Saturday, 3 November 2007

Brother-in-Laws, Sister-in-Laws & Maids In The House

The famous authentic Hadith from Sahih Bukhari: Volume 7: Kitabun Nikah: Hadith 159 explains as follows:

Uqbah ibn Aamir RA quotes Rasulullah SAW as saying:

"Beware of entering upon women."

A man from the Ansar said:

"O Messenger of Allah! What about Al-Hamu, or the wife's In-Law (the brother of her husband or his nephew, etc.)?"

The Prophet SAW replied:

"The In-Law of the wife is death itself."

The above Hadith is also reported in Sahih Muslim, Kitabus-Salam: Chapter 8, Hadith 5400.
Imam Nawawi RA commented on the above narration and said:

"Al-Layth ibn Sa'd holds that the "the In-Law" refers to a relative of the husband other than his father and sons e.g. his brother, nephew, and cousin, etc. with whom marriage would be permissible for her, if she were to be divorced or widowed."

As for the Prophet SAW saying:

"The In-Law is death"

- it means that you are supposed to be very cautious of him as evil is most expected from him. This is because the In-Law, contrary to an absolute stranger, can easily approach the lady and violate her privacy, without people blaming him for doing so.

The In-Law here stands for husband's relatives other than his fathers and sons. As for the husband's father and sons, they are considered Muhrim to his wife and they are allowed to be alone with her. They don't fall under the category of "the In-Law is death".

To recap, those who are described of death are:

- the husband's brother
- the cousin(s)
- the uncle(s); and
- all those who are not Muhrim for the wife.

Today's age of ignorance and lack of Piety sees that people usually take it easy and find no problem with the husband's brother being in private with the wife. This is "death" itself as the In-Law is most worthy of the prohibition.

The Prophet Muhammad SAW particularly warned women concerning Khalwat - i.e. being alone with Male-In-Laws since people are quite negligent in this regard, sometimes resulting in disastrous consequences. It is obvious that a relative has easier access than a stranger to a woman's quarters, something which no one would question him. The same is true of the wife's Non-Muhrim relatives, and it is prohibited for any of them to be in Khalwat with her.

The Prophet SAW teaches us that there are inherent dangers and even destruction in such privacy: Religion is destroyed if they commit sin; the wife is ruined if her husband divorces her out of jealousy; and social relationships are torn apart if relatives become suspicious of each other.

The danger lies not merely in the possibility of sexual temptation. It is even greater in relation to the possibility gossip about what is private and personal between the husband and wife by those who cannot keep secrets to themselves and relish talking about others; such talk has ruined many marriages and destroyed many homes.

So as conclusion - the brother and sister-in-law - whether either or both - must not live in the same house.

With regards to helpers/maids they are paid and not considered slaves, so the same provision of Hijab applies. In short no Non-Muhrim man and woman should be alone together in the house. A tertib should be arranged so that the helper/maid does her job mainly when there is no man in her vicinity. It is best when eating together - the wife serves her husband, even if the helper/maid cooked the food. It is better that no verbal communication occur between helper/maid and you in the house, and everything is through the medium of the wife. Hijab laws maintain strictly. If the helper/maid decides to go against the Shari'ah - then she ought to be replaced with another person.

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