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"Be grateful to Me and to your parents; to Me is the [final] destination." [31:14]

The Importance and Benefits of Breastfeeding in Islam

Bismillah

 Allah (Subḥānahu wa Ta’āla) said, “The mothers should suckle their children for two whole years, (that is) for those (parents) who desire to complete the term of suckling, but the father of the child shall bear the cost of the mother’s food and clothing on a reasonable basis…” {Surah Al Baqarah: 2: 233}. The scholars of Islam have mentioned regarding this verse that this is a command to the mothers to breastfeed their children.

At the beginning of breastfeeding there is a yellow substance that is produced known as colostrum, which has many benefits for the child.

The Importance of Suckling
It has been emphasized in a couple of verses in the Qur’an on suckling ones baby. In Surah Al Baqarah as mentioned above and in Surat Al Luqman: 31:14: Allah (SWT) says, “And We have enjoined upon man [care] for his parents. His mother carried him, [Increasing her] in weakness upon weakness, and his weaning is in two years. Be grateful to Me and to your parents; to Me is the [final] destination.”

It is mentioned in al-Muwatta’ of Imam Malik from Yaqub ibn Zayd ibn Talha from his father Zayd ibn Talha that Abdullah ibn Abi Mulayka informed him that a woman came to the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu alaihi wasallam), and informed him that she had committed adultery and was pregnant. The Messenger of Allah said to her, “Go away until you give birth.” When she had given birth, she came to him. The Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu alaihi wasallam) then said to her, “Go away until you have suckled and weaned the baby.” When she had weaned the baby, she came to him. He said, “Go and entrust the baby to someone.” she entrusted the baby to someone and then came to him. He gave the order and she was to be stoned.”[1]

It is worthy to mention here that although the woman committed a heinous act (adultery), a major sin that falls under one of the hudud punishments[2] in the Islamic law, the prophet (Sallallahu alaihi wasallam), did not apply the punishment on her immediately, as he first told her to give birth to her child, then suckle and wean her baby. This shows the emphasis that Islam puts on suckling one’s child.

The Harmful Effects of Baby Formula
Sadly, some mothers choose to use baby formula instead of breastfeeding without having a valid reason for not suckling her child. What they don’t know is that they are truly missing out on the blessing of breastfeeding, as it is a benefit for the mother and her child.

According to Dr. Alison Stuebe [MD, MSc], Infants who are not being breastfed can have an increase in infectious morbidity, and many other types of infections. It can also cause an elevated risk of childhood obesity, type 1 and type 2 diabetes, leukemia, and sudden infant death syndrome. This is not only danger for the infant, but also for the mothers as it increases the incidence of premenopausal breast cancer, ovarian cancer, retained gestational weight, type 2 diabetes, and the metabolic syndrome.[3][4]

Having mentioned some of the dangers of using baby formula, now it is time to mention the benefits of breastfeeding for both the child and his mother.  Modern medicine has discovered that the mother’s milk is the best choice for babies; it contains the right amount of nutrients and, not only that, but also contains many unique components that cannot be found in baby formula. The mother’s milk changes in flavor depending on the mother’s diet and it satisfies the infants need when hungry and thirsty.

The Immune System
The mother’s milk protects the baby from many common respiratory and intestinal diseases and contains living immune cells that protect the baby’s immune system. Colostrum which is an important substance found only in the mother’s milk, increases immunity and protect the baby’s intestines. Breastfeeding also protects the baby from allergies, asthma and eczema.

Benefits for Breastfed Babies
Babies who are breastfed are sick less often:

  • They have lower risks of severe illnesses, diarrheal diseases, and lower incidences of gastrointestinal illnesses.
  • They have lowered risks of urinary tract infections, ear infections, allergies, pneumonia, obesity and sudden infant death syndrome.
  • They have less learning and behavior difficulties.
  • It [breastfeeding] is protective against measles and other communicable diseases.
  • Provides optimal growth and neurological development.
  • Leads to better teeth and jaw development and prevents malocclusion.
  • Protects against hypothermia and many other diseases.
  • Enhances visual development.

Benefits for Breastfeeding Mothers

  • Provides the mother hormonal induced contentment.
  • Bonds the mother and the child.
  • Allows the mother to lose pregnancy weight and size faster.
  • The milk is already pre-warmed and clean.
  • Encourages efficient uterine contractions after childbirth.
  • Reduces the incidence of urinary tract infections.
  • Protective against breast, ovarian, and cervical cancer.
  • Lowers the incidence of chronic hepatitis, osteoporosis, and many other illnesses.

Lastly, although this is what modern medicine have discovered recently, it does not mean that there are no other benefits or wisdom behind suckling; only Allah knows this with His Magnificent and Infinite Knowledge.  Only through following the orders of Allah can we achieve ultimate happiness, success, satisfaction, and be protected from all harm and evil.


[1] Muwatta’ of Imam Malik Book 41, Hadith: 5
[2] Sing. Hadd = Fixed punishment. A punishment the limits of which have been defined by the Qur’an and/or Sunnah. They are connected to six crimes, namely khamr drinking, zina, qadhf, riddah, sariqah and hirabah.
[3] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2812877/
[4] http://www.infactcanada.ca/pdf/14-Risks-Small.pdf

Authored by Dina Aboubasha ♦ To Read more about the Author CLICK HERE
Edited by Umm Daania bint Isa

Prophet Muhammad - "Convey (knowledge) from me even if it is just one ayah" [Bukhari 3461]

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