#340: Physical Contact with Step Grandfather-In-Law

Question:

Assalamualaikum ustaz. Are my wife and step-grandfather considered mahram and is it permissible for them to shake hands?

Answer:

Waalaikumussalam wrt. wbt.,

Alhamdulillah, praise and gratitude to Allah SWT for His countless blessings for us all. Praise and salutations to our beloved Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his family, companions, and all those who follow his footsteps until the Final day.

Mahram according to the jurists means: “A person who is prohibited for us to marry and the prohibition may be in the form of al-ta’bid (permanent/forever) due to mubah reasons and not because of honour nor is it because there is something that prevented us from doing so and could be gone.” [1]

The explanation regarding people who are considered a person’s mahram is stated in the statement of Allah SWT:


حُرِّمَتْ عَلَيْكُمْ أُمَّهَاتُكُمْ وَبَنَاتُكُمْ وَأَخَوَاتُكُمْ وَعَمَّاتُكُمْ وَخَالَاتُكُمْ وَبَنَاتُ الْأَخِ وَبَنَاتُ الْأُخْتِ وَأُمَّهَاتُكُمُ اللَّاتِي أَرْضَعْنَكُمْ وَأَخَوَاتُكُم مِّنَ الرَّضَاعَةِ وَأُمَّهَاتُ نِسَائِكُمْ وَرَبَائِبُكُمُ اللَّاتِي فِي حُجُورِكُم مِّن نِّسَائِكُمُ اللَّاتِي دَخَلْتُم بِهِنَّ فَإِن لَّمْ تَكُونُوا دَخَلْتُم بِهِنَّ فَلَا جُنَاحَ عَلَيْكُمْ وَحَلَائِلُ أَبْنَائِكُمُ الَّذِينَ مِنْ أَصْلَابِكُمْ وَأَن تَجْمَعُوا بَيْنَ الْأُخْتَيْنِ إِلَّا مَا قَدْ سَلَفَ ۗ إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ غَفُورًا رَّحِيمًا

“Prohibited 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 [milk] mothers who nursed you, your sisters through nursing, your wives’ mothers, and your step-daughters under your guardianship [born] of your wives unto whom you have gone in. But if you have not gone in unto them, there is no sin upon you. And [also prohibited are] the wives of your sons who are from your [own] loins, and that you take [in marriage] two sisters simultaneously, except for what has already occurred. Indeed, Allah is ever Forgiving and Merciful.” [2]

The prohibition of marrying certain women is divided into two. The first is Muabbad which is the eternal prohibition from marrying her forever. And the second is tahrim muaqqat which means the prohibition from marrying her for a temporary time due to factors that prevented him. If one still marries the prohibited woman, then it is a false and invalid marriage.

Step grandfather-in-law is defined as a person who is married to the grandmother of one’s husband who is the step-grandfather to her husband. This means the biological grandmother of one’s husband married another man. Thus, he became the step grandfather-in-law for the wife.

In the above verse, it isn’t included of the status of the wife of a son-in-law as mahram mu’abbad (permanent). This includes the wife of a stepson. This, their relationship is considered mahram mu’aqqat (temporary) and both of them can marry each other if they divorce or their spouse dies. It should be considered that if the step-grandson has a daughter, then the ruling of the step-great grandfather is mahram for the step-great granddaughter is considered as rabibah according to part of the above verse:

وَرَبَائِبُكُمُ اللَّاتِي فِي حُجُورِكُم

“…your step-daughters under your guardianship [born] of your wives unto whom you have gone in.” [3]

According to the above question, a woman with her step-grandfather-in-law is not mahram, hence, it is prohibited for them to have physical contact except if there is a necessity such as for medical treatment and others. Likewise, shaking hands is also prohibited. The exception is if they shake hands with a lining on the condition that it is safe from fitnah. [4]

May Allah SWT grant us all understanding in practising all His commandments and avoid all His prohibitions. Amin.

Wallahu a’lam.

[1] See Kasyifah al-Saja, hlm. 114

[2] Surah Al-Nisa’: 23

[3] Ibid

[4] See Nihayah al-Muhtaj, 3/188

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