Foster Relationship


The word “rada” or “rida” stems from the root “radaa” and means sucking milk from mother’s breasts in Arabic. As a noun, it means foster brotherhood and sucking milk. 



There are various verses about a child sucking milk from his/her mother or another woman in the Quran: “Prohibited to you (for marriage) are … foster-mothers (who gave you suck), foster-sisters” (an-Nisa, 4:23); “The mothers shall give suck to their offspring for two whole years, if the father desires to complete the term.” (al-Baqara, 2:233); “If ye decide on a foster-mother for your offspring, there is no blame on you” (al-Baqara, 2:233); … if they (women you divorced) suckle your (offspring), give them their recompense: and take mutual counsel together, according to what is just and reasonable. And if ye find yourselves in difficulties, let another woman suckle (the child) on the (father's) behalf.” (at-Talaq, 65:6); “The Day ye shall see it, every mother giving suck shall forget her suckling” (al-Hajj, 22:2); “So We sent this inspiration to the mother of Moses: "Suckle (thy child), but when thou hast fears about him, cast him into the river, but fear not nor grieve: for We shall restore him to thee, and We shall make him one of Our apostles.” (al-Qasas, 28:7); “And we ordained that he (Moses) refused suck at first…” (al-Qasas, 28:12). 



Islamic jurisprudents agree that mothers should suckle their children according to religion because a mother has to protect her children. However, if a woman does not want to suckle, there are different views on whether she can be forced to suckle or not.



According to the majority of Islamic jurisprudents, it is mandoob (recommended) for a mother to suckle her child. She cannot be forced to suckle as long as there is not an obligation. Feeding children with milk is wajib (obligatory) for fathers. He cannot force his wife to suckle; because, the verse “The mothers shall give suck to their offspring for two whole years, if the father desires to complete the term.” (al-Baqara, 2:233) is only a suggestion. However, if the child refuses to suck milk from any woman other than his/her mother, then it is an exception.



A mother can be forced to suckle her child in the following three situations: 



1.If the child refuses to suck milk from any woman other than his/her mother, the mother suckles her child in order to protect him/her from dying.



2.If a breastfeeding mother cannot be found, she suckles her child in order to save the child’s life.



3.If the child has not got a father to take care of him/her and they cannot afford to pay a breastfeeding mother to suckle the child, woman suckles her child herself.



The father must find a foster mother if the mother avoids suckling their child except for the situations listed above. The breastfeeding mother suckles the child near his/her real mother because the mother has got the right of keeping her child near herself so as to bring him/her up. That right continues until the child becomes about seven years old. The woman has got the right to demand payment for hiring a foster mother via suing if the father of the child does not hire a foster mother.

The father does not have to pay the mother to suckle the child, within marriage or within the period of iddah (the period of waiting for a woman who has divorced) after rij’i talaq (revocable divorce) because in this case, he has to pay alimony to his divorced spouse. The mother cannot be forced to suckle her child after bain talaq (irrevocable divorce). According to a sound view of Hanafis, the mother can demand payment for suckling because the following is stated in a verse: “if they suckle your (offspring), give them their recompense” (at-Talaq, 65:6). This verse is related to divorced women. A foster mother is not held responsible for anything except for suckling and what traditions require. Depending on traditions, the foster mother may need to prepare the child’s food, protect him/her, bath him/her, and wash his/her clothes.

 

If the child sucks from any women other than his/her own mother, as a baby, foster relationship is established between this child and the woman who suckled the child and the woman’s relatives. Blood related relationship is called “bloodline relationship” and relationship established via marriage is called “marital relationship”. Foster relationship has got the same restrictions with bloodline relationship, except for some specific situations.



The conditions under which foster relationships makes it haram to marry: 



1.The milk must belong to a woman. According to the majority, the conclusion is not affected by whether the woman who suckles is married or single or has not got a husband. Foster relationship is not established via sucking anything other than milk; for instance, impure flux, blood or vomit. A man’s milk or an animal’s milk does not cause foster relationship either.



2.The milk must reach the stomach of the child. Sucking the milk from a breast and drinking it from a jug or glass are the same. If the child takes the breast into his/her mouth but if it is not known whether s/he sucked it or not, relationship is not established because conclusions cannot be based on suspicions. However, according to Malikis, the relationship is considered to be established, acting cautiously. On the other hand, Shafiis and Hanbalis put forward the condition of sucking five times because according to a  narration from Hazrat Aisha, firstly a verse stating “haram is established with ten sucks” was sent down in the Quran, but later it was decreased to five times with another verse sent down later. The Prophet passed away while that verse was being read in the Quran. (see: Darimi, Marriage, 49; Muslim, Rada, 25; Abu Dawud, Marriage 10; Tirmidhi, Rada, 3; Malik, Muwatta, Rada, 18). 



According to Shafiis, although the verse which decreased the number of sucks to five was abolished, it is still valid as a judgment. It is like the verse: “If an old man and woman fornicate, stone them.” (see: Ibn Majah, Hudud, 9; Darimi, Hudud, 16; Malik, Muwatta, Hudud, 10). 



Ibn al-Humam (death: 861/1457) stated that not only the reading of the verse which decreased the number of sucks to five was abolished but also the judgment of it was abolished. (Ibn al-Humam, Fath al-Qadr, Egypt, 1316/1898, III, 345). 



According to Hanafis and Malikis, the amount of the milk sucked does not affect the judgment. The evidence to it is the verse “Prohibited to you (for marriage) are … foster-mothers (who gave you suck) and foster-sisters” (an-Nisa, 4:23) and the hadith “Who is haram because of bloodline relationship is also haram because of foster relationship.” (Bukhari, Shahadah, 7; Muslim, Irada, I). This verse and hadith do not mention an amount or number of sucking.

3.Sucking must be through mouth or nose; because, milk can reach stomach only through those two ways, and nourishment occurs.



According to Hanafis, Shafiis and Hanbalis, relationship is not established if milk goes into urethra, eyes, ears or an open sore. 



4.The milk must not be mixed with any other kind of liquids. If milk mixes with another kind of liquid, the one whose amount is more is taken into consideration according to Hanafis and Hanbalis. If milk is more, then foster relationship is established. According to Abu Hanifa, when the milk is mixed, foster relationship is not established no matter how much the milk is. This is because the mixed liquid decreases density of milk. The mixed liquid is considered to be more than the amount of milk.



Imam Abu Yusuf and Imam Muhammad base the judgment on the one which is more in amount.



If the milk is mixed with another woman’s milk and then given to the child, the judgment is based on the one which is more in amount than the other according to Abu Hanifa and Abu Yusuf. If they are equal, the foster relationship is established with both of women. According to Malikis, Imam Mohammad and Zufar, foster relationship is established with both of women in both cases. Judgment is not affected by whether they are equal or one is more than the other. It is the view that is mostly preferred because the milks are of the same kind. When two things of the same kind come together, there is not superiority of one to another. 



Breast milk, which is mixed in “Breast Milk Bank” seen in some countries and regions in our day, needs to be sorted out according to the criteria listed above (al-Kasani, Badayi as-Sanayi, Beirut 1394/1974, IV, 135 ff.; Ibn Qudama, al-Mughni, Cairo 1970, VII, 537 et al.; Ibn Rushd, Bidayatul-Mujtahid, Egypt (n.d..), II, 34 et al.; az-Zukhayli, al-Fiqhul-Islami wa Adillatuh Dimashq (Damascus)1405/1985, VII, 705 ff.). 



5.According to the majority, milk must be sucked in the first two years of a baby in order to establish foster relationship because, the following is stated in the verse: “Mothers suckle their offspring for a whole of two years”. That verse which is about bloodline children also covers other children who suck from a woman. Hadith: “Foster relationship is established only within the age of two.” (Bukhari, Marriage, 21).



However, according to Abu Hanifa, the length of sucking time is 30 months. The evidence is this verse: “The carrying of the (child) to his weaning is (a period of) thirty months.” (al-Ahqaf, 46:15). Both pregnancy and weaning last for 30 months.



According to the majority of Islamic jurisprudents, 30 months is the total of two years of sucking period and six months which is the shortest period of pregnancy. As a matter of fact; there are other proofs proving that the period of sucking is two years. As stated in another verse: “And We have enjoined on man (to be good) to his parents: in travail up on travail did his mother bear him, and in years twain was his weaning” (Luqman, 31:14). 



It is stated in the Quran that “Prohibited to you (for marriage) are … foster-mothers (who gave you suck), foster-sisters…” (an-Nisa, 4:23). Only two foster-relatives are mentioned in this verse. The general principle on the issue was established with this hadith: “Who is haram because of bloodline relationship is also haram because of foster relationship.” (Bukhari, Shahadah, 7; Muslim, Rada I). In addition to the relationships established through bloodline and marriage, relationship is also established through fostering. However, there are two exceptions to it:



The ones prohibited to each other for marriage are as follows 



1.One’s lineal foster ancestors such as foster mothers, foster grandmothers…



2.One’s lineal foster descendants such as foster-daughter, daughter of foster-son’s and children and grandchildren descending from them.



3.One cannot marry his/her foster-parents’ descendants. One cannot marry his/her foster-siblings born from the same parents, from the same father but different mother or from the same mother but different fathers. It is also prohibited to marry the children and grandchildren descending from them.



4.One cannot marry his/her foster-parents’ immediate sisters and brothers. They are the foster uncles and aunts of the suckled person. 



5.One cannot marry his foster-father’s and foster-grandfather’s spouses. Whether there was a sexual intercourse between them or not does not affect this judgment. As a matter of fact, one cannot marry his bloodline (biological) father’s spouse, either.



6.It is prohibited for one to marry his foster-son’s or his foster-grandson’s spouse and it is also prohibited to marry his foster-daughter’s son’s spouse. Whether there was a sexual intercourse between them or not does not affect this judgment. As a matter of fact, one cannot marry his daughters-in-law.



However, according to Hanafis, there are some exceptions:

 



a. One can marry his foster-brother’s or foster-sister’s mother. However, it is not permissible in bloodline relationship. For instance, if a woman suckles a child and if this woman has got a bloodline (biological) son, this son can marry the mother of that child.

 



b. One can marry his foster-son’s or foster-daughter’s foster brother/sister. However, it is not permissible in bloodline relationship. For instance, if a woman suckles a child, this woman’s spouse can marry the sister of this child. (see: al-Kasani, ibid, III, 4, 5; al-Maydani, al-Lubab, III, 33; az-Zukhayli, ibid, VII, 138, 139).

 



In conclusion, this principle can be uttered on the issue: The one who sucked is prohibited to marry to the descendants of the one who suckled him/her. However, except for the upcoming children of the one who sucked, there is not a foster relationship established between his/her other bloodline relatives and foster-mother’s bloodline children and marital relatives. In short, there is not a prohibition of marriage between the foster-child’s bloodline siblings and foster-mother’s bloodline children. This is because they did not suck from the same woman and thus there cannot be anything in common in these children’s biological and physical structures.

 



Rules about Foster-Relationship: Foster-relationship brings about an absolute prohibition for marriage. Except for the exceptions listed above, if foster-relatives have got married somehow, they must get divorced as soon as this situation is realized. Marriages of such people are invalid according to Abu Yusuf and Imam Muhammad, and immoral according to Abu Hanifa.

 



Foster-relatives are not strangers to each other. If there is not a risk of mischief, they can look at each other. Though relationship is established because of sucking milk, it does not bear the rights of inheritance, alimony, rejection of evidence, guardianship of property or marriage.

 



Foster-relationship is limited to the issues described in axioms. It does not bear the same rights as bloodline relationship. For this reason, a foster mother cannot ask for alimony from her foster-son. She cannot be his inheritor and cannot claim custody for him. (Hamdi Donduren, Delilleriyle Islam Hukuku, Istanbul, 1983, p.222).



Foster-Father:



The man who enabled breast milk to be produced in foster-mother and who is married to her is foster-father. By the way, the death of the foster-father or divorce does not change this judgment. Foster-father and other marital relatives are prohibited to the foster-child. All the children who belong to the foster-father biologically are foster-child’s foster-siblings. (Ibn Qudama, al-Mughni, VI, 572; al-Maydani, ibid, III, 32). 



Proofs of Foster Relationship:

 



Foster relationship is proved with either confession or evidence.

 



1.Confession: It is when a man and a woman together or one of them confess that they are foster-relatives. If a man and a woman confess their foster-relationship before marriage, their marriage is not halal. If they get married in spite of this, their marriage is unlawful and the woman cannot demand mahr (money or property given to the bride by the groom).

If the confession is made after marriage, they have to get divorced right away. If they do not get divorced by themselves, the judge divorces them by force. This is because the unlawfulness of marriage has been revealed. In this case, the woman has got the right of claiming one of the two, which is less, prescribed mahr or precedent mahr.

 



If the confession is made by the man only and before marriage, the marriage is not halal for them. If it is made after the marriage, they have to get divorced right away. If the confession is made only by woman and before marriage, the marriage is not halal for them. However, if the man thinks that the woman is lying, it is halal for him to get married to the woman, according to fatwa. If the woman confesses after marriage, it does not invalidate the marriage unless the man confirms it.

 



2.Evidence: What is meant here by evidence is the evidence (witnessing) of someone about foster-relationship in court.All four sects agree that if two honest men or a woman and a man witness about foster-relationship, the relationship is confirmed. However, there is conflict about whether the foster-relationship will be confirmed or not with the evidence of one man alone, one woman alone or four women. According to Hanafis, such evidence is not accepted because the following is narrated from Hazrat Umar, “Fewer than two male witnesses are not accepted for the confirmation of foster-relationship”. As there was not anyone from the Companions who opposed to it, it has been the consensus of the Islamic scholars.

 



According to Imam Shafii and Ibn Hanbal, foster-relationship is confirmed with the evidence of four women, and according to Imam Malik, it is confirmed with the evidence of one man and a woman together or two women. Those sects concentrated on female witnesses, taking into consideration of the difficulty in finding male witnesses regarding the issue. (see: Ibn al-Humam, ibid, III, 19, 20; al-Kasani, ibid, IV, 14; Ibn Qudama, ibid, VII, 558 et al.; az-Zukhayli, ibid, VII, 712 et al).

 



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