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FAQ

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Question:

Assalamualaikum Dato’ Seri SS Mufti. What is meant by temporary mahram and the rulings related for those who are categorized as such?

 

Answer:

Waalaikumussalam wrt. wbt.

Alhamdulillah, praise and thanks to Allah for the countless blessings He has blessed us all with. Blessings and salutations to the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his wives, his family, companions and all those that follow his teachings to the day of judgement.

Literally, there are several definitions for the word mahram. Among them, we simplify them into two points:

  • An individual who are prohibited to be married, whether it is due to them being family members (blood relations) and relative.
  • Something which is prohibited by Allah SWT.

Whereas according to jurists, the term mahram means: “A person who is prohibited for us to marry, where the prohibition is al-ta’bid (forever) due to permissible reasons not for their honor nor is it because of an obstacle that could be removed.” Refer Kaasyifah al-Saja, Nawawi bin ‘Umar (pg. 114).

In explaining the meaning of the sentences in the above definition, we detailed it as the following:

For the phrase “the prohibition is al-ta’bid (forever)” means: It does not include sisters of one’s wife. The same applies to one’s wife’s paternal and maternal aunt. The reason is, the prohibition is only when it is concurrent (which means both marriages with one’s wife and the wife’s sisters or aunts at the same time).

While the phrase “not for their honor” refers to the wives of the Prophet PBUH. The reason is, they are prohibited to be married to anyone else of this ummah including other prophets due to their honor.

The phrase “nor is it because of an obstacle that could be removed” means women who are from those of fire worshippers or those who have renounced Islam. The reason for the prohibition is due to an obstacle that could be removed. Which means, that they are permissible to be married in other times (such as when they have embraced Islam).

The explanation for those who are considered as our mahram is stated in the statement of Allah SWT:

حُرِّمَتْ عَلَيْكُمْ أُمَّهَاتُكُمْ وَبَنَاتُكُمْ وَأَخَوَاتُكُمْ وَعَمَّاتُكُمْ وَخَالَاتُكُمْ وَبَنَاتُ الْأَخِ وَبَنَاتُ الْأُخْتِ وَأُمَّهَاتُكُمُ اللَّاتِي أَرْضَعْنَكُمْ وَأَخَوَاتُكُم مِّنَ الرَّضَاعَةِ وَأُمَّهَاتُ نِسَائِكُمْ وَرَبَائِبُكُمُ اللَّاتِي فِي حُجُورِكُم مِّن نِّسَائِكُمُ اللَّاتِي دَخَلْتُم بِهِنَّ فَإِن لَّمْ تَكُونُوا دَخَلْتُم بِهِنَّ فَلَا جُنَاحَ عَلَيْكُمْ وَحَلَائِلُ أَبْنَائِكُمُ الَّذِينَ مِنْ أَصْلَابِكُمْ وَأَن تَجْمَعُوا بَيْنَ الْأُخْتَيْنِ إِلَّا مَا قَدْ سَلَفَ ۗ إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ غَفُورًا رَّحِيمًا

“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. Indeed, Allah is ever Forgiving and Merciful.”

Surah al-Nisa’ (23)

Imam al-Mawardi Rahimahullah cited the words of Imam al-Syafi’e, where he said:

أَصْلُ مَا يَحْرُمُ بِهِ النِّسَاءُ ضَرْبَانِ أَحَدُهُمَا بأنسابٍ، وَالْآخَرُ بأسبابٍ مِنْ حَادِثِ نكاحٍ أَوْ رضاعٍ

The original condition by which a woman is considered one’s mahram is divided into two parts. First is nasab (lineage) and second, asbab (reasons), which is a result from marriage or breastfeeding (nursing). Refer Al-Hawi Al-Kabir, Al-Mawardi (9/196).

Then, Imam al-Mawardi explained it further by saying: Mahram women are of two categories. First: The individual is prohibited forever. While the second part are those who are prohibited to be married concurrently (at the same time). And for the category of which it is prohibited forever, it is further divided into two parts; those who are prohibited due to nasab (lineage) and asbab (marriage and breastfeeding). Refer Al-Hawi Al-Kabir, Al-Mawardi (9/196).

The implication of mahram in the category of nasab and asbab (marriage and breastfeeding) is as follows:

  • Prohibited to be married to.
  • Permissible to shake hands with.
  • Permissible to be alone with.

Thus, according to the above presented question, we state that if a man marries a woman, then the sisters of the wife, whether they are the older or younger sister of the wife, they are non-mahram of the husband. This means, the sisters of the wife are categorized as prohibited (to be married to) temporarily (muaqqat – in certain duration of time).

In other words, they are only prohibited to be married for the prohibition stated by Allah SWT:

وَأَن تَجْمَعُوا بَيْنَ الْأُخْتَيْنِ

“...and that (it is prohibited) you take [in marriage] two sisters simultaneously,”

Surah al-Nisa’ (23)

Thus, if the wife dies, the wives’ sisters are no longer prohibited for the man to marry. This is what muaqqat (temporary) prohibition means.

The same is for a woman who marries a man. Then the husband’s brothers (older or younger brother) are prohibited for her to be married to temporarily (muaqqat).

Among those who are included in this category other than the brothers of the husband or sisters of the wife are the husband’s paternal or maternal uncles or the wife’s paternal or maternal aunts. This is in accordance with the hadith narrated by Abu Hurairah RA, where he said, the prophet PBUH said:

لاَ يُجْمَعُ بَيْنَ الْمَرْأَةِ وَعَمَّتِهَا وَلاَ بَيْنَ الْمَرْأَةِ وَخَالَتِهَا

"One cannot be married to a woman and her paternal aunt, or a woman and her maternal aunt at the same time."

Sunan al-Nasaie’ (3288)

Conclusion

To conclude, we would like to state that basically, there is no such term as temporary mahram, except a mahram due to three factors, which are; lineage, breastfeeding (nursing) or musaharah, which implications includes prohibition of marrying them, permissible to have physical contact and permissible to be alone with them.

However, there is temporary prohibition or also said as muaqqat prohibition in terms of marrying an individual in this category for a certain duration of time.

Thus, the implication of facing or socializing with those who are categorized in muaqqat prohibition, a person should cover his or her aurah the same way when the person is in front of other non-mahram. It is also prohibited for a person to be alone and have physical contact with them and they are permissible to be married if the obstruction for them to be married are removed.

Lastly, may Allah SWT give us the right understanding in this religion. Amin.