I live with my husband, his parents and his brothers who have reached an age of puberty. I wear niqab and jilbab around them and never socialise with them. But my husband wants to know if it’s permissible for me to sit with them, him and his parents as a social gathering and if it’s permissible for me to laugh around them.
Generally this matter requires much caution due to the following narration:
Narrated `Uqba bin ‘Amir: Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said:
إِيَّاكُمْ وَالدُّخُولَ عَلَى النِّسَاءِ ”. فَقَالَ رَجُلٌ مِنَ الأَنْصَارِ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ أَفَرَأَيْتَ الْحَمْوَ. قَالَ ” الْحَمْوُ الْمَوْتُ
“Beware of entering upon the women.” A man from the Ansar said, “Oh Messenger of Allah! What about Al-Hamwu the in-laws of the wife (the brothers of her husband or his nephews etc.)?” The Prophet (ﷺ) replied: The in-laws of the wife are death itself.” [Reported by al-Bukhari and Muslim]
And as a result our scholars have listed a number of guidelines that must be observed concerning such gatherings.
Ash-Shaykh Bin Baz rahimahullah, was asked the following question,
هل يجوز للمرأة أن تجلس مع أقارب زوجها وهي محجبة حجاب السُّنَّة؟
“Is it permitted for a woman to sit with her husband’s close relatives if she is wearing the legislated hijab?”
ج: يجوز للمرأة أن تجلس مع إخوة زوجها أو بني عمها أو نحوهم إذا كانت محجبةً الحجاب الشّرعي وذلك بستر وجهها وشعرها وبقية بدنها؛ لأنها عورةٌ وفتنةٌ إذا كان الجلوس المذكور ليس فيه ريبة…
“It is permissible for a woman to sit with her husband’s brothers, her cousins or other relatives if she is wearing the legislated hijab, and this by covering her face, her hair, and the rest of her body since the woman is considered an ‘awrah and a fitnah. Also [this being] with the condition that this social gathering doesn’t contain any suspicion of evil.
أما الجلوس الّذي فيه تهمة لها بالشَّرِّ فلا يجوز.. وهكذا الجلوس معهم لسماع الغناء وآلات اللهو ونحو ذلك.. و لا يجوز لها الخلوة بواحدٍ منهم أو غيرهم ممن ليس محرمًا، لقول النّبيّ: «لا يخلون رجلٌ بامرأةٍ إلا مع ذي محرم» [متفقٌ على صحته] وقوله: «ألا لا يخلون رجلٌ بامرأةٍ إلا كان ثالثهما الشَّيطان».
As for the social gatherings that will lead to suspicion of her regarding something evil, then it is not permitted [to sit in such a gathering]. As well, it is not permitted for her to sit in a gathering with them to listen to music, the playing of instruments, and the likes of that. Also, it is not permitted for her to remain alone with anyone of them or other than them of those who aren’t considered her mahram. This is due to the statement of the Prophet ﷺ,
‘No man must not be alone with a woman except in the presence of her Mahram.’ [al-Bukhari & Muslim]
Also due to his ﷺ statement,
‘A man is not alone with a woman except the third of them is the Shaitan.’ [Reported by Al-Imam Ahmad on the authority of Umar bin al-Khataab with an authentic chain]
” End translation. [Fatawa ad-Da’wah for Shaykh Bin Baz 2/224]
Ash-Shaykh Albani, rahimahullah, was asked the following question,
“Is it permissible for a woman and her husband to sit together with her husband’s brothers. Also, if it is permissible, what are the obligatory guidelines that must be observed when doing so?”
“If the woman is dressed with the Islamic attire and is adhering to the Islamic manners in such a gathering such as not laughing nor behaving immodestly in front of her in laws, [meaning] her husband’s brothers, then it becomes permitted for her to do so. However, from what I see especially in relation to the time we are in is that it has become somewhat difficult to carry out the likes of these Islamic guidelines in our societies that have become overwhelmed with things opposing the religion which they still haven’t distanced themselves from. Therefore, all goodness lies in not having such social gatherings in one’s household.” End translation.
Ash-Shaykh Muqbil, rahimahullah, was asked the following question,
“If the woman is fully covered and she is safe from falling into any fitnah [temptations], is it then permissible for her to eat with her close relatives without being alone with them from those who aren’t her mahram while feeling secure from any fitnah [temptations]?”
“What is apparent is that this is permissible. What is appropriate is that we don’t make something haram upon the people what Allah has made permissible for them for verily the women in the time of the Prophet ﷺ would eat with their close relatives. Also, those who were brides among them would serve the guests. Therefore, this is something that Islam permits and allows and we shouldn’t make it haram. However, this should be with the surety there will be no fitnah [temptation] and no khalwah [seclusion] and Allah’s aid is sought.” End translation.
Ash-Shaykh Muhammad bin Saalih al-Uthaymeen, rahimahullah, was asked the following,
“Is it permissible for a [man’s] wife to sit alongside her husband’s brother in family gatherings while the wife is dressed with the legislated hijab?”
“Yes, no problem. However, she shouldn’t be sitting next to her husband’s brother. She should be on the other side instead. The most preferable approach concerning this situation in relation to family gatherings is that the men be on one side of the gathering and the women be on the other side of the gathering so that they could be distant from one another.”
The Mufti Abdul Azeez Aali-Shaykh, hafidahullah, was asked the following question,
“What is the ruling on a woman sitting with her husband’s brother with the presence of her husband bearing in mind that she has all her ornaments on while wearing a niqab, and they will be having a conversation together in a flirtatious manner?”
“It is appropriate to be cautious of this matter since it could lead to something that does not have a pleasing outcome, and the Shaytan is zealous to corrupt the religion of the servant.”
In conclusion, it is upon a woman especially in this day and age to reduce her exposure to gatherings that have non mahram men in them and if it is necessary for her to do so in relation to family and relatives, then she should adhere to the Islamic guidelines mentioned above as much as possible.
AbdulFattaah Bin Uthman