Mahram by Breastfeeding
Maḥram by breastfeeding or al-maḥram al-riḍā'ī (Arabic: المَحْرَم الرِضاعي) refers to relatives who become mahram with one another by virtue of breastfeeding, and as a result, certain rulings apply to them, such as the prohibition of marriage between them. In jurisprudence, certain conditions should be met for becoming mahram by breastfeeding.
Mahram by breastfeeding is a kind of relationship that is created between a baby being breastfed by a woman, the breastfeeding woman, and the man who impregnated the breastfeeding woman. Mahrams by breastfeeding are discussed under the section of marriage in jurisprudential books.
|This section is a general introduction to the rulings of a fiqhi topic.|
Shiite jurists maintain that the conditions of becoming mahram by breastfeeding consist of the following:
- The breastfeeding woman should have become pregnant legitimately.
- The breastfed baby should not be older than two lunar years.
- The breastfed baby should directly intake the breast milk with his or her mouth, rather than, say, by the milk being poured into his or her throat.
- The breastfeeding woman should be alive.
- The baby should only be breastfed by one woman.
- The baby should intake the breast milk continuously (without any interval by foods or another woman's breast milk).
- The baby should intake a sufficient amount of the breast milk.
Sunni jurists accept becoming mahram by virtue of breastfeeding, but they disagree with the Imamiyya in some of its conditions. According to the Four Sunni Sects, it is not required that the baby directly intakes the breast milk with his or her mouth. Thus, in whatever way the baby intakes the breast milk, he or she will become mahram.
According to Shafi'i and Hanbali scholars, becoming mahram is obtained by 5 times of breastfeeding, and according to Hanafi and Maliki scholars, it is obtained by an amount that ordinarily counts as breastfeeding. Hanafis take the maximum age for becoming by breastfeeding to be two and a half years, but Shafi'is and Hanbalis take it to be two years. Also, Hanafis and Malikis do not require that the breastfeeding mother be alive at the time of breastfeeding, unlike Shafi'is.
According to a hadith from Imam al-Sadiq (a), people who became mahrams through blood can become mahrams through breastfeeding as well. Breastfeeding leads to the baby and his or her progeny becoming mahram with the breastfeeding woman and her husband—the owner of milk.
The baby who is breastfed by a woman becomes mahram with the following people:
- The breastfeeding mother (who breastfed the baby) and the man who impregnated the breastfeeding woman.
- All grandparents and great-grandparents of the breastfeeding parents.
- The children and grandchildren of the breastfeeding parents.
- Sisters and brothers of the breastfeeding parents.
- Paternal uncles and aunts of the breastfeeding parents.
- Maternal uncles and aunts of the breastfeeding parents.
Shiite jurists did not distinguish between children of the breastfeeding father by blood and those by breastfeeding, but some of them denied that the breastfed children of a woman become mahram to each other. They hold that the baby becomes mahram only with the breastfeeding mother's children by blood.
Adult breastfeeding (rida' al-kabir) refers to an adult or mature man's direct intake of a non-mahram woman's breast milk with his mouth so they would become mahrams. Some zahirist Sunni scholars, such as Ibn Hazm, appealed to a hadith by 'A'isha cited in Sunni sources of hadiths to show that adult breastfeeding leads to becoming mahram. However, Shiite scholars and the majority of Sunni scholars take adult breastfeeding to be forbidden, holding that it does not lead to becoming mahram.
- See: Ṭūsī, al-Khilāf, vol. 5, p. 93.
- Ḥillī, Sharāʾiʿ al-Islām, vol. 2, p. 226-228; Najafī, Jawāhir al-kalām, vol. 29, p. 264-309.
- There is a disagreement among jurists as to the amount of the breast milk sufficient for becoming mahram. The majority of jurists maintain that the baby should be breastfed at least 10 or 15 times. Others hold that the baby should be breastfed in the amount that is enough for the growth of flesh in his or her body and the strengthening of his or her bones. Others believe that the amount of breastfeeding required is a span of one day and night.
- Jazīrī, al-Fiqh ʿalā l-madhāib al-arbaʿa, vol. 4, p. 324.
- Kulaynī, al-Kāfī, vol. 5, p. 437.
- Ḥillī, Tabṣirat al-mutaʿallimīn, p. 137.
- According to Shiite jurists, a baby's birth father cannot marry the breastfeeding father's children by blood, neither with his children by breastfeeding, as he cannot marry the breastfeeding mother's children by blood. Also, the majority of jurists permit marriage between other children of the birth father of the breastfed baby and the children of the breastfeeding parents.
- Ibn Māja, Sunan, vol. 1, p. 625.
- Ibn Ḥazm, al-Muḥallā bi-l-āthār, vol. 10, p. 8-9, 17.
- Ḥillī, Sharāʾiʿ al-Islām, vol. 2, p. 226-228; Najafī, Jawāhir al-kalām, vol. 29, p. 264.
- Qurṭubī, Tafsīr al-Qurṭubī, vol. 16, p. 193; Ibn Ḥazm, al-Muḥallā bi-l-āthār, vol. 10, p. 8-9, 17.
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- Ḥillī, Ḥasan b. Yūsuf al-. Tabṣirat al-mutaʿallimīn fī aḥkām al-dīn. Edited by Muḥammad Hādī Yūsifī Gharawī. Tehran: Wizārat-i Farhag wa Irshād-i Islāmī, 1411 AH.
- Ibn Māja, Muḥammad b. Yazīd. Sunan. Edited by Muḥammad Fuʾād ʿAbd al-Bāqī. Beirut: Dār al-Fikr, [n.d].
- Jazīrī, ʿAbd al-Raḥmān al- & et. al. Al-Fiqh ʿalā l-madhāib al-arbaʿa wa madhhab Ahl al-Bayt. Beirut: Dār al-Thaqalayn, 1419 AH.
- Kulaynī, Muḥammad b. Yaʿqūb al-. Al-Kāfī. Edited by ʿAlī Akbar Ghaffārī & Muḥammad Ākhūndī. Tehran: Dār al-Kutub al-Islāmīyya, 1407 AH.
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