cont’d … from post 1/5
According to the Qur’an, “His mother bore him with pain and delivered him in pain; and bearing him and weaning him is thirty months”.
In this verse, three great maternal favours have been mentioned, viz.
1) Carrying the child during a difficult period of pregnancy,
2) Severe labour pains,
3) Suckling of the child.
These three unparalleled favours from the mother makes her rights over her children three times more than that of the father. Since Islam is the natural religion, it does not make unreasonable demands upon anyone.
Generally mothers should suckle their babies for full two years, but due to some unavoidable reasons, babies can be weaned even earlier. Ailing and weak mothers are allowed not to suckle their babies. But denying the right of the child to be suckled without any fair and potent reason, is unjust and below the dignity of the mother. Mothers who do not suckle their children due to fear of losing their beauty and shape, are the most ruthless ones who do not deserve to be called mothers. There is no alternative to the milk of the mother.
The Holy Prophet (saw) has reprimanded and warned such heartless women against the terrible punishment to be meted out to them by the Almighty Allah. Describing the events of the night of Ascension, he narrated, “Then they took me further ahead and I saw some women whose breasts were being continuously bitten by snakes. On asking about their identity, I was told that these were the women who did not suckle their children “.
Mother’s milk is the natural food of the baby. It gives the baby natural health and energy. It is a spiritual and ethical nourishment too. It deeply affects the whole personality of the child. She not only provides best nourishment to the child; but with every drop of milk, her own pattern of thinking and attitude is infused into the child’s veins. Due to unfavourable conditions, if a wet nurse is to be engaged for an infant, care should be taken that she be free from any mental or physical disease and she bears a good moral character. This judicious selection will play an important role in the development of a balanced personality of a child.
If another women suckles the child, called fosterage in English, she nearly becomes the mother of the child. This relationship is not only limited to the woman concerned, but her husband and her children also attain the status of father , brothers and sisters respectively. They cannot inter-marry. The Qur’an says, “And (Forbidden to you are) your foster mothers and sisters”. It means that all restrictions imposed on real relations also apply to foster relations.
It is reported in the al-Sahih of Imam Muslim (ra) that the Holy Prophet (saw) said, “Allah has forbidden relations between persons related to each other by Rada’at (suckling) like those who are related by blood”.
This relationship is given so much importance by Islam that if two foster persons unknowingly gets married to each other, they will be commanded to get separated without losing a single moment after they have been alerted of the fact.
Imam Bukhari (ra) has narrated in his al-Sahih one story in this regard. ‘Aqaba ibn Habis (ra) married a woman. Thereafter, one woman came forth and claimed that she had suckled both of them. ‘Aqabah (ra) tried to ascertain the truth of the matter from the relatives of his wife, but they expressed their ignorance in this matter. After much investigation, he went to the Holy Prophet of Allah, Muhammad bin ‘Abdullah (saw) and narrated the matter to him. After hearing the case, the Holy Prophet of Allah, Muhammad bin ‘Abdullah (saw) asked ‘Aqabah (ra) to divorce his wife. He obeyed and the woman then married elsewhere.
In view of the extraordinary importance, physical and socio-psychological benefits, the Holy Prophet of Allah, Muhammad bin ‘Abdullah (saw) had sternly warned the mothers who do not suckle their children without any potent reason. On the other hand, He has advised them to do so with the tidings of being fairly rewarded in this world and in the next by the Almighty Allah.
Ibn ‘Abidin (ra) has related the following tradition in his Kanz al-‘Ummal that the Holy Prophet of Allah, Muhammad bin ‘Abdullah (saw) said, “And for the first sip of her milk which she feeds her child, the mother gets the reward equivalent to giving life to a person”.
Viewed from medical and psychological aspects, breast milk has immense benefits. Demands of modern civilisation are making us contravene the laws of nature. Many a woman do not like to suckle their children. It is declared that there is no substitute to breast milk. If one wants to save his children from all different sorts of allergies and stomach disorders like indigestion, diarrhoea and dysentery, breast feed the child. After child birth and suckling, , the body of the mother regains its original shape according to the demands of nature.
In some developed countries, it has been noticed that the standard of mental and physical health is falling due to the avoidance of suckling. Breast milk contains colostrum which contains a high degree of vitamin A, which aids growth and helps resist external as well as internal infections to which all babies are susceptible. Most babies who die within one month of birth , have been found to be lacking in this vital vitamin.
cont’d … post 3/5 (Nafaqah: Maintenance)