Breast-feeding the infant is known as Radha’at in the Shariah. The rules of Radha’at are as follows:
- The period of breast-feeding is two lunar (or Islamic) years. It is not permissible to breast-feed a baby for more than two This is according to both Hanafi and Shaafi Math-hab. However, according to Imaam Abu Hanifah (rahmatullah alayh)
breast-feeding until 30 lunar months for a valid reason is permissible. After 30 months it will be totally and unanimously. haraam to breast-feed the child.
- According to the Hanafi Math-hab if an infant drinks the milk of another woman even once, the Islamic law of “milk
relations” will be established between the woman and the child. Such relations are just as blood relations in regard to permissibility and prohibition of marriage. The woman becomes like the mother of the child and her children become like brothers and
sisters of the child. Marriage between them is unlawful. According to the Shaafi Math-hab “milk relations” will be established only if the infant drank the woman’s milk at least five times, i.e. five different occassions.
- It is the Islamic right (Haqq) of the baby to be breast-fed within the two-year period.
- If the child’s father wishes that the full period be completed–that the baby be breast-fed for two years, it will then be obligatory on the mother to do so.
- The parents may by mutual consultation and agreement discontinue breast-feeding befor expiry of the two year period. This they may do in the interests of the child or for some other valid reason.
- Where a woman has been divorced, she will be entitled to ask for a wage for
breast-feeding her own child. It is obligatory on the father to pay her a fair wage for this service. But, she has no right to demand payment while she is in his nikah or in her iddat.
Rasulullah sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said: “The reward that a woman receives from the time that she falls pregnant until she delivers the child and commences breast-feeding is equal to the person who is guarding the borders of the Islamic state and who has to be ever ready to wage jihad. If this woman dies in the course of this period, she will receive the reward of a martyr.”
Rasulullah sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said: “When a woman breast-feeds her child, the reward that she receives for every sip is as if she has given life to a dead person. When she commences breast-feeding, an angel taps her on her back (a form of congratulation) and says to her: ‘All your past sins are forgiven. Now whatever you do will be recorded from the very beginning.'” That is, the sins that you may commit will be written for the future. Minor sins are referred to in this context. However, having one’s minor sins forgiven is no small feat.