Muslim Mamas - Breastfeeding: 2 years...or more?? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 13 Old 08-01-2010, 09:17 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Salaam lovely, beautiful Mamas. Hope you're all well inshallah.

I had an interesting conversation yesterday with another sister regarding the time period for breastfeeding based on the Quran and Islamic scholars. Turns out the topic is more dynamic than I thought. I'd like to share with you all some of the info that I found, and get your opinion.

Generally, most Muslims say that breastfeeding is encouraged, and that weaning should happen sometime before 2 years old.

There are 3 verses from the Quran that refer to this - although let me first say that the different English translations give a different idea of the meaning:

1) And We have enjoined on man doing of good to his parents; with trouble did his mother bear him and with trouble did she bring him forth; and the bearing (the burden) of him and the weaning of him was thirty months; ...[46:15]

2) And We have enjoined man in respect of his parents-- his mother bears him with weakness (and hardships) upon weakness (and hardship) and his weaning takes two years-- saying: Be grateful to Me and to both your parents; to Me is the eventual coming.[31:14]

3) And the mothers should suckle their children for two whole years for him who desires to make complete the time of suckling; and their maintenance and their clothing must be-- borne by the father according to usage; no soul shall have imposed upon it a duty but to the extent of its capacity; neither shall a mother be made to suffer harm on account of her child, nor a father on account of his child, and a similar duty (devolves) on the (father's) heir, but if both desire weaning by mutual consent and counsel, there is no blame on them, and if you wish to engage a wet-nurse for your children, there is no blame on you so long as you pay what you promised for according to usage; and be careful of (your duty to) Allah and know that Allah sees what you do.[2:233].

* The interesting thing about these verses is that the Arabic word for weaning is based on the root f-s-l, which some scholars say refers to not just weaning, but the whole period of a child being dependent on the mother.

* Also keep in mind, the years referred to would mean LUNAR years (Islamic calender), which is a little less than 2 full years on the Gregorian calendar

Different Opinions:
Now here's where it gets interesting.

Apparently in some schools of thought (madhab - there are 4), specifically the Shafi school, breastfeeding is allowed not only over 2 years....but up to 7 lunar years!
http://qa.sunnipath.com/issue_view.a...12273&CATE=389

A scholar from another school (Hanafi) writes that: The renowned Hanafi Jurist, Imam Ibn Abidin states in his Radd al-Muhtar quoting from al-Quhustani:

�Breastfeeding the child is morally necessary until the child is in need of breastfeeding, recommended up to two years and permitted up to two and a half years. (Radd al-Muhtar ala al-Durr, 3/211, Bab al-Radha�)
(More about the minimum age a child should be b/f here: http://qa.sunnipath.com/issue_view.a...D=4769&CATE=95)

And, women get rewarded for b/fing - there's a saying from the Prophet Muhammad that "no mouthful of milk flows from her nor a [child's] suck except that she has a reward with every mouthful and with every suck." http://qa.sunnipath.com/issue_view.a...6444&CATE=1408
So..longer b/fing...more goodness??

What do you Muslim Mamas think? How long did/would/do you nurse? DOES any sister here nurse longer than 2 years? What do you think the response in the Muslim community would be (or community in general)? Thoughts? And....why is the generally excepted cut off 2 years when 2 schools of thought (maybe more?) allow b/fing after 2 years?

Here's a whole page worth of answers about specific breastfeeding questions from Islamic scholars that I found - hope it helps! Good topics include b/fing and fasting, nursing in front of men, etc.
http://search.sunnipath.com/search.p...0&q=breastfeed

Awaiting your comments, thoughts
Love to you all

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#2 of 13 Old 08-01-2010, 03:53 PM
 
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I don't necessarily think that those verses are saying a mother must stop at 2, but that she should nurse till at least 2. FWIW, I nursed my 5 yr old dd till she was 3.5 and I am currently nursing a 2 yr old. The prophet (pbuh) was so kind to children and so good about understanding that children need to be children that I do not see how we could interpret this to mean stop nursing even if a child is not ready. I firmly believe that a child will know when they are ready to move on, and that it is our duty as mothers to respect that.
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#3 of 13 Old 08-01-2010, 04:27 PM
 
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I always viewed the full two years as the child's right... but with the option to go over two years.

All of my kids have self-weaned.... #1 when he was about 20 months old (I was preggers with DS2)... #2 around 21 months old (pregnant with DD1)... and DD self-weaned around 23-24 months. It was nothing I ever intended... I had planned to tandem nurse, but I think the pregnancy changed the taste/quantity of the milk...because no matter how much I encouraged them, they just were not interested.

I'm actually shocked at how few Muslim Mamas I see breastfeeding at the mosque. Of course, they could all be pumping and bringing a bottle... but somehow I doubt it.

Mom to DS(8), DS(6), DD(4), and DS(1).  "Kids do as well as they can."

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#4 of 13 Old 08-01-2010, 04:48 PM
 
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I'm just subbing. DH is Muslim. I wanted very much to nurse this new one two full years but DH wants to try for another and I'll have to tandem nurse. We'll see how that goes. I just find these passages interesting and look forward to hearing more.

It's not that the stay-at-home-parent gets to stay home with the kids. The kids get to stay home with a parent. Lucky Mom to DD1 (4 y) and DD2 (18 mo), Wife to Mercenary Dad
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#5 of 13 Old 08-01-2010, 05:29 PM
 
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Thank you so much for this post- I have been wondering on this as I am expecting my son this September 2010.
I have read the same versus and my understanding is that the total b/feeding period should be within the 2 years.
But does that mean you can bottle-feed with breastmilk during the time the baby is eating solids?
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#6 of 13 Old 08-03-2010, 04:41 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Wow, I'm so happy to hear the responses from those of you that have nursed past the first year. I too have found that breastfeeding in our Muslim community is kind of non-public and seems to kind of "go away" quickly...

For those of you that nursed almost for 2 years or past 2 years - did you nurse at night, too? My little guy is 18 months and I'm still nursing but I want to night wean (we co sleep and he wakes 2-3 times for "num nums")

I think a lot of the Muslim world will say stop at 2 years more due to a cultural stigma really than based on the verses (in my humble opinion). To me (no scholar here tho ), the verse in Arabic that says 2 years uses the term "hawalain" which technically comes from the hawla (like in "la hawla wa la quwatta illa billah" - There is no Might (movement) or power but God). The word hawla means "around." It sound to me like God is being very casual and speaking in general terms -- no strict 2 year cut off date, just around there. But I do want to hear from any sister who supports the 2 year cut off to find out why so many others do.

Smiley 333 - you can still breastfeed a baby who is eating solids (either from breast or bottle). It doesnt make sense to me that you would stop giving breastmilk from the boob at 2 years and just start putting it in a bottle -- back in the day there were no bottles, so I feel like the verse must either be ok with boob & milk after 2, or neither one. My opinon. Ps. Im also in Colorado, PM me if you want to chat more

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#7 of 13 Old 08-03-2010, 05:29 AM
 
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Originally Posted by youngspiritmom View Post
But I do want to hear from any sister who supports the 2 year cut off to find out why so many others do.
I don't really support the two year cut off in that I really don't care what other women choose to do insofar as breastfeeding is concerned, but -- as I more or less loosely follow the Hanafi madhab -- for myself if I *were* seeking guidance on the subject I don't think that I would really need to look farther than at the position held by Imam Abu Hanifa, which was that weaning should occur by thirty months.

I think two years is so widely accepted because it has generally been accepted that the approximately two year recommendation in the Qur'an is somewhat static. Kind of like if I say I'll be somewhere at around five it doesn't mean at five ... or at any hour leading up to it. Or that I'll be there at around five ... or any time afterwards.

As far as I've ever read the founding Sunni imams were themselves united to that extent, and only differed in whether the Qur'anic term itself formed a hard line in the sand or not. Imam Shafii it appears did not agree that a longer term of breastfeeding was outright inappropriate until a child reaches an age that issues of bodily privacy start coming into play. He did not, however, recommend extending breastfeeding, and so wherever you find Sunni scholarship embedded in a culture, regardless of madhab, so too will you likely find at least a vague sense that two years is the be all and end all of breastfeeding.
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#8 of 13 Old 08-03-2010, 06:24 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by Liquesce View Post
He did not, however, recommend extending breastfeeding, and so wherever you find Sunni scholarship embedded in a culture, regardless of madhab, so too will you likely find at least a vague sense that two years is the be all and end all of breastfeeding.
Thank you so much for the great commentary Liquesce, I really value your explanation. Your analogy is a good one; I can see now why so many settle around the 2 year point (which as I was explaining before, is how I feel God says it in the Quran) as a sort of general marker.

PS. Off topic, but I noticed some of your posts on the covered ladies thread and really appreciated them

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#9 of 13 Old 08-03-2010, 05:23 PM
 
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PS. Off topic, but I noticed some of your posts on the covered ladies thread and really appreciated them
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#10 of 13 Old 08-03-2010, 08:11 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Liquesce View Post
I think two years is so widely accepted because it has generally been accepted that the approximately two year recommendation in the Qur'an is somewhat static. Kind of like if I say I'll be somewhere at around five it doesn't mean at five ... or at any hour leading up to it. Or that I'll be there at around five ... or any time afterwards.
Love this. Such a true expression of the cultural context, too.

I weaned mine both around 22months. One circumstance was medical, the other was just complete fatigue, so...let's say mental. Under other circumstances, I suppose I might go as far as 2.5 or so. We don't have a ton of bfers at our mosques, either, but those who do so, do it both discreetly and in a way that it's known they are bfing, so It amazes me that a community so heavy with MDs has so little bfing.
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#11 of 13 Old 08-04-2010, 12:14 AM
 
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as-salaamu `alaykum

I have to be brief here, I'll try my best to be bried.

My husband and I researched this issue in detail and cleared this with several orthodox scholars spanning the spectrum from Sufi to Salafi.

The tafseer of Imam al-Qurtubi, which is primarily concerned with legal rulings derived from the Qur'an, addresses this issue in detail. We read this in Arabic, and the Arabic text can be found online if you read Arabic.

Basically, the deal is this: There is no "2 year cut-off" for breastfeeding. The verse "mothers shall breastfeed their children for 2 years" is given in the context of a section dealing with legal issues that happen upon a divorce. According to Qurtubi, this section of the QUr'an specifies the following:

If the child is under the age of 2 both parents must agree for the child to stop breastfeeding.

If the child is over the age of 2, one parent or the other can request that the child stop breastfeeding

THis relates to the fact that in the divorce situation, the father is required to pay maintenance as long as the child is still breastfed. THis setup protects the child from being forcibly weaned from the breast just because a vindictive ex-husband doesn't want to pay to support his ex-wife anymore.

The maximum duration of breastfeeding is 7 years old (the Islamic age of awareness) and there are narrations of Sahabah children being breastfed that long.

The 2 years thing (or for some, up to 2 years + 3-4 months or so) is only the upper limit for the *legal status* of "breastfed infant" for the purpose of adoption, child support, etc. It is not the upper limit for how long it is "halaal" or "preferred" to breastfeed a baby.

Hope that helps
wa s-salaam
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#12 of 13 Old 08-04-2010, 12:20 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Umm Zaynab....yes!! that helps!! SOOO much!! I was looking for this type of technical answer to make sure I'm not just doing what I want to but rather really knowing what God wants. How did you do the research to find all of this out? Mashallah I'm so impressed. I am going to remember your response for the rest of my life and the rest of my children inshallah so may God Bless You!!!

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#13 of 13 Old 08-04-2010, 03:47 AM
 
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It's a little more complicated than that ... there was a fair amount of concern for reconciling the verses dealing with weaning in Baqarah, Luqman, and Ahkaf. It's not a subject area I've ever concerned myself with all that much, but most of what I have read dealing with the subject of weaning really had very little to do with children at all and mostly had to do with working the math around both two years of weaning and thirty months of gestation and weaning combined being given as examples of a sort of a standard regarding which children owe their mother respect. The imams, as far as I know, insofar as they concerned themselves at all concerned themselves with making the numbers match. Not so much with the matter as a parenting issue.
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