#270: Breastfeeding After Two Years


Assalamualaikum ustaz. Is it permissible to continue nursing one’s child after 2 years?


Waalaikumussalam wrt. wbt.,

Alhamdulillah, praise and gratitude to Allah SWT for His countless blessings for us all. Praise and salutations to our beloved Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his family, companions, and all those who follow his footsteps until the Final day.

According to the 4th Edition of Kamus Dewan, nursing is a verb of breastfeeding a child while the person who nurses the child is the one who breastfeeds the child. [1]

Nursing is known as ridha’ or radha’ and meant with radh’an, ridha’an, and radha’an which means suckling milk, ardha’ah with the meaning of nursing a baby. According to syarak terminology it means feeding of a woman’s milk or what is produced from her milk into the baby’s stomach following its conditions.

There is another similar definition to the definition above. Among similar words with radha’ah is hadhanah (care). The reason is there are several situations where the guardian at the same time is the milk mother to the child taken care of. [2]

The evidences on the sanctioning of nursing

There are several Quranic evidences, among them are;

  • Allah SWT states:

وَالْوَالِدَاتُ يُرْضِعْنَ أَوْلَادَهُنَّ حَوْلَيْنِ كَامِلَيْنِ لِمَنْ أَرَادَ أَنْ يُتِمَّ الرَّضَاعَةَ وَعَلَى الْمَوْلُودِ لَهُ رِزْقُهُنَّ وَكِسْوَتُهُنَّ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ لَا تُكَلَّفُ نَفْسٌ إِلَّا وُسْعَهَا لَا تُضَارَّ وَالِدَةٌ بِوَلَدِهَا وَلَا مَوْلُودٌ لَهُ بِوَلَدِهِ وَعَلَى الْوَارِثِ مِثْلُ ذَلِكَ فَإِنْ أَرَادَا فِصَالًا عَنْ تَرَاضٍ مِنْهُمَا وَتَشَاوُرٍ فَلَا جُنَاحَ عَلَيْهِمَا وَإِنْ أَرَدْتُمْ أَنْ تَسْتَرْضِعُوا أَوْلَادَكُمْ فَلَا جُنَاحَ عَلَيْكُمْ إِذَا سَلَّمْتُمْ مَا آتَيْتُمْ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَاعْلَمُوا أَنَّ اللَّهَ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ بَصِيرٌ

“Mothers may breastfeed their children two complete years for whoever wishes to complete the nursing [period]. Upon the father is the mothers’ provision and their clothing according to what is acceptable. No person is charged with more than his capacity. No mother should be harmed through her child, and no father through his child. And upon the [father’s] heir is [a duty] like that [of the father]. And if they both desire weaning through mutual consent from both of them and consultation, there is no blame upon either of them. And if you wish to have your children nursed by a substitute, there is no blame upon you as long as you give payment according to what is acceptable. And fear Allah and know that Allah is Seeing of what you do.” [3]

Al-Qurtubi said: “This means that when a child is still nursing, then the rights of the mother in her hadhanah is more than the father.” [4]

  • Allah SWT states:

أَسْكِنُوهُنَّ مِنْ حَيْثُ سَكَنتُم مِّن وُجْدِكُمْ وَلَا تُضَارُّوهُنَّ لِتُضَيِّقُوا عَلَيْهِنَّ وَإِن كُنَّ أُولَاتِ حَمْلٍ فَأَنفِقُوا عَلَيْهِنَّ حَتَّى يَضَعْنَ حَمْلَهُنَّ فَإِنْ أَرْضَعْنَ لَكُمْ فَآتُوهُنَّ أُجُورَهُنَّ وَأْتَمِرُوا بَيْنَكُم بِمَعْرُوفٍ وَإِن تَعَاسَرْتُمْ فَسَتُرْضِعُ لَهُ أُخْرَىٰ

“Lodge them [in a section] of where you dwell out of your means and do not harm them in order to oppress them. And if they should be pregnant, then spend on them until they give birth. And if they breastfeed for you, then give them their payment and confer among yourselves in an acceptable way; but if you are in discord, then there may breastfeed for the father another woman.” [5]

Al-Qurtubi said: “a divorced wife, for their child, then the fathers must pay them for the nursing the child.” [6]

From this verse, it shows the rationality of the mother to nurse her child with the exception that scholars differed in terms of who should be taklif whether the father or mother.

Requisites of Breastfeeding (Nursing)

For a child and milk mother to have a mahram relationship, there are three requisites:

  1. Milk mother
  2. Milk child
  3. Milk

Thus, according to the above question, we focus this discussion on the conditions of a milk mother. The milk mother must be human, regardless of whether she is married or not, widow or virgin, Muslim or non-Muslim, sane or insane.

And for the conditions of a milk mother:

  • A woman – thus, animal milk doesn’t prohibit the child, for instance, two children are given milk from the same cow, then they aren’t considered as milk siblings, implementing the maxim “Familial prohibition is the branch from the prohibition of the mother. If it is not sabit with the prohibition of the mother through nursing then milk kinship is also not sabit.” Furthermore, the milk of a man – if available – is not included as milk that prohibits.
  • The ability to reproduce (reaches puberty) – Madhhab Hanafiyah and Shafieyah are of the opinion that a milk mother must be a woman who has reached puberty (nine years old). If she lactates before she reaches nine years old, the nursing isn’t considered, except if she has reached puberty (menstruated). However, if the woman lactates and nurses the child when she has yet reached nine years old nor had she had her period, her milk child is her mahram.

While madhhab Maliki doesn’t condition for the milk mother to have reached puberty and valid (the prohibition between the milk mother and child) if the milk mother is still very young. [7]

Syeikh Muhammad al-Zuhaili stated that in verse 233 surah al-Baqarah as stated at the beginning of the discussion, nursing for a child is until the child is exactly 2 years old is the right of the mother and not her obligation. It is obligated for the husband to pay his wife or his ex-wife who gave birth to his child, for the nursing if he asked for it. However, it is obligatory for the mother to nurse her child at the beginning of birth (colostrum). The reason is the child will usually not be able to live without it and there is no other replacement. There is no other ingredient that is able to strengthen the child for the baby’s development. [8]

Imam al-Qurtubi said: “And the addition on the 2 years of nursing is permissible on the condition that it doesn’t harm the baby and agreement from both parents.” [9]

While according to Imam Ibn al-Qayyim al-Jauziyyah Rahimahullah: “And it is permissible for the mother to continue nursing her child after two years until half of the third year or more than that.” [10]

Prof Dr Wahbah al-Zuhaili Rahimahullah stated in al-Fiqh al-Islami wa Aditullah: “If the nursing of the child continues after the 2 years because the baby is weak then there is no restriction against it because there is a necessity. However, it is no longer sabit the ruling of mahram due to nursing and the divorced mother can no longer demand payment for the nursing.” [11]

According to the above question, we concluded that it is permissible for a mother to continue nursing her child for more than 2 years old on the following conditions:

  • It doesn’t harm the child,
  • She doesn’t limit the child’s food intake to just her milk, consequently, the baby should eat other balanced nutrients for healthy development growth,
  • It is done due to a necessity. It is best to first refer to a paediatrician for advice regarding the health effects of nursing after 2 years old.

May Allah SWT grant us all understanding in this religion. Amin.

Wallahu a’lam.


[1] See Kamus Dewan pg. 1553

[2] See al-Mausu’ah al-Fiqhiyyah al-Kuwaitiyyah, 22/238

[3] Surah al-Baqarah: 233

[4] See Tafsir al-Qurtubi, 3/160

[5] Surah al-Talaq: 6

[6] See Tafsir al-Qurtubi, 18/168

[7] See al-Fiqh al-Islami wa Adillatuh10/7283

[8] See al-Mu`tamad fi al-Fiqh al-Syafie 4/290)

[9] See Tafsir al-Qurtubi, 3/162

[10] See Tuhfah al-Maudud, pg. 235

[11] See al-Fiqh al-Islami wa Adillatuh, 10/7288