Women To Whom Marriage is Prohibited
It is permanently haram for a Muslim to marry a woman who belongs to
one of the following categories:
The father's wife, whether divorced or widowed. During the period of
jahiliyyah such marriages were allowed. Then Islam prohibited them,
for once a woman is married to a man's father she acquires the
of his mother, and this prohibition is out of honor and respect for
the father. Moreover, as this inviolable prohibition leaves no room
for sexual attraction between the son and his step-mother, they are
able to develop a relationship of respect and honor.
The mother, including the grandmothers on both sides.
The daughter, including the granddaughters from the son or daughter.
The sister, including the half, and step-sisters.
The paternal aunt, whether she is the real, half, or step-sister of
The maternal aunt, whether she is the real, half, or step-sister of
The brother's daughter, i.e., his niece.
The sister's daughter, i.e., his niece.
All these female blood-relatives are a man's muharramat and he is
mahrem to his corresponding female relatives. Marriage to any mahrem
whomsoever is permanently prohibited. The reasons for this
prohibition are as follows.
Entertaining any sexual thoughts concerning such close relatives as
one's mother, sister, and daughter is instinctively abhorrent to
human nature; there are even certain animals which avoid mating with
such closely-related animals. The respect a man feels for his aunts
is like the respect he has for his mother, and likewise uncles are
regarded as fathers.|
Since the family must live together in intimacy and privacy but
without incestuous relations, the Shari'ah intends to cut at the
roots of any sexual attraction among such close relatives.
Since there is natural love and affection among such close blood
relatives, the intent of the Shari'ah is to expand the circle of
and kinship by prohibiting incest and thereby directing the man's
search for women outside the family. Thus each marriage extends the
sphere of love, bringing new people within this ever-expanding
network of affection: "And He has put love and mercy between you."
The natural sentiments of love and affection between a man and the
above-mentioned female relatives must be kept strong forever. If
marriage were permitted between such relatives, it would cause
jealousies, dissensions, and the disruption of families, destroying
the very sentiments of love and affection which give cohesiveness
permanence to the family structure.
The offspring of marriages to such close blood relatives would most
probably be defective and weak. Moreover, if physical or mental
defects are present in the members of a family, they would become
more pronounced among the children of such marriages.
The woman needs someone to champion her rights and support her case
against her husband, especially when relations between the two of
them become strained. If those women who could defend her became
rivals, how would this be possible?