes around, they ignore her and won’t even give salaams. This too is unnecessary and looks very strange to the non-Muslim observers.

What’s important to remember here is the example of our Prophet, peace be upon him. He was modest, respectful, and kind to everyone. He also interacted with women when there was a need to do so. He is the best example for us.

I hope this is helpful to you.

And Allah alone gives success. And Allah knows best.

(Umm Salah) Zaynab Ansari

How Should I Interact With Non-Mahram (Marriageable) Males?

Answered by Ustadha Zaynab Ansari

Question: I would like to know how in this day and age, a woman can observe modest behavior and be seen as a normal person. I don’t like sitting with and talking to na-mahram men.  Because I don’t smile at men and talk to them openly I am often told that I lack social skills or that I am austere. Lately, I have been questioning my own acts. Perhaps they are right. I think because I don’t talk to men that often I don’t even know how to interact with them. My awkward behavior makes them feel awkward. How can a single muslimah living in this western society maintain the balance of making people around her feel comfortable as well as maintain the rules of purdah? (Clear cut rules of conduct would help as I often like to think of things in black and white; for example, I can do this but I can’t do that, that sort of thing.)

Answer: In the Name of Allah, the Gracious, the Merciful

Dear Sister,

Assalamu alaikum,

Thank you for your question.

I pray this message finds you well.

The first thing I can tell you is that these rules of behavior are not as black and white as you may think. What is considered polite or friendly in one society may be out of line in another.

Just be yourself. Stop feeling uptight or nervous around non-mahram men. If you live in the West, chances are you will have to interact with non-mahram men quite frequently, particularly if you go to school or have a job.

Simply observe your hijab, be pleasant, and don’t engage in aimless conversation. Any Muslims you deal with (whether family or not) should be able to respect this.

But bear in mind that observing Islamic etiquette is not an excuse for rudeness. So give salaams, ask people how they and the family are doing, and keep on going.

I pray this helps.

Related Answers:

Guidelines for Interacting With the Opposite Sex

Women & the Workplace: Is it Impermissible for Me to Work Even If I Observe Proper Limits?

Limits of Relationship between Males and Females

Who is Mahram

Hadith About Seclusion (khalwa) and Unmarriageable Kin (mahram)

A Detailed Exposition of the Fiqh of Covering One’s Nakedness (awra)

Regards,

Zaynab Ansari