Extended Breastfeeding and Islam
233 Mothers shall suckle their children for two whole years; (that is) for those who wish to complete the suckling. The duty of feeding and clothing nursing mothers in a seemly manner is upon the father of the child. No-one should be charged beyond his capacity. A mother should not be made to suffer because of her child, nor should he to whom the child is born (be made to suffer) because of his child. And on the (father's) heir is incumbent the like of that (which was incumbent on the father). If they desire to wean the child by mutual consent and (after) consultation, it is no sin for them; and if ye wish to give your children out to nurse, it is no sin for you, provide that ye pay what is due from you in kindness. Observe your duty to Allah, and know that Allah is Seer of what ye do
(The Qur'an (Pickthall tr), Sura 2 - The Cow)
What can be said is that there's no specific prohibition in Islam against a longer term of breastfeeding, and as a matter of law things which are not specifically prohibited, with the exception of in matters of worship, are to be considered as permissable, regardless of whether they are liked or not. I'm not sure that will help at all since you're dealing with a strong cultural custom based upon a religious recommendation, but at least you can argue the point that you're not doing something outright wrong by the religion with that. You'll find many of the muslim mamas around here go beyond two years themselves.
I believe the Quran is the only scripture that discusses breastfeeding. It is worth remembering that there are spiritual rewards for the mother for each mouthful of milk that her child swallows.
I am somewhat amused that your in-laws are focussing on breastfeeding in this situation.
Dear all assalam alaikum
I have breast fed 8 of my kids and the last one, my daughter is now 2 years and 4 months and still breastfeeding and not ready to stop. Incidentally I had to take off each of my sons from breastfeeding between 1yr 7 months and 2yrs due to pregnancy or other reason and they did not pose much difficulty but both my daughters have resisted to stop BF. The elder one I had to be very strict and harsh and even hit her to stop BF and take bottle but with this younger daughter it is even more difficult and she is not ready to stop. I had been trying to research this issue and find out if there is any limit to the age of BF in Islam and is it haram or a sin to feed further than 2 years which is actually recommended . So I have not found any quran or hadith forbidding this . Next are the opinions of scholars that BF should not exceed 30 months etc so they are men and cannot understand womens issues as deeply. I believe babies grow up and get off breast themselves as they grow up beyond infancy and they begin to feel more independent. However the bond between mother and child in more than just nutritional rather it is for emotional and spiritual comfort as well. So I dont understand the attitude of those religious people who start calling out haraam haraam when they see you BF after 2years are competed. allah could not have ordered us to complete 2 years and then stop suddenly the next day. So i think that since this is a matter in which we donot find any direct nas in the quran or hadith forbidding it beyond 2 years so it is a matter which can be called mubah until the age of discerning (when the child would begin to understand things ie 7 years)
also I loved this article by woodturtle which really speaks my heart regarding this matter
Happy and guiltfree breastfeeding !
Walaikum Salaam Sister,
I am a Muslimah with five biological children whom all I breastfed. My eldest who is around 10 years now nursed until a little shy to 6 years nursed for the maximum period he had self-weaned). I have shared breastfeeding with my co-wife (the first wife of my husband, since we all live together) who has 4 biological children. We nursed one of her daughters past 7 years. My understanding is that in Islam 2 years of breastfeeding is prescribed that is taken as a 'minimum' period. No 'maximum' limit is mentioned. My experience is that most sisters in our community nurse up to 4-5 years and rarely beyond 8 years. I think that it is our duty to give a good start in life to our children and as such 2 years is considered all right, but depending upon individual circumstances one is not really debarred from nursing for several more years.