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What do pious and expert scholars say about breast feeding a baby?

Question:

What do pious and expert scholars say about breast feeding a baby?

Answer:

In the Majestic Quran Allah said, “Mothers suckle their children for two whole years, if they wish to complete the term”. (Al-Baqara: 233). This Quranic verse is encouraging mothers to breastfeed. Here are some comments from traditional scholars;

Qazi Sanu Allah (d;1810) said, “This is a command that is presented as a narrative for the sake of emphasis” In other words it’s the mother’s responsibility to take care of the child. However, if she is incapable of breastfeeding because of health problems then it is no longer an obligation”.  Imam Razi (d.1215 )  said, “this is not obligatory but highly recommended”.

MA Sabuni a contemporary scholar of quran comments “It is obligatory on mothers to suckle their babies for two whole years”. (Safawat-tafsir- 1994 Damascus).

It is the child’s entitlement to be suckled for two years. The world health organisation in its reports on breastfeeding mentions several advantages of breastfeeding: –

According to the report breast milk is: –

  • The optimal nutrition for a baby since it has right amounts of nutrients and minerals
  • Mothers’ milk contains antibodies, immune components like anti bacterial, antiviral and anti parasitic. They provide protection against microbes, as well as stimulating the baby’s immune system.
  • Mothers’ who breastfeed are at lower risk of getting Breast cancer.
  • It is recommended that the baby should be exclusively breastfed for first six months. After that it should continue for the first year and even the second year

In addition to these physical health benefits of breastfeeding there are some psycho-social and spiritual benefits as well: –

  • The physical contact between the Mother and baby enhances the bond between them
  • The whole process breastfeeding symbolises compassion, mercy, love and care, the baby feels safe and wanted, the mother also feels valued and enriches the experience of motherhood.
  • The lullabies mother sings help in the sensory and speech development of the baby. This soothing experience is beneficial for the mother and the baby.

The Messenger praised the Mother who breastfeeds. Anas narrated that the Messenger (SAW) said: “When she has delivered and the milk flows and the baby suckles, the mother receives a reward for every suck the reward of one good deed” (At-Tabaraani).

And Allah knows best.

Dr Musharraf Hussain Al-Azhari
Director of British Fatwa Council