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Foster Relations and Islam

In Islam there are some relations with whom  Nikah of woman is haram or from whom there is no restriction of Hijab and these are known as Mehrams. There are three basis of mehram relations:


1.Blood
2. Nikah
3.Foster relations

Blood relations include father, brother, nephew, maternal and paternal uncles. Similarly mehram relations due to Nikah are father in law and sons in law.

In the same manner when someone is fed by some woman than that woman has been declared as foster mother and all the daughters of that woman are sisters of the person fed by the woman and Nikah is haram with all these relations.

Allah swt has revealed a verse in the holy Quran which tells relations with whom Nikah is haram. The verse is as follows:

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, your foster mother who gave you suck, your foster milk suckling sisters, your wives' mothers, your step daughters under your guardianship, born of your wives to whom you have gone in - but there is no sin on you if you have not gone in them (to marry their daughters), - the wives of your sons who (spring) from your own loins, and two sisters in wedlock at the same time, except for what has already passed; verily,  Allâh is Oft­Forgiving  , Most Merciful.  (An-Nisa 4:23)

 Foster relations are like blood relations in matters of Nikah:

The above mentioned verse of Holy Quran makes it clear that Nikah is prohibited with the blood relations like mother ,sister and aunt in the same manner Nikah is prophibited with the foster relations. Following hadiths also highlight the same point :

1,Narrated Amra bint 'Abdur-Rahman radi Allahu anha:

That 'Aisha the wife of the Prophet told her uncle that once, while the Prophet was in her house, she heard a man asking Hafsa's permission to enter her house. 'Aisha said, "I said, 'O Allah's Apostle! I think the man is Hafsa's foster uncle.' " 'Aisha added, "O Allah's Apostle! There is a man asking the permission to enter your house." Allah's Apostle replied, "I think the man is Hafsa's foster uncle." 'Aisha said, "If so-and-so were living (i.e. her foster uncle) would he be allowed to visit me?" Allah's Apostle said, "Yes, he would, as the foster relations are treated like blood relations (in marital affairs)." (Sahih Bukhari : Book 3 ,Volume 48 , Hadith 814)

2.Narrated 'Aisha radi Allahu anha:

 My foster uncle came and asked permission (to enter) but I refused to admit him till I asked Allah's Apostle about that. He said, "He is your uncle, so allow him to come in." I said, "O Allah's Apostle! I have been suckled by a woman and not by a man." Allah's Apostle said, "He is your uncle, so let him enter upon you." And that happened after the order of Al-Hijab (compulsory veiling) was revealed. All things which become unlawful because of blood relations are unlawful because of the corresponding foster suckling relations. (Sahih Bukhari : Book 7 , Volume 62 , Hadith 166)

Imam Muslim rahimahullah narrated same hadith with slight changing of words:

3.'A'isha radi Allahu anha reported:

My foster uncle came to me and sought permission (to enter the house), but I refused him permission until I had solicited the opinion of Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him). When Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) came, I said to him: My foster-uncle sought my permission to (enter the house), but I did not permit him, whereupon Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) said: You better admit your uncle (into the house). I ('A'isha) said: It was the woman who suckled me and not the man. (But he) said: He is your uncle, admit him. (Muslim : Book 8 , Hadith 3401)

4.Narrated Ibn 'Abbas radi Allahu anhu:

The Prophet said about Hamza's daughter, "I am not legally permitted to marry her, as foster relations are treated like blood relations (in marital affairs). She is the daughter of my foster brother." Sahih Bukhari : Book 3 , Volume 48 , Hadith 813

5.Narrated Umm e Habiba radi Allahu anha :

I said, "O Allah's Apostle! Marry my sister, the daughter of Abu Sufyan." He said, "Do you like that?" I said, "Yes, for even now I am not your only wife; and the most beloved person to share the good with me is my sister." The Prophet said, "But that is not lawful for me (i.e., to be married to two sisters at a time.)" I said, "O Allah's Apostle! By Allah, we have heard that you want to marry Durra, the daughter of Abu Salama." He said, "You mean the daughter of Um Salama?" I said, "Yes." He said, "By Allah ! Even if she were not my stepdaughter, she would not be lawful for me to marry, for she is my foster niece, for Thuwaiba has suckled me and Abu Salama; so you should neither present your daughters, nor your sisters to me."( Sahih Bukhari : Book 7 , Volume 62 , Hadith 43)

6.Narrated 'Uqba bin Al-Harith radi Allahu anhu:

 I married a woman and later on a woman came and said, "I suckled you both." So, I went to the Prophet (to ask him about it). He said, "How can you (keep her as a wife) when it has been said (that you were foster brother and sister)? Leave (divorce) her. (Sahih Bukhari : Book 3 , Volume 48 ,Hadith 828)

Foster relation is based on early childhood period:

Foster relation is based on early childhood period when the only food of child is milk.Following hadith make this point clear

Narrated 'Aisha mother of believers radi Allahu anha:

that the Prophet entered upon her while a man was sitting with her. Signs of anger seemed to appear on his face as if he disliked that. She said, "Here is my (foster) brother." He said, "Be sure as to who is your foster brother, for foster suckling relationship is established only when milk is the only food of the child." (Sahih Bukhari : Book 7 , Volume 62 , Hadith 39)

Foster relationship should be respected:

The blood relations deserve respect and love ,in the same manner the foster relations also deserve love and respect.Rasool salal laho aliehi wasalam used to resepct foster relations as mentioned in the following hadith:

Narrated Umar ibn as-Sa'ib radi Allahu anhu:

One day when the Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him) was sitting, his foster-father came forward. He spread out of a part of his garment and he sit on it. Then his mother came forward to him and he spread out the other side of his garment and she sat on it. Again , his foster-brother came forward. The Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) stood for him and seated him before himself. (Abu Dawud : Book ,41 , Hadith 5126)

Prophet salal laho aliehi wasalam used to visit Umme haram radi Allahu anha just because she was the sister of foster mother of Rasool salal laho aliehi wasalam as mentioned in the following hadith:

It has been reported on the authority of Anas b. Malik radi Allahu anhu that the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) used to visit Umm Haram radi Allahu anha daughter of Milhan (who was the sister of his foster-mother or his father's aunt). She was the wife of 'Ubada b. Samit, One day the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) paid her a visit. She entertained him with food and then sat down to rub his head. The Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) dozed off and when he woke up (after a while), he was laughing. She asked: What made you laugh. Messenger of Allah? He said: Some people from my Ummah were presented to me who were fighters in the way of Allah and were sailing in this sea. (Gliding smoothly on the water), they appeared to be kings or like kings (sitting) on thrones (the narrator has a doubt about the actual expression used by the Holy Prophet). She said: Messenger of Allah, pray to Allah that He may include me among these warriors. He prayed for her. Then he placed his head (down) and dozed off (again). He woke up laughing, as before. (She said) I said: Messenger of Allah, what makes you laugh? He replied: Some people from my Ummah were presented to me. They were fighters in Allah's way. (He described them in the same words as he had described the first warriors.) She said: Messenger of Allah, pray to God that He may include me among these warriors. He said: You are among the first ones.

Umm Haram daughter of Milhan sailed in the aea in the time of Mu'awiya. When she came out of the sea and (was going to mount a riding animal) she fell down and died. (Muslim : Book 20 , Hadith 4699)
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