Is a Brother/Sister in-Law a Mahram?
Respected scholars, as-salamu `alaykum. I am married and I am confused about something. Is the husband of my wife's sister a mahram (husband or close male relative forbidden in marriage) to my wife or a non-mahram? Can my wife talk to him alone in seclusion or must she cover her `awrah (parts of the body that must be covered) in front of him?
Jazakum Allahu Khayran.
Wa `alaykum as-salamu wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh.
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.
We would like to thank you, our dear brother, for your important question and we ask Almighty Allah to guide us all to His straight path!
Your wife's brother-in-law is a stranger (non-mahram ) to her. She has to wear her hijabin front of him and should not to be alone with him. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) strongly warned concerning the in-laws, since people sometimes mix freely with them without any limits which may cause severe problems in families.
In his response to your question, Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, senior lecturer and Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Canada , stated:
Your wife is not allowed to treat her brother-in-law as a mahram; he is not her mahram and, as such, he is no different from any other stranger for her as far as the rules of hijab and isolation are concerned.
A mahram is someone whom one is not allowed to marry at all in any circumstance. Your wife is allowed to marry him, if, God forbid, you divorce her and her own sister is divorced, or dies. In this way, the bar for marriage that exists at present does not mean they are mahrams to each other as it is only a temporary bar.
Furthermore, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) warned us against isolation between the sexes in similar relations: He said, “In-laws are akin to death!” In other words, they face a greater risk of falling to sins than strangers, because they have more chances to meet and interact, and the result would be far more disastrous than death. Therefore, let us guard against all the doors that lead to temptation, for as the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “The devil runs through the blood veins of the children of Adam!” They can only protect themselves against his snares and temptations through remembrance of Allah and by complying with His orders.
In conclusion, your wife must observe full hijab in front of her brother-in-law, and she is not allowed to be alone with him under any circumstances.