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Questions regarding children, nursing, and adoption

By: Bayynat editor

Dealing with children is a tough matter that requires a lot of knowledge, experience, and patience. It is quite difficult to be able to balance between affection, which is an essential element to bring up a healthy child, and intellect that prevents a child from growing into being deviant or perverted. The following are a series of questions that His Eminence, Sayyed Muhammad Hussien Fadlullah (ra) answered:

Q: I love my daughter very much. She is one year old. I started to doubt that this love is supernatural to the extent that I started to feel every impious person who deals with her, will lead her to deviate, especially the family members, knowing that in our region, few people are pious? Would you please help me in solving my problem?

A: You should not live such unrealistic obsessions. Besides, if the people in your surrounding are not pious, you should not consider them bad and deviated in this manner.

Q: Is it permissible to hit the child who is not yet two years old, meaning to hit him on his face or hand, but not strongly, or to shout at him?

A: It is impermissible to hit the child unless in specific cases, provided that hitting does not lead to making his skin red.

Q: What are the principles of dealing with a two years old child, in order to raise him as a good person?

A: You must deal with every child according to his age. It is stated in Hadith that the children should play seven years, be educated for another seven years and befriended for seven years. In general, one should be patient and merciful with children. Parents should also be role models for him in their good morals so that they would practice what they call on him to do.

Q: Is it permissible for a woman to suckle her nephew, knowing that the baby is more than one year old? Is it permissible for her to feed him if he is less than one years old? 

A: It is permissible for her to suckle her nephew/niece, and if the feeding exceeds certain times of nursing, then, the aunt’s husband becomes a Muhram with respect to the female baby.

Q: What is the ruling of the foundlings whose parents are unknown and gathered in special places where they are raised. When they grow up, they live in the society and do not know who they are which causes them a great harm having to continue to pay their parent's dues? Is it permissible in Islam to adopt them and make them members of families, since that lessens their sufferance? Why do they have to be punished for these crimes made by others, knowing that the effects of these crimes will accompany them all their lives and their children will be dishonored? Is it not unjust that a person pays the price of others faults? 

 A: Adoption, in the sense of providing for and taking care of a person, is a good and recommendable deed in our Islamic Sharia. But it is necessary not to hide the lineage of the adopted person because it is related to many rulings of the Islamic Sharia, especially to inheritance, expenditure (alimony and the like), family relationships, and marriage. Therefore, when adopting a child, it is impermissible to call them by names other than that of their fathers: Call them by (the names of) their fathers: that is juster in the sight of Allah. But if ye know not their father's (names, call them) your Brothers in faith, or your maulas. (3:5). Besides, the negative effects might be avoided by fostering them in a good manner and being frank with them, since there is no other choice

Q: What is your opinion concerning adoption, please answer me in details for the sake of humanity and the sect? 

 A: Adoption in the sense of making the orphan or the foundling a member of the family, and taking care of him in everything, is a good and great act that comes under the title “sponsorship”. But, the orphan will not be a real member of the family; he will remain a stranger to its members and they should be veiled in front of him after he reaches Bulug (the stage of sexual maturity). It is also impermissible to register him legally as a son of the spouses who are taking care of him. Allah (The Most Exalted) says: “nor has He made your adopted sons your [real] son.” (33:4) It is true that the adopted son may be made one of the maharim (those who cannot be married to) through suckling if he was less than two years old. He may also be made one of the maharim if a relative of any of the two spouses suckled him for a period that makes the child a mahram according to the Sharia rulings.