A wife should not go out in front of the brother-in-law or be alone with him in the house, because the Prophet (saw) said:
“Beware of entering upon women.“
One of the Sahaabah said to him, “O Messenger of Allaah, what about the brother-in-law?“
He said: “The brother-in-law is death!“
[Bukhaaree, Fath al-Baari, 9/330]
Commentry By An-Nawawee:
An-Nawawee, may Allaah have mercy on him, said:
This hadeeth refers to all the relatives of the husband apart from his father and sons, who are mahrams for the wife and she is allowed to be alone with them; they are not described as “death.” It refers to the brother, nephew, uncle, cousin and other relatives of the husband whom she would be permitted to marry if she were not already married.
Because people customarily treat this matter so lightly, and a man may sit alone with his brother’s wife, the brother-in-law is likened to death, and he is the foremost among non-mahram men who should be prevented from doing so.
The expression “the brother-in-law is death” may have a number of meanings, such as the following:
– That being alone with a brother-in-law may lead to religious doom if it results in sin.
– That it may lead to actual death if an immoral deed is committed that dictates the punishment of stoning.
– That it may spell disaster for the woman if her husband’s jealousy leads to divorce.
– That you should fear being alone with a non-mahram woman as much as you fear death.
– That being alone with a non-mahram woman is as terrible as death.
To those who take the idea of trustworthiness as an excuse, and say things like, “I trust my wife and I trust my brother or my cousin,” we say, “Do not trust too much and do not doubt too much, but know that the hadeeth “No man sits alone with a (non-mahram) woman, but the Shaytaan is the third among them” (Tirmidhee 1171) includes both the most righteous of people as well as the most immoral of people, and that Islam makes no exceptions whatsoever in such reports.“
A Final Note:
Likewise the Prophet (saw) mentioned: “…no man should enter upon a woman unless she has a mahram with her.“
O sisters, know who your mahram is, and avoid contact from all non-mahrams.
Your brother-in-law, whether he be smaller than you in age, bigger than you in age, pious, or unpious, whatever praiseworthy or blameworthy characteristics he may posses, is nothing but death!