How Much Milk-Nursing Is Needed to Establish Familial Bonds?

Shafi'i Fiqh

Answered by Shaykh Irshaad Sedick

Question

If a woman wants to breastfeed a child to make him a foster brother of her children, will it be permissible?
How many feeds are required for this, and how much milk should there be in each feed?

Answer

In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate. May Allah guide us to that which pleases Him, Amin.

Milk-nursing to establish familial bonds is permissible and herewith follows the related rulings:

Milk-Nursing for Foster Relations

According to Sacred Law, an infant becomes the child of the female who breastfeeds him. The resultant familial bond means that the child would be unable to marry her and her daughters. [Misri, ʿUmda Al-Salik]

In other words, she is like a mother to him, and her children are his milk-siblings. Therefore, it is lawful for him to look at them and be alone with them, and his ablution (wudu) will not be nullified by touching them. [ibid.]

Conditions for Establishing Foster Relations via Milk-Nursing

(a)   The milk-mother must be at least nine years old. The milk may be induced by sexual intercourse or something else (like medication).

(b)   She breastfeeds a child who is younger than two lunar years old.

(c)   There must be at least five separate breast-feedings (Separate breast-feedings means whatever is commonly acknowledged to be separate. The quantity of milk is not relevant, as long as each feed is customarily regarded as a complete feed). [ibid.]

I pray this is of benefit.

[Shaykh] Irshaad Sedick

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Irshaad Sedick was raised in South Africa in a traditional Muslim family. He graduated from Dar al-Ulum al-Arabiyyah al-Islamiyyah in Strand, Western Cape, under the guidance of the late world-renowned scholar, Shaykh Taha Karaan. 

Shaykh Irshaad received Ijaza from many luminaries of the Islamic world, including Shaykh Taha Karaan, Mawlana Yusuf Karaan, and Mawlana Abdul Hafeez Makki, among others.

He is the author of the text “The Musnad of Ahmad ibn Hanbal: A Hujjah or not?” He has served as the Director of the Discover Islam Centre and Al Jeem Foundation. For the last five years till present, he has served as the Khatib of Masjid Ar-Rashideen, Mowbray, Cape Town.

Shaykh Irshaad has thirteen years of teaching experience at some of the leading Islamic institutes in Cape Town). He is currently building an Islamic online learning and media platform called ‘Isnad Academy’ and pursuing his Master’s degree in the study of Islam at the University of Johannesburg. He has a keen interest in healthy living and fitness.