Are there any spiritual benefits of breastfeeding my child?

Allah subhannahu wa ta’ala says in His Qur’an:

وَالْوَالِدَاتُ يُرْضِعْنَ أَوْلَادَهُنَّ حَوْلَيْنِ كَامِلَيْنِ ۖ لِمَنْ أَرَادَ أَن يُتِمَّ الرَّضَاعَةَ ۚ وَعَلَى الْمَوْلُودِ لَهُ رِزْقُهُنَّ وَكِسْوَتُهُنَّ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ ۚ لَا تُكَلَّفُ نَفْسٌ إِلَّا وُسْعَهَا ۚ لَا تُضَارَّ وَالِدَةٌ بِوَلَدِهَا وَلَا مَوْلُودٌ لَّهُ بِوَلَدِهِ ۚ وَعَلَى الْوَارِثِ مِثْلُ ذَٰلِكَ ۗ فَإِنْ أَرَادَا فِصَالًا عَن تَرَاضٍ مِّنْهُمَا وَتَشَاوُرٍ فَلَا جُنَاحَ عَلَيْهِمَا ۗ وَإِنْ أَرَدتُّمْ أَن تَسْتَرْضِعُوا أَوْلَادَكُمْ فَلَا جُنَاحَ عَلَيْكُمْ إِذَا سَلَّمْتُم مَّا آتَيْتُم 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.” (2:233)

and

وَوَصَّيْنَا الْإِنسَانَ بِوَالِدَيْهِ إِحْسَانًا ۖ حَمَلَتْهُ أُمُّهُ كُرْهًا وَوَضَعَتْهُ كُرْهًا ۖ وَحَمْلُهُ وَفِصَالُهُ ثَلَاثُونَ شَهْرًا ۚ حَتَّىٰ إِذَا بَلَغَ أَشُدَّهُ وَبَلَغَ أَرْبَعِينَ سَنَةً قَالَ رَبِّ أَوْزِعْنِي أَنْ أَشْكُرَ نِعْمَتَكَ الَّتِي أَنْعَمْتَ عَلَيَّ وَعَلَىٰ وَالِدَيَّ وَأَنْ أَعْمَلَ صَالِحًا تَرْضَاهُ وَأَصْلِحْ لِي فِي ذُرِّيَّتِي ۖ إِنِّي تُبْتُ إِلَيْكَ وَإِنِّي مِنَ الْمُسْلِمِي

“And We have enjoined upon man, to his parents, good treatment. His mother carried him with hardship and gave birth to him with hardship, and his gestation and weaning [period] is thirty months. [He grows] until, when he reaches maturity and reaches [the age of] forty years, he says, “My Lord, enable me to be grateful for Your favor which You have bestowed upon me and upon my parents and to work righteousness of which You will approve and make righteous for me my offspring. Indeed, I have repented to You, and indeed, I am of the Muslims.” (46:15)

In addition, Anas relates this hadith from al Tabarani:

Sallama, the nurse to the Prophet’s (sallalahu aleyhi wa salaam) son Ibrahim said, ‘O Messenger of God, you have brought tidings of all good things to men, but not to women.’ He said, ‘Did your women friends put you up to asking me this question?’ ‘Yes, they did,’ she replied, and he said,’ Does it not please any one of you that if she is pregnant by her husband and he is satisfied with that, she receives the reward of one who fasts and prays for
the sake of Allah? And when her labor pains come, no one in the heavens or the earth knows what is concealed in her womb to delight her? And when she delivers, not a mouthful of milk flows from her, and not a suck does she give, but that she receives, for every mouthful and every suck the reward of one good deed. And if she is kept awake at night by her child, she receives the reward of one who frees seventy slaves for the sake of Allah.'”

Clearly, Allah subhannahu wa ta’ala has designed breast milk for our babies. The fact that the superior benefits of breast milk and breastfeeding are constantly being discovered should be sign enough for the Muslima. If artificial baby milk was really “just as good” as breast milk, then all or most of the benefits of breast milk would be present in formula. If artificial baby milk was just as beneficial to the mother-child relationship, then the above ayat and hadith (among others) would not be so clearly pro-breastfeeding. The existence of the milk mother (the one who suckles a child more than five times becomes as another mother to him) in Islamic law testifies to the fact that Muhammad (sallalahu aleyhi wa salaam), who himself had a milk mother named Halima, realized how extensive and important the bonding between a nursing woman and a baby is. And we know from the hadith in Bukhari that the mother is the most deserving of her offspring’s attention, because of the care that she gave him when he was a child.

Source: Modern Muslima ( http://www.modernmuslima.com/bffaq.htm )

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