Answered by Mawlana Ilyas Patel
I work as part of an organization that promotes breastfeeding. Is it permissible to promote breastmilk donation and use donated breastmilk to feed babies? Some scholars have stated that we should not use breastmilk from milk banks unless we know who the donor is.
In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate
Working in a Milk bank in itself would be permissible if you are promoting it amongst non-Muslims, as it will have no consequence in their family lineage structure. However, there are shar‘i ramifications and considerations if one promotes to Muslims.
Drinking the breast milk of a woman establishes kinship when a baby drinks it within a specific time period, i.e., two or a half years. [Ibn ‘Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar]
Human milk is generally stored in two ways; one is pooling the milk of several donors into one storage, and the other is pooling the milk from each milk donor individually.
If the milk of several donors is pooled into one and a Muslim baby receives it, foster relations will be established with all the donor mothers. If each donor’s milk is pooled individually, it will be easier to establish the identity of the foster milk mother.
However, both these methods still pose a problem from a shar‘i perspective because most milk banks do not notify the donors who the recipient of their milk is, and the recipient is neither informed of the donor. Due to this reason, jurists say, it will not be permissible to donate or receive milk from a milk bank unless the identities of both the donor and recipient are known.
In your case, as a worker at a Human milk bank, if you can build a Muslim sensitivity framework, and the organization allows keeping records of the milk donor and recipient, and when Muslim babies who are in medical need, they would be allowed to choose one specific donor milk, and the milk donor is also notified who has benefited from her milk, this way there will be no shar‘i ramifications. The milk donor and recipient will now know they have a foster milk-mother/child relationship.
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I pray this helps with your question.
[Mawlana] Ilyas Patel
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Mawlana Ilyas Patel is a traditionally-trained scholar who has studied within UK, India, Pakistan, Syria, Jordan and Turkey.
He started his early education in UK. He went onto complete hifz of Qur’an in India, then enrolled into an Islamic seminary in UK where he studied the secular and Alimiyyah sciences. He then travelled to Karachi, Pakistan.
He has been an Imam in Rep of Ireland for a number of years. He has taught hifz of the Qur’an, Tajwid, Fiqh and many other Islamic sciences to both children and adults onsite and online extensively in UK and Ireland. He was teaching at a local Islamic seminary for 12 years in the UK where he was a librarian and a teacher of Islamic sciences.
He currently resides in UK with his wife. His personal interest is love of books and gardening.