Interaction with One’s Brother-in-Law
Social Issues
Question asked by .
Answered by Dr. Shehzad Saleem

I am a middle aged woman and live with my husband in a house that is based on joint family system. My husband says that the Prophet (sws) has forbidden a woman to come before her brothers-in-law even if her husband is present. Also, he says that I must not talk to my brother-in-law. Now in spite of trying my best to observe this limit, I am unable to do so unless we move to a new house. What should I do?

Answer: class="Paragraph">I am afraid that your husband’s perception regarding the limits of interaction of a lady with her brother-in-law is not true. To my knowledge, people base this view on the following Hadīth1:

‘Uqbah Ibn ‘Āmir narrates that the Prophet once said: Don’t spend time in seclusion with women. A person from the Ansār asked: What about the brother in law: [should he also abstain?]. At this, the Prophet replied: He can be [as damaging as] death.

I shall try to explain this Hadīth: At the outset, it needs to be appreciated that Islam is the religion of purification. The objective of Islam is Tadkiyah-i-Nafs (purification of the soul). According to the Qur’ān, only people who have purified their souls would enter Paradise. All Islamic directives aim at the purification of the soul. The Prophet (sws) also, while keeping in consideration this spirit of Islam, gave a number of directives of which a fundamental one was that a man and a woman must avoid being alone with one another since this could pollute the soul and as a result lead to excesses. The above quoted Hadīth warns a believer to avoid being alone with his sister-in-law for similar reasons. The question obviously arose because the chances of being alone with her in a joint family system are great and one often tends to be careless in this matter. So the Hadīth is actually cautioning and prodding a believer to be extra careful in this matter.

So, in my opinion, it is evident from the full text of the Hadīth that you can come before your brother-in-law and also talk to him; however, you should avoid being in seclusion with him.




1. Bukhārī, Kitābu’l-Nikāh, No. 4831

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