Who are mahram men for a woman? Who are the men that are regarded as mahram and non-mahram for a woman? Are maternal and paternal uncles mahram?

Details of the Question

It is stated in the Quran near which men women can sit without headscarves. Maternal and paternal uncles are not stated in the verse. In some places, it is stated that a woman’s maternal and paternal uncles are not non-mahram. How true is it and what is its resource?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

Mahram means haram, that is, relatives that are not permissible for a woman to marry. Non-mahram means not haram, that is, men that are religiously permissible for a woman to marry.

The principles of this issue are based on the following two verses:

"And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what (must ordinarily) appear thereof; that they should draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty except to their husbands, their fathers, their husband´s fathers, their sons, their husbands´ sons, their brothers or their brothers´ sons, or their sisters´ sons, or their women, or the slaves whom their right hands possess, or male servants free of physical needs, or small children who have no sense of the shame of sex; and that they should not strike their feet in order to draw attention to their hidden ornaments. And O ye Believers! Turn ye all together towards Allah, that ye may attain Bliss." (an-Nur, 24/31)

"Prohibited to you (For marriage) are:- Your mothers, daughters, sisters; father´s sisters, Mother´s sisters; brother´s daughters, sister´s daughters; foster-mothers (Who gave you suck), foster-sisters; your wives´ mothers; your step-daughters under your guardianship, born of your wives to whom ye have gone in,- no prohibition if ye have not gone in;- (Those who have been) wives of your sons proceeding from your loins; and two sisters in wedlock at one and the same time, except for what is past; for Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful." (an-Nisa, 4/23)

Those men are mentioned in both verses. When we analyze these verses, we see that the men that are mahram for a woman are mainly as follows:

Her father, her father-in-law, her son, her husband’s son from his previous wife, her brother, her nephews, her paternal and maternal uncle, her milk brother...

The women that are mahram for a man are mainly as follows:

His mother, his daughter, his sister, his paternal and maternal aunt, his nieces, his milk mother, his milk sister, his mother-in-law, his wife’s daughter from her previous husband, his son’s wife...

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