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Some Matters Related to Suckling: Rights, Spousal Permission, Consequences

Answered according to Hanafi Fiqh by Seekersguidance.org

Answered by Sidi Waseem Hussain

Question: My wife and my wife’s cousin both gave birth recently to girls and decided to suckle each others children.  Can you inform me what the rights of the children are to each other and to the rest of us? The rights of each parent? Do the mothers require the father’s permission to engage in such and act and what are the consequences of such?

Answer: Assalamu Alaykum Warahmatullah,

If a woman suckles the child of someone else, then it is akin to that child being born to that woman and her husband. So, effectively, the suckled child will be akin to their own child. This means that the nursing woman and her husband will be mahrams for the child, and he will be akin to a real brother/sister to their other children.

The same will apply to the other relatives of the family, such that for instance the nursing womans sister will be a mahram for the child as well. However, the rules related to inheritance and lineage do not apply, because it is not their actual child.

The rules of suckling will only take effect if the child is suckled while being less han 2 years old.

Since suckling involves the establishment of certain relationships then it is not something that should be done without the consent of both spouses.

As for your specific case then:

The daughter of your cousin that has been suckled by your wife is akin to being the daughter of you and your wife. This means that your children are mahram for her. So if you have a son then the suckled girl and your son will be considered as if they were real siblings and they will be mahrams for each other, such that they can’t marry.

Likewise the suckled girl will be considered as if she is your daughter, and you will be mahram for her. So she will not have to observe hijab in front of you, you can travel with her, and have khalwa with her. The same will apply for the case of your daughter with regards to your cousin, her husband and their children.

[Qadri Pasha, Ahwal Shakhsiyya; Zain al-Abyani, Sharh Ahwal Shakhsiyya; Ibn Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar]

And Allah knows best,

Waseem Hussain

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

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