Sura Al-Baqarah (Tafseer-ul-Maariful Quran), Part-243



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In the second sentence of this verse. it was said: وَعَلَى الْمَوْلُودِ لَهُ رِزْقُهُنَّ وَكِسْوَتُهُنَّ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ ۚ لَا تُكَلَّفُ نَفْسٌ إِلَّا وُسْعَهَا

And on him, to whom the child is born, falls the provision of food and clothing for them (the mothers) with fairness. Nobody is obligated beyond his capacity.

The first point that must be noted here is that the Qur'an uses the word وَالْوَالِدَاتُ for mothers but while referring to the father, it opts for الْمَوْلُودِ لَهُ to whom the child is born' leaving out the smaller word وَالِدَ , although the said word, 'walid' (father) does appear elsewhere in the Qur'an, for instance: لَّا يَجْزِي وَالِدٌ عَن وَلَدِهِ : '(Fear the Day) when no father shall be of avail to his child' (31:33). But the use of al-mawludi lahu in place of walid in this setting has a secret behind it. The whole of Qur'an has a unique method and style so it does not describe any law in the way governments of the mortal world do. It rather presents it in a sympathetic and affectionate manner, a manner in which it could become easy for human beings to accept it and act accordingly.

Since the father has been obligated to pay for the expenses of the child, even though the child belongs to the father and the mother both, it was possible that the father could take this injunction to be somewhat burdensome, therefore, the expression al-mawludi lahu ('to whom the child is born') was preferred over walid ('father'). The meaning of this expression 'to whom the child is born' suggests that, no doubt both father and mother share in the birth of the child, but the child is, however, ascribed to the father. The lineage comes from the father. Now that the child is his, the responsibility of the child's expenses should not be heavy on him.

Responsibilities of mothers and fathers
The third rule of Islamic law given in this verse is: While suckling the child is certainly the responsibility of the mother but the sustenance of the mother, inclusive of all necessities of life, is the responsibility of the father and this responsibility continues as far as the marriage or the post-divorce waiting period of wife ('iddah) continues. When divorce and 'iddah have matured, the responsibility of the husband towards the expenses of his wife will end, but the father will con tinue to be obligated to pay for the suckling of the child. (Mazhari)

The standard of wife's liabilities
When the husband and wife are both affluent, matching expenses will be obligatory. When both are poor, correspondingly matching expenses will be obligatory. On this much there is total agreement. However, the Muslim jurists differ if both have a different financial status. Following al-Khassaf, the author of Hidayah has ruled that should the woman be poor and the man rich, her expenses will be medial, that is, higher than those of the poor and lower than those of the rich. According to al- Karkhi the status of the husband will be the criterion. In Fath al - Qadir , fatwa has been reported on this position from many jurists. (Fath al-Qadir, pp 422, v.3).

In the verse under discussion, after stating injunctions, the Qur'an says: لَا تُضَارَّ وَالِدَةٌ بِوَلَدِهَا وَلَا مَوْلُودٌ لَّهُ بِوَلَدِهِ that is, 'no mother shall be made to suffer on account of her child, nor a man to whom the child is born, on account of his child.' It means that the father and mother of the child should not stonewall each other. For instance, the mother may be unable to suckle the child due to some excuse but the father may start forcing her to do so, hoping that she being the mother of the child, would finally melt down and suckle the child. Or, take the case of a mother who has no excuse, yet she refuses to suckle the child hoping that the poor husband, being the father of the child would, in one way or the other, find the means to have the child suckled elsewhere.

Forcing or not forcing a mother for suckling
The fifth rule deduced from لَا تُضَارَّ وَالِدَةٌ بِوَلَدِهَا (No mother shall be made to suffer on account of her child) appearing above is that it is not permissible for the father to compel the mother to suckle the child if she refuses to do so under some excuse, or need. And if the child refuses to be suckled by another woman, or also refuses to feed on any milk other than that of his or her mother, the mother will then be compelled to feed the child. This rule we know from وَلَا مَوْلُودٌ لَّهُ بِوَلَدِهِ (nor a man to whom the child is born, on account of his child).

Wages of suckling for a divorced woman
The sixth rule that we learn about is: If the mother demands wages to suckle, she has no right to do that as long as she is married to her husband or is within the post-divorce waiting period. Here her maintenance, which is the responsibility of the child's father, is enough in itself. Asking for additional wages amounts to harming the father. The situation changes if the post-divorce waiting period has expired and the responsibility of maintenance is all over. Now, if this divorced woman demands from the father wages to suckle her child, the father will have to pay it since not doing so amounts to a loss to the mother. However, the condition is that she should ask for the same amount of wages as is taken by some other woman. If she asks for more, the father will have the right to engage a wet-nurse to suckle the child in her place.

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