Islam and the Quran

Talking to male relatives

Question: Some women do not talk to their male relatives, or even do not ever sit along with them. Is it the way it should be?

The Glorified Allah commands:

“Tell the believing women to reduce some of their looks, and guard their private parts. Tell them not to uncover their beautiful parts except what is naturally seen. Tell them to put their headscarves onto their chests and not expose their beautiful parts except to their husbands, their fathers, their husbands’ fathers, their sons, their husbands’ sons, their brothers, their brothers’ sons, their sisters’ sons, their women, those in their possession, those male attendants that have no sexual desire to women, or children who are not yet aware of the private aspects of women. And tell them not to stamp their feet on the ground for their beautiful parts to be noticed. Believers! Return all together towards Allah, so that you may attain what you hope for. (An-Noor/ The Light 24:30-31)

According to these verses, a woman can sit along with and uncover her head near the male relatives listed above. She cannot uncover her adornments (mahram parts of her body) near other men, like her husband’s brothers and other male relatives! However, she is not forbidden from greeting them and talking with them. She can sit along with them as she is covered. Not greeting and not talking are extremist behaviors. As long as she complies with the rulings of covering, talking to the men apart from the ones in the above verse is not wrong. It is, however, wrong for a woman to stay alone with one of these men in a closed place. The relevant narration is as follows:

The Messenger of Allah said:
“I forbid you to be alone with women.”
A man asked:
“What about the relatives of her husband?”
Messenger of Allah:
“Being alone with them is like death!” (Bukhari, Nikah/Marriage 112; Muslim, Greetings 8 (2171))

On the condition that they do not stay alone in a closed place, a woman can sit with stranger men. A precise exercise of this during the era of the Prophet is as follows:

Sahl ibn Sa’d narrated: “Abu Usaid, the companion of the Prophet, got married, so he invited the Prophet to his wedding party, and the bride herself served them. Sahl said to the People, ‘Do you know what drink she served him with? She infused some dates in a pot at night and the next morning she served him with the infusion.” (Bukhari, Nikah/Marriage 78)

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