What is the Islamic opinion on the permissibility of a mother in law shaking hands with / hugging / kissing her son in law and vice versa. Similarly, what is the Islamic opinion on the permissibility of a father in law shaking hands with / hugging / kissing his daughter in law and vice versa?
In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.
As-salāmu ‘alaykum wa-rahmatullāhi wa-barakātuh.
A son in law is a mahram to his mother in law. A mahram is he with whom marriage is permanently prohibited. A mother in law does not have to observe the laws of hijab with her son in law. Likewise, a father in law is a mahram to his daughter. The daughter in law does not have to observe the laws of hijab in front of her father in law.
A son in law becomes a mahram to his mother in law through marriage. Likewise, the father in law becomes a mahram to his daughter in law through marriage. This type of mahram is not like a blood mahram. Like a mother to the son, or brother to the sister.
In general, and according to people with sound nature, there is no carnal attraction between mahrams by blood. That is not so in the case of mahrams created through marriage. In principle, a son in law could marry his mother in law before marrying his wife. Likewise, a father in law could marry his daughter in law before his sons marriage to his wife.
The possibility of a son in law having a carnal attraction to a young mother in law cannot be ruled out. Likewise, the possibility of a father in law having a carnal attraction to his daughter in law cannot be ruled out. It is therefore incorrect to assume that once there is a relationship of mahram between two persons, then all the laws of hijab fall off and all mahrams are governed by the same set of rules. The feeling of a father embracing his daughter can never be the same as embracing his daughter in law. A mother embracing her son can never be the same as embracing her son in law. The natural and hidden component of passion and desire between such two mahrams cannot be ignored.
Shariah emphasises on shame and modesty.
Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wa alam said, “Modesty is from Iman, and Iman leads you to Paradise. Shamelessness is from futile things, and futile things lead you to the fire of Hell.” (Tirmidhi)
Furthermore, if the two mahrams by marriage touch each other with lust, that constitutes Hurmat-e-Musaharah which terminates the marriage bond between the son in law and his wife or son and daughter in law. If a father in law wants to display respect and compassion for his daughter in law or if the mother in law wishes to show respect and honour to her son in law, it does not have to be done in the same way as one does with ones mahrams by birth. The father in law embracing and kissing his daughter in law or the mother in law to her son in law is incorrect.
The reason for highlighting the above distinction between the two types of mahrams is we are living in an era of immoralities. We come across many incidents of immoral behaviour between mahrams of marriage. In many instances, marriages were broken. It is therefore imperative that mahrams created by marriage should exercise precaution in their relationship with each other.
And Allah Ta’āla Knows Best
Student Darul Iftaa
Checked and Approved by,
Mufti Ebrahim Desai.