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Is the father’s wife a mahram?

Question:

What do the scholars and experts of shari’ah say regarding a woman married to one’s father? Is she considered a mahram (unmarriageable kin)? Can a person travel and be alone with such a woman?

Answer:

Imam Ibn Qudama outlines the categories of females who are considered as unmarriageable for a man. Amongst them are “…the wives of the father: She will be impermissible for the son to marry; this prohibition will also apply to the grandson and so on. Whether he will inherit from the woman or not, whether he is her son in lineage or due to suckling. It has been mentioned in the Holy Qur’an: “Do not marry women who your fathers married, except if such a marriage has already taken place.” (Al-Nisa:22)

It was narrated that Bara ibn ‘Azib said: “My maternal uncle passed by me and the Prophet ﷺ had given him a banner to carry. I said to him: ‘Where are you going?’ He said: ‘The Messenger of Allah ﷺ has sent me to a man who married his father’s wife after he died and has commanded me to strike his neck.” (Ibn Majah)

The prohibition of marrying the father’s wife also extends to the wives of the paternal and maternal grandfathers and so on. There is no difference in opinion amongst the fuqaha regarding this. Similarly, in the scenario presented, the father’s wife will be considered a mahram and so it will be permissible to travel and be alone with her.

And Allah ﷻ know the best

This fatwa is written by Dr. Hafiz Muhammad Munir Al-Azhari