Rebuttal to Jochen Katz's Article, "Qur'an Inconsistency: Can I call her mother?"




Bassam Zawadi



Jochen Katz's article can be found here.



Jochen makes a big deal out of nothing. When Surah 58:1-2 speaks about "mother," it may be talking about mothers in a biological sense. When the man wants to divorce his wife by saying, "You are like my mother's back," he is saying it with the intention that he is referring to his biological mother. So the Qur'an is simply saying that your only mother (biological) is she who gave birth to you.


Someone may argue back and say that this is a forced interpretation and that nowhere in the verse does it say that it is referring only to biological mothers. Well, in response to this, I would argue back that in Qur'anic hermeneutics, we would subject this verse to Takhsis [specification of the general] by limiting its meaning by other evidence found in the Qur'an and Sunnah, which states that also suckling women could be one's foster mother.


Another interpretation is that the Qur'an only speaks about someone's real mother in the verse.


Imam az-Zamakhshari states:


{ إِنْ أُمَّهَـٰتُهُمْ إِلاَّ ٱللاَّئِى وَلَدْنَهُمْ } يريد أن الأمهات على الحقيقة إنما هنّ الوالدات وغيرهنّ ملحقات بهنّ لدخولهنّ في حكمهنّ، فالمرضعات أمّهات؛ لأنهنّ لما أرضعن دخلن بالرضاع في حكم الأمهات، وكذلك أزواج رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم أمهات المؤمنين؛ لأن الله حرّم نكاحهن على الأمة فدخلن بذلك في حكم الأمهات


"None can be their mothers except those who gave them birth" states that mothers, in reality, are those who have given birth to the child, and others besides them supplement them due to them having the same rules applied to them. The wet nurses are mothers because when they breastfed the child, this made them have the same ruling applied to them as mothers, and similarly, the wives of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) are the mothers of the believers. This is because Allah has made it forbidden to marry them for the entire Ummah; thus, they have the same ruling applied to them as mothers. (Abu al-Qasim Mahmud ibn Umar al-Zamakhshari, Al-Kashshaaf, Commentary on 58:2, Source) 


As Zamakhshari points out, everyone only has one real mother, and the Qur'an says that she is the one who gives birth to you. However, wet nurses and the Prophet's wives are also referred to as our mothers, not because they really are our mothers but because they are like our mothers in the sense that it is forbidden for us to marry them.


One must also bear in mind that only one's real mother has full rights over the child: 

2) If the adoptive mother breastfeeds the adopted child, then it becomes their foster child. In this case the child will be similar to the real children with regards to the Nikah and Hijab rulesi.e. the child can not marry the foster parent, neither any of the foster parent's children. However with regards to inheritance, it will not inherit from the family.  (Shaykh Muhammad ibn Adam al-Kawthari, What is the fiqh of adopting a child?, Source)


 Jochen Katz said:


Again, children should only be called sons (or daughters) of their literal, biological fathers (and mothers).


This is not true, one can call the woman who suckled him, "mother". The verse Jochen was referring to is about adoptive parents who haven't suckled the child.


The rest of Jochen's arguments would fall due to his misunderstanding of the verse.




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