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What is mahram & Ghayr mahram?

Answered as per Hanafi Fiqh by Tafseer Raheemi

Question: I hope you are well and your family as well
I was wondering if you could explain to me what mahrams and non-mahrams are? Also could you please explain to me the ruling about it? I don’t fully understand it and I put your ashura bayaan in masjid noor ul islam on youtube if that is ok with you jazakallah khair

May Allah grant you Jannatul Firdous and us amen

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Mahram and Ghayr Mahram are two terminologies used to refer to those people a person can potentially marry and those that one can never marry.

A Mahram is a person whom one is never allowed to marry under any circumstance. The ruling regarding such people is that you do not have to veil yourself from them; you may talk to them, look at them, sit with them in private providing there is no fear of any fitnah.

And a ghayr Mahram is a stranger, whom one can marry according to Shariah. It is necessary for a female to observe Pardah from them. They are not allowed to sit in seclusion, talk beyond necessity etc.

Below is a list of those people who will be considered one’s Mahram.

The Following are considered Mahram for a male:

1) Mother
2) Grandmother from both sides (Great Grandmothers etc)
3) Daughters
4) Granddaughters (Great Granddaughters etc)
5) Sisters who share the same mother and father or share the same mother. A step sister with a different mother is not considered a Mahram
6) Father’s sisters
7) Mother’s Sisters
8) Brother’s Daughters and Granddaughter and Great Granddaughters etc
9) Sister’s Daughters and Granddaughters and Great Granddaughters etc
10) Wife’s Mother
11) Wife’s Grandmothers from both her mother’s side and father’s side and Great Grandmothers etc
12) Wife’s daughters from a previous marriage, provided one has consummated with the wife.
13) Son’s wife
14) Grandson’s wife and Great grandsons wife etc
15) Fathers wives
16) Grandfathers (Including Great Grandfathers etc) wives from both Mother’s side and Fathers Side

The following people are considered Mahram’s for a woman:

1) Father
2) Grandfather (Great Grandfather etc) from both mother’s side and father’s side
3) Sons
4) Grandson’s (Great Grandson’s etc)
5) Brothers who share the same mother and father, and brothers with the same mother. A step brother from a different mother is not considered a Mahram although the father may be the same
6) Father’s brothers
7) Mother’s brothers
8) Brother’s sons and grandson and Great Grandsons etc.
9) Sister’s sons and grandsons and great grandsons etc.
10) Husband’s father
11) Husband’s grandparent’s from his mother’s side and father’s side
12) Husband’s sons from a previous marriage
13) Daughter’s husband
14) Granddaughter’s husband and great granddaughters’ husbands
15) Mother’s husband
16) Grandmothers and great grandmothers’ husbands from both mother’s and father’s side.

Note: In the same way, if these relationships are established through breastfeeding, then those people will also be consider ones Mahram. For example, if a boy is breastfed, then the wet nurse’s mother, daughter, sister etc, will be Mahrams to the one who is breastfed. Similarly, if a girl is breastfed by a woman, the woman’s husband, brother, son etc will be the girls Mahram.

Note: One’s cousins are not considered ones Mahram. Therefore after maturity, it is necessary for one to observe Pardah from cousins of the opposite gender.

Note: One’s adopted children are not considered one’s Mahram, therefore after maturity it will be necessary on a girl to observe Pardah from her adoptive father and brother, because technhically in Shariat, marriage is permitted within that family.

(الْبَابُ الثَّالِثُ فِي بَيَانِ الْمُحَرَّمَاتِ) وَهِيَ تِسْعَةُ أَقْسَامٍ (الْقِسْمُ الْأَوَّلُ الْمُحَرَّمَاتُ بِالنَّسَبِ) . وَهُنَّ الْأُمَّهَاتُ وَالْبَنَاتُ وَالْأَخَوَاتُ وَالْعَمَّاتُ وَالْخَالَاتُ وَبَنَاتُ الْأَخِ وَبَنَاتُ الْأُخْتِ فَهُنَّ مُحَرَّمَاتٌ نِكَاحًا وَوَطْئًا

(الْقِسْمُ الثَّانِي الْمُحَرَّمَاتُ بِالصِّهْرِيَّةِ) . وَهِيَ أَرْبَعُ فِرَقٍ: (الْأُولَى) أُمَّهَاتُ الزَّوْجَاتِ وَجَدَّاتُهُنَّ مِنْ قِبَلِ الْأَبِ وَالْأُمِّ وَإِنْ عَلَوْنَ (وَالثَّانِيَةُ) بَنَاتُ الزَّوْجَةِ وَبَنَاتُ أَوْلَادِهَا وَإِنْ سَفَلْنَ بِشَرْطِ الدُّخُولِ بِالْأُمِّ، كَذَا فِي الْحَاوِي الْقُدْسِيِّ سَوَاءٌ كَانَتْ الِابْنَةُ فِي حِجْرِهِ أَوْ لَمْ تَكُن….(وَالثَّالِثَةُ) حَلِيلَةُ الِابْنِ وَابْنِ الِابْنِ وَابْنِ الْبِنْتِ وَإِنْ سَفَلُوا دَخَلَ بِهَا الِابْنُ أَمْ لَا. وَلَا تَحْرُمُ حَلِيلَةُ الِابْنِ الْمُتَبَنَّى عَلَى الْأَبِ الْمُتَبَنِّي هَكَذَا فِي مُحِيطِ السَّرَخْسِيِّ…(وَالرَّابِعَةُ) نِسَاءُ الْآبَاءِ وَالْأَجْدَادِ مِنْ جِهَةِ الْأَبِ أَوْ الْأُمِّ
وَإِنْ عَلَوْا فَهَؤُلَاءِ مُحَرَّمَاتٌ عَلَى التَّأْبِيدِ نِكَاحًا وَوَطْئًا

(الْقِسْمُ الثَّالِثُ الْمُحَرَّمَاتُ بِالرَّضَاعِ) . كُلُّ مَنْ تَحْرُمُ بِالْقَرَابَةِ وَالصِّهْرِيَّةِ تَحْرُمُ بِالرَّضَاعِ عَلَى مَا عُرِفَ فِي كِتَابِ الرَّضَاعِ
(هندية 1/277)

And Allah is All Knowing

(Ismail K 2/12)

This answer was collected from Tafseer-Raheemi.com the official website of Sheikh Abdul Raheem Limbada (Hafizahullah) of UK.