Rada’at : Suckling
Shouldering the responsibilities of pregnancy, child-birth and suckling the child for his survival are the natural responsibilities of a mother. Suckling is a right of the child. It is also an age old tradition of society.
According to the Qur’an, “And mothers should suckle their children for two complete years whose father’s so desire to complete the suckling “. This verse in particular is meant for those women who have separated from their husbands through divorce.
To be suckled by the mother is the natural right of the child which should not be abhorred and neglected, while to suckle the child is the religious duty of the mother. If divorced mothers have a right to fulfil towards their child, mothers in an intact marriage need no further prompting. The Almighty did not mention the need of suckling the child for a woman who is living with a husband because there is absolutely no need for it at all. Indescribable sensations of love, pleasure and relief and satisfaction fills the heart of a woman when she suckles her innocent baby. Though the above verse seemingly makes it incumbent upon the mother to suckle their babies, but it is not so. This command is given to show that this act is liked by the Almighty Allah and such mothers will earn his pleasure.
This interpretation is authenticated by another verse of the Qur’an which runs, “So if they (the mothers) suckle (your babies) according to your wish, give them their recompense. This shows that suckling a child is left on the will of the mothers and they are not bound to do so. Moreover, the Holy Qur’an has permitted the parents to get their babies suckled, if they so desire, by some other woman or wet-nurses with appropriate remuneration, in the following words, ” But if you decide to engage a wet nurse for your children, there shall be no blame on you provided you pay what you promise in fairness “.
Recompense for the women who suckle their children is to be paid by the father. If the husband has divorced the wife, it is better that the child be suckled by the mother herself. The mother should not also deprive the child of her milk which is really his right. It is the duty of the father in such cases that he should bear the expenses of the mother of the child without failure. If due to some unfavourable conditions, the mother is unable to suckle her child or the father due to some reason only known to him, wants to get the child suckled by another woman, it will be the religious duty of the father of the child to bear all the expenses of that woman. In the case that the father is unable to pay due to death or insolvency, the grandfather or the new guardian has to recompense the woman concerned.
According to the Holy Qur’an, “And the mothers shall suckle their children for full two years, If the father desires to complete the term of suckling; and on the father shall be their sustenance and their clothing in fairness; burdened not is any soul save to the extent of his individual ability; neither will the mother be made to suffer any difficulty or loss on account of her child nor a father because of his child; and in the absence of the father, upon the heir devolves a similar responsibility; and if both parents decide on weaning, by mutual consent, there shall be no blame on them; but if you decide to engage a wet-nurse for your children, you shall not be blameworthy provided you promise and remunerate in fairness; and fear Allah and know that he sees all of what you do”.
The above mentioned verse contains seven basic principles on suckling the child:-
- Normally mothers should suckle their children within a period of two years.
- Mothers who are divorced from the fathers of their children, should also suckle their children in the case the father of the child wants them to do so.
- During the suckling period, the child and mother’s personal expenses should be borne by the father of the child.
- In case of the absence of the father, the paternal grandfather or the guardian of the child has to pay the recompense to the suckling woman.
- There should be no exploitation from either side. Neither should the father be unfair to the mother thinking that she is compelled by her natural urge and love to suckle her child, nor the wife should demand unfair payment from the father.
- It should be a fair proposition to both parties. If the father and mother agrees by mutual consultation, then the baby could be weaned even before two years.
- If for any reason, the mother does not want to suckle the child or the father does not wish to get the child suckled by the mother; a wet nurse should be arranged by the father.
- The payment should be settled by mutual consent in advance according to the prevailing conditions or standard rate of payment and living..
However, here it should be taken into consideration the motives of engaging a wet nurse and what are the reasons of decline of the mother. Whether these motives are acceptable to the Shari’at or not. Serious consideration should be given to the rationality of the motives through which a mother declines to suckle her baby herself.
Cont’d … 2/5 (According to the Qur’aan …)