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Interesting Article on Islam and Breastfeeding

Looking for The Lactivist? She's retired. But you CAN still find Jen blogging. These days, she's runs A Flexible Life. Join her for life, recipes, projects and the occasional rant.

Monday, January 09, 2006

The Yemen Times is running an article series right now that explores what Islamic Law has to say about things like breastfeeding. It makes for interesting reading whether you are a practicing Muslim or not.

From the article:


Islam prescribed breastfeeding and commanded children do so until they attain full power and strength, as breastfeeding greatly impacts children's growth and development. Allah gave the required time period for breastfeeding. He said, “The mothers shall give suckling to their children for two whole years.” (Al-Baqarah: 233)


Note the two whole years comment. I thought this was interesting as it fits with the time periods of developing countries, but is considered "extended" by most within the western world. I can't say that the comment is surprising though as most of the "old" religions like Judism, Christianity and Islam teach positively about the act of nursing a child.

The article goes on to say:


If the mother is not divorced, she should breastfeed her child as a religious obligation, not because she is the natural mother. If she is divorced, then nursing is dealt with as nafaqah (financial support), as established in the Shari`ah. Nafaqah of the child is the father's responsibility. The father must give the mother compensation for her nursing. If she refuses to nurse, then it is incumbent upon the father to find and hire the child a wet-nurse. However, scholars make it mandatory upon the mother to nurse her child if the child refuses nursing by any other or if the father doesn't have sufficient funds to hire a wet-nurse.


The article goes on to discuss the rights of wet-nurses, the decision to wean and several other issues related to child-rearing.

I must admit, this has me a little curious to do some digging into other religions to see what they teach about breastfeeding. I've already done some posting on things from the Christian perspective, but I've never done much researching apart from that. May have to see what I can dig up.

  1. Blogger Alisyn | 7:47 PM |  

    While I find it really interesting that the law according to the Koran calls for breastfeeding at least until age two, I find it *fascinating* that if the mother can not nurse, that the father must find a wet nurse. So cool!

  2. Blogger Nadia | 8:34 PM |  

    Hi Jen,

    As a Muslim, i try my best to breastfeed my baby because i believe that this is the instruction from Allah. I also believe that breastmilk is the best food for baby, apart from knowing it from modern health science.

  3. Anonymous Kriket | 1:49 PM |  

    I am so glad that there does exist religious doctrine on this topic. To all the Muslim mamas, thank you.

  4. Anonymous Anonymous | 12:04 AM |  

    Alhamdulillah...All praise is due to Allah for he is our only creator and noe one knows a creation more than the creator. Islam is a way of life...that is why everything is tackled in islam...from how a baby is formed in the tummy of the mother to how a baby should be fed and upto how it should be raised.

    Allahu AKbar and alhamdulillah.

  5. Anonymous Maria | 6:06 AM |  

    It is not mandatory in Islam or a Quranic law to breastfeed your child until the age of 2.

    The Quranic verse is: "And the mothers may nurse their children for two whole years, if they wish to complete the period of nursing…And if both (parents) decide, by mutual consent and counsel, upon weaning the child, they will incur no sin (thereby); and if you decide to entrust your children to foster-mothers, you will incur no sin provided you ensure, in a fair manner, the safety of the child which you are handing over. But remain conscious of Allah, and know that Allah sees all that you do." (Al-Baqarah: 233).

    On the basis of this, scholars have concluded that Islam encourages breastfeeding upto the age of 2 years but parents are allowed to wean a child before the expiry of two years, provided they do so based on consensual agreement and provided doing so would not jeopardize the health of the child. Children vary in their need for breast-milk because of the differences in their development and health considerations. This is why the Shari`ah has not laid down any hard and fast rule in this regard. The decision when to wean a child is left to parents, who are instructed to exercise it by considering primarily the welfare of the child involved.

  6. Anonymous Shabana | 2:53 PM |  

    Furthermore we have the following Quranic Verse:
    Al-Qur'an, 65:6
    Let the women live (in 'iddat) in the same style as ye live, according to your means: Annoy them not, so as to restrict them. And if they carry (life in their wombs), then spend (your substance) on them until they deliver their burden: and if they suckle your (offspring), give them their recompense: and take mutual counsel together, according to what is just and reasonable. And if ye find yourselves in difficulties, let another woman suckle (the child) on the (father's) behalf.

    Just from these 2 verses, we can deduce that 2y of breastfeeding is the right of the child IRRESPECTIVE of WHO actually does it. The responsibility of maintainance of the wetnurse rests on the father's shoulders.
    So for ALL Muslims, let's walk tall that a revelation unchanged for 1400 yrs speaks of what has been recommended by W.H.O in the recent decades.
    Having said that, a further point. It was normal for children not only to be suckled by their own mothers well beyond 2yr but also wet nursed beyond 2y at the time of the prophet muhammad (PBUH)
    One should also look at it in retrospect (conversely). If science has now proven that breastfeeding is optimum for a MIN of 2yr and that the benefits of breastfeeding continue for as long as the child suckles,then surely, if a Muslim sincerely believes that the words are indeed God's words - should understand - that - Allah could not (May Allah forgive me) have made an error by saying Maximum of 2years could He?

    Thanks again to "Lactivist" for an excellent website.

    May Allah forgive us and grant us the ability to follow the correct path ameen.

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