Question # 271: 1) Can my sister in law, go to Hajj with me & my wife for hajj? Am I mehram for her? 2) Can my son take his aunt, my sister in law for hajj?

Bismi-llahi r-raḥmani r-raḥīm,

Assalamu ‘laikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh,

All praise and thanks are due to Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم).

Dear questioner,

First of all, we implore Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) to help us serve His cause and render our work for His sake.

Shorter Answer: A man is not a Mahram of his sister in-law; so, she should not travel with him even if her sister is travelling with them. On the other hand, sister’s son is considered mahram and can therefore, accompany her maternal aunt for Hajj. However, it must be remembered that in accordance with the Saudi Government Rules for Women, the accompanying mahram must be at least 17 years old.

Long Answer: Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) says in the Qur’an: “And do not marry at all those women whom your father had married, though what has happened in the past is excepted. This is an indecent and abominable thing and an evil practice. Forbidden to you are your mothers, daughters, sisters, paternal aunts, maternal aunts, brothers daughters, sisters daughters, your foster mothers who have given suckle to you, your foster sisters who have taken suckle with you, the mothers of your wives, the daughters of your wives whom you have brought up, the daughters of your wives with whom you have conjugal relations, and it is not sinful for you to marry their daughters (after having divorced them). Also forbidden to you are the wives of your sons who are from your loins, and it is unlawful for you to keep two real sisters as wives at one and the same time, though what has happened in the past is excepted, for Allah is indeed Forgiving, Merciful.” (Soorah an-Nisa’a, 4:22-23)

Also, Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) says in the Qur’an: “… and not to reveal their adornment except to their husbands, or their fathers, or their husband’s fathers, or their sons, or their husband’s sons, or their brothers or their brother’s sons, or their sister’s sons…” (Soorah an-Noor 24:31)

The Arabic term mahram is derived from haraam which literally means something which is sacred, or sacrosanct, or prohibited. In the terminology of Islamic Jurisprudence, a mahram relative is generally one to whom marriage is absolutely and permanently prohibited; and a non-mahram is generally one to whom marriage is permissible.

The following is the general list where almost all the mahrams are included There are some technicalities when a foster or suckle relationship is concerned, thus those details and technicalities of foster-relationships are excluded.

  1. Husband
  2. Father (includes grandfather, great grandfather, great great grandfather, etc.)
  3. Sons (includes son’s and daughter’s sons, grandsons, and so on)
  4. Brother (includes brother’s sons, their sons, and so on)
  5. Sister’s sons (includes sister’s son’s sons, their sons, and so on)
  6. Paternal and Maternal uncles
  7. Son in law
  8. Father in law
  9. step father (from the day the step father conjugates with one’s real mother)
  10. step sons (from the day the wife conjugates with the real father of the step sons)
  11. All the men who (in their infancy) have shared the suckle of the woman she suckled with in her infancy.

(Islamhelpline.net)

Based on the above, the husband of a sister is not a mahram, so it is not permissible for her to travel with him. In other words, a man is not a Mahram of his sister in-law. So, she should not travel with him even if her sister is travelling with them. Next, since sister’s son is considered mahram, he can accompany her maternal aunt for Hajj.

The ulamaa’ have listed five conditions for a person to be considered a mahram. He should be male, Muslim, adult, and of sound mind, and he should be a relative to whom marriage is permanently forbidden [(as discussed above)] …as opposed to relatives to whom marriage is temporarily forbidden, such as a sister’s husband, paternal aunt’s husband, maternal aunt’s husband.

Hence, the mahram who must accompany a woman when she travels is her husband or any adult who is permanently forbidden to marry her, according to scholarly consensus. The scholars differed concerning the boy who is close to puberty and with whom the woman feels safe and feels he could take care of her. The majority are of the view that he is suitable to be a mahram, and this is more likely to be correct. The Hanbalis differed from them and stipulated that he should have reached puberty, and this is more on the safe side.

Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allah have mercy on him) replied in his fatwa: ‘The boy becomes a mahram when he becomes an adult of sound mind. The one who has not yet reached adulthood is not a mahram, and the one in whose mind there is any unsoundness is not a mahram.” (Liqaa’aat al-Baab al-Maftoohah)

Shaykh Ibn Baaz (may Allah have mercy on him) replied in his fatwa: “The minimum age for a man to be a mahram for a woman is puberty, which is when a boy reaches the age of fifteen years, or maniy is emitted with desire, or coarse hair grows around the private part. If one of these three signs, is present, the male is now regarded as accountable as it is permissible for him to be a mahram for the woman.” (Majmoo‘ al-Fataawa)

(Shaykh Muhammad Saalih al-Munajjid)

However, in accordance with the Saudi Government Rules for Women, “…The accompanying mahram must be at least 17 years old…” (http://embassies.mofa.gov.sa/sites/uk/EN/DiplomaticMissionServices/Consulates/ConsulatesServices/Hajj%20And%20Umra%20Services%20e/Pages/Requirements-For-Hajj-And-Umra-Visa.aspx)

Allahu A’lam (Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) knows best) and all Perfections belong to Allah, and all mistakes belong to me alone. May Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) forgive me, Ameen.

Wassalaam