Date : 14-03-2010

Question :

I have two sisters. One of them had suckled the baby of the other only once. Does this baby become her foster-child since, according to some scholars, if the child is suckled once; he/she becomes forbidden in marriage?


The Answer :

All perfect praise be to Allah the Lord of the Worlds. May His peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Mohammad and upon all his family and companions.


Scholars have disagreed on the number of suckling times prohibiting marriage. They have two opinions in this regard:


First: The number of suckling times doesn`t matter since suckling a child for only one time suffices to prohibit marriage. This is the Madhab of the Hanafi and Maliki jurists. According to them, the number of suckling times isn`t determined because Allah the Almighty says {What means}: " Prohibited to you (For marriage) are:- Your mothers, daughters, sisters; father’s sisters, Mother’s sisters; brother’s daughters, sister’s daughters; foster-mothers (Who gave you suck)…"  {An-Nisa`, 23}. Another evidence is that Ibn 'Abbas (RA) narrated : The Prophet (Peace be upon him) was offered to marry the daughter of Hamzah. He said, "She is unlawful to me for she is the daughter of my brother in suckling; and what is unlawful by reason of blood relationship is unlawful by reason of suckling relationship." [Agreed upon]. The jurists added that basically the ruling where no specific number of suckling times is mentioned should be followed.


Second: Prohibition of marriage isn`t established save when the child is suckled five times, and this is the Madhab of the Shafie and Hanbali jurists. They have based this on the following narration: ‘A’isha said that in what was sent down in the Qur’an ten known sucklings made marriage unlawful, but they were abrogated by five known ones, and when God’s Messenger died these words were among what was recited in the Qur’an." {Related by Muslim}.


Article (27) of the Jordanian Personal Status Act stated, " Suckling that prohibits marriage must take place during the first two years of the child`s life. The child is suckled five separate times where he/she holds a woman`s breast and then leaves it by him/herself, regardless of the amount of milk."


Following the first opinion is being on the safe side as far as the rulings of Sharia are concerned while following the second is making use of the concession (Maximum number of suckling times).


For more information, kindly check {Fateh al-Khadeer, V.3:438}, {Shareh Khalil by al-Khorashi, V.4:177}, {Al-Moghni by al-Shirbini, V.5:131}, and {Al-Moghni by Ibn Qhoddamah, V.3:137-138}. And Allah the Almighty knows best.


*This Fatwa was re-edited after the issuance of the new Personal Status Act.