Reda’a: Opinions of Muslim Scholars On the Issue of Breast-Feeding

In one of my papers titled, Islam and The Nursing of Adults, I criticized Muhammad for condoning the breast-feeding of a young man. Here is one of the hadiths which I mentioned:

'A'isha (Allah be pleased with her) reported that Sahla bint Suhail came to Allah's Apostle (may peace be upon him) and said: Messenger of Allah, I see on the face of Abu Hudhaifa (signs of disgust) on entering of Salim (who is an ally) into (our house), whereupon Allah's Apostle (may peace be upon him) said: Suckle him. She said: How can I suckle him as he is a grown-up man? Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) smiled and said: I already know that he is a young man. 'Amr has made this addition in his narration that he participated in the Battle of Badr and in the narration of Ibn 'Umar (the words are): Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) laughed. (Sahih Muslim, Book 008, Number 3424)

Our paper caused quite a stir amongst Muslims. In the ‘rebuttal’ article, Perverted Missionary Mentality and The Nursing of Adults, the authors Hesham Azmy and Usman Sheikh accused me of being a sick pervert for assuming that the word "suckling" in these narrations implied that the person made direct contact with the breast. They write:

Direct contact is not necessary for nursing. In other words, the milk is collected in a cup or pot and the foster son drinks it without getting into close contact with the foster mother. This was what actually happened in the case of Sahl‚ bint Suh‚il and Salîm, as reported by Muhamad Ibn Sa'‚d and Ibn Hajar Al-‘Asqal‚ni in their respective biographies of Sahl‚ bint Suh‚il: ...

Muhammad Ibn ‘Umar told us: Muhammad Ibn ‘Abdullah, Az-Zuhri’s nephew, told us on authority of his father that he said: an amount of one milk drink was collected in a pot or glass, so Salîm used to drink it every day, for five days. After this, he used to enter at her while her head is uncovered. This was permission from Messenger of Allah to Sahla bint Suhail.[5]

We believe that this is a fatal refutation to Shamoun’s perverted mentality. The charge that he had wanted to direct at our Holy Prophet(P) has backfired upon him. It is crystal-clear that this missionary did not derive his filthy interpretation from any Islamic source, rather, it came from his equally filthy mind.

They then assert:

In order for his argument to carry at least a little weight, the missionary needs to demonstrate to the readers that others besides him had also misunderstood the tradition in question, in exactly the same way as he did (note that quoting his fellow missionaries proves nothing other than that they are as perverted as he is). However, we are 100% certain that he is about the only person on this planet who has ever misunderstood the meaning of such a simple, straightforward tradition. Therefore his lack of comprehension and the pervert nature of his feeble mind does not prove anything against Islam. That is to say that if Sam Shamoun cannot understand and comprehend an issue, then that proves nothing against Islam other than to demonstrate his own lack of intelligence, more so when he is the only individual who seems to have had a "problem" with the passage and got "confused" with its intended meaning.

We have already thoroughly dealt with their charges in the following response:

Here we would like to produce some additional citations from Muslim scholars to see what they say about breast-feeding, whether a person must make direct contact with the breast or not. We will conclude from there with some comments and analysis of the material. All bold and capital emphasis is ours.

From the book "The Tongue of the Arabs" written by Ibn Al-Manthur Al-Afriki:

وقال الأَخفش: أَدخل الهاء في المُرْضِعة لأَنه أَراد، والله أَعلم، الفِعْل ولو أَراد الصفة لقال: مرضع؛ وقال أَبو زيد: المرضعة التي تُرْضِع وثَدْيُها في فيّ ولدها، وعليه قوله: {تَذْهَلُ كُلُّ مُرْضِعَةٍ}، قال: وكلُّ مرضعة كلُّ أُم. قال: والمرضع التي دنا لها أَن تُرْضِع ولم تُرْضِع بعد. (لسان العرب، الإصدار 2.02 - لابن المنظور الإفريقي).

Al Akh-fash said "The letter ‘H’ was placed in the word ‘Al Murdi’a’ المُرْضِعة (the nursing woman) because an action is being commanded, and Allah knows best. If an adjective was intended, the word would have been ‘Murdi’ مرضع ".

Abu Zaid said, "Al Murdi’a’ المُرْضِعة (the nursing woman) is the one who nurses her child WITH HER BREAST IN HIS MOUTH."

From the book "The Conclusion of the Strange Hadith and its Impact" written by Imam Ibn Al-Atheer:

وفي حديث أبي موسى <أنَّ رجُلاً استَفْتاهُ فقال: امْرَأتِي صَرِيَ لَبَنُها في ثَدْيِها، فَدَعَتْ جاريةً لها فَمَصَّتْه، فقال: حَرِمتُ عليك> أي اجتمع في ثَدْيِها حتى فَسَد طَعْمُه. وتحريمُها على مذهب من يَرَى أن رَضَاع الكبير يُحرّم. (النهاية في غريب الحديث والأثر. الإصدار 2.04 - للإمام ابن الأثير).

In the hadith of Abu Musa (Al-Ashari): A man who drank (the milk of his wife) said ‘My wife had excess milk in her breast so she called her maid WHO SUCKED IT OUT.’ Abu Musa replied, ‘She is forbidden to you.’ Here, excess means that milk collected in her breast until it became rancid. The woman became forbidden to him according to the rite that sees prohibition (of marriage) due to nursing the adult.

From the book "Achieving the Goal" written by Imam Al-Shawkani:

(لا رضاع إلا ما كان في الحولين) بأنه موقوف كما تقدم ولا حجة في الموقوف وبما تقدم من اشتهار الهيثم بن جميل بالغلط وهو المنفرد برفعه ولا يخفى أن الرفع زيادة يجب المصير إليها على ما ذهب إليه أئمة الأصول وبعض أئمة الحديث إذا كانت ثابتة من طريق ثقة والهيثم ثقة كما قاله الدارقطني مع كونه مؤيداً بحديث جابر المذكور. وأجابوا عن حديث: (فإنما الرضاعة من المجاعة) بأن شرب الكبير يؤثر في دفع مجاعته قطعاً كما يؤثر في دفع مجاعة الصغير أو قريباً منه وأورد عليهم أن الأمر إذا كان كما ذكرتم من استواء الكبير والصغير فما الفائدة في الحديث وتخلصوا عن ذلك بأن فائدته إبطال تعلق التحريم بالقطرة من اللبن والمصة التي لا تغني من جوع ولا يخفى ما في هذا من التعسف ولا ريب أن سد الجوعة [ص 123] باللبن الكائن في ضرع المرضعة إنما يكون لمن لم يجد طعاماً ولا شراباً غيره وأما من كان يأكل ويشرب فهو لا تسد جوعته عند الحاجة بغير الطعام والشراب وكون الرضاع مما يمكن أن يسد به جوعة الكبير أمر خارج عن محل النزاع فإنه ليس النزاع فيمن يمكن أن تسد جوعته به إنما النزاع فيمن لا تسد جوعته إلا به وهكذا أجابوا عن الاحتجاج بحديث: (لا رضاع إلا ما أنشر العظم وأنبت اللحم) (نيل الأوطار، الإصدار 1.21 - للإمام الشوكاني).

The scholars of principle and hadith have responded regarding the hadith, "Nursing is for the purpose of hunger," that nursing for an adult is definitely effective in repelling hunger just as it is effective in repelling hunger for a child, or is similar to it. When they were asked of what use was this hadith if the adult and the child are equal, they (the scholars) concluded from it that the benefit (of the hadith) was the removal of prohibition (of marriage) because of a drop of milk and the suckling that does not satisfy a hunger. It is obvious that this opinion (one drop of milk will prohibit marriage) is very strict and there is no doubt that satisfying hunger with milk that is in the breast of a nursing woman will be for him who cannot find any other food or drink. As for him who does eat and drink then he should satisfy his hunger with food or drink. The fact that breast-feeding can stop the hunger of an adult is not the point of contention; rather, it is those whose hunger cannot be satisfied except by it (nursing). This is how the scholars responded to those who use the hadith, "No nursing except to him who grows bones and gains muscle."

From the book "The Way of Peace – Explanation of the Desired Ambition" written by Al-San’ani:

بكسر الراء وفتحها ومثله الرضاعة. عَنْ عَائِشَةَ رَضي اللَّهُ عَنْهَا قالَتْ: قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلّى الله عَلَيْهِ وَسَلّم: "لا تُحَرِّمُ المصَّةُ وَالمصَّتَانِ" أَخْرَجَهُ مُسْلِمٌ. (عَنْ عَائِشَةَ رَضي اللَّهُ عَنْهَا قالَتْ: قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلّى الله عَلَيْهِ وَسَلّم: "لا تُحَرِّمُ المصَّةُ وَالمصَّتَانِ" أَخْرَجَهُ مُسْلِمٌ). المصة الواحدة من المص وهو أخذ اليسير من الشيء كما في الضياء وفي القاموس مصصته بالكسر أمصه ومصصته أمصه كخصصته أخصه شربته شرباً رفيقاً. والحديث دل على أن مص الصبي للثدي مرة أو مرتين لا يصير به رضيعاً وفي المسألة أقوال: الأول: أن الثلاث فصاعداً تحرم وإلى هذا ذهب داود وأتباعه وجماعة من العلماء لمفهوم حديث مسلم هذا وحديث الآخر بلفظ: "لا تحرم الإملاجة والإملاجتان" فأفاد بمفهومه تحريم ما فوق الاثنتين. (سبل السلام ، شرح بلوغ المرام، الإصدار 1.04 - للصنعاني).

Rida with a diacritical mark underneath the "R" pronounced "Rida’a" or a diacritical mark above the "R" pronounced "Rada", similarly the word Al-Rida’a.

Aisha – may Allah be pleased with her – narrated that the Prophet – pbuh – said, "Neither one nor two suckles will cause prohibition." Imam Muslim reported it.

One suckle comes from sucking and involves taking a little of something as in a ‘glimpse’ and in the dictionary the words "mamsata" and "Amasa" and "ka-khasata" and "akhasa" mean to drink very delicately.

The hadith (mentioned above) illustrates that a boy SUCKING ON A BREAST once or twice does not make him someone that is nursed, and concerning this issue there are a number of sayings:

That a person three years or older will become prohibited (in marriage); this was the opinion of Dawud, his followers and a number of scholars regarding the hadith of Imam Muslim. This hadith was also related in another pronunciation, "Neither one nor two ‘imlaja’ will cause prohibition," so it was understood that a person over two years old will become prohibited.

From the book "Jurisprudence According to the Four Schools of Thought" written by Abdel Rahman Al-Jaziri:

الرضاع - بفتح الراء، وكسرها - ويقال: رضاعة - بفتح الراء، وكسرها - أيضاً، معناه في اللغة أنه اسم لمص الثدي. سواء كان مص ثدي آدمية أو ثدي بهيمة أو نحو ذلك، فيقال لغة لمن مص ثدي بقرة أو شاة: إنه رضعها، فإذا حلب لبنها وشربه الصبي فلا يقال له: رضعه، ولا يشترط في المعنى اللغوي أن يكون الرضيع صغيراً.

أما معناه شرعاً، فهو وصول لبن آدمية إلى جوف طفل لم يزد سنه على حولين (1) - أربعة وعشرين شهراً - فإن شرب صغير وصغيرة لبن بهيمة لا تحرم عليه، ولا فرق بين أن يصل اللبن إلى الجوف من طريق الفم بمص الثدي أو بصبه في حلقه أو إدخاله من أنفه، فمتى وصل اللبن إلى معدة الطفل أثناء مدة الحولين المذكورين بالشروط الآتية كان رضاعاً شرعياً عليه التحريم الآتي بيانه، أما إن كان كبيراً زائداً على الحولين ورضع فإن رضاعه لا يعتبر.

ورد في صحيح مسلم أن النبي صلى اللّه عليه وسلم أمر سهلة بنت سهيل أن ترضع سالماً مولى أبي حذيفة زوجها بعد البلوغ حتى تكون أماً له فلا يحرم نظره إليها، وذلك لأن سهلة ذهبت إلى النبي صلى اللّه عليه وسلم وقالت له يا رسول اللّه صلى اللّه عليه وسلم إن سالماً مولى أبي حذيفة مضى في بيتنا وقد بلغ ما يبلغ الرجال وعلم ما يعلم الرجال، فقال: "أرضعيه تحرمي عليه" فهذا صريح في أن رضاع الكبير يوجب التحريم، والجواب أن ذلك كان قبل تحديد مدة الرضاع بالحولين، فنسخ العمل به أو هو خصوصية لسالم وسهلة، لما رآه النبي صلى اللّه عليه وسلم من الضرورة الملحة التي تستلزم الترخيص لأهل هذا البيت، حيث لا يمكن الاستغناء عن دخول سالم بحال، على أن هناك إشكالاً آخر، وهو أن الرضاع يستلزم الثدي ومصه ولمسه وهو محرم. والجواب أنه لا يستلزم لأن التحريم كما يكون بالمص يكون بالشرب، كما عرفت، فيصح أن تكون قد حلبت له ثديها فشرب. (الفقه على المذاهب الأربعة. الإصدار 1.28 - لعبد الرحمن الجزيري).

Al-Rida with a diacritical mark above the "R" is pronounced "Rada or a diacritical mark underneath the "R" is pronounced "Rida’a". Both Rada’a and Rida’a in the Arabic language IS A NOUN FOR SUCKING A BREAST, whether it was sucking the breast of a human female OR THE BREAST OF AN ANIMAL OR THE LIKE. So it is said in the (Arabic) language of someone WHO SUCKLED THE UDDER OF A COW or the teet of a sheep THAT HE NURSED (rada’a) FROM IT. However, if a person milked the animals and drank the milk, THEN IT IS NOT SAID THAT HE NURSED (radi’a) and it is not necessary in the (Arabic) language that the person nursing must be a child.

As for the (religious) legislative meaning, it refers to the milk of a human female reaching the stomach of a child who is not older than two years. So if a male and female child drinks the milk of an animal, then they will not be forbidden (in marriage) from each other. There is no difference if the milk arrives to the stomach by means of sucking on a breast, or by drinking it from a cup or by pouring it up the nostril. Therefore, when the milk arrives in the stomach of the child during the first two years described with regulations, then the nursing is considered legal and the laws of prohibition apply. However, if the person nursing is older than two years, then his nursing is not considered (prohibitive).

It was related in Sahih Muslim that the Prophet – pbuh – ordered Sahla daughter of Suhail to nurse Salim, the adopted son of her husband Abu Hudhaifa, after Salim had reach the age of puberty. This was done to make Sahla a mother to Salim and to allow him to look upon her (unveiled) without it being considered unlawful.

This occurred when Sahla went to the Prophet – pbuh – and said to him, "O prophet of Allah! Salim, the adopted son of Abu Hudhaifa, enters into our home and he has reached the age that men reach and knows what men know." The Prophet said, "Nurse him and he will be prohibited to you."

This is a clear indication that nursing the adult does cause prohibition. The response to this (claim) is that THIS ORDER WAS GIVEN PRIOR TO SPECIFYING THE NURSING PERIOD OF TWO YEARS, so the command may have been abrogated or was given specifically for Salim and Sahla when the Prophet – pbuh – saw that the urgent need necessitated such a consent to the members of that household; for it was impossible to prevent Salim from entering (the house) under any circumstance. However, this raises another problem; namely that this type of nursing NECESSITATES THE TOUCHING AND THE SUCKING OF THE BREAST, which is prohibited. The response to this is that it (nursing) may not have required such an action since prohibition can be achieved by either suckling or drinking, so it MAY BE that she pumped her breast and then he drank.


In their response to me, the authors Hesham Azmy and Usman Sheikh plagiarized the following insult:

Shamoun’s filthy interpretation of the Prophetic permission reminds us of a famous Egyptian joke about an idiot who once wanted to drink hot milk, so he burnt his cow. Shamoun typically thinks like this idiot. If you wanted to drink some cow milk, will you go below the cow and suckle it? Will you put the cow on a fire to heat its milk and then suckle her? If you are Sam Shamoun, the answer must be a YES! Only a filthy idiot diseased with congenital hypothyroidism would think like that! However, this is the only way of thinking familiar to Shamoun’s perverted mind.

Abdel Raham Al-Jaziri must also have thought like this idiot, and must have been a pervert, since he states that reda’a only refers to the sucking of a breast, whether from the human female breast OR from the udder of a cow. Note his words carefully:

Al-Rida with a diacritical mark above the "R" is pronounced "Rada or a diacritical mark underneath the "R" is pronounced "Rida’a". Both Rada’a and Rida’a in the Arabic language IS A NOUN FOR SUCKING A BREAST, whether it was sucking the breast of a human female OR THE BREAST OF AN ANIMAL OR THE LIKE. So it is said in the (Arabic) language of someone WHO SUCKLED THE UDDER OF A COW or the teet of a sheep THAT HE NURSED (rada’a) FROM IT. However, if a person milked the animals and drank the milk, THEN IT IS NOT SAID THAT HE NURSED (radi’a) and it is not necessary in the (Arabic) language that the person nursing must be a child.

Would the authors still want to maintain their claim that anyone who says that "reda’a" refers to sucking a breast is an idiot and pervert? Have they not by these attacks merely exposed their own ignorance?

From the book "Opening the Righteous, Explanation of the Correct Bukhari (Hadith)" written by Imam Ibn Hajar Al-Askalani:

ويمكن أن يستدل به على أن الرضعة الواحدة لا تحرم لأنها لا تغني من جوع، وإذا كان يحتاج إلى تقدير فأولى ما يؤخذ به ما قدرته الشريعة وهو خمس رضعات، واستدل به على أن التغذية بلبن المرضعة يحرم سواء كان بشرب أم أكل بأي صفة كان، حتى الوجور والسعوط والثرد والطبخ وغير ذلك إذا وقع ذلك بالشرط المذكور من العدد لأن ذلك يطرد الجوع، وهو موجود في جميع ما ذكر فيوافق الخبر والمعنى وبهذا قال الجمهور.

لكن استثنى الحنفية الحقنة وخالف في ذلك الليث وأهل الظاهر فقالوا إن الرضاعة المحرمة إنما تكون بالتقام الثدي ومص اللبن منه، وأورد على ابن حزم أنه يلزم على قولهم إشكال في التقام سالم ثدي سهلة وهي أجنبية منه، فإن عياضا أجاب عن الإشكال باحتمال أنها حلبته ثم شربه من غير أن يمس ثديها، قال النووي: وهو احتمال حسن، لكنه لا يفيد ابن حزم، لأنه لا يكتفي في الرضاع إلا بالتقام الثدي، لكن أجاب النووي بأنه عفي عن ذلك للحاجة. وأما ابن حزم فاستدل بقصة سالم على جواز مس الأجنبي ثدي الأجنبية والتقام ثديها إذا أراد أن يرتضع منها مطلقا؛ واستدل به على أن الرضاعة إنما تعتبر في حال الصغر لأنها الحال الذي يمكن طرد الجوع فيها باللبن بخلاف حال الكبر، وضابط ذلك تمام الحولين كما تقدم في الترجمة، وعليه دل حديث ابن عباس المذكور وحديث أم سلمة " لا رضاع إلا ما فتق الأمعاء وكان قبل الفطام " وصححه الترمذي وابن حبان، قال القرطبي: في قوله " فإنما الرضاعة من المجاعة " تثبيت قاعدة كلية صريحة في اعتبار الرضاع في الزمن الذي يستغنى به الرضيع عن الطعام باللبن، ويعتضد بقوله تعالى (لمن أراد أن يتم الرضاعة) فأنه يدل على أن هذه المدة أقصى مدة الرضاع المحتاج إليه عادة المعتبر شرعا، فما زاد عليه لا يحتاج إليه عادة فلا يعتبر شرعا، إذ لا حكم للنادر وفي اعتبار إرضاع الكبير انتهاك حرمة المرأة بارتضاع الأجنبي منها لاطلاعه على عورتها ولو بالتقامه ثديه.

قلت: وهذا الأخير على الغالب وعلى مذهب من يشترط التقام الثدي، وقد تقدم قبل خمسة أبواب أن عائشة كانت لا تفرق في حكم الرضاع بين حال الصغر والكبر، وقد استشكل ذلك مع كون هذا الحديث من روايتها واحتجت هي بقصة سالم موالي أبي حذيفة فلعلها فهمت من قوله " إنما الرضاعة من المجاعة اعتبار مقدار ما يسد الجوعة من لبن المرضعة لمن يرتضع منها، وذلك أعم من أن يكون المرتضع صغيرا أو كبيرا فلا يكون الحديث نصا في منع اعتبار رضاع الكبير، وحديث ابن عباس مع تقدير ثبوته ليس نصا في ذلك ولا حديث أم سلمة لجواز أن يكون المراد أن الرضاع بعد الفطام ممنوع، ثم لو وقع رتب عليه حكم التحريم، فما في الأحاديث المذكورة ما يدفع هذا الاحتمال، فلهذا عملت عائشة بذلك، وحكاه النووي تبعا لابن الصباغ وغيره عن داود. (فتح الباري، شرح صحيح البخاري، الإصدار 2.05 - للإمام ابن حجر العسقلاني).

Regarding the hadith, "Neither one nor two suckles will cause prohibition" it may be concluded that one suckling will not prohibit (marriage) because it does not satisfy hunger. If an estimate (of feedings) was needed then priority should be given to what the Sharia (religious legislation) has prescribed, which is five feedings. This is supported by the fact that milk of the nursing woman prohibits (marriage) whether the milk is consumed by drinking, eating, inhaling or cooking or the like, as long as it meets the requirements of the number of feedings because that satisfies hunger. This meets the content and meaning of what was mentioned previously and is the opinion of the masses.

However, the Hanafite (school of jurisprudence) and Laith and the people of Tha’hir took exception to this, for they said that nursing that prohibits (marriage) occurs by TOUCHING AND SUCKING THE BREAST TO EXTRACT MILK. It was reported about Ibn Hazim that by this saying THERE IS A PROBLEM WITH SALIM TOUCHING THE BREAST OF SAHLA, who is foreign to him. Ayad responded to this problem (by saying) that PERHAPS she (Sahla) pumped (her milk) and then he drank without having to touch her breast. Al-Nawawi stated that this MAY BE an acceptable possibility BUT IT DOES NOT BENEFIT IBN HAZIM because a nursing does not satisfy UNLESS THERE IS CONTACT WITH THE BREAST. However, Al-Nawawi stated that PERHAPS (Salim) was excused from this out of necessity.

As for Ibn Hazim, HE USED AS HIS EVIDENCE THE STORY OF SALIM to show the acceptability of a foreign male TOUCHING THE BREAST of a foreign female and SUCKLING ON HER BREAST if he wished to nurse from her exclusively.

It was concluded from (the above) that nursing is considered for a period of childhood because it is in this phase that hunger can be satisfied with milk, which is not the case with the adult. This usually occurs at around two years of age, as was shown, and it was also shown by the previously mentioned hadith of Ibn Abbas and the hadith of Um Salama: "There is no nursing except to that which split the guts and before weaning" which was corrected by Al-Tirmidhi and Ibn Habban.

Al-Qurtubi stated that the Prophet’s saying, "Nursing is for hunger," reinforces a clear and complete rule because nursing is performed in the phase where the one being nursed abstains from food for milk. This is supported by (Allah’s) saying (sura 2:233), "If the father desires to complete the term of nursing," which shows that this period (2 years) is the maximum length of time for weaning that a person needs for it (nursing) to be considered lawful; anything above that is not necessary so will not be considered lawful. There is no rule for the exception, considering that nursing the adult will violate a woman’s privacy BY HAVING A FOREIGN MAN BEHOLD HER PRIVATE AREA (awra), EVEN TOUCH HER BREAST.

I said: this last opinion is the more prevalent and is according to the rite THAT MANDATE PHYSICAL CONTACT WITH THE BREAST. It was presented five chapters ago that Aisha DID NOT DIFFERENTIATE IN THE LAW FOR NURSING BETWEEN THE CHILD AND THE ADULT. This may have conflicted (with the hadith about nursing due to hunger) which Aisha herself had narrated, but she used AS HER EXCUSE the story of Salim the adopted son of Abu Hudhaifa. So perhaps she understood from the (Prophet’s) saying, "As for nursing, it is for hunger," that this was referring to the amount (of milk) that will satisfy the hunger of a person being nursed with the milk of the nursing woman. This is more general than stating that the person being nursed is young or old AND THE HADITH WOULD THEN NOT CONTAIN IN ITS TEXT A PROHIBITION AGAINST ADULT BREAST-FEEDING. The hadith of Ibn Abbas, with due respect to his truthfulness, IS NOT A TEXT PROHIBITING IT (ADULT BREAST-FEEDING), neither is the hadith of Um Salim because the intent may be that nursing after the weaning period is forbidden (for feeding purposes). If the law of prohibition (of marriage) had been intended (in the last two people’s hadith), nothing in their mentioned hadith leads to that possibility. That is why Aisha acted upon it (nursing the adult), which Nawawi also narrated from Ibn Al-Sabagh and others from Dawud.

From the book "The Aid of Him who is Worshipped, The Explanation of Traditions of Abu Dawud" written by Al-Abadi:

وفي رواية لمسلم: قالت إن سالماً قد بلغ ما يبلغ الرجال وعقل ما عقلوه وإنه يدخل علينا وإني أظن أن في نفس أبي حذيفة من ذلك شيئاً (أرضعيه): وفي رواية لمسلم: قالت كيف أرضعه وهو رجل كبير فتبسم رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم وقال قد علمت أنه رجل كبير، وفي أخرى له فقالت إنه ذو لحية. قال القاضي عياض: لعلها حلبته ثم شربه من غير أن يمس ثديها وهذا أحسن، ويحتمل أنه عفا عن مسه للحاجة كما خص بالرضاعة مع الكبر انتهى (أن يرضعن من أحبت عائشة أن يراها): الضمير المرفوع يعود إلى من والمنصوب إلى عائشة (أن يدخلن عليهن بتلك الرضاعة): أي بالرضاعة في الكبر (حتى يرضع): على البناء للمجهول (في المهد): أي في حالة الصغر حين يكون الطفل في المهد. والحديث قد استدل به من قال إن إرضاع الكبير يثبت به التحريم وهو مذهب عائشة وعروة بن الزبير وعطاء بن أبي رباح والليث بن سعد وابن علية وابن حزم (عون المعبود، شرح سنن أبي داوود، الإصدار 1.06 - للآبادي).

In the story of (Imam) Muslim: (Sahla) said that Salim reached the age that men reach and thinks the way men think and he enters to us and I suspect that there is uneasiness in the spirit of Abu Hudhaifa because of it. Nurse him (was the response of the Prophet). And in another narration for Muslim: She (Sahla) said ‘How can I nurse him when he is an older man?’ The Prophet – pbuh – smiled and said, ‘I am aware that he is an older man.’ In another narration of Imam Muslim she said, ‘He has a beard.’

Al-Qadi Ayad said that PERHAPS she pumped (the milk) and then he drank without touching her breast and this is good, OR THAT HE WAS PERMITTED TO TOUCH IT OUT OF NECESSITY FOR THE SPECIFIC (task) OF ADULT NURSING.

Regarding the hadith, "(Aisha) requested that they nurse those whom Aisha wanted to enter and see her," the verb here is referring to Aisha. "To enter to them with that nursing," refers to (men) being nursed at an adult age. "Till he nursed," the verb is performed by an unknown person. "In the cradle," refers to the time of infancy when the child sleeps in a crib. The hadith was used by those who say that nursing the adult enforces prohibition (of marriage) and this was the rite (tradition) of Aisha and Urwah Ibn Al-Zubair and Ata Ibn Abi Rabah and Al-Laith Ibn Sa’d and Ibn Alia and Ibn Hazim.

From the book "The Collection of the Regulations of the Koran" written by Imam Al-Qurtubi:

وانفرد الليث بن سعد من بين العلماء إلى أن رضاع الكبير يوجب التحريم؛ وهو قول عائشة رضي الله عنها؛ وروي عن أبي موسى الأشعري، وروي عنه ما يدل على رجوعه عن ذلك، وهو ما رواه أبو حصين عن أبي عطية قال: قدم رجل بامرأته من المدينة فوضعت وتورم ثديها، فجعل يمصه ويمجه فدخل في بطنه جرعة منه؛ فسأل أبا موسى فقال: بانت منك، وأت ابن مسعود فأخبره، ففعل؛ فأقبل بالأعرابي إلى أبي موسى الأشعري وقال: أرضيعا ترى هذا الأشمط ! إنما يحرم من الرضاع ما ينبت اللحم والعظم. فقال الأشعري: لا تسألوني عن شيء وهذا الحبر بين أظهركم. فقوله: "لا تسألوني" يدل على أنه رجع عن ذلك. واحتجت عائشة بقصة سالم مولى أبي حذيفة وأنه كان رجلا. فقال النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم لسهلة بنت سهيل: (أرضعيه) خرجه الموطأ وغيره (الجامع لأحكام القرآن، الإصدار 1.55 - للإمام القرطبي).

Al-Laith Ibn Sa’d exclusively among the scholars said that nursing the adult necessitates prohibition (of marriage), which was the saying of Aisha – may Allah be pleased with her, which was also from Abu Musa Al-Ashari. However, it was also narrated about him by Abu Haseen from Abu Atia that suggests he retracted his opinion when he said, "A man came with his wife from Medina. When she delivered, her breasts swelled so the man messaged and sucked on them and a gulp (of milk) entered his stomach. So he asked Abu Musa who then replied ‘she is not lawful for you.’ Then Ibn Masud came and he was informed (of the matter), so Ibn Masud took the Arabian man to Abu Musa and said, ‘Does this tall person look like a nursing (child) to you? The one prohibited (in marriage) by nursing is the one who grows in flesh and bones.’ Abu Musa Al-Ashari then responded ‘(O people) Do not ask me anything when this great one (Ibn Masud) is among you.’" So his saying ‘Do not ask me’ proves that he retracted his earlier opinion. Aisha relied on the story of Salim, the adopted son of Abu Hudhaifa, who was an adult when the Prophet – pbuh – said to Sahla daughter of Suhail, ‘Nurse him.’ This was narrated by Mawti’ (Malik) and others.

From the book "The Abridge Commentary of Ibn Kathir" written by Al-Saboni:

وقد روي في الصحيحين عن عائشة رضي اللّه عنها أنها كانت ترى رضاع الكبير يؤثر في التحريم، وهو قول عطاء والليث بن سعد، وكانت عائشة تأمر بمن تختار أن يدخل عليها من الرجال لبعض نسائها فترضعه، وتحتج في ذلك بحديث (سالم مولى أبي حذيفة) حيث أمر النبي صلى اللّه عليه وسلم امرأة أبي حذيفة أن ترضعه وكان كبيراً، فكان يدخل عليها بتلك الرضاعة، وأبى ذلك سائر أزواج النبي صلى اللّه عليه وسلم ورأين ذلك من الخصائص، وهو قول الجمهور، وحجة الجمهور ما ثبت في الصحيحين عن عائشة أن رسول اللّه صلى اللّه عليه وسلم قال: "انظرن من إخوانُكنَّ! فإنما الرضاعة من المجاعة". (مختصر تفسير ابن كثير. الإصدار 1.26 - اختصار الصابوني).

It was narrated by both Sahih (of Bukhari and Muslim) regarding Aisha, may Allah be pleased with her, that she used to view adult nursing as affecting prohibition (of marriage). This was also the saying of Ata and Al-Laith Ibn Sa’d. Aisha USED TO NURSE THE MEN that she chose to enter into her company and she used the excuse for this the hadith of Salim the adopted son of Abu Hudhaifa. The Prophet – pbuh – ordered the wife of Abu Hudhaifa to nurse Salim, who was old (at the time), so Salim would enter to her because of that nursing. The other wives of the Prophet – pbuh – refused (to do likewise) and saw that this was a special command (to Sahla), which is the opinion of the majority. The justification the majority used is what is found in both Sahih (of Bukhari and Muslim) narrated by Aisha that the Prophet – pbuh – said, ‘See who are your brothers. For nursing is for hunger.’

Concluding Remarks

To summarize the data, we discover that:

  1. The word Reda’a means to suckle a breast, to suck on a breast.
  2. Some Muslims struggled with the hadith of Sahla breast-feeding Salim, since they realized that this implied that Salim would have to make actual contact with Sahla’s breast.
  3. In light of this stated difficulty, some of them assumed that it might be that Salim didn’t actually suckle Sahla’s breast, but drank her milk in some other way. Yet they were not certain about this. Apparently these Muslims hadn’t read Al-Waqidi’s hadith that Sahla poured her breast milk in a cup!!!
  4. Other Muslims such as Ibn Hazim were not shy to admit that Salim actually suckled the breast of Sahla, since this is the only acceptable form of nursing which makes one unlawful for marriage.
  5. Some Muslims argued that breast-feeding an adult was not forbidden, since the hadiths stating that breast-feeding is limited to the age of weaning refer to something different, i.e. for satisfying hunger.
  6. Others said that the hadiths limiting breast-feeding to the weaning period were given after the incident of Sahla and Salim, which implies that breast-feeding adults has been prohibited.

Interestingly, even though Azmy and Sheikh argue for the position that breast-feeding adults is no longer permissible, they still have to admit:

... Yes, 'Aish‚ did hold the view that nursing of adults is permissible, but her opinion cannot stand before the agreement of other wives of the Prophet(P), emienent Companions, Seven Jurists of Madinah (from the generation of Tabi'un) and the Four Imams. And All‚h knows best.

Yet Aisha wasn’t alone, as we just saw above. In fact, the authors cite Ibn Kathir who writes:

It is reported in both Sahihs that `Aisha thought that if a woman gives her milk to an older person (meaning beyond the age of two years) then this will establish fosterage. This is also the opinion of `Ata' Ibn Abu Rabah and Al-Laith Ibn Sa`d. Hence, `Aisha thought that it is permissible to suckle the man whom the woman needs to be allowed in her house. She used as evidence the Hadîth of Salîm, the freed slave of Abu Huzaifah, where the Prophet ordered Abu Huzaifah's wife to give some of her milk to Salîm, although he was a man, and ever since then, he used to enter her house freely. However, the rest of the Prophet's wives did not agree with this opinion and thought that this was only a special case. This is also the opinion of the Majority of the scholars (Al-Jumhour). The evidence of the Majority of scholars who are the Four Imams, the Seven Jurists, eminent Companions and the rest of the Prophet’s wives except ‘Aisha, is what is reported in both Sahihs on authority of ‘Aisha that Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said, “Be sure about your foster brothers, as fosterage is only valid if it takes place in the suckling period (before two years of age).” [14]

Whatever the case, one point is clear. These sources say that reda’a refers to direct contact with the breast, and it is this form of suckling that makes one unlawful for marriage. Even those Muslims who tried to say that Salim wasn’t required to suckle from Sahla’s breast were not certain about that, since they had nothing to base this on. It was purely conjecture on their part.

In light of the foregoing, it is quite evident that I wasn’t the only one who assumed that Sahla suckled Salim by allowing him to make direct contact with her breast.

Therefore, we are still awaiting an apology from the authors for their slanderous attack and gross lies against us. They need to come clean and acknowledge that our initial analysis was correct. The authors already stated several times in their first response that the breast-feeding of adult men is a perverted practice, indeed that such a thought could only come from people "whose mind is filled with nothing but filth". (They even said that "Only a filthy idiot diseased with congenital hypothyroidism would think like that!") Since it was Muhammad who commanded Sahla bint Suhail to suckle the young man Salim, we leave it to Azmy and Sheikh to draw their own conclusions.

Sam Shamoun


We would like to personally thank Christian writer and apologist Dimitrius for providing both the Arabic text and the English translation, without which this article could not have been written. We are indebted to him for taking the time and putting in the hard effort in producing the material for the web. May our risen Lord and immortal Savior Jesus Christ richly bless him and his family for his eternal glory forever and ever. Amen.

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