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When to Stop Nursing a Child

Questioner

R (32_male_UK)

Reply Date

Jul 15, 2017

Question

Dear counselor, Islam says that a child has to be breastfeed till two years i.e. 24 months. Some say that it can be 27 months in case of a girl. My wife is worried that she had breastfed her daughter for 25 months before relieving her and people are condemning her for doing it late. Please guide with Quranic references and other scholar intellect which can be quoted that whether or not breastfeeding a girl for 27 months is forbidden? Thank you.

Counselor

Answer


Nursing

As salamu `alaykum dear brother,

Thank you for sharing with us your concerns and the concerns of your wife.

With the cross-current of influences from different lifestyles today, it can sometimes get a little confusing as to what is halal or haram. From the simple mother-child relationship, if a child continues wanting mother’s milk, it is usually because the child is still in need of it either physiologically or emotionally.

To disrupt this need because one feels the child is “too old” is more likely to have a negative impact on the bonding relationship between the mother and child, which affects the child’s sense of security – some children are more vulnerable than others in this way.

From the Qur`anic point of view, we are advised:

 {The mothers shall give suckling to their children for two whole years}(Al-Baqarah 2: 233)

This verse does not say two years only, but for two whole years. Modern life might frown upon this, because it might be considered not acceptable in terms of contemporary living, which is the case by western standards, but not so in the developing world or in most religions. The above verse further informs us:

 {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 2: 233)

So as you can see here, both parents can agree as to whether to cease weaning or not, and they can also entrust the child to a wet-nurse (foster-mother) who is lactating.  


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About Hwaa Irfan

Late Hwaa Irfan, may her soul rest in peace, served as consultant, counselor and freelance writer. Her main focus was on traditional healing mechanisms as practiced in various communities, as opposed to Western healing mechanisms.

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