A Complete Guide About Breastfeeding In Islam

Breastfeeding is a highly promoted practice in Islam, with profound significance that extends beyond mere physical nourishment. As an integral part of child-rearing, breastfeeding in Islam is rooted in the guidance of the Quran and the practices of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) himself.

Breast milk is recognized as the most wholesome food source for infants. According to the Quran, mothers must breastfeed their infants for two years for their physical and emotional well-being. The mother’s breast milk formula is naturally prepared daily to meet the infant’s nutritional and growth needs. 

Today, we will explore what the Quran says about breastfeeding and its significance based on religious teachings and contemporary insights.

What Does the Quran Say About Breastfeeding In Islam?

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The Quran guides various aspects of breastfeeding in Islam. It emphasizes the importance of breastfeeding for a specific duration, allowing for mutual decision-making on weaning between the mother and child.

A Complete Guide About Breastfeeding In Islam

1. Duration of Breastfeeding

During the recommended duration of breastfeeding in Islam, Muslim women are encouraged to breastfeed their child for two complete years, as stated in Surah Al-Baqarah (2:233) of the Quran.

۞ وَٱلْوَٰلِدَٰتُ يُرْضِعْنَ أَوْلَـٰدَهُنَّ حَوْلَيْنِ كَامِلَيْنِ ۖ لِمَنْ أَرَادَ أَن يُتِمَّ ٱلرَّضَاعَةَ ۚ وَعَلَى ٱلْمَوْلُودِ لَهُۥ رِزْقُهُنَّ وَكِسْوَتُهُنَّ بِٱلْمَعْرُوفِ ۚ لَا تُكَلَّفُ نَفْسٌ إِلَّا وُسْعَهَا ۚ لَا تُضَآرَّ وَٰلِدَةٌۢ بِوَلَدِهَا وَلَا مَوْلُودٌۭ لَّهُۥ بِوَلَدِهِۦ ۚ وَعَلَى ٱلْوَارِثِ مِثْلُ ذَٰلِكَ ۗ فَإِنْ أَرَادَا فِصَالًا عَن تَرَاضٍۢ مِّنْهُمَا وَتَشَاوُرٍۢ فَلَا جُنَاحَ عَلَيْهِمَا ۗ وَإِنْ أَرَدتُّمْ أَن تَسْتَرْضِعُوٓا۟ أَوْلَـٰدَكُمْ فَلَا جُنَاحَ عَلَيْكُمْ إِذَا سَلَّمْتُم مَّآ ءَاتَيْتُم بِٱلْمَعْرُوفِ ۗ وَٱتَّقُوا۟ ٱللَّهَ وَٱعْلَمُوٓا۟ أَنَّ ٱللَّهَ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ بَصِيرٌۭ ٢٣٣

“˹Divorced˺ mothers will breastfeed their offspring for two whole years, for those who wish to complete the nursing ˹of their child˺. The child’s father will provide reasonable maintenance and clothing for the mother ˹during that period˺. No one will be charged with more than they can bear.

No mother or father should be made to suffer for their child. The ˹father’s˺ heirs are under the same obligation. But if both sides decide—after mutual consultation and consent—to wean a child, then there is no blame on them. If you decide to have your children nursed by a wet-nurse, it is permissible as long as you pay fairly. Be mindful of Allah, and know that Allah is All-Seeing of what you do.”

This divine guidance emphasizes the importance of nourishing and caring for your child during their early years. The Quran recognizes the physical benefits that breastfeeding brings to both the mother and the child.

2. Compensation for Wet Nursing

If someone is considering compensation for wet nursing (when the mother’s milk is unavailable) for her child, the Quran guides equitable terms for payment. In the previous Ayat, Allah addresses the issue of breastfeeding and mentions the importance of fair compensation for the wet nurse.

This compensation should be determined based on the prevailing rates in the community and the financial capacity of the parents.

3. Prohibition of Marriage

The Quran prohibits marriage between individuals whom the same woman has breastfed. This prohibition is based on recognizing the mahram relationship created through breastfeeding.

When a child is breastfed by a woman (mother or nursing mother), a special bond is formed between them, establishing a familial connection akin to that of a blood relative. As a result, the Quran stipulates that marriage between individuals who share the same breast milk is prohibited.

Importance of Breastfeeding for Proper Child Care in Islam

Breastfeeding is important in proper child care according to Islamic rules, as it encompasses several key benefits to the mother and the child.

Importance of Breastfeeding

1. Immunological Marvel: Breast Milk as “White Blood”

During breastfeeding, Muslim moms give their babies nutrition and protection through the immunological marvel of breast milk, often referred to as ‘white blood.’ This term emphasizes the exceptional properties of breast milk, which go beyond mere nutrition.

Mother breast milk is a divine gift containing many antibodies, enzymes, and white blood cells that fortify a baby’s immune system. These components tirelessly ward off infections and diseases, shielding the little one from harm.

The miraculous nature of breast milk lies in its ability to adapt to a baby’s needs, providing specific antibodies to combat prevalent pathogens in the environment. 

2. Optimal Nutrition Tailored to the Child’s Needs

Providing optimal nutrition according to the child’s evolving needs through breastfeeding is essential to ensure proper child care.

The Quran recognizes a mother’s milk’s unique and tailored composition, which adjusts according to the child’s development. This personalized nutrition is a testament to the wisdom and mercy of Allah, who’s created the perfect nourishment for infants.

3. Natural Contraception: A Divine Design

When breastfeeding, a mother can rely on the natural contraceptive effect as a divine design for proper child care. Allah, in His infinite wisdom, has created a miraculous mechanism that allows mothers to space their pregnancies and ensure the well-being of their children.

Scientifically, breastfeeding suppresses ovulation by inhibiting the release of certain hormones necessary for conception. This natural contraceptive effect serves as a blessing for mothers, providing them with a safe and reliable method to plan their families.

4. Psychological Bonding: Nurturing the Mind and Soul

Forming a deep emotional bond with a child through breastfeeding is essential for nurturing their mind and soul. In Islam, this connection is highly valued, as it reflects the divine design of motherhood.

The act of breastfeeding goes beyond providing nourishment; it creates a sacred space where the mother and child connect profoundly. Through physical closeness and intimate contact during breastfeeding, the child feels secure and loved, fostering a sense of emotional well-being.

This close bond promotes healthy psychological development as the child learns to trust and form attachments. Islam recognizes the importance of this nurturing environment, as it lays the foundation for the child’s future relationships and emotional resilience.

5. Reduced Disease Risks for Both Mother and Child

Breastfeeding in Islam significantly reduces disease dangers for both mother and child, emphasizing the importance of proper child care.

As a nursing mother, nourishing your child with the pure milk that flows from your body provides them with essential antibodies and nutrients that boost their immune system. This protective effect shields them from infections and various childhood illnesses.

Similarly, as a mother breastfeeds, she is also benefiting from reduced risks of Type 2 diabetes, ovarian cancer, and breast cancer. This aligns with Islam’s holistic approach to health, where the well-being of both mother and child are interconnected.

Can I fast while breastfeeding in Islam?

In Islam, fasting during Ramadan is obligatory for all healthy adult Muslims. However, pregnant and breastfeeding mothers are exempt from fasting if it is deemed harmful to their health or that of their child. This is because the health and well-being of both the mother and child are of utmost importance in Islam.

Breastfeeding mothers have a higher calorie and nutrient requirement than non-breastfeeding women, and fasting can put them at risk of dehydration, malnutrition, and decreased milk supply. If breastfeeding mothers plan to fast during Ramadan, they should ask their healthcare provider for advice.

Can I wean my baby earlier in Islam?

Islam places great emphasis on breastfeeding and encourages mothers to breastfeed their children for at least two years. However, sometimes circumstances may arise where a mother needs to stop breastfeeding her child earlier than this.

If a mother needs to wean her child before the age of two, Islam permits it, but not before the child has been breastfed for a minimum of twenty-one months. This ensures the child has received the full benefits of breastfeeding, including essential nutrients and antibodies that protect against infections.

Breastfeeding in Islamic Parenting: Giving Your Child a Good Start

Breastfeeding is fundamental to Islamic parenting, representing the most wholesome and natural way to nourish an infant. Throughout Islamic history, this practice has been highly promoted and heavily encouraged, with Allah SWT recognizing breast milk as the most beneficial food source for growing babies.

The legal requirements for breastfeeding in Islam underline the importance of this practice and the need for both mother and father to take an active role.

Hopefully, by exploring these significant benefits of breastfeeding in Islam, we’ve highlighted the holistic benefits of this practice. By embracing these teachings, Muslim parents can give their children the best possible start in life.

Omar Abdullah

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