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The Permissibility of Marrying a Woman and Her Step-daughter

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Question:

 
As-salaamu `alaykum
 
Im having difficulty understanding a mas'alah. In Bahishti zewar, on page 405 of the 2005 English translation, it states, (mas'alah #11) "If a woman and her step-daughter marry a person at the same time, the nikah will be valid."
 

Kindly explain why such a nikah would be valid. From what I've learned (as a muqallid of the Hanafi madhab), the `ulama say that you cannot marry two women such that if one of them were a male, they would not be able to marry each other. This is why you cannot marry a womans aunt and niece, because if one of them were a male, they would not be able to marry each other.

 

Now if we apply this principle to a woman and her step-daughter, we reach the same conclusion. A woman cannot marry her step-son, nor can a step-daughter marry her step-father due to hurmat-e-musaharah. So why is this mas'alah saying otherwise?

 

Please explain where I've gone wrong.

 

Answer:

 

ASSALAMU ALAIKUM

25 Shawwaal 1435 (22 August 2014)

Arslan Sana

Your e-mail dated 22 August 2014 refers.

The relationship between a  stepdaughter and her stepmother is not original. It is  ‘artificial’, having developed  at a later stage. If one of the two had to be a male, then at one stage marriage would have been valid between them. The rule  mentioned by you applies to such two females who are related by blood ties from inception, e.g. two sisters; an aunt and her niece. If one of them had been a male, never would marriage have been valid.

Was-salaam

A.S. Desai

For

Mujlisul Ulama of S.A.

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QUESTION

Is it permissible for a man to marry his wife's stepmother? Man A is married to Woman B, whose father has four wives, one of whom (Woman C) is 3 years older than Woman B. Woman B's father (i.e. Woman C's husband) dies, and Man A marries Woman B's stepmother, i.e. Woman C. Is this permissible?

ANSWER

In the name of Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful,

The nature of Shariah is such that it intends to eradicate anything that may lead to disputes and the breaking of ties. In many injunctions of Shariah, we see that the main cause behind the prohibition of a certain act is the possibility of disputes and arguments arising. Many laws of commerce and trade are based on this very principle.

Due to this, it was prohibited for a man to combine two or more women in his marriage (i.e. at the same time) who are closely related to each other. Co-wives normally and naturally become jealous of one another and not everything is hunky-dory between them, thus the idea behind the prevention of combining two relatives in marriage is to prevent the severing of ties between relatives and closely related people.

The great Hanafi jurist (faqih), Imam Ibn Abidin (Allah have mercy on him) explains:

“…Combing them (closely related women) in marriage is unlawful (haram) due to the reason that it will normally lead to the breaking of ties between the co-wives who are related. And the evidence for this is the Hadith recorded by al-Tabrani that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said: “If you do that (m: i.e. combine two related women in marriage), you will be breaking ties” and more details is mentioned in Fath al-Qadir.” (Radd al-Muhtar, 3/36)

Thus, the Qur’an prohibited the combining of two sisters in marriage. Allah Most High states:

“Prohibited to you (for marriage) are……two sisters in wedlock at one and the same time.” (Surah al-Nisa, 23)

Similarly, Sayyiduna Abu Hurayra (Allah be pleased with him) narrates that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said: “A woman and her paternal aunt must not be combined in marriage, neither a woman and her maternal aunt.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, no. 4820)

Based on the above, the Hanafi jurists (fuqaha) have laid down a principle with regards to the prohibition of combining two women in marriage which is that, it is not permissible to combine two women who are such that, if one of them were a man, it would not be permissible for her (him) to marry the other.

It is stated in al-Fatawa al-Hindiyya:

“The principle (asl) is that it will not be permissible to combine two women (in marriage) who are such that if one of them was presumed to be a man, from any side, it would not be permissible for them to marry each other.” (al-Fatawa al-Hindiyya, 1/277)

Imam al-Haskafi (Allah have mercy on him) states:

“It is unlawful to combine two women (in marriage) who are such that if one of them was presumed to be a man, it would not be permissible for him (her) to marry the other.” (See: Radd al-Muhtar ala al-Durr, 3/38)

The meaning of the above two texts is that, Allah Most High has mentioned the list of people whom it is unlawful for one to marry, such as one’s sister, mother, daughter, aunt, niece, mother in-law, wife’s daughter, etc. Thus, if one intends to combine two women in marriage, one must look at whether, if one of them was assumed to be a man, it would be permissible for her (him) to marry the other? If not, then it would be unlawful to combine them in marriage. This assumption must be from both sides, as mentioned in the text of al-Fatawa al-Hindiyya, where it stated “from any side”.

For example, there are two sisters, and a person wants to combine them in marriage. Now, if we presume any one of them to be a man, marriage would be unlawful between them. The reason being is that if any one of them was presumed to be a man, he will be the brother of the other, and marriage with one’s sister is unlawful. This will be the case regardless of whom we presume to be a man, i.e. from both sides.

Having understood the above, we come to the question of marrying one’s stepmother in-law. To combine a woman and her real mother (i.e. real mother in-law) in marriage is without doubt unlawful, for if any one of them were to be a man, marriage would not be lawful between them. Let’s say the mother was a man. In this situation it will be unlawful for a father to marry his own daughter. Suppose we considered the daughter to be a man, even in this case, it is unlawful for a son to marry his mother. Thus, to have a daughter and her (real mother) in marriage at the same time is unlawful.

However, the case with combing a woman and her step-mother is not the same, in that this is permissible. The reason here is that, if we presumed the daughter to be a man, then indeed it will not be permissible for a man to marry his step-mother. However, in the vice versa situation, meaning if we presumed the mother to be a man, it will be allowed for him to marry the girl. The women will not be considered to be a stepfather marrying his daughter, rather a strange (ajnabi) man marrying a girl, for we presumed her to be man, thus she cannot be the wife of her husband (I hope this is understandable!).

Thus, the Hanafi Fuqaha have permitted the marriage to a woman and her stepdaughter at the same time. It is stated in al-Fatawa al-Hindiyya:

“It will be permissible to combine (in marriage) a woman and her husband’s daughter (m: from another wife), because if the women (m: mother) was presumed to be a man, it would be permissible for him to marry the girl. However, in the vice versa situation, it would not be allowed.” (al-Fatawa al-Hindiyya, 1/277)

Imam al-Haskafi (Allah have mercy on him) states:

“It is permissible to combine (in marriage) a woman and her husband’s daughter (m: i.e. a girl and her stepmother).”

Imam Ibn Abidin (Allah have mercy on him) explains the above by stating:

“…Because if the woman (mother) was presumed to be a man, he will be marrying the husband’s daughter, and she (the daughter) will be considered to be a daughter of a strange man (m: meaning, she cannot be classed as a man and also have a husband at the same time, thus one will have to say that her relationship with the girl is that of a stranger).” (Radd al-Muhtar, 3/39)

In conclusion, it is permitted for a man to combine a girl and her stepmother in marriage at the same time, or in other words, a woman and her stepdaughter. Thus, marriage with a stepmother in-Law is perfectly permissible whether separately or with keeping her stepdaughter in the marriage.

And Allah knows best

[Mufti] Muhammad ibn Adam
 

Darul Iftaa
 

Leicester , UK

 

[Emphasis added by self]

 

[Source]

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