Adult Breastfeeding

08Jun10

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم الحمدُ للهِ ربِّ العالمين والصلاةُ والسلامُ على رسوله الأمين

أما بعد

فالسلام عليكم و رحمة الله

Rasulallah, salallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, stated in the authentic hadeeth found in Saheeh Muslim, “Breastfeeding forbids what is forbidden through blood relations.”  Meaning, just as you’re forbidden from marrying your sister, you’re also forbidden from marrying any other girl whom your mother breastfed.

Al Sheikh Abdil Muhsin Ubaykaan is a fairly senior scholar in Saudia, hafidhahullah.  He drew a lot of controversy after he stated that non-mahram men who regularly interact with a woman should drink from her breast milk so as to alleviate the prohibition of free-mixing between them.  According to Gulf News he said,

“The man should take the milk, but not directly from the breast of the woman.  He should drink it and then he becomes a relative of the family, a fact that allows him to come into contact with the women without breaking Islam’s rules about mixing.”  He later clarified, “The fatwa is only for those who live in the house or need to get in often.”

So is this a completely strange opinion?  Nope.

Sheikh ul Islam ibn Taymiyya, rahimahullah, held a similar opinion.  He stated that not any adult can breastfeed like this.  It is only allowed in situations where there is an absolute need for it and the man must interact with the woman regularly.  Aisha, radhiAllahu ‘anha, Ibn Hazm, Ibn al Qayyim and al Shawkaani rahimahumullah also held this opinion and its primarily based on the following:

  • An incident reported in Saheeh Muslim shows that Sahla bint Suhail went to Rasulallah, salallahu ‘alahi wasallam, and said that her husband had a male slave whom he freed, Saalim, and always came to visit them, but her husband would feel uncomfortable having him come over due to the presence of his wife.  Rasulallah, salallahu ‘alayhi wasllam, ordered that Saalim drink from her breast milk so that they become mahaarim and her husband would no longer feel uncomfortable or angry.

Now, the main difference of opinion amongst the ulama is based on whether or not the one being breastfed needs to be two years old or younger.  Those who hold the opinion that he does need to be two years old or younger are the majority and they include Imam Abu Haneefah, Imam Maalik and Imam al-Shaafi’i.  Their evidences are the following:

  1. The 33rd ayah in Surat al Baqarah which is interpreted to mean that valid/complete breastfeeding is only up to two years. So any breastfeeding done on a child significantly older than two years old has no effect.
  2. The hadeeth in Saheeh Bukhari and Muslim which states, “Breastfeeding is effective when the baby relies on the breastfeeding of the mother.”
  3. The hadeeth in Sunan Abi Dawood, “…the milk that will build the bones and make the meat on the bones…” Though there is confusion as to whether or not this is a hadeeth of Rasulallah, salallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, or merely a statement of Ibn Masood, radhiAllahu ‘anhu.

Another condition of breastfeeding that needs consideration is the quantity of feedings.  There are two predominant opinions:

  1. One suckling is enough to change the relationship:
    • This opinion is held by Abdullah ibn Masood, Abdullah ibn Abbas, Abdullah ibn Umar, Sayeed ibn Musayyib, Imam Maalik and Imam Abu Haneefah.
    • This is based on the fact that a number wasn’t specified in the Quran as to how many breastfeeding sessions need to be completed.  Therefore, they say that merely one feeding is sufficient.
  2. There needs to be at least five separate breastfeeding sessions to change the relationship:
    • This opinion is held by Aisha, Imam al Shaafi’I, Ibn Hazm and it’s the strongest opinion held by the Hanabilah.
    • This is based on the very strong hadeeth in Saheeh Muslim in which Aisha states that the Quran was abrogated from ten breastfeeding sessions to five.

So what’s the conclusion?  All I can say is, don’t be quick to judge the fatwa of a sheikh of the caliber of al Sheikh Abdil Muhsin Ubaykaan, especially if you don’t know jack-diddly about your religion compared to him.

والحمد للّه أولا وآخراً. والله وليّ التوفيق وصلى اللّه على نبينا محمد وعلى آله وصحبه وسلم

و جزاك الله خيرا علي حسن المتابعة  و حياكم الله

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One Response to “Adult Breastfeeding”

  1. 1 Faizan Khan

    Wow, I must say what an interesting article. The need of which still perplexes me but a good read nonetheless.

    What I cant seem to understand is how can it be considered Adult Breastfeeding if there is confusion/difference of opinion on age and whether anything above two years of age is permitted.

    According to how the article is written, it comes of as stating that a Maahram/Non Maahram relationship can be only changed, according to the strongest evidence, before the age of two, or not much later beyond.

    But to this confusion of age, the ha’dith about Saalim the slave would negate and difference of opinion since a husband would not be afraid and uncomfortable of a two year old boy.

    But again there is room to interpret in a lot, as the opinions of the scholars vs. the Ha’dith and Ayat of the Quran (Surat Baqarh 33) seem to be black/white vs. grey.

    But Allah Hu’Alam and may he guide us always.


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