Answered by Shaykh Faraz A. Khan
Question: I masturbated while seeing a picture of a non-mahram family member (by marriage). I have changed completely since then. I am in love with her daughter and I’m going to marry her soon insha’Allah. I am crying badly at the thought of it not being allowed. So please keep in mind that I didn’t physically touch her, I just masturbated to a picture of her while she wasn’t my mother in law yet. Is my marriage with her daughter valid?
Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,
I pray this finds you in the best of health and states.
The Ruling in Question
What you did would not affect the marriage to her daughter: it is permissible for you to marry her.
Having said that, you must make tawba for that act: ask Allah’s forgiveness with sincere remorse, cease doing it (if you still do), and resolve never to do it again. Masturbation is sinful, and results in many problems, both worldly and spiritual.
An Important Consideration
Moreover, I would strongly advise you to make sure you have no sexual feelings towards the girl’s mother, as that can seriously affect your marriage — practically in terms of the relationship with your wife, and legally in the sense that according to the Hanafi school, a marriage is permanently dissolved by any one of the following acts between the husband and his wife’s mother: skin-to-skin contact with arousal from either side; either side looking at the other’s private parts with arousal; or actual intercourse.
[Nahlawi, Durar Mubaha]
This ruling is based on the statement of Allah Most High, “And marry not whom your fathers have married.” [4:22]
The word “marry” used in this verse is ‘nikah’, which in Arabic literally means to have intercourse. Furthermore, looking at private parts with arousal, touching with arousal, or kissing is normally a precursor to intercourse, and so they take its place in this ruling out of precaution (ihtiyat).
The ruling is also confirmed by some hadiths and statements of the salaf, of varying strengths of narration. It was also the position of many eminent companions, such as Umar, Ubayy ibn Ka`b, Aisha, and Ibn Masud; as well as the majority of the subsequent generation of followers (tabi`in). [Zayla`i, Tabyin al-Haqa’iq; Kasani, Bada’i al-Sana’i]
And Allah knows best.