Answered by Shaykh Muhammad ibn Adam al-Kawthari
In the Name of Allah, Most Merciful and Compassionate
Imam al-Bukhari and Imam Muslim narrate in their respectiveSahih collections, which are the most authentic books after the Book of Allah itself, from Uqba ibn Amir (Allah be pleased with him) that the Messenger of Allah said: “Beware of going near (non-mahram) women.” A person inquired: “What about in-laws?” The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) responded, “The in-laws are death.”
The Prophet of Allah (Allah bless him & give peace) compared male in-laws to death. This means that one should be especially careful with in-laws with regards to interaction as there is greater risk for fitna, especially given the comfortable, social atmosphere that may exist, in which both parties may lower their guard and forget lowering their gazes.
However, according to the Hanafi school, the face, hands and feet are not considered Awra (although it is wajib to cover the face for other then old women due to fitna), and thus many contemporary scholars have given a dispensation with regards to covering within the house.
A legal verdict (fatwa) issued by top scholars at Dar al-Uloom Karachi, approved by Shaykh Taqi Usmani, states that in the case of a joint family where non-immediate family members (such as in-laws, or one’s brother’s wife) regularly come in and out of the house and it becomes very difficult for the women to keep her self covered all the time, then there is a dispensation in that she can expose her face, hands [up to the wrists] and feet. The rest of the body must be properly covered. Similar fatwashave been issued by top Arab scholars.
At the same time, one must ensure not be alone in privacy with a non-Mahram (khalwah) in one room or the house, and keep the gazes low as much as possible. One must also avoid talking unnecessarily and where the need arises, limit it to the essentials and abstain from being open and free.
As far as the female voice is concerned, according to the preferred opinion in the Hanafi School, it is not considered as part of that which must necessarily be concealed (`awra). However, both men and women may not talk or interact in ways that may lead to temptation (fitna).
Therefore, in your situation, if your sister in-law’s voice is heard by you, then this would be generally permitted. However, if you fear temptation (fitna) by listening to her voice, then you must avoid it.
And Allah knows best
Muhammad ibn Adam al-Kawthari
“There is no compulsion in religion. The right direction is henceforth distinct from error. And he who rejects falsehood and believes in Allah has grasped a firm handhold which will never break. Allah is Hearer, Knower.
Allah is the Protecting Guardian of those who believe. He brings them out of darkness into light.”
MMVIII © Qibla.
All rights reserved
No part of this article may be reproduced, displayed, modified, or distributed without the express prior written permission of the copyright holder. For permission, please submit a request at our Helpdesk.
The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, "Knowledge is only through study." While some knowledge can be gained from reading or casually listening to lectures, the best means to gain knowledge is through finding a qualified teacher and then setting up a systematic program of learning. Picking up a book or reading an article and trying to figure things out on our own is no substitute for learning from someone who has a direct link to our living tradition.
Through joining an online class at Qibla, you can benefit from convenient, online courses that will give you access to reliable scholars and our popular curriculum learning tracks. Knowledge gained in these courses will both build your iman and assist you in putting into practice what you learn. Don't give yourself less than you deserve, register today.