Scholars of Islam, as-salamu `alaykum. I am a young Muslim and I have a child who lived with his Muslim mother, my ex-wife, in the same city where I live. I used to see my child once a week. Then my ex-wife remarried and took my child and moved to another city. So I demanded the right of child custody as she got married and moved to another city and I'm not married. (As far as I know, in this case the child custody becomes the father's right.) My ex-wife and her husband think that I have no right to take the child. So they demanded a fatwa from an authorized Islamic authority that confirms my right to child custody and that says that it is prohibited to separate me from my son and that it is not permissible for them to do this [take the child] unless I relinquish the right of child custody. Please answer in detail, as I have not seen my child for a long time.
European Council for Fatwa and Research
Wa `alaykum as-salamu warahmatullahi wabarakatuh.
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.
Brother, thank you for your question. We commend your search for Islamic counseling on the problem you face.
Children are trusts. Parents should take loving care of children and raise them according to the ethics of Islam. In case of divorce, the child's custody becomes the right of the mother. However, if she remarries, child custody may be moved to the father or another close relative.
In response to your question, the European Council for Fatwa and Research issued the following fatwa:
According to Islam the father cannot be prevented from seeing his child without reason. Primarily, you have the right to see your child and be informed of the child's affairs and cover the child's financial needs. The mother has no right to deny you access to your child unless she has an Islamically recognized reason. This is the case if she is not married. If she gets married, she will no longer have the right of child custody according to the hadith reported by `Abdullah ibn `Amr ibn Al-`Aas: A woman said, "For this child of mine my womb was a vessel, my breast was a liquid carrier, and my lap was a container. His father divorced me and wanted to take him from me." The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, "You are more worthy of having him as long as you do not marry" (Ahmad and Abu Dawud; Al-Hakim categorized it as authentic).
The above hadith gives the right of custody to the father unless he agrees with the mother on what is better for their child. The Muslim scholars have different views regarding child custody. Nonetheless, they all observe the child's interest. The father has the right to take his child and look after him or her. The stepfather has no right to interfere in this issue, as this is none of his business.