Monday, 13 July 2009

The Benefits of Breastfeeding.

It is important to note that the very best of Allah’s human creations, His blessed Messengers (alayhisalaam) were breastfed. Allah inspired the mother of Musa (alayhisalaam) to put her baby in a basket in the river to save him from Pharaoh’s killing decree, Pharaoh’s family found him and wanted to keep him and looked everywhere for a wet-nurse to breastfeed him and Allah caused baby Musa (alayhisalaam) to refuse to be breastfed by any woman except his own mother.

Our beloved Holy Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) in his childhood, suckled from his mother Lady Aminah (radhi Allahu anha), Thuwaybah – a slave girl of his uncle Abu Lahab, Umm Ayman and Halimah as-Sa’diyyah (radhi Allahu anha). And Allah Azzawajal knows best.

The children of the Holy Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) were also breastfed. His son Ibrahim had a wet-nurse during his short life and when he passed away he was only a year and 10 months old, so there were two months of suckling left for him. Because of this, the Prophet (sallAllahu alayhi wasallam) said, as narrated by Al-Bara ibn Azib in Al Bukhari, "There is a wet-nurse for him in Jannah."

It is only in modern times that the wide use of artificial forms of baby-feeding, cow’s and goat’s milk formulas, have been used and sadly our sisters have left their homes in pursuit of careers which make them leave the superior role that Allah Azzawajjal has given them and pulled them away from the home to serve others and leave their own families. Unfortunately, some Muslim mothers feel breastfeeding will adversely affect their bodies, or be a hindrance to losing post-pregnancy weight, or they may think it is uncomfortable and painful.

Allah The Supreme tells us the recommended time of suckling a child in the Qur’an:

“And the mothers are to suckle their infants for two years, for those who wish to complete the suckling” 
(Surah Baqarah 2:233)

And also;

“We have enjoined upon the human being to treat his parents kindly. His mother bore him with strain upon strain, and his weaning is in two years.” 
(Surah Luqman 31:14)

The importance and blessing of breast-feeding has been mentioned by Allah the Sublime Himself, in not one, but a number of places in the Holy Qur’an, as the preserved Criterion for all eternity. Such is the status of this blessed act that it elevates a woman in rank and provides the complete nutrition our newborn babies need.

Fourteen hundred years after this verse was revealed, international organisations such as the World Health Organisation have issued many statements calling on mothers all over the World to breastfeed their children, whereas Islam enjoined that fourteen centuries ago.

The benefits of breastfeeding for the child include the following:

1. The mother’s milk is sterile, containing no germs.

2. The mothers milk contains all the complex amino acids and proteins required to help the newborn fight off childhood diseases and allergies. Breastfed children grow up healthier and stronger than their bottle-fed counterparts.

3. The mother’s milk cannot be imitated by any milk prepared from the milk of cows, goats or camels. It is composed in such a way as to meet the child’s needs day after day, from birth until weaning.

4. The mother’s milk contains sufficient amounts of protein and sugar that suit the infant completely, whereas the proteins in cow’s, goat’s and buffalo’s milk are difficult for the child’s stomach to digest, because they are suited to the offspring of those animals.

5. The development of children who are breastfed is faster and more complete than that of children who are bottle-fed.

6. The psychological and emotional bond between the mother and her child is strengthened to a great degree. Children grow up remaining close to their mother and respectful of her wishes insha’Allah.

7. The mother’s milk contains various elements that are essential to the child’s nourishment, in the right amounts and formats needed by his body, and in a form that is suited to his ability to digest and absorb. The nourishing content of the milk is not fixed; it changes day by day according to the child’s needs.

8. The mother’s milk is kept at a suitable temperature that meets the child’s needs, and can be given to him or her at any time.

9. Breastfeeding can be a natural means of contraception for some mothers, and is free of the complications that may accompany use of birth control pills, the coil (IUD) or injections.

10. The good character of the Muslim mother (patience, affection, wisdom and intelligence) is passed from her to the child during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

11. Because of the closeness and affection displayed at the time of breastfeeding, the newborns grow up with better manners and their mothers Du’as to Allah for them are always listened to.

The child feels ultimate comfort and security through being so close to his or her mother and their special bond is strengthened, so much so that in Islam if a non-related woman breastfeeds a child she becomes a foster mother to him or her and her children are foster sisters and brothers to him or her who he/she cannot marry! As the Holy Prophet (pbuh) said as is related in a number of Hadith, “Indeed, Allah has prohibited [marriage] among suckling relatives, as He has prohibited it among birth [or blood] relatives.”[Recorded by Sahih Al-Bukhari, Muslim]

There really is no contest between breastfeeding and bottle-feeding.

It is permissible with the parent’s joint agreement to have a child breastfed by another woman and that wet-nurse is entitled to a wage.

However, it is better if no one breastfeeds the child but his/her mother; because that is more beneficial, and that may be obligatory for her if the child will not accept the breast of anyone else or any other milk.

In Islam, unless there is a legitimate excuse, the mother is required to breastfeed her baby. It is an obligation upon both parents – the mother provides the milk and the father provides the material support for the mother even if they are divorced. If a parent thinks there is a need to wean the baby before the end of two years it is permissible after consultation and joint agreement.


  1. Salam, I really love this article. Thanks for sharing. I like blogging about Islam and breastfeeding.

  2. Nursing mother transmits cells and genetic material through breast milk to the baby. This might be the cause of prohibited marriage of a couple nursed from the same mother


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