Islamic marriage advice and family advice

can I marry my former brother in law?

law fiqh marriage divorce


My name is Aneesa; I am 25 and divorced. My older sister recently also divorced from my brother in law. I feel he has the right qualities that I am looking for in a spouse. In Islam is it possible for us to marry ? even though my parents might refuse ?










Leyla's Answer:

Salaam Aneesa,

The Quran says (regarding marriage):

“Forbidden to you (for marriage) are: your mothers, your daughters, your sisters, your father's sisters, your mother's sisters, your brother's daughters, your sister's daughters…” [al-Nisa’ 4:23].

“O Prophet (Muhammad SAW)! Verily, We have made lawful to you your wives, to whom you have paid their Mahr (bridal money given by the husband to his wife at the time of marriage), and those (slaves) whom your right hand possesses - whom Allâh has given to you, and the daughters of your ‘Amm (paternal uncles) and the daughters of your ‘Ammaat (paternal aunts) and the daughters of your Khaal (maternal uncles) and the daughters of your Khaalaat (maternal aunts)…” [al-Ahzaab 33:50].

According to these verses, your former brother-in-law is permissible for you in marriage.

Regarding marriage without your parent's consent: this is unacceptable.



Editor, Islamic Answers


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41 Responses »

  1. InshaAllah someone more knowledgable than me will correct me if I am wrong or clarify the following for me:

    But with regards to Leyla's answer above:

    ~ I was of the understanding that a divorced woman does not need the consent of her father to re-marry.

    ~ I was also under the impression that a man cannot marry two sisters, while they are both alive, even if he has divorced one.

    SisterZ Editor

  2. Salaam Sister Z,

    You are correct: "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." Qur�an, 4.23

    I must admit, I am not 100% on what this means in regards to your sister's ex-husband.

    May Allah forgive me if I have led anyone astray


    Editor, Islamic Answers

    • Leyla, thanks for finding that Ayah. I'm hoping someone will clarify the rest aswell InshaAllah.

      SisterZ Editor

  3. Sisters i think a man can marry the other sister as long as he divorced the first sister he just cant be married to them at the same time, subhan'Allah their are so many things i would like to say to you sister Aneesa but i wont just think carefully about your actions this life is to short grief and sadness,

    • Zenaa,

      You have a very good point that the sister needs to think very carefully before taking any decision.

      If marrying your sister's ex husband is legal (we yet need to find out) it may not be a wise thing to do, as it will very likely cause much conflict and discomfort in the family.

      SisterZ Editor

    • Hello my name is Malimatu, can I marry my ex husband, little brother? My ex husband in question pass away. We were divorce for 7years..

  4. You're playing with fire here, it's a very dangerous route to take by marrying someone you sister was married to. I would advise you to not, for the sake of family ties, there are millions and millions of good Muslim men out there, marry one of them.

    As for marrying without your consent, many scholars say that a divorced woman doesn't need the consent of her parents, but if I were you, I would definately marry someone your parents approve, they have your best interests in mind.

  5. Salaam,

    First point is yes for a divorced woman, she does not technically need the 'consent' of her father in order to marry. She is given more rights than a virgin.

    Second point, with regards to the points raised about marrying two sisters simultaneously, ofcourse as the verse has been already posted, it is haraam to marry two sisters at the same time. As long as a sister is married to her husband, it is not permissible for another sister to marry this brother-in-law of hers. However, if her sister passes away or he divorces her and she completes her iddah, it will be permissible for the other sister to marry her brother-in-law. In the case where the brother-in-law divorces the first sister, it is not permissible for the second sister to marry her brother-in-law until her sister completes her iddah.

    So it is not haraam for a woman to marry someone whom their sister was once married to. It makes sense if you think about it because if that were to be the case, then your brother in law would become your mahram once your sister married him but that is not the case...because technically you can get married to him if things dont work out with your sis hence you are required to do hijab infront of him despite the fact that whilst your sister is married to him, you cant marry him.

    As everybody here has pointed out, it wouldn't be wise to marry without your parents consent or to marry your sisters ex husband. Sometimes permissibility is given but be wise in such situations..judge as to what the best thing to do is, not just the lawful.

    Was salaam

    • Sister Faith is correct. It is forbidden in Islam to marry two sisters at the same time. In addition to the ayah mentioned above, there are proofs for this from hadith also. See this previous question:

      Can I Marry My Wife's Younger Sister?

      However, if a man has divorced a woman, or if she passes away, it is legally permissible for him to marry her sister.

      For example Uthman bin Affan (ra) married Ruqayyah, the daughter of the Prophet (pbuh), then after she passed away, he married Umm Kulthum, another daughter of the Prophet (pbuh).

      So, Aneesa, it is allowable for you to marry your ex-brother-in-law. However, is it a good idea? That's another question. I think it's a bad idea, and will only lead to jealousy and conflict between you and your sister.

      The world is a big place. There are billions of human beings. There are many, many good men who will meet the qualifications you seek for marriage. Choose one of them, instead of seeking something that is unhealthy for your family relationships.

      Wael Editor

  6. He is not only your sisters' ex husband, he is ALSO the brother of your ex husband - I would think this would be a hornet's nest you are entering - don't rush into anything sister - TAKE TIME for things to cool down and settle down before you take any steps using your mind, not just following the heart.
    Just my 0.2 cents

    • How do you know he's also the brother of her ex-husband? Do you know her personally?

      If you mean because she called him "brother-in-law", I believe she is calling him that because he was married to her sister.

      Wael Editor

  7. la ilaha illallah muhammad rasool allah!!

    Assalamu alaykum warahmatullahi wabarakatu

    My advice is think about your sister how would she feel seeing you with her once upon a time husband? how awkward will it be to sit with your family and mention him while your sister is there?
    think about the reason why they divorced maybe your sister still has feelings for him but she is just hurt...

    My sister in islam dont think only about your happiness but think about your sister, your parents..what happiness will you gain if you hurt those close to you..

    If you behave towards others with Rahma and your merciful to them that is you act with compassion and you sacrifise your happiness to please them, Allah swt will not leave you unrewarded inshaAllah He will reward you with a husband better then the one you wish to marry..Allah swt is more merciful to you than your own mother!!

    The Prophet (sws) said, "The best of you is the best to his family and I am the
    best amongst you to my family"Tirmidhi

    "The best of people are those with the most excellent character"

    Better your relationship with Allah swt so that you may then see whats right and follow it and whats wrong to avoid it....

    May Allah swt bless you with a conscious heart and a pious husband 🙂

  8. Salam sister aneesa, i tink marrying ur sister's ex husbnd wil b straining family ties,nd u know what dis swit religion of ours say about respecting family ties. So in my opinion,even though its permisible 4 u to marry ur sister's ex, tink about d consequences ur actions wil hav on ur family,esp ur sister. May Allah guide u. Wasalamu alaykum.

  9. selam, Firstly i would like to thank all the responses.

    I understand that people feel i might be making a bad decision but no one fully understands my situation.
    i am 25, i would say above average looking female well educated but unfortunatly society labels divorced women. i tried looking for partners but most people stigmatise divorced people. i found solice with my former brother in law.

    as for my family they feel i am a burden and really want me married asap. i feel a woman should still have a say in the choice of her spouse we no longer live in the middle ages where women were treated like animals in a market. It was our beloved prophet who understood womens rights and took the step to help not just women but people being discriminated against such as slaves, mentally ill.

    Allah is all Knowing.

    My sister has now re-married but will not accept our decision to marry which i understand and respect.
    my parents unfortunatly caught in the middle.


    • Dear Aneesa,

      Of course, you know your situation better than we do. Do find out if your marriage to your brother in law is even permissible though, as I am not sure it is. In any case, marrying a former brother in law will always be difficult for the family and for the sister who was previously married to him. But if such a marriage is permissible, then I am pretty sure Allah(swt) has permitted it with these factors in mind.

      Again - I am advising you to seek advice on this matter from a qualified Imam. I know many people have given you their opinions here but I am not sure on this matter. Please find out and then let us know what the books say inshaAllah.

      SisterZ Editor

  10. Sister i cant blame your parents for not wanting you to marry the man who split from your sister, and as for your sister if i were in her shoes i would think so badly of you and think did you feel this way while she was married yuck i would have such negative feelings and no trust at all for a sister who behaved in such a way and would not want you near my new family, it just seems so unnecessary to marry your ex brother in law are your saying that you feel like an outcast now what about if you marry him i dont no where you live that is so bad for divorced women , sister think of your parents and how upset they will feel i just think your putting yourself in a bad situation, if it comes to choosing your family or this man and you marry him then pray to Allah that all goes well other wise you really will feel like an outcast.

    • Zenaa,

      The things you have said are not very nice.

      Yes - this situation seems awkward. But if it is permissible, the sister has a right to look into the matter - although marrying this man, does not seem like a sensible or wise decision. This is why I have suggested that she find out from a learned person whether such a marriage is permissible or not and if it is to think carefully about the impact of her choice on her future and family relations. Not everything that is permissible is always the best choice - we have to use our common sense and reasoning and we have to look at our personal situations.

      The example that Wael gave above was for a man marrying his deceased wife's sister - this I can understand. But is there any evidence for or against marrying your divorced wife's sister while she the divorced wife is still alive?

      SisterZ Editor

  11. Iam sorry sister z but thats how i see this situation i cant help but think her sister would be so freaked out by it all i no i would be i dont have sisters but even if a close cousin did that it would shock me and the parents would take her sisters side and she would be the black sheep in the family, the sister is very young and i no i dont no all the facts but iam thinking if she looks at it from another point of view maybe she will see that family ties are very important and having all thoses negative forces around her if she were to marry her ex brother inlaw would just bring unhappiness, Iam sorry sister Aneesa if i sound harsh but this is what i would say to a friend if she asked me walaahi.

    • Zenaa,

      Alot of what you are saying is actually very true. But if you want an opinion to be heard, its better to say it with manners, instead of like this: "and as for your sister if i were in her shoes i would think so badly of you and think did you feel this way while she was married yuck".

      And at the same time, we have to remember that 'if' this marriage is Islamically permissible, it may not be socially accepted, but she will have a right to consider it, even if it is not the best choice to make.


      When our Prophet(sws)'s (at the time) adopted son Zayd married Zaynab, they were both very unhappy with each other. Zaynab was from a wealthier status that Zayd and always belittled him to the point where Zayd felt it necessary to complain of this marriage to Rasool(sws). He(sws) would keep giving Zayd the same advice which was that he should keep his wife, and Zayd would keep returning with the same complaint of being unhappy.

      Until, finally Allah(swt) actually sent down revelation stating that Zaynab and Zayd should divorce and Rasool(sws) should marry Zaynab:

      Surah Al Ahzab; 37.
      "And (remember) when you said to him (Zayd bin Harithah; the freed-slave of the Prophet ) on whom Allah has bestowed Grace (by guiding him to Islam) and you (O Muhammad too) have done favour (by manumitting him) "Keep your wife to yourself, and fear Allah." But you did hide in yourself (i.e. what Allah has already made known to you that He will give her to you in marriage) that which Allah will make manifest, you did fear the people (i.e., Muhammad married the divorced wife of his manumitted slave) whereas Allah had a better right that you should fear Him. So when Zayd had accomplished his desire from her (i.e. divorced her), We gave her to you in marriage, so that (in future) there may be no difficulty to the believers in respect of (the marriage of) the wives of their adopted sons when the latter have no desire to keep them (i.e. they have divorced them). And Allah's Command must be fulfilled."

      This was a major event in the times of Rasool(sws) and people were shocked - how could Rasool(sws) marry the ex wife of his 'own son' - but see, Zayd was not his real son. Zayd was the son of Harithah the freed slave of Rasool(sws), but in those times, people would take another man's son to be their own - giving him their own name and inheritance etc. Knowing no better, Rasool(sws) had done the same and treated Zayd as his real son. However this revelation made clear to us that we cannot adopt another man's name, we must only carry the name of our blood father - if we know it of course. It also made clear that as Zayd was not Rasool(sws)'s son at all, his wife was actually non mahram to him(sws) and hence he was free to marry her after Zayd and Zaynab divorced. This was not at all socially acceptable, but it was permissible and it changed an Arab historic law for good.

      Some evil minded people used this an as excuse to slander Rasool(sws) and said that he had an eye on Zaynab since she was married to Zayd - basically implying indecency on the part of Rasool(sws) - astagfirullah!

      Anyhow, Rasool(sws) did marry Zaynab after she divorced Zayd, and she was a very good, charitable and pious wife. Her marriage was also the only one of all the marriages of Rasool(sws) that was instructed through a revelation in the Quran by Allah(swt) - it was done to make clear that adopted sons are not your real sons, they must be recognised by their real father's names and that a man can marry his adopted son's ex-wife - whether society accepted it or not - it was Allah(swt)'s Divine Law.


      By narrating this story, I am not saying that this sister's decision to marry her ex brother in law is a wise one. I also still think this sister needs to clarify the Islamic view point on the legality and permissibility of such a marriage.

      SisterZ Editor

      • I take it all on board sister i was a bit rude, i dont no why but from the very first time i saw this post i cant see the other side where most of the time i can empathise this time i cant. it feels like watching a car crash about to happen or something thats the feeling i got from this post.

  12. And iam sorry for the word yuck i take it back i just saw now that i had written it.

  13. Selam all

    I would like to thank you SisterZ and Wael for not judging me and looking at the bigger picture.
    SisterZ has given good examples to those who disagree with my situation. I feel I can not go through with this marriage proposal without knowing the facts, thats why I put my question to

    Why is it if the tables were turned and I was a male looking to marry my divorced sister in law i would be looked at in a different light, infact i would probably be accepted in society and even respected more !! but because I am a woman making this decision I feel I am ostracised.

    here are some of the reasons why i want to marry him:
    he is good practising muslim
    he is charitable
    he does not judge people
    he works hard and has good manners
    professional soccer player -he is making a living without doing it in a haram way.
    he is athletic and healthy (trust me Zena if you seen him you would not say Yuck !)

    As for family i intend to start my own family ! with my new husband god willing. when sister Zena speaks about family ties and family relations let her please read the story of Prophet Yusuf and his brothers.

    "In Yusuf and his brothers there are Signs for every one of those who want to ask."
    (Surah Yusuf: 7

    • Whatever his character, whatever your character, it would very a unsafe and probably unhealthy move to marry him.

      There are millions of good muslim men, why do you have to marry one of the few that could cause so much stress within the family.

      He may well have good qualities, but the fact is, he's your sister's ex-husband and at some point, she being a mere mortal, it will cause a lot of tension.

      What happens if you find that he despite being divorced, liked his first wife for some things more? How would you feel? With other men it would not be the case.

      Hence we're asking you to be sensible, be wise and to avoid so much unneccessary family drama which is guaranteed to come, just marry one of the millions of other good Muslim men out there.

  14. Sister iam sorry for the yuck comment i was not talking about his looks, just the situation from your sister point of view. insha'Allah i hope the best for sister.

  15. Sister Z now your teasing me in my very hormonal state 🙂

    • No no, lol, I'm not teasing you Zenaa. Alls good, don't worry! Relax dear sister :O)!!

      SisterZ Editor

  16. Selam All

    thanks for your responses i am sorry too Zenaa i also over reacted. i have conflicting emotions just now.
    John i understand what you mean but you make finding a partner sound soo easy.
    trust me i have been there done that ! i met a few men but they dont have some of the qualities i look for in a man. its soo hard to find someone who has similar interests and maybe i am taking the easy route with someone i already know.

    • Aside from the Islamic perspective; you should take into consideration the emotional turmoil that you would put your sister through. Would you allow your sister to do what you are doing to her?

  17. As'salaMu alaikum,
    Sorry but I can I just say that's why freemixing is haram in the deen and also
    Why you should lower your gaze around non mahrams. Before your sister divorced this man and he was your brother in law he was death for you. This is why, because you familiarise yourself with him and also
    Start liking certain things you see.

    Sorry before everyone accuses me of anything, I'm not blaming the sister for anything and Allah knows best but Allah SWT makes things easy for us Alhamdulilah. The only advice I'd give the sister who asked the question is look at the bigger picture as everyone on here keeps saying and pray Istikharah and have faith with the answer giving inshaa Allah.

    May Allah SWT guide us all Ameen!

  18. Salaams sister. I'm not sure if anybody is going to get to these because I'm so late with a response!\

    I believe that everybody is making it hard on this sister and it's clearly not how Allah placed it. Everybody is wondering if marrying him is permissible or not? If it's not permissible than while her ex brother-in-law was married to her sister, she would be able to be uncovered in front of him but since their able to marry each other, she wasn't. Allah clearly states in the Qur'an who's permissible to marry and not, but yet everybody is taking it out of context. It is well beyond clear. As far as the verse about not being married to two sisters, it means at the same time.

    As women we do have to the right to choice our husbands. Yes our family and parents can advice us and we should consider their feelings out of respect. But the person isn't completing half of their deen because of their family.

    She said her sister re-married. That sister has no business worrying about her ex husband, she clearly moved on.

    As far as I'm concerned by-gones-should-be-by-gones!

    She shouldn't hinder her sister's chances at a marriage because of her jealously. Which clearly their shouldn't be any especially if she's married.

    We live in a small world and a corrupt one at that. So finding a spouse that's worth marrying is very difficult.It's because of these attitudes that women and men aren't married.

    Yet did we forget that the Prophet (pbuh) married his adopted son's ex wife!!

    And for anybody to speculate about her feelings towards her brother-in-law while he was married to her sister, may Allah forgive you.

    Because only Allah knows what was in her heart and what wasn't.

    Overall make istikhara and may Allah guide you to what is best for you in this life and the hear after.

  19. Ali Khan,

    What you have both done is an extremely major sin! You are a mahram to your Mother's sister, her relationship to you is like that of a Mother, it is completely forbidden for you to have any type of intimate relationship with her. Allah does not permit you to marry your Mother's sister, never ever. Allah(swt) says in Surah Nisa, Ayah 23:

    “Forbidden to you (for marriage) are: your mothers, your daughters, your sisters, your father's sisters, your MOTHER'S SISTERS, your brother's daughters, your sister's daughters…”

    You have not provided anymore information, so I do know if your aunt has been trying to seduce you for a while or what. BUT, whatever the situation, I urge you to repent most sincerely and speak to your aunt with strictness and firmness and tell her that what happened was a major sin and must never ever happen again and that she must repent. The fact that your aunt is now blackmailing you is shocking, her actions are that of a mentally sick person and of someone with an extremely major sickness of the heart. Avoid being alone with her at all costs, infact move far away from her if possible.

    I am also wondering: How old are you? If you are a child, then your aunt has clearly taken advantage of you and you need to tell an adult to help you put a stop to this immediately as this is sexual abuse. This is a crime in deen and in humanity. There is not much more I can say, apart from re-iterate my words very strongly Brother. I fear for you if you do not put a stop to this now. Please repent, move away from your aunt and busy yourself in Allah's Way.

    Please write back and tell us your age so we can help you further.

    SisterZ Editor

  20. I have a sister can she marry my brother in law

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