As-Sunnah Vol. 2 Issue No. 5

 

What is Hurmat al-Masaaharah?

What is Hurmat al-Masaaharah?
The Qur’aan specifies women, whom a man cannot marry in the verse: ‘Forbidden 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 foster mothers who suckled you, your foster milk suckling sisters, your wife’s mothers, your stepdaughters under your guardianship, born of your wives unto whom you have gone in - but there is no sin on you if you have not gone in unto them (to marry their daughters), - the wives of your sons who (spring) from your own loins, and two sisters in wedlock at the same time, except for what has already passed. Verily, Allah is Oft- Forgiving, Most Merciful.’ [Soorah an-Nisa (4): 23]

Imam Ibn Katheer (rahimahullah), an outstanding scholar specialized in the interpretation of Qur’aanic verses, has written in the Tafseer (interpretation) of the above verse, ‘This honorable verse is the verse that establishes the degrees of women relatives who are never eligible for one to marry because of blood relations, relations established by suckling or marriage.’

The Qur’aan, thus specifies three categories of women, who are mahram and therefore, not eligible to be taken in marriage;

a) The mahrams by blood relations are (as in the verse); your mothers, your daughters, your sisters, your father's sisters, your mother's sisters, your brother's daughters, your sister's daughters.

b) The mahrams by fosterage are those who have been suckled by the same woman, for example, a boy and a girl who have been suckled by the same woman will be considered as brother and sister, regardless of the differences of blood relation between them.

c) The mahram by marriage are the mother-in-law, daughter-in-law, wife’s daughters, husband’s sons, etc. This concept of mahram by marriage is termed as, ‘Hurmat al-Masaaharah’, and by it, a sanctity is established between a man and a woman that forbids marriage between them. Therefore, if a father marries a woman through the legal Nikah procedure then she becomes Haraam upon the sons of her husband forever, as if she has attained the status of their real mother. And if a man marries a woman, then she becomes Haraam upon the father of her husband forever.

But if a man commits adultery with a woman who is married to his son(i.e. his daughter-in-law), Will she become Haraam for her husband ? Will she be considered as the mother of her husband? This is the issue of contention.

The opinion of the majority of the scholars from amongst the Sahabah, Taba’een, Taba’Taba’een and Fuqaha is that ‘Hurmat al-Masaaharah’ is only established through the lawful (Halaal) process of Nikah (marriage) and not by the forbidden (haraam) act of Zina (adultery) because of the fundamental principle that ‘a Haraam (action) does not prohibit (make Haraam) that which is Halaal’, ‘La YuHarrimul-Haraamu al-Halaal.’ Imam Ibn Hajr (rahimahullah) reports in Fathul-Baree, ‘Darqutni and Tabaree have related from Aa’isha (radhi allahu anha), ‘…Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alahi wa-sallam) said, ‘Haraam (action) does not prohibit (make Haraam) that which is Halaal.’ In its isnad is Usman ibn Abdur-Rahman al-Waqasi and he is Matrooq Also Ibn Majah has related a part of the Hadeeth from Ibn Umar, ‘Haraam (action) does not prohibit (make Haraam) that which is Halaal.’ The isnad of this Hadeeth is more authentic than the previous Hadeeth (of Aa’isha).’ [See, Fathul-Baree (the Book of Nikah)]

Imam Bukharee reports in ‘the Book of Nikah’ under chapter ‘25. What women are lawful for one to marry and what are unlawful’ (Eng. Trans. vol. 7, pg. 30), statements from Ibn Abbas (radhi allahu anhu) which explain that Hurmat al-Masaaharah is not established in cases where zina or illegal copulation occurs based upon the above-mentioned fundamental rule. Ibn Abbas (radhi allahu anhu) said, ‘If somebody commits illegal sexual intercourse with his wife’s sister, his wife does not become unlawful for him.’ In the explanation of this quote, Imam Ibn Hajar has mentioned similar quotes from Ibn Abbas (radhi allahu anhu) and said, ‘this is the statement (the opinion) of the majority, while a group has disagreed.’ [See, Fathul-Baree]

Imam Bukharee related from Ibn Abbas (radhi allahu anhu), ‘If someone commits illegal sexual intercourse with his mother-in-law, then his married relation to his wife does not become unlawful.’ Imam Ibn Hajar writes, ‘al-Bayhaqee has also related this from Hisham from Qatadah from Ikrimah concerning a man, who commits sexual intercourse with his mother-in-law, he said, ‘He has committed two Haraam actions (*1) and his wife does not become unlawful for him.’ and its isnad is authentic.’ [See, Fathul-Baree]

Footnotes:
*1: One of committing zina (illegal sexual intercourse) and the second of violating the sanctity of Hurmat al-Masaaharah with his mother-in-law.


Taken from As-Sunnah Newsletter - http://www.qsep.com

 

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