Children: Rights of a child born by an illegitimate relationship

Q99 :May I ask the responsibilities of a man who has a child born to him by an illegitimate relationship? What are the rights of the child? Does the man have to marry the mother? If so, does she need her father's permission to marry him? What about financial support to the child and how far is the father responsible to provide Islamic education to the child?

A99 : When a Muslim commits a sin, particularly one which is punishable by a specific punishment, he should not publicize what he has done. Publicity is an additional sin. If he makes a confession of what he had done, the punishment prescribed by Allah must be enforced. To make such a confession is permissible, but the Prophet teaches us that a person who commits a sin should not lift the mantle with which Allah has covered it. Therefore, a person who commits adultery should not publicize that. If he has a child born to him illegitimately and he marries the mother of the child, no one will ask him about the legitimacy of the child. The relationship between an illegitimate child and his father is broken. That means that neither the child nor the father have any rights or duties toward each other. The two are like strangers. This means that the child does not have the right to be supported by the father, but equally the father cannot require the child to be dutiful to him. However, the family relationship between the child and his mother is perfectly established and should be observed. The child has all the rights which any child claims from his mother, and so does she from him. He inherits her and she inherits him in the normal way. He must be dutiful to her and she has to support him. You ask whether a man should or must marry the mother of his illegitimate child. There is an important rule included in Verse 3 of Surah 24 which states: "An adulterous man may only marry an adulterous woman or one who associates partners with Allah; while an adulterous woman may only be married to an adulterous man or one who associates partners with Allah. This is forbidden to believers." Therefore, one may not marry a partner who practices adultery or takes it lightly. If a man or a woman is known to do so, it is not permissible for a Muslim to marry him or her. It is only when such a person repents of his or her past conduct and resolves not to do it again that he or she may be married to a Muslim. In the light of the foregoing, if the man has repented of his sin, he may marry the woman if she has also repented. If both feel that they have done wrong and they want to live a proper life, obeying Allah and his messenger, they may get married and the man is recommended to help the woman keep her error a secret and bring up the child normally. The marriage of such a woman is the same as the marriage of any other woman. In Islam, she must have her father or guardian present at her marriage. It is needless to say that every child is entitled to be given proper Islamic education. How else could the father expect the child to avoid the sin which he himself has been guilty of?

Our Dialogue ( Source : Arab News - Jeddah )