Who are unlawful to marry in Islam According to Qur’an and Sunnah?


“And among His signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that you may dwell in peace and tranquility with them, and He has put love and mercy between your (hearts): Verily in that are signs for those who reflect” (Quran 30:21).

Narrated Anas bin Malik: A group of three men came to the houses of the wives of the Prophet asking how the Prophet worshipped (Allah), and when they were informed about that, they considered their worship insufficient and said, “Where are we from the Prophet as his past and future sins have been forgiven.” Then one of them said, “I will offer the prayer throughout the night forever.” The other said, “I will fast throughout the year and will not break my fast.” The third said, “I will keep away from the women and will not marry forever.” Allah’s Apostle came to them and said, “Are you the same people who said so-and-so? By Allah, I am more submissive to Allah and more afraid of Him than you; yet I fast and break my fast, I do sleep and I also marry women. So he who does not follow my tradition in religion, is not from me (not one of my followers).”

The above verse of the Quran lay out the framework as to what are the basis, the objectives and the goal of marriage in Islam. In the ultimate Wisdom of Allah we are first told that both partners man and woman are created from the same source. That this should be paid attention to as it is one of His signs.

The fact that we come from the same soul signifies our equality as humans, when the essence of our creation is the same, the argument of who is better or greater is redundant. To stress on this fact and then to talk about marriage in the same verse is of great significance for those of us who are in the field of marriage counseling.

The relationship that exists between the wife and the husband is based on mutual respect; mercy between the two should always be there, this domestic violence is not the way Muslim families should live. The Prophet said in one of his Ahadith concerning  how the husband should treat his wife Allah’s Apostle said, “The woman is like a rib; if you try to straighten her, she will break. So if you want to get benefit from her, do so while she still has some crookedness.” By following this advice I think we have also get rid of  the so-called domestic violence in our Islamic families.

Who are prohibited to marry to both a man and a woman in Islam? On this Qur’an says: forbidden to you to marry is are your mothers, and your daughters, and your sisters, and your paternal aunts and your maternal aunts, and your brother’s daughters, and your sister’s daughters, and your mothers in sucking , and your sisters in sucking, and the mothers of your wives, and your step-daughters who are in guardianship being born of your wives with whom you have  consummated  marriage with them, there is no blame on you in marrying them, and the wives of your sons who are of your own loins, and  that you should not  have in marriage two sisters together, except what has already passed. Surely Allah is All forgiving, All merciful (Surah 4 Ayah 23). These are the ones shouldn’t be married to under any circumstances.

It happens that traditions some times intervene or go contrary to what Islam tells its followers to follow, for instance here in Malawi we hear the youth (male & female) calling one another sister/brother in (Islam) where some times it reaches up to the degree that one makes it unlawful to him/her self to marry based on this relationship which is not correct at all. This brotherhood doesn’t apply to the above ayah i.e. can not stop one from marrying.On this the Prophet said in one of his Ahadith:  The Prophet asked Abu Bakr for ‘Aisha’s hand in marriage. Abu Bakr said “But I am your brother.” The Prophet said, “You are my brother in Allah’s religion and His Book, but she (Aisha) is lawful for me to marry.” This is a clear indication that it is not prohibited for one to do so regardless of calling each other brother/sister. The Prophet also said on the same topic those who are unlawful to be married to: Narrated ‘Uqba bin Al-Harith: I married a woman and then a black lady came to us and said, “I have suckled you both (you and your wife).” So I came to the Prophet and said, “I married so-and-so and then a black lady came to us and said to me, ‘I have suckled both of you.’ But I think she is a liar.” The Prophet turned his face away from me and I moved to face his face, and said, “She is a liar.” The Prophet said, “How (can you keep her as your wife) when that lady has said that she has suckled both of you? So abandon (i.e., divorce) her (your wife).”

In conclusion to what I have discussed here, I should say that, the basic difference is that love between man and woman in the Islamic context can only be realized and expressed in a legal marriage. In order to develop a healthy avenue for the expression of love between man and woman and to provide security so that such a loving relationship can flourish, it is necessary to give it the protection of Shariah (Islamic law).

And Allah knows best.


  1. Islam is a very simple religion, easy to understand it when someone is all set to. The way this article has been presented is logical indication of the big difference that exists between Islam and other religions; Islam has everything explained in details. Muslims, with faith (iman), get everything easy since they are always ready to know the differences.

    Nowadays the words 'brothers' and 'sisters' have become something like a source of someone being deposited into the hell fire on the Day of Judgment, May Allah protects us. This is not what the beloved prophet taught to mean. When He arrived in Madina from Makka, the first thing he did was to create brotherhood among the "Ansaar" and the "Muhajireen"; a tactful way of getting people altogether. After that, the people of these two place started staying with each other peacefully as they expected. They started marrying among themselves. Remember, before the people of Makkah set off for their migration to Madinaah, the Prophet (pbuh) advised them in the hadith related by Umar Ibn al-Khattab (ra) that he heard the Messenger of Allah say:

    The actions are but judged according to intentions; and to every man is due what he intended. Thus, whosoever migrates for the sake of Allah (SWT) and His Messenger (and there is no other motive of his migration except compliance with the commands of Allah (SWT) and his Prophet and winning of their good pleasure), his migration is accounted for the sake of Allah and His Messenger (and doubtlessly, he is to true Muhajir- Emigrant- and shall receive the recompense prescribed for Hijrat-Migration-towards Allah and His Messenger); and whosoever migrates for the sake of this world or to wed a woman (his migration will not be for Allah and the Prophet, and will be accounted only for the purpose for which it is intended. (Bukhari and Muslim).

    The Main purpose of the Hadith is to Show that the goodness or badness and acceptability or otherwise of all human actions is dependant on intention.

    Or, in other words, only such deeds will be deemed good and carry merit in the sight of Allah (SWT) which is done with a good and virtues intention and a good deed noble and meritorious; on the contrary, it will held to be wicked and detestable according to the intention which motivated it through, apparently, it may be good and praiseworthy.

    Similarly, this Hadith plays a big role on the point of brotherhood in Islam.

    May Allah increase four faith

    • Thank you very much for your enlighten comment, yes brother intention plays a very important part in every task a Muslim does, and that we shall be rewarded according to our intentions. This brotherhood here dispite the fact that others misunderstads it,the prophet used this concept just to strangthening the love and harmony among the Muslims, the good example is the one you mentioned in your very good comment, when Rasul llah swallallah alayh wasallam used this word he just wanted to make sure tha the relatioship between Answar and the Muhajireen is more stronger. There is onother misunderstanding mostly in the Yao tribe here in Malawi by saying that the daughter/son of your uant is your own sister/brother and that you are not allowed to marry him/her. While the same daughter/son but from your uncle side, they are not your own brother/sister and that you are allowed to marry them. This is not correct according to Sharia (Islamic low) what is right here is that, you are allowed to marry them whether they are from your aunt or your uncle side, this is what Islam teaches us and we should follow it because Islam is the only complete way of life. And Allah knows best.

  2. Thank you brother, in fact we Malawian Muslims should generally consider what Islam teaches us. Islam, with the help of the Holy Quran has not left a gap in any life aspect; marriage is the most influential activity in Islam when time comes for a couple to get enjoined, but at this occasion, you will always find that we islamize our tradition and so those who don’t know anything believe that all the Yaos are Muslims and Islam means to be a Yao. Islam is at the side and Yao at the other. What would you say if you went to Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Lebanon and the like? You will be a coward to say when you come bak “I saw Arabic Chawas/Yaos” who do you thing shall believe you? we Muslims are named sort of names: where do all those names come from? I hear them saying “Achawa” others say “Anasala”. There is no such names in Islam. Islam is Islam and those practising t are Muslims. If it looks embarrasing or unusual in the society as they claim, leave this for Yao or Chewa tradition, as for Prophetic Tradition (Hadith) and those who follow it, will never find it hard. Just the same; what difference can we show between mother’s brother and mother’s sister? If mother has a brother who has a girl and you can marry her, what is the problem with marrying her sister’s daughter? The holy Qur’an has answered this question with a perfect and clear information: “Chapter 4:23” and why should one make unlawful what Allah has made lawful, seeking happiness from who?” The only one to seek happiness from is Allah.

    So we Muslims have to reason. We are previledged in a lot of thing in this world, we have to make use of those grants otherwise we will not manage to answer when He shall ask us about thse good things He gave us for free.

  3. This article is beneficial.Most muslims are not courtetious enough when deciding on who to marry.Most muslims marry non believers on the pretext that of converting her to islam later. This is just a deciept.The Quran says "..marry them after they believe…"Marrying kuffris has a negative impact to the entire ummat resulting in males complaining they are not accepted by muslim sisters while in the other side sisters complaining that they are not being proposed by muslim boys yet Quran is clear that we should marry believers.Also the tendacy of starting marriage life before nikah cermony is on increase.Muslim brothers and sisters, let us speak out whereever we come across this type of marriege and civic educate them on the importance of nikah.May Allah make it easy for us inshaallah.

    • Thank you brother for shading more light on this topic, all what you have said is really happening to our Muslim community, you will find that when Muslim youth want to chose whom to marry they don't even consider what does Islam say about this, the first thing they think of is fall in love, once they do this they don't follow the proper procedure of marriage in Islam. The Prophet (pbuh) tolled us the characteristics of a woman one want to marry, or in another way I can say the things that we should put into consideration when choosing a life partner, the Hadith goes like this: Narrated Abu Huraira:
      The Prophet said, "A woman is married for four things, i.e., her wealth, her family status, her beauty and her religion. So you should marry the religious woman (otherwise) you will be a losers. This is a clear indication that religious woman should be our firs priority if we claim to be the followers of Rasulu Llah swallallah alayh wasallam, unfortunately Muslim youth prefers beauty among the mentioned four things and leave the most emphasized one which is religion. May Allah guide us all. Aameen.

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