Assalamualaikum. My biological brother and sister-in-law adopted a son, and the son had become the milk-son of my brother and sister-in-law. My question is, what is the ruling for me (a woman) with this child? Is it permissible for me to hold the child? And I also adopted a son, but my sister-in-law breastfed him as I cannot do so due to my health condition. My question is, is the adopted son of my brother and my own adopted son are considered mahram to me? Thank you.
Waalaikumussalam wrt. wbt.
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.
Basically, individuals that are considered as mahram to a man is stated in the saying 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 اللَّـهَ 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-Nisaa’ (23)
While for a woman, it applies on the same condition from the verse and we summarize it as follows:
- The biological father and above like grandfather and great-grandfather.
- Biological son and below like grandson and great-grandson.
- Biological brothers.
- Maternal uncle and above like maternal grandfather.
- Paternal uncle and above like paternal grandfather.
- Nephews who are the sons of biological brothers and sisters and below like grandnephew.
- Children of milk-siblings.
- Son-in-law (husband to biological daughter)
Imam al-Mawardi Rahimahullah cited the words of al-Shafi’e which state:
أَصْلُ مَا يَحْرُمُ بِهِ النِّسَاءُ ضَرْبَانِ أَحَدُهُمَا بأنسابٍ، وَالْآخَرُ بأسبابٍ مِنْ حَادِثِ نكاحٍ أَوْ رضاعٍ
The original reasons which cause a woman to become mahram to another are two things. Firstly, it is the nasab (lineage) and the second one is asbab (reasons) which are through marriage or nursing. Refer Al-Hawi Al-Kabir, Al-Mawardi (9/196).
Then, Imam al-Mawardi explains further through his words: “Mahram women are in two categories as the following:
First: A section in which is a permanent mahram
And it is divided into two types which are through nasab (lineage) and asbab (marriage and nursing)
Second: The other section is haram to be gathered (simultaneously)”
Refer Al-Hawi Al-Kabir, Al-Mawardi (9/196).
The implications of mahram in the category of nasab and asbab are as the following:
- It is haram to marry her.
- It is allowed to shake hands with her
- It is allowed to be alone together (khalwah) with her.
Referring back to the question presented, we detail these two situations through the following points:
- Adopted son to the biological brother who already becomes his milk-son.
- Adopted son to yourself which was also breastfed by the sister-in-law which is the wife of your biological brother.
In this context, both adopted sons are in fact the milk-sons of your biological brother. In other words, both are your nephews who are mahram through nursing. As we explained above, nursing makes one a mahram the same way nasab (lineage) makes one a mahram. This is as mentioned in a hadith narrated by Umm al-Mu’minin ‘Aisha R.Anha where she said that the Prophet PBUH said:
فَإِنَّهُ يَحْرُمُ مِنَ الرَّضَاعَةِ مَا يَحْرُمُ مِنَ النَّسَبِ
“for he is Mahram (one with whom marriage cannot be contracted) on account of fosterage as one is Mahram on account of consanguinity.”
Sahih Muslim (1445)
As a conclusion, we state here that both milk-sons of your biological brother in this situation in which one is his adopted son and the other is your adopted son is mahram for you which is sabit through nursing. So, the implications of mahram are haram (prohibited) to be married to and it is halal to have physical contact with each other.
Lastly, we pray to Allah SWT to give us correct understanding for us all in religion. Ameen.