Sisters Writing to Non-Mahram Prisoners

08 May



As-salamu alaykum. Is it permissible for Muslim women to write letters to Muslim men who are held in prisons in non-Muslim countries (sometimes in solitary confinement) in order to raise their eeman and keep their spirits high at a difficult time? Some sisters are claiming that it is necessary for them to do this even though these brothers in prison may be married (as may the sisters themselves) since there are not enough men writing letters to these prisoners. It is well-documented that women (including Muslim women) may become infatuated with male prisoners by writing letters to them especially if the men write back. What is the Islamic ruling on this issue and does the issue of infatuation have any bearing on the ruling? If it is permissible to write these letters, are there any Islamic guidelines regarding the content? Jazakallah khayr.


All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah, and that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger. We ask Allaah to exalt his mention as well as that of his family and all his companions.

First of all, you should know dear brother that the temptation of women is the worst thing that affect a man. The Prophet said: “I have not left after me any temptation which is more harmful to men than that of women.” [Al-Bukhaari and Muslim] Furthermore, the Prophet said: “Fear this worldly life and fear Allaah with regards to women, as the first temptation for the children of Israel was through women.” [Muslim]

Islam safeguards and maintains relationships among individuals, since it circumscribes them with a fence that suits the human soul. Thus, Islam prohibits each and every relationship between a man and a woman except that which is done in legal marriage.

Also, it is completely wrong for a man to speak with a woman and vice versa, if there is no need. Then, if there is need for talk, it should be with limitations of morals and decency.

Allah Says:

وَإِذَا سَأَلْتُمُوهُنَّ مَتَاعًا فَاسْأَلُوهُنَّ مِن وَرَاءِ حِجَابٍ ۚ ذَٰلِكُمْ أَطْهَرُ لِقُلُوبِكُمْ وَقُلُوبِهِنَّ

{… And when you ask (his wives) for anything you want, ask them from behind a screen, that is purer for your hearts and for their hearts. …}
[Quran Al-Ahzab 33: 53].

He also Says:

إِنِ اتَّقَيْتُنَّ فَلَا تَخْضَعْنَ بِالْقَوْلِ فَيَطْمَعَ الَّذِي فِي قَلْبِهِ مَرَضٌ وَقُلْنَ قَوْلًا مَّعْرُوفًا

{… If you keep your duty (to Allâh), then be not soft in speech, lest he in whose heart is a disease (of hypocrisy, or evil desire for adultery, etc.) should be moved with desire, but speak in an honourable manner.}
[Quran Al-Ahzab 33: 32].

Know that addressing or speaking to others might be by tongue, sign, writing, etc., as a means by which one can demonstrate what he wants.

Allah Says:

آيَتُكَ أَلَّا تُكَلِّمَ النَّاسَ ثَلَاثَةَ أَيَّامٍ إِلَّا رَمْزًا

{… Allaah said: “Your sign is that you shall not speak to mankind for three days except with signals. …}
[Quran Al- i-Imran 3: 41].

Thus, it is every Muslim’s duty to beware of speaking to women via what is known as “Friendship sites on the Internet”. These sites, for sure, constitute Satanic channels and means of temptation.

Allah Says:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا تَتَّبِعُوا خُطُوَاتِ الشَّيْطَانِ ۚ وَمَن يَتَّبِعْ خُطُوَاتِ الشَّيْطَانِ فَإِنَّهُ يَأْمُرُ بِالْفَحْشَاءِ وَالْمُنكَرِ ۚ

{O you who believe! Follow not the footsteps of Satan. And whosoever follows the footsteps of Satan, then, verily he commands Al-Fahshâ’ [i.e. to commit indecency (illegal sexual intercourse, etc.)], and Al-Munkar [disbelief and polytheism (i.e. to do evil and wicked deeds; to speak or to do what is forbidden in Islam, etc.)].}
[Quran An-Nur 24: 21].

In reality, since friendship between the opposite sexes via the above-mentioned means is Haram, each and every relationship or friendship that brings the two parties nearer such as friendship over phone, direct meeting and so on will be more Haram and more dangerous.

Since, it is confirmed that women could be tempted by male prisoners because of those letters, or that men could be tempted by them, then we do not see any valid reason for writing such letters. The illusion about the benefits which these letters may have are of no religious value in comparison to the disadvantages which they may lead to. Indeed, among the Islamic rulings is that repelling harm comes in priority over achieving benefits.

Allah Knows best.

This Fatwa came from a committee of specialists that are responsible for preparing, checking and approving Fatawa. The committee comprises a group of licentiate graduates from the Islamic University, Al-Imaam Muhammad Bin Sa’oud Islamic University in Saudi Arabia, and graduates who studied the Islamic sciences from scholars at Mosques and other Islamic educational institues in Yemen and Mauritania. This special committee is headed by Dr. ‘Abdullaah Al-Faqeeh, specialist in Jurisprudence and Arabic language.


Posted by on May 8, 2013 in Maktabah


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4 responses to “Sisters Writing to Non-Mahram Prisoners

  1. Fulan

    May 8, 2013 at 7:50 pm

    Appreciated! What if the organizations are run by sisters, can they send letters to brothers using male names or under the organization name?

    Brothers and sisters need to beware about this evil. Barak Allahu feekum

  2. hoda

    May 10, 2013 at 10:21 pm

    if men were doing their duty women would not have to do these things
    what do the scholars who made this fatwa think about women sold for money in Jordan refugee camps? what do they think about women raped in Iraqi prisons? women who are murdered in Burma? etc etc

    • aseerun

      May 11, 2013 at 4:00 am

      Bismillah Arahmanir Rahim

      Asalamualaykum Wa Rahmatalaihi Wa Barakatahu,

      May Allah reward you for your concern and question,

      In regards to the issues you mentioned such as the murder and rape of our Muslim sisters, in any land, or those held within captivity or while “free” it is haraam by consensus of the Scholars and the ruling regarding it is that it should be stopped and those responsible brought to justice.

      Regarding the selling of free Muslim women or their coercion into marriage then this too is haraam by consensus and this is not limited by time, place, locality, ethnicity or ‘nationality’.

      A few relevant general principles of Islam are that Muslims help and defend one another, as we are one body, and that the wealth, honour, land, families and blood of every Muslim is to be protected by the believers and that to violate any of the above is mutually haraam for both believer and disbeliever alike.

      Furthermore any evil witnessed should be stopped first and foremost by means of one’s hands and if one is unable to do this then they should speak out against it and if one is unable to do this then they should hate that evil with their heart and this is the least of Iman. These are agreed upon principles as established by authentic evidences from the Qur’an and Sunnah.

      Also it is paramount to point out that the premiss: ‘if some are abandoning an obligation then others may act in fashion otherwise prohibited or limited by Allah in order to fulfill those obligations‘, is a fallacious supposition.

      For example a woman cannot; lead salat, administer ‘Ied or Jumu’ah khutbah, or contract the marriage of another woman simply due to the fact that some men may not be meeting their obligations in these matters. Regardless of the sincerity of intention or an earnest desire to rectify injustice or restore rights or meet obligations.

      The main reason of writing to our brothers in prison is to relieve them of psychological duress, to encourage them to be patient, to remind them of their Lord and to try to increase them in closeness to Allah by increasing in obedience to Him and in voluntary acts of worship, these goals cannot be met by disobedience or by opening a door to possible greater trial, or increased psychological stress by exposing them to one of the arrows from the arrows of Shaytan.

      Regarding this topic Shaykh Muhammad Saalih Ibn ‘Uthaymeen said:

      “It is not permissible for any person to correspond with a woman who is not his mahram, because of the fitnah (temptation) involved in that. The person who is sending these letters may think that there is no fitnah involved, but the Shaytaan will keep at him until he tempts the man by means of the woman and vice versa.

      Al-Nabbi صَلَى الله عليهِ وسَلَّم commanded those who hear the Dajjaal to keep away from him, and he said that a man may come to him as a believer, but the Dajjaal will keep at him until he tempts him and leads him astray.

      There is a great deal of temptation and danger in correspondence between young men and young women, so they must keep away from it, even though the questioner may say that there is no love involved.”

      And Shaykh Abdullah al-Jibreen said, when he was asked about corresponding with a non-mahram woman:

      “This action is not permissible, because it will provoke desire between them and will make them want to meet one another. This kind of correspondence often causes fitnah (temptation) and plants the seeds of zina in the heart, which leads to evil actions. So we advise those who are seeking that which is in their own best interests and who wish to protect themselves to avoid writing to or speaking with non-mahrams, etc., so as to protect their religious commitment and their honour, and Allah is the Source of help.”

      The advice and answers of the two Shuyukh above is sound and one can clearly see from the story related to us by our Nabbi صَلَى الله عليهِ وسَلَّم about the zuhid, and worshiper Barsisa how easily our good intentions can be used by Iblis to lead us upon a path of gradual sin and eventual destruction and regret.

      In addition to this ruling, and the opinions above, we would also recommend you look at the advice of Shaykh Ahmad Ibn Musa Jibril, who himself spent ten years in prison, in regards to the issue of Sisters Corresponding With Brothers in Prisons.

      One can also help our imprisoned brothers by sending them books, money and liaising with their families; mothers, sisters, wives or daughters. By working with groups and campaigns and by increasing awareness of their plight, condition and cases.

      Also, as has been mentioned in your question, there are many Muslim women who are suffering in the prisons of the oppressors all over the world, we call upon our religious and dedicated sisters to instead focus their time and efforts to writing to them and tending to their needs and keeping the Ummah abreast as to the their conditions and needs.

      One might also look to helping the young children and wives and mothers of those who may be locked in Allah’s cause. Groups like HHUGS for example devote their time and resources to this very noble work and are often in need of donations, volunteers and those sincere to help their efforts and causes.

      The MOST important thing, and this should be done in tandem with any and all efforts, is to make consistent du’a with ikhlas and yaqin. You will never know how a prisoner or anyone in duress feels the benefit of the sincere du’a of the Muslims unless you have experienced it; NEVER write this off as doing nothing, as it is the means by which this Ummah achieves its victories.

      Despite the needs of our many sisters in prisons and the mothers, wives, children and sisters of our incarcerated brothers, if one is still incessant upon writing to a brother in face of the advice and evidences of the scholars and the needs of the sisters both in and without of prisons, and they are only doing so for the pleasure and sake of Allah and Him Alone then they may use various services that allow them to write anonymously, and there are organisations and services which facilitate this.

      One could participate in incentives like the one Sanabil holds every month wherein they send handwritten letters which the prisoners treasure and love to receive, but which never contain a name of any brother or sister, they send hundreds of these per month and could use volunteers, as could many other groups and campaigns.

      As Muslims we must limit our worship to those guidelines which Allah and His Messenger صَلَى الله عليهِ وسَلَّم have lain out, and in this matter, which is for the sake of Islam and Allah, there is no difference.

      May Allah guide us all, rectify our affairs and those of the Ummah, grant victory to those striving in His Cause and free our captives, returning them safely and swiftly to their families and loved ones, and may He grant us all Istaqamah, and ‘Afiyah in our health, religion and families. Amin.

      Please do not forget the prisoners and their families in your sincere and frequent du’a.


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