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Last Updated: 2010/08/23
Summary of question
Is it permissible to enter into a sisterhood/brotherhood contract with a male cousin and shake hands and speak with him?
question
I am a 22 year old girl who got into a sisterhood/brotherhood contract eight years ago with my maternal male cousin. We have still maintained the bond and I should say that we kept adhering to the religious law until one year ago when he became our family’s son-in-law. Ever since our bond grew stronger and we have been shaking hands with each other, supporting and letting each other know our secrets. Now that I have lost one of my best friends, I need him as a brother more than ever before. I need to speak with him and I have never been able to speak with anyone other than him so comfortably. I would you to help and let me know what to do in this connection so as not to commit any offense in terms of Shari’ah law and also to remain as brother and sister to each other. Is there a way we can maintain our sisterhood/brotherhood bond for ever as every other brother and sister? Unfortunately, now I have learnt that we cannot, as per the Islamic law, talk to each other. As I said, I do not want to commit a sin nor do I want to give up considering him as my brother, or else I will go made. Help me, for God’s sake. I have asked many people and they have said to me that it is possible to maintain the sisterhood/brotherhood bond. Is it true? I request you to reply to my message on my email. Looking forward to hearing from you. Thank you
Concise answer

According to Islamic Shari’ah, it is not permissible for a girl and a boy to have any kind of relationship with each other before marriage regardless of whether the relationship is direct or indirect (e.g. speaking), if it is with the intention of seeking pleasure or when it entails corruption and it is feared that they might fall into a sin. However, there would be no problem in conventional speaking with a non-Mahram provided that the two sides do not seek sexual pleasure and that they abide by the limits and the girl observes the Islamic dress code. Hence, you can speak with your cousin and have family relationship with him, if you observe modest dress and do not have lustful intention.

Detailed Answer

The answer to your question is as under:

1. In Islam, there is no such thing as "brother" and "sister" relationships outside of actual sibling relationships. In fact, brotherhood contract has been recommended among men, a step taken by the Messenger of Allah (S) following his migration to Medina. Obviously, the bond which was built on the basis of some commonalities among them was upheld and continued to be preserved. For example, the Holy Prophet (S) created brotherhood relationship between Abu Bakr and Umar; Uthman and Abdur Rahman bin ‘Awf; Talha and Zubair. The Prophet (S) himself established brotherhood relationship with Imam Ali (A.S.).[1]

When it comes to your contract with your cousin, it had been wrong in the first place.

2. You cannot shake hands with each other in the name of brother and sister relationships. There is no such a relationship to make you mahram to each other and it is, therefore, haram and sinful to shake hands with your cousin with the assumption that he is your brother .[2]

3. According to Islamic Shari’ah, it is not permissible for a girl and a boy to have any kind of relationship with each other before marriage regardless of whether the relationship is direct or indirect (e.g. speaking), if it is with the intention of seeking pleasure or when it entails corruption or when it is feared that they might fall into a sin.[3]  However, there is no problem in conventional speaking with a non-Mahram without lustful intention provided that the two sides abide by the limits and the girl observes the Islamic dress code.[4] Hence, you can speak with your cousin and have family relationship with him, if you observe modest dress and do not have lustful intention.

4. Boy-girl friendship is not allowed because it is feared that they might fall into a sin. However, there is no problem in a job-related relationship, if it does not entail any corruption and that the Shari’ah rules are observed.[5] The conclusion is that you cannot make friendship with your cousin.

In a nutshell, you can speak with your cousin to the necessary extent and benefit from his guidance in ironing out your problems provided that you should observe the limits and abide by Shari’ah standards.

For further information, refer to answers 6912 (site: 6998), 6943 (site: 6933) and 1408 (site: 1428).

 


[1] - Extracted from answer No.6843 (site: 6933).

[2] - Extracted from answer No.2036 (site: 2092).

[3] - Extracted from answer No.1408 (site: 1428).

[4] - Gulpaigani, Sayyid Muhammad Reza Musavi, Majma’ul Masail, vol.2, p. 229, Dar al-Quran al-Karim, Qom, 2nd edition, 1409 A.H.; Mahmoodi, Sayyid Mohsen, Masail Jadid from the Viewpoint of Grand Religious Authorities, vol.1, pg.137-138, Sahib al-Zaman Cultural and Scientific Publications, Waramin, 14th edition, 1381 (en4766).

[5] - Extracted from answer No.1408 (site: 1428).

 

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