Answered by Ustadh Salman Younas
Question: Can you tell me a bit more about the role one takes on if they become a baby’s milk father? After much consideration, my husband and I had wanted a very righteous woman we know to be the milk mother of our baby. But, we forgot that this also involves her husband. Traditionally, did the husband of women who nursed other babies have an emotional link with the baby that was nursed?
Answer: assalamu `alaykum
The basic principle is that suckling establishes a relationship akin to that established by lineage. Thus, the husband of a child’s milk-mother is considered this child’s milk-father. From a legal perspective, this entails that the child and the milk-father are now considered unmarriageable kin (mahram). [al-Marghinani, Hidaya; al-Maydani, al-Lubab]
The sunna was that the relationship between a child and his milk-parents was one based on respect and love. It is narrated by Umar ibn al-Sa’ib that while the Prophet was sitting, his milk-father, milk-mother, and milk-brother approached him. He welcomed them with respect and laid out his garment for them to sit on. [Abu Dawud] He also did this when the daughter of Halima Sadia came to him, who was the Prophet’s milk-sister.
Of course, the level of obligation that one has towards their milk-parents is not the same as what they have towards their natural parents. However, in the Qur’an, the milk-mother is called precisely that: “your mothers”. There is a clear sense of an established relationship that is akin in some ways to the relationship one has towards their natural parents.
In light of this, it is certainly the case that there is an emotional link between a child and his milk-parents, one that should be based on respect, care, and love.
Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani