Assalamualaikum. I want to ask regarding awrah with a milk daughter. Are brothers of milk father considered as mahram for the child; which means that her ablution is not invalidated if she has physical contact with them and it is not haram for them to hold her?
Alhamdulillah, praise and thanks to Allah for the countless blessings He has blessed us all with. Blessings and salutations to the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his wives, his family, companions and all those that follow his teachings to the day of judgement.
Regarding the issue of mahram, literally there are several definitions of it stated by jurists. We simplify them into the following points:
- An individual of whom it is haram for a person to marry, whether it is due to the blood or family relation.
- Something which is prohibited by Allah SWT.
While the jurists used the term mahram to describe: “A person who is haram for us to marry and the prohibition is eternal (al-ta’bid) for mubah reasons not because of their honor neither was it because there is a temporary obstruction.” Refer Kaasyifah al-Saja, Nawawi bin ‘Umar (pg. 114).
In explaining the meaning of the sentences according to the above definitions, we detail them as the following:
For eternal (ta’bid) prohibition, it means: It does not include sisters of the wife. The same for paternal and maternal aunts of the wife. The reason is the prohibition is only when they are assembled together (which means they are haram to be married simultaneously such as the maternal and paternal aunts or sister of the wife).
While the meaning “not due to their honour” refers to the wives of the Prophet PBUH. The reason is they are prohibited from being married to due to their honor. They are haram for the whole ummah as well as other prophets.
The meaning of “not because of temporary obstruction” are majus women or women who renounced Islam. The reason is the prohibition is temporary. Thus, it is permissible to marry them when they embrace Islam.
The explanation regarding who are categorized as mahram is stated in the statement of Allah SWT:
حُرِّمَتْ عَلَيْكُمْ أُمَّهَاتُكُمْ وَبَنَاتُكُمْ وَأَخَوَاتُكُمْ وَعَمَّاتُكُمْ وَخَالَاتُكُمْ وَبَنَاتُ الْأَخِ وَبَنَاتُ الْأُخْتِ وَأُمَّهَاتُكُمُ اللَّاتِي أَرْضَعْنَكُمْ وَأَخَوَاتُكُم مِّنَ الرَّضَاعَةِ وَأُمَّهَاتُ نِسَائِكُمْ وَرَبَائِبُكُمُ اللَّاتِي فِي حُجُورِكُم مِّن نِّسَائِكُمُ اللَّاتِي دَخَلْتُم بِهِنَّ فَإِن لَّمْ تَكُونُوا دَخَلْتُم بِهِنَّ فَلَا جُنَاحَ عَلَيْكُمْ وَحَلَائِلُ أَبْنَائِكُمُ الَّذِينَ مِنْ أَصْلَابِكُمْ وَأَن تَجْمَعُوا بَيْنَ الْأُخْتَيْنِ إِلَّا مَا قَدْ سَلَفَ ۗ إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ غَفُورًا رَّحِيمًا
“Prohibited 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 [milk] mothers who nursed you, your sisters through nursing, your wives' mothers, and your step-daughters under your guardianship [born] of your wives unto whom you have gone in. But if you have not gone in unto them, there is no sin upon you. And [also prohibited are] the wives of your sons who are from your [own] loins, and that you take [in marriage] two sisters simultaneously, except for what has already occurred. Indeed, Allah is ever Forgiving and Merciful.”
Surah al-Nisa’ (23)
Imam al-Mawardi Rahimahullah cited the words of Imam al-Syafi’e who said:
أَصْلُ مَا يَحْرُمُ بِهِ النِّسَاءُ ضَرْبَانِ أَحَدُهُمَا بأنسابٍ، وَالْآخَرُ بأسبابٍ مِنْ حَادِثِ نكاحٍ أَوْ رضاعٍ
The original condition by which a woman is considered one’s mahram is divided into two parts. First is nasab (lineage) and second, asbab (reasons), which is a result from marriage or breastfeeding (nursing). Refer Al-Hawi Al-Kabir, Al-Mawardi (9/196).
Then, Imam al-Mawardi explained it further by saying: Mahram women are of two categories. First: The individual is prohibited forever. While the second part are those who are prohibited to be married concurrently (at the same time). And for the category of which it is prohibited forever, it is further divided into two parts; those who are prohibited due to nasab (lineage) and asbab (marriage and breastfeeding). Refer Al-Hawi Al-Kabir, Al-Mawardi (9/196).
The implication of mahram in the category of nasab and asbab (marriage and breastfeeding) is as follows:
- Prohibited to be married to.
- Permissible to shake hands with.
- Permissible to be alone with.
Thus, according to the above statements, it can be understood that milk relations thorugh breastfeeding will also make a person become a mahram other than because of family relations. Furthermore, there is a hadith narrated by Ummu al-Mu’minin A’isyah R.Anha, where she said, the Prophet PBUH said:
يَحْرُمُ مِنَ الرَّضَاعِ مَا يَحْرُمُ مِنَ النَّسَبِ
"What becomes unlawful (for marriage) through breast-feeding is that which becomes unlawful through lineage."
Sunan al-Nasa’ie (3302)
In the above verse 23 from surah al-Nisa’, Allah SWT explained that among the mahram for a man are:
وَأُمَّهَاتُكُمُ اللَّاتِي أَرْضَعْنَكُمْ وَأَخَوَاتُكُم مِّنَ الرَّضَاعَةِ
“…your [milk] mothers who nursed you, your sisters through nursing,”
Thus, from the above verse, if the nurse child is a female, then the milk father is her mahram. The reason is the milk is from his wife. Coming back to the question, we would like to state that the brothers of the milk father is the milk uncles for the milk daughter. Thus, it follows the same rules of mahram as family relations (lineage). According to nasab (lineage), both the paternal and maternal uncles are mahram for a woman.
To conclude, we would like to state that the ruling of uncles of a woman is applicable for milk uncles. This is according to the narration that that mahram due to nursing is the same as mahram due to one’s lineage.
Thus, the implication of mahram for a milk uncle towards his milk niece is such that it is prohibited for him to marry her, itis permissible for them to shake hands and the awrah between them are the same as awrah between mahram, in terms of it is not wajib for her to cover her whole body except her face and palms.
Lastly, may Allah SWT give us the correct understanding in religion. Amin.