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.

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