Arabic Virtual Academy

The Academy Blog
22 Nov 2017

The Women a Man Cannot Marry

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One of the major topics that everyone seems  to be discussing these days is marriage. Everyone is concerned with trying to find that perfect spouse, and start a life long relationship. They start looking right and left, up and down, and in every which direction to find that perfect individual that they can marry. Now, culturally there are certain individuals that are off limits. We have to keep in mind, that these cultural limits change from place to place, and from county to country. Now what we need to do is look into Islam and find out who is marked by our religion as “Off Limits” in terms of who we can and can’t marry.

By doing this, we are able to make sure that we are not looking in the wrong places, and to the wrong people with which to start our families. Part of the real mercy of this instruction that came from the Creator of the heavens and earth, is that it puts everyone on a universal code. We see that without this code, those who are looked at as potential spouses have changed from time to time, and from place to place. This causes more problems than one could possibly imagine. Therefore we as Muslims, adhere to that which Allah has blessed us with as a way of guidance, to be able to make a healthy choice. As we understand that He is the All Knowing, the All Wise.

We want to now, take a look at what Allah has commanded us with in His book. There is a verse in the Quran that the referred to as “The Verse About A Woman A Man Cannot Marry”. Before we go any further, we want to take a look at that verse, and look at the guidance that Allah has sent forth.

{لَا تَنْكِحُوا مَا نَكَحَ آبَاؤُكُمْ مِنَ النِّسَاءِ إِلَّا مَا قَدْ سَلَفَ}{حُرِّمَتْ عَلَيْكُمْ أُمَّهَاتُكُمْ وَبَنَاتُكُمْ وَأَخَوَاتُكُمْ وَعَمَّاتُكُمْ وَخَالَاتُكُمْ وَبَنَاتُ الْأَخِ وَبَنَاتُ الْأُخْتِ وَأُمَّهَاتُكُمُ اللَّاتِي أَرْضَعْنَكُمْ وَأَخَوَاتُكُمْ مِنَ الرَّضَاعَةِ وَأُمَّهَاتُ نِسَائِكُمْ وَرَبَائِبُكُمُ اللَّاتِي فِي حُجُورِكُمْ مِنِ نِسَائِكُمُ اللَّاتِي دَخَلْتُمْ بِهِنَّ فَإِنْ لَمْ تَكُونُوا دَخَلْتُمْ بِهِنَّ فَلَا جُنَاحَ عَلَيْكُمْ وَحَلَائِلُ أَبْنَائِكُمُ الَّذِينَ مِنْ أَصْلَابِكُمْ وَأَنْ تَجْمَعُوا بَيْنَ الْأُخْتَيْنِ إلَّا مَا قَدْ سَلَفَ إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ غَفُورًا رَحِيمًا}

[النساء: 22-23]

{And marry not women whom your fathers married, except what has already passed; indeed it was shameful and most hateful, and an evil way.}{Forbidden 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 foster mother who gave you suck, your foster milk suckling sisters, your wives’ mothers, your step daughters under your guardianship, born of your wives to whom you have gone in – but there is no sin on you if you have not gone in them (to marry their daughters), – the wives of your sons who (spring) from your own loins, and two sisters in wedlock at the same time, except for what has already passed; verily, Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.}

[An Nisa’a (4): 22-23]

From these women are those that we are commanded to refrain from because of reasons of blood relations, wet nursing and marital relations. What we will attempt to do today, is try to divide them up, so as to give a general understanding as to who we need to refrain from in this way and when.Due to the importance of this topic to the whole of the Muslim Ummah, we need to pay close attention to these types of details.

Those who a man cannot marry due to blood relations, then they are seven in number. They are as follows;

  1. The women that you came from (your mother, grandmother, etc)
  2. The women that came from you (your daughter, granddaughter, etc)
  3. Your Sister
  4. Your Maternal Aunt
  5. Your Paternal Aunt
  6. The Daughter of your Brother
  7. The Daughter of your Sister

Those who a man cannot marry due to wet nursing, then they are of two types. They are as follows;

  1. The woman that nursed you (referred to as a mother)
  2. The daughter of the woman that nursed with you (referred to as your sister)

Those who a man cannot marry due to marital relations, then they are five in number. They are as follows;

  1. The mother of your wife (mother in law)
  2. The daughter of your ex-wife, if you have had marital relations with her.
  3. The ex-wife of your father
  4. The ex-wife of your son
  5. The sister of your wife, or her aunt (if you are currently married to your wife)

There is another issue that is extremely important to remember when talking about looking for a spouse. This is that all of these women that you can not marry due to being branches off of your  marital relations, you can not marry those same branches of women that come from a relationship built upon wet nursing.


Thus, we need to make sure that we keep the limitations that Allah has set forth in all aspects of our lives. This holds especially true for the situation of choosing a spouse, with which you choose to build a family with and with whom you plan to spend the rest of your life. If we want true success in this situation, then it only makes sense that we turn to the One who’s knowledge is all encompassing, and who knows the intricate details of every aspect of everything. We need to understand that He has never commanded us with anything, except that it has in it an extraordinary amout of good in it. Just as He has never forbade us from partaking in anything except that there is an abundance of harm that will come with it. Both of these principles are true, we need to completely believe in them, even when we may not understand the wisdom behind a command or prohibition. After all, our belief in this ties in with the statement of Allah in His book;

{وَهُوَ الْقَاهِرُ فَوْقَ عِبَادِهِ وَهُوَ الْحَكِيمُ الْخَبِيرُ}

[الأنعام: 18]

{and He is the All-Wise, Well-Acquainted with all things.}

[Al Ana’am (6):18]

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