Answered by Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil
Question: What does the Shari’ah command us regarding interaction between a man and his sisters-in-law? How does one manage oneself in situations where interaction is unavoidable due to South Asian cultural settings?
Answer: Assalamualaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,
I pray this finds you well. May Allah reward you for seeking clarification on this important matter.
Uqba ibn Amir (Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Messenger of Allah said: “Do not go 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.” [Bukhari and Muslim]
The Shari’ah commands you to observe respectful, modest and dignified interactions with all non-mahram women, especially your in-laws, due to their increased proximity.
I encourage you to read over and reflect on this excellent answer by Ustadha Zaynab Ansari: Guidelines for Interacting With the Opposite Sex.
1) Khalwa – don’t be alone with your sister-in-law in a room, where nobody else can see you.
2) Guard your gaze – refrain from staring at your sister-in-law’s face when you do speak with her.
3) Don’t touch – handshakes or any other kind of physical contact is impermissible with your sister-in-law.
4) Cover awrah – ensure that your awrah is covered (from navel to knee) when you interact with your sister-in-law. If her awrah is uncovered, then be careful not to look at those parts of her.
A general rule is to uphold good character when you are with your sisters-in-law at family gatherings. Return their salams, and sit with the men. It’s not necessary and potentially rude to ignore them completely. It’s also unwise to actively seek them out and interact unnecessarily. Use your discretion.
Be honest with yourself. Please forgive me for my bluntness, but if you feel any kind of attraction to either of your sisters-in-laws, then seek refuge in Allah from the whisperings of Shaytan, minimise contact with them, and make daily istighfar.
Please refer to Mixed Gatherings: A Detailed Response Regarding Gender Interaction by Shaykh Muhammad ibn Adam al-Kawthari.
I pray that Allah grants you clarity on this matter, and guides you to what is pleasing to Him.
Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani