The Women Men can’t Marry[1]

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

(المحرمات): refers to prohibition and here we are discussing the women men can’t marry.

The women men can’t marry are divided into two categories:

  • Those he can never marry
  • Those he can’t marry temporarily or until their status changes

Allah said:

وَلَا تَنكِحُواْ مَا نَكَحَ ءَابَآؤُڪُم مِّنَ ٱلنِّسَآءِ إِلَّا مَا قَدۡ سَلَفَ‌ۚ إِنَّهُ ۥ ڪَانَ فَـٰحِشَةً۬ وَمَقۡتً۬ا وَسَآءَ سَبِيلاً

And marry not women whom your fathers married, except what has already passed; indeed it was shameful and most hateful, and an evil way.[ An-Nisa’i: 22]

The verse shows that it’s not allowed for a child to marry the women his father married. Ibn Kathir mentioned this is a means of honoring

حُرِّمَتۡ عَلَيۡڪُمۡ أُمَّهَـٰتُكُمۡ وَبَنَاتُكُمۡ وَأَخَوَٲتُڪُمۡ وَعَمَّـٰتُكُمۡ وَخَـٰلَـٰتُكُمۡ وَبَنَاتُ ٱلۡأَخِ وَبَنَاتُ ٱلۡأُخۡتِ وَأُمَّهَـٰتُڪُمُ ٱلَّـٰتِىٓ أَرۡضَعۡنَكُمۡ وَأَخَوَٲتُڪُم مِّنَ ٱلرَّضَـٰعَةِ وَأُمَّهَـٰتُ نِسَآٮِٕكُمۡ وَرَبَـٰٓٮِٕبُڪُمُ ٱلَّـٰتِى فِى حُجُورِڪُم مِّن نِّسَآٮِٕكُمُ ٱلَّـٰتِى دَخَلۡتُم بِهِنَّ فَإِن لَّمۡ تَكُونُواْ دَخَلۡتُم بِهِنَّ فَلَا جُنَاحَ عَلَيۡڪُمۡ وَحَلَـٰٓٮِٕلُ أَبۡنَآٮِٕڪُمُ ٱلَّذِينَ مِنۡ أَصۡلَـٰبِڪُمۡ وَأَن تَجۡمَعُواْ بَيۡنَ ٱلۡأُخۡتَيۡنِ إِلَّا مَا قَدۡ سَلَفَ‌ۗ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ كَانَ غَفُورً۬ا رَّحِيمً۬ا (٢٣) ۞ وَٱلۡمُحۡصَنَـٰتُ مِنَ ٱلنِّسَآءِ إِلَّا مَا مَلَكَتۡ أَيۡمَـٰنُڪُمۡ‌ۖ كِتَـٰبَ ٱللَّهِ عَلَيۡكُمۡ‌ۚ وَأُحِلَّ لَكُم مَّا وَرَآءَ ذَٲلِڪُمۡ أَن تَبۡتَغُواْ بِأَمۡوَٲلِكُم مُّحۡصِنِينَ غَيۡرَ مُسَـٰفِحِينَ‌ۚ فَمَا ٱسۡتَمۡتَعۡتُم بِهِۦ مِنۡہُنَّ فَـَٔاتُوهُنَّ أُجُورَهُنَّ فَرِيضَةً۬‌ۚ وَلَا جُنَاحَ عَلَيۡكُمۡ فِيمَا تَرَٲضَيۡتُم بِهِۦ مِنۢ بَعۡدِ ٱلۡفَرِيضَةِ‌ۚ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ كَانَ عَلِيمًا حَكِيمً۬ا

Forbidden unto you are your mothers, and your daughters, and your sisters, and your father’s sisters, and your mother’s sisters, and your brother’s daughters and your sister’s daughters, and your foster-mothers, and your foster-sisters, and your mothers-in-law, and your step-daughters who are under your protection (born) of your women unto whom ye have gone in – but if ye have not gone in unto them, then it is no sin for you (to marry their daughters) – and the wives of your sons who (spring) from your own loins. And (it is forbidden unto you) that ye should have two sisters together, except what hath already happened (of that nature) in the past. Lo! Allah is ever Forgiving, Merciful. (23) And all married women (are forbidden? unto you) save those (captives) whom your right hands possess. It is a decree of Allah for you. Lawful unto you are all beyond those mentioned, so that ye seek them with your wealth in honest wedlock, not debauchery. And those of whom ye seek content (by marrying them), give unto them their portions as a duty. And there is no sin for you in what ye do by mutual agreement after the duty (hath been done). Lo! Allah is ever Knower, Wise. (24)

This verse describes the women that are Halal and Haraam for men to marry.

As-Sa’dee said: Included in this verse are the women men cant marry due to breast-feeding, related by marriage, and intercourse; and the women a man is allowed to marry.

The women a man can’t marry because of family ties are:

  • Mother
  • Sisters: This included those girls from your mother or father even if they divorce and remarry and have children.
  • Paternal Aunt- This means the sisters of your father and grandfather, great-grandfather.
  • Maternal Aunt: This means the sisters of your mother and grandmother
  • Nieces and Nephews and their children.

Allah said:  Lawful unto you are all beyond those mentioned

This includes the permissibility to marry your cousins.

The women you can’t marry due to breastfeeding.

The Prophet(ﷺ) said:

“What becomes unlawful (for marriage) through breast-feeding is that which becomes unlawful through lineage.” [Sunan an-Nasa’i 3302]

The amount of suckilings that make the prohibition effective are 5.

‘A’isha (Allah he pleased with her) discussing fosterage which (makes marriage) unlawful; and she (‘A’isha) said:There was revealed in the Holy Qur’an ten clear sucklings, and then five clear (sucklings).Sahih Muslim 1452

This includes the women who breastfed you.


The women a man can’t marry because they are related by marriage are:

  • Stepdaughter
  • Daughter in law and Mother-in law.
  • Grandfather’s wife and grandson’s wife.
  • Step mother.

Allah said: and your step-daughters who are under your protection (born) of your women unto whom ye have gone in[ An-Nisa’i:23]

This verse brings a few benefits;

  • Stepdaughters are like daughters
  • It’s permissible to be alone with your stepdaughters
  • It’s Haraam to have relations with your step daughters. The Prophet mentioned its Haraam to marry two sisters at the same time and a woman along with her paternal and maternal aunt.

The women a man can’t marry due to relations

This refers to all married women. A man isn’t able to marry a married woman until she divorces and completes her iddah.


The next category of women a man can’t’ marry are the women who a temporarily Haraam for him to marry until something occurs that makes them Halal for him to marry

  • The woman who is in her Iddah from a returnable divorce, irrevocable divorce or in her wating period after her husband’s death. After the period concludes she can remarry.
  • A woman a man has divorced 3 times. It’s not allowed for him to remarry her until she marries someone else.

The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) was asked about a man who divorced his wife three times, and she married another who entered upon her, but divorced her before having intercourse with her, whether she was lawful for the former husband. She said: The Prophet (ﷺ) replied: She is not lawful for the first (husband) until she tastes the honey of the other husband and he tastes her honey.[ Sunan Abi Dawud 2309]

3-While is a state of Ihram. A person while in the state of Ihram isn’t allowed to marry himself or perform a marriage for others, or get engaged.

Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) had stated: A Muhrim must neither marry himself, nor arrange the marriage of another one, nor should he make the proposal of marriage.[ Sahih Muslim 1409]

  • Adulteress until she repents

Allah said: The adulterer marries not but an adulteress or a Mushrikah and the adulteress none marries her except an adulterer or a Muskrik [and that means that the man who agrees to marry (have a sexual relation with) a Mushrikah (female polytheist, pagan or idolatress) or a prostitute, then surely he is either an adulterer, or a Mushrik (polytheist, pagan or idolater, etc.) And the woman who agrees to marry (have a sexual relation with) a Mushrik (polytheist, pagan or idolater) or an adulterer, then she is either a prostitute or a Mushrikah (female polytheist, pagan, or idolatress, etc.)]. Such a thing is forbidden to the believers (of Islamic Monotheism).[An-Nur:3]

  • A fornicator until he/she repents

The Prophet (ﷺ) said: The adulterer who has been flogged shall not marry save the one like him.[Abu Dawud:2052]

Shaykh Rslan said: Being flogged isn’t a condition for repentace,so long as the male or female are known fornicators then it isn’t allowed for them to marry the believers.

  • A Mushrik (idolater). There is a consensus among the scholars that it’s not permissible for a Muslim man to marry an idolater or apostate until she repents to Allah. Included among the Mushrik is a grave worshipper. The evidence for this decision is the verse in AL-Baqarah,221.

Allah said: And do not marry Al-Mushrikat (idolatresses, etc.) till they believe (worship Allah Alone). And indeed a slave woman who believes is better than a (free) Mushrikah (idolatress, etc.), even though she pleases you. And give not (your daughters) in marriage to Al-Mushrikun till they believe (in Allah Alone) and verily, a believing slave is better than a (free) Mushrik (idolater, etc.), even though he pleases you. Those (Al-Mushrikun) invite you to the Fire, but Allah invites (you) to Paradise and Forgiveness by His Leave, and makes His Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) clear to mankind that they may remember.

  • The women who the husband accuses of Zina[ Adultery]


  • Joining between two sisters or a woman and her maternal/paternal aunt. However if the woman dies then its permissible for him to marry her sister or her aunt.

Abu Huraira (Allah be pleased with him) reported Allah’s Messenger (may peace upon him) having said this: One should not combine a woman and her father’s sister, nor a woman and her mother’s sister in marriage.[ Sahih Muslim 1408]



Translated and arranged by Abu Aaliyah Abdullah ibn Dwight Battle

Doha, Qatar 1438H©

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[1] Taken from المحرمات  من النساء , by Shaykh Muhammad ibn Sa’eed Rslan [ May Allah protect him]

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