On the question of Adult Breastfeeding in Islamic Tradition


Waqar Akbar Cheema


Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) allowed Sahla, the wife of Abu Hudhaifa, to nurse Salim to establish the foster relationship between them even though Salim was by then already an adult. This incident has given rise to a lot of discussion and polemics in our times. The instant study is about analyzing the details of what was allowed by the Prophet (ﷺ) and especially ‘Aisha’s practice based on her understanding of the Prophet’s saying about foster relations. The instant study shows that neither the Prophet (ﷺ) allowed physical contact between Salim and Sahla for the dispensation they were granted nor did ‘Aisha vouch for or allow adult nursing.

Navigation Tabs

 General Rules on Foster Relations | Details of Salim and Sahla Incident | ‘Aisha’s Opinion and Practice | Between ‘Aisha and other Wives of the ProphetOpinion of Hafsa

1. Introduction

Islam brought to the world a culture of purity which affected nations that interacted with the civilization of Islam even if they did not come to Islam as adherents. Islam’s insistence on chastity and purity has been so profound that it is now the only resistance to the debauchery laden Western world view ubiquitously in vogue.

The critics use Islam’s focus and insistence on chastity in all its manifestations to suggest it is old-fashioned. Some even accuse Muslims, especially those living in the West, of creating a ‘parallel society’ if they seek to adhere to the code of conduct peculiar to Islamic considerations.[1]

Amid all this, certain critics pursue careers in the name of religious traditions and, therefore, cannot openly criticize Muslim values. They instead seek to question said Islamic claims by reading their minds into historical reports from the earliest times of Islam involving the person and people closest to Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ). One such case is the suggestion that Islamic sources provide for the allowance of adult breastfeeding. In the following paragraphs, we shall make a detailed analysis of reports used to this end. The bulk of this study, especially the part on the opinion of ‘Aisha, is based on research of a contemporary scholar ‘Abdullah Ramadan Musa, though I have taken the liberty to arrange and add to the arguments that I first came across in his book on the subject.[2]

2. The general rules on suckling and its implications

Before getting into details of the specific narrations related to the discussion, it is instructive to have a quick view of the general tenets of Islamic law about foster relations, its proof and entailments. Foster relationship, in Islamic law, is as relevant as a blood relation in defining the lawful and otherwise of marriage between persons and the scope of their social interaction. ‘Aisha reported that the Prophet (ﷺ) said:

يحرم من الرضاعة ما يحرم من الولادة

What is forbidden (consanguinity) through birth is forbidden through foster relationships as well.[3]

 The same was narrated by ‘Ali b. Abi Talib[4] and Ibn ‘Abbas[5] as well.

Accordingly, those who become unlawful to one another through foster relationships find the exemption to interact similar to close relatives by way of uterine or blood relations.

But for foster relation that serves the above purposes has to be established through suckling during infancy. ‘Aisha reported that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said:

فإنما الرضاعة من المجاعة

A foster relationship is established, while milk is the only food for the child.[6]

Several other companions, including Ibn Mas‘ud, Umm Salama, ‘Abdullah b. Zubair, Abu Huraira, and Ibn ‘Abbas reported the same.[7]

3. The Sahla-Salim report

The discussion essentially revolves around reports about Salim, the freed-slave of Abu Hudhaifa, the circumstances of the specific episode, and subsequently the understanding of it with the Wives of the Prophet (ﷺ).

The case of Salim, the freed-slave of Abu Hudhaifa, has been reported in varying details in different works of hadith. However, Malik’s version in Muwatta is detailed and provides information helpful in making complete sense of it. Malik’s version then includes a mention of the take of the wives of the Prophet (ﷺ) on the issue.

3.1 An early and fuller account

One of the earliest extant works of hadith, Muwatta of Malik b. Anas (d. 179/795), has the most detailed narration on the issue.

Malik reports that al-Zuhri told him on the authority of ‘Urwah b. al-Zubair:

أن أبا حذيفة بن عتبة بن ربيعة. وكان من أصحاب رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم، وكان قد شهد بدرا. كان تبنى سالما، الذي يقال له سالم، مولى أبي حذيفة،كما تبنى رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم زيد بن حارثة … فلما أنزلالله تبارك وتعالى في كتابه، في زيد بن حارثة، ما أنزل. قال: {ادعوهم لأبائهم هو أقسط عند الله فإن لم تعلموا آباءهم فإخوانكم في الدين ومواليكم} [الأحزاب 33: 5]. رد كل واحد من أولئك إلى أبيه. فمن لم يعلم أبوه، رد إلى مولاه. فجاءت سهلة بنت سهيل، وهي امرأة أبي حذيفة. وهي من بني عامر بن لؤي إلى رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم، فقالت: يا رسول الله، كنا نرى سالما ولدا، وكان يدخل علي، وأنا فضل. وليس لنا إلا بيت واحد. فماذا ترى في شأنه؟ فقال لها سول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم فيما بلغنا: «أرضعيه خمس رضعات؛ فتحرم  بلبنها».وكانت تراه ابنا من الرضاعة.

فأخذت بذلك عائشة أم المؤمنين. في من كانت تحب أن يدخل عليها من الرجال. فكانت تأمر أختها أم كلثوم بنت أبي بكر الصديق. وبنات أختها أن ترضعن من أحبت أن يدخل عليها من الرجال .وأبى سائر أزواج النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم، أن يدخل عليهن بتلك الرضاعة أحد من الناس. وقلن: لا والله، ما نرى الذي أمر به رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم سهلة بنت سهيل إلا رخصة من رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم، في رضاعة سالم وحده. لا، والله، لا يدخل علينا بهذه الرضاعة أحد. فعلى هذا كان  أزواج النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم، في رضاعة الكبير.


Abu Hudhaifa ibn ‘Utba ibn Rabia, one of the companions of the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) who was present at Badr, adopted Salim -who is called Salim, the mawla of Abu Hudhaifa- as the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) adopted Zaid ibn Haritha. He thought of him as his son, … When Allah the Exalted sent down in His Book what He sent down about Zaid ibn Haritha, “Call them after their true fathers. That is more equitable in the sight of Allah. If you do not know who their fathers were then, they are your brothers in the deen, and your mawali,” (Qur’an 33:5) people in this position were traced back to their fathers. When the father was not known, they were traced to their mawla. Sahla bint Suhail who was the wife of Abu Hudhaifa, and one of the tribe of Amr ibn Luayy, came to the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) and said, ‘Messenger of Allah! We think of Salim as a son, and he comes in to see me while I am casually dressed. We only have one room, so what do you think about the situation?’ The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ), accordingly to what has reached us, said, ‘Give him five drinks of your milk, and he will be mahram by it.’ She then saw him as a foster son.

‘Aisha, the mother of the believers, took that as a precedent for whatever men she wanted to be able to come to see her. So she ordered her sister, Umm Kulthum bt. Abi Bakr as-Siddiq and the daughters of her brother to feed their milk to whichever men she wanted to be able to come in her presence. The rest of the wives of the Prophet refused to let anyone come into them by such nursing. They said, ‘No! By Allah! We think that what the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) ordered Sahla bt. Suhail to do was only an indulgence concerning the nursing of Salim alone. No! By Allah! No one will come in upon us by such nursing!’ This is what the wives of the Prophet (ﷺ) thought about the suckling of an older person. [8]

The report has three critical segments that need to be discussed separately. One is the case of Salim being nursed by Sahla; the context and procedural details of it. Second, whether ‘Aisha asked her female relatives to breastfeed adult males? Third, what did ‘Aisha and other wives of the Prophet (ﷺ) disagree about? Each of these segments has details on specifics and corroboration in terms of the chain of narrators.

Therefore, we shall discuss each of the three issues and their relevant details separately.

4. The case of Salim, the freed-slave of Abu Hudhaifa

4.1 Isnad for Salim part of the story

Salim’s case is reported on ‘Aisha’s authority through ‘Urwah and from him through Ibn Shihab al-Zuhri. Although, in Muwatta, it appears as a report from ‘Urwah, other narrations name ‘Aisha as ‘Urwah’s source. Even Malik’s narrations outside Muwatta have ‘Aisha in the isnad.[9] Whereas several narrators related the story from al-Zuhri, the latter himself did not relate the whole of it from ‘Urwah. Following the mention of Sahla’s description of her situation to the Prophet (ﷺ) comes the part that al-Zuhri did not attribute to ‘Urwah or another authority before him. Al-Zuhri related that as “from what has reached us” (fi ma balaghana).

All that follows it, including Prophet’s (ﷺ) reply to Sahla, and the mention of ‘Aisha’s take and practice on the issue and her difference with other wives of the Prophet (ﷺ) is thus from the unattributed reports (bulaghat) of al-Zuhri. But the Prophet’s (ﷺ) reply to Sahla and its outcome in the disappearance of disgust of Abu Hudhaifa has due corroboration.

Another of ‘Aisha’s students; al-Qasim b. Muhammad reported this. From al-Qasim, in turn, it was narrated by at least five different narrators.[10]

4.2 Salim’s case was an exception

Salim’s case’s context shows he was an exceptional case not to be taken for a precedent. Abu Hudhaifa adopted Salim, and both he and his wife considered Salim as their son. Thus, his case was very much like Zaid bin Harith except that the wife of the Prophet (ﷺ), Khadija, in whose presence Zaid was adopted, had died long before the revelation of Surah Ahzab (which includes instructions on veil). Furthermore, Zaid’s lineage was known, but that of Salim was not.[11]

With the revelation of Surah Ahzab, two issues came up. First, verse 5 of the Surah ordered the adopted sons to be recognized through their biological fathers, and in case it was unknown, they were to be considered brothers in faith and “mawali.” Second, in verse 59, instructions on the veil (hijab) for women were revealed.

In light of the instruction in verse 5, Salim was referred to as “Mawla Abu Hudhaifa”, which is why everywhere we find his mention like this only. And the verse on Hijab brought the other issue of him visiting Sahla, so to say his adoptive mother. So Sahla brought the case to the Prophet (ﷺ), who considering that Salim was to Sahla like her own son, told them a way out of the situation. It was thus a special dispensation.

For subsequent times, however, as the rulings about adoption and hijab were already in place, such a practice need not be warranted. If the adopted one were an infant and could be fostered before he reached his second birthday, he would become a foster child without any controversy. And if he was older, then right from the start hijab factor must be considered in light of Islam’s general injunctions and etiquette.

4.3 There was no physical contact between Sahla and Salim

Anyone genuinely conversant with Islamic mores does not entertain the suggestion of actual breastfeeding in the case of Salim and Sahla. A prominent orientalist of our day Harald Motzki thus notes:

We must imagine the “suckling” of adults in the form of putting drops of mother milk into a dish or a drink.[12]

There are also specific reasons to confirm the fact that there was no physical contact in the process.

4.3.1 Meaning of the word أرضعيه (ardi‘ihi)

Reports on the subject use the word أرضعيه to show what the Prophet (ﷺ) asked Sahla to do. However, the term is a derivative of رضاع (rada‘), and it does not necessarily relate to breastfeeding.

Discussing various possible scenarios on what will establish the foster relations, al-Shafi‘i (d. 204/820) states:

إذا حلب منها لبن فأرضع به الصبي مرة بعد مرة فكل مرة تحسب رضعة


When milk is extracted from a woman and a child is fed (urdi‘a) successively, each turn is counted as a separate feed.[13]

Here al-Shafi‘i explicitly uses the word rada‘ even as a child is fed not directly by a woman from her breasts instead with her milk otherwise.

Abu Bakr al-Kasani (d. 587/1191) writes:

واسم الرضاع لا يقف على الارتضاع من الثدي فإن العرب تقول يتيم راضع وإن كان يرضع بلبن الشاة والبقر


The noun rada‘ is not limited to breastfeeding for the Arabs call an orphan radi‘ even if he is fed on the sheep and cows’ milk.[14]

4.3.2 Categorical narration

Infact one narration explicitly mentions the detail of how the foster relation was established between Sahla and Salim. On the authority of al-Waqidi, Ibn Sa‘d (d. 230/845) related from al-Zuhri’s brother, ‘Abdullah b. Muslim that he said:

كانت تحلب في مسعط أو إناء قدر رضعة فيشربه سالم في كل يوم حتى مضت خمسة أيام، فكان بعد يدخل عليها وهي حاسر، رخصة من رسول اللَّه صلّى اللَّه عليه وسلّم لسهلة.


Sahla would put milk in a vessel, or a cup and Salim drank it for five consecutive days. After that, he used to visit her even when she was not in veil. It was an allowance which the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) made for Sahla.[15]

Al-Suhaili (d. 581/1185) mentioned that Muhammad b. Habib (d. 245/860) recorded the same as well.[16]

4.3.3 Indication in Prophet’s instruction to Sahla

A report on the issue reads;

عن عائشة قالت: جاءت سهلة بنت سهيل إلى النبي – صلى الله عليه وسلم – فقالت: يا رسول الله إني أرى في وجه أبي حذيفة الكراهية من دخول سالم علي. فقال النبي – صلى الله عليه وسلم -:” أرضعيه” قالت: كيف أرضعه وهو رجل كبير؟ فتبسم رسول الله – صلى الله عليه وسلم – وقال: “قد علمت أنه رجل كبير” ففعلت، فأتت النبي – صلى الله عليه وسلم – فقالت: ما رأيت في وجه أبي حذيفة شيئا أكرهه بعد


Narrated ‘Aisha: Sahlah bt. Suhail came to the Prophet and said: ‘Messenger of Allah! I see signs of displeasure on the face of Abu Hudhaifa when Salim comes to me.’ So the Prophet (ﷺ) said: ‘Nurse him.’ She said: ‘How can I nurse him when he is a grown-up man?’ So the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) smiled and said: ‘I know that he is a grown-up man.’ So she did that, then she came to the Prophet (ﷺ) and said: ‘I have never seen any signs of displeasure on the face of Abu Hudhaifa after that.’[17]

The Prophet’s (ﷺ) reply to Sahla in response to her query was itself meaningful. Ibn Qutayba al-Dainwari (d. 276/889) explains the narration saying:

“أرضعيه”، ولم يرد: ضعي ثديك في فيه، كما يفعل بالأطفال، ولكن أراد: احلبي له من لبنك شيئا، ثم ادفعيه إليه ليشربه. ليس يجوز غير هذا؛ لأنه لا يحل لسالم أن ينظر إلى ثدييها، إلى أن يقع الرضاع، فكيف يبيح له، ما لا يحل له، وما لا يؤمن معه من الشهوة؟ ومما يدل على هذا التأويل أيضا، أنها قالت: يا رسول الله، أرضعه، وهو كبير؟! فضحك وقال: “ألست أعلم أنه كبير”؟ وضحكه في هذا الموضع، دليل على أنه تلطف بهذا الرضاع، لما أراد من الائتلاف ونفي الوحشة، من غير أن يكون دخول سالم، كان حراما، أو يكون هذا الرضاع أحل شيئا كان محظورا، أو صار سالم لها به ابنا.


“Feed him” (ard’ihi): He did not say, put your breast in his mouth as it is done with infants. Instead, he meant: Pour out some of your milk for him and send it for him to drink. Other than it is not possible for it was not permissible for Salim to look at her breasts till the feeding happened. So how could he allow for him what was not permissible for him in the first place and was not free of lust? What further proves this interpretation is that Sahla said, “O Messenger of Allah should I breastfeed him even though he a grown man? He laughed, and I said, ‘Don’t I know he has grown?’ That he was laughing proves he was mollifying about feeding to remove the difficulty and undo consternation.[18]

Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani also observes:

لعله صلى الله عليه وسلم تبسم على زعمها أنها أمرت بإرضاع سالم بن ثديها، مع أنه صلى الله عليه وسلم أراد أن تحلب له، فيشرب منه، وإنها فهمت ذلك من تبسمه أو بتصريحه عليه السلام بعد ذلك، ولم يذكره الرواة.


The Prophet (ﷺ), it appears, smiled at Sahla thinking that she had been asked to breastfeed Salim whereas the Prophet (ﷺ) had only meant to ask her to take some milk and get Salim to drink it. She understood it from the Prophet’s (ﷺ) smile or his clarification after that which the narrators did not care to mention.[19]

4.3.4 Disappearance of Abu Hudhaifa and Sahla’s disgust

As we have seen, Sahla pointed out that Abu Hudhaifa had feelings of disgust for Salim visiting Sahla like before because Salim had already reached puberty by the revelation of verses of Surah Ahzab. But as in Muwatta’s narration, they considered him as their son. Therefore, the disgust on Abu Hudhaifa’s face was due to something unlawful and not any other concern. Thus when a unique solution was suggested and put into practice, the disgust on his face disappeared. The Prophet (ﷺ) had clearly said that doing the nursing would end the feeling of disgust with Abu Hudhaifa[20] and – as in some narrations – a similar sense of discomfort from Sahla as well,[21] and this is how it happened.

The above suggests there was no physical contact as Abu Hudhaifa, who had disliked Salim visiting Sahla, would not have been satisfied had there been a direct physical contact during feeding.

4.4 Sahla and lactation possibility

Those who seek to question the reliability of the entire narrative ask if Sahla could lactate in the first place. This scepticism is based on the impression that Sahla and Abu Hudhaifa had adopted Salim for being issueless. However, it is a mistake. On record, Sahla and Abu Hudhaifa had a son named Muhammad, who was born long before the Salim episode during their stay in Abyssinia.[22] Moreover, there is no word about them having a daughter or not. After Abu Hudhaifa, however, Sahla had three husbands in turns and had children with each of them.[23] Accordingly, there is no point in questioning lactation possibility concerning Sahla.

5. The opinion of ‘Aisha on the subject

Later part of narration with Malik b. Anas goes on to add how the wives of the Prophet (ﷺ) understood the matter with a focus on ‘Aisha’s take on it.

Following the mention Sahla’s sharing of her trouble with the Prophet (ﷺ) the narration continues

فقال لها سول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم فيما بلغنا: «أرضعيه خمس رضعات؛ فتحرم  بلبنها».وكانت تراه ابنا من الرضاعة. فأخذت بذلك عائشة أم المؤمنين. في من كانت تحب أن يدخل عليها من الرجال. فكانت تأمر أختها أم كلثوم بنت أبي بكر الصديق. وبنات أختها أن ترضعن من أحبت أن يدخل عليها من الرجال. وأبى سائر أزواج النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم، أن يدخل عليهن بتلك الرضاعة أحد من الناس. وقلن: لا والله، ما نرى الذي أمر به رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم سهلة بنت سهيل إلا رخصة من رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم، في رضاعة سالم وحده. لا، والله، لا يدخل علينا بهذه الرضاعة أحد. فعلى هذا كان  أزواج النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم، في رضاعة الكبير.


The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ), accordingly to what has reached us (fi ma balaghana), said [to Sahla], ‘Give him five drinks of your milk and he will be mahram by it.’ She then saw him as a foster son. ‘Aisha, the mother of the believers, took that as a precedent for whatever men she wanted to be able to come to see her. So she ordered her sister, Umm Kulthum bt. Abi Bakr as-Siddiq and the daughters of her brother to feed their milk to whichever men she wanted to be able to come in her presence. The rest of the wives of the Prophet refused to let anyone come to them by such nursing. They said, ‘No! By Allah! We think that what the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) ordered Sahla bt. Suhail to do was only an indulgence concerning the nursing of Salim alone. No! By Allah! No one will come in upon us by such nursing!’ This is what the wives of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, thought about the suckling of an older person.

5.1 Isnad analysis of the report

This report comes from al-Zuhri, which is categorically mentioned in ‘Abdul Razzaq al-San‘ani’s (d. 211/827) narration.[24] Al-Zuhri, it is well known, did not hear anything directly from ‘Aisha.[25] As already noted, this part of the narration is one of his unattributed reports (bulaghat), which find no credence whatsoever with hadith critics.[26]

Whereas there can be no doubt that al-Zuhri related it as eight of his students have reported this from him,[27] Ibn Juraij whose reports – mainly when he reported with the words, “he informed me” (akhbarni) —  from al-Zuhri were based on the latter’s written compilation,[28] as a rule, do not have the unattributed part.[29]

Given these observations, it is evident that part of the report suggesting that ‘Aisha not only considered but also organized adult breastfeeding or nursing otherwise is not duly confirmed in terms of narrative authenticity.

5.2 Who did ‘Aisha have sent to her sister and nieces for breastfeeding?

Moreover, while all the reports attributing adult nursing suggestions to ‘Aisha mention her practical instructions, we need to consider the details of what was thus done at her behest.

Luckily, we have reported information that it was Salim b. ‘Abdullah whom ‘Aisha had sent to her sister, Umm Kulthum. The details in this connection clearly reveal against the apparent suggestion of adult nursing. Malik reports:

عن نافع؛ أن سالم بن عبد الله أخبره، أن عائشة، أم المؤمنين، أرسلت به وهو يرضع، إلى أختها أم كلثوم بنت أبي بكر، فقالت: أرضعيه عشر رضعات، حتى يدخل علي. قال سالم: فأرضعتني أم كلثوم ثلاث رضعات، ثم مرضت، فلم ترضعني غير ثلاث مرار، فلم أكن أدخل على عائشة، من أجل أن أم كلثوم، لم تتم لي عشر رضعات.


Nafi‘ narrated that Salim b. ‘Abdullah reported that when he was an infant, ‘Aisha, the mother of the believers, sent him to her sister Umm Kulthum bt. Abi Bakr as-Siddiq and said, “Suckle him ten times so that he can come in to see me.” Salim said, “Umm Kulthum nursed me three times and then fell ill so that she only nursed me three times. So I could not go in to see ‘Aisha because Umm Kulthum did not finish for me the ten times.”[30]

In ‘Abdul Razzaq’s narration of the same report through Ibn Juraij Salim b. ‘Abdullah said:

أن عائشة زوج النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم، أرسلت به إلى أختها أم كلثوم ابنة أبي بكر لترضعه عشر رضعات ليلج عليها إذا كبر، فأرضعته ثلاث مرات، ثم مرضت، فلم يكن سالم يلج عليها


‘Aisha, the wife of the Prophet (ﷺ), sent him to her sister Umm Kulthum bt. Abi Bakr that she suckles him ten times to visit her when he grows up. Umm Kulthum nursed him three times before she fell ill. Salim could, therefore, not go before ‘Aisha.[31]

The narration establishes that it was done when Salim was an infant. Furthermore, had it been about adult suckling, another woman from ‘Aisha’s relatives would have suckled Salim to make way for his coming to ‘Aisha. Thus, while no one did it, it confirms against the apparent reading of these reports.

Likewise, ‘Aisha’s instruction to her nieces was no different. Abu Bakr Al-Jassas (d. 370/980) mentions:

روى عبد الرحمن بن القاسم عن أبيه أن عائشة كانت تأمر بنت عبد الرحمن بن أبي بكر أن ترضع الصبيان حتى يدخلوا عليها إذا صاروا رجالا


‘Abdul Rahman b. Qasim reported from his father [al-Qasim b. Muhammad]: ‘Aisha used to tell the daughter of ‘Abdul Rahman b. Abi Bakr to nurse children that they might come to see her when they grow up as men.[32]

These reports make it abundantly clear that ‘Aisha did not command adult nursing, instead of breastfeeding infants that she wanted to come to her freely even after they became adults. Otherwise, there is no evidence of any male coming in ‘Aisha’s presence by fostering relationships through adult breastfeeding.[33]

5.3 Probable cause of confusion with al-Zuhri

 ‘Abdul Razzaq reports:

عن معمر، عن الزهري، أن عائشة، «أمرت أم كلثوم، أن ترضع سالما، فأرضعته خمس رضعات، ثم مرضت، فلم يكن يدخل سالم على عائشة»


On the authority of Ma‘mar, on the authority of al-Zuhri: ‘Aisha ordered Umm Kulthum to nurse Salim. She suckled him five times and then fell ill, and thus Salim could not come to ‘Aisha.[34]

Al-Zuhri had received such unqualified and ambiguous report on the point of age of Salim b. ‘Abdullah b. ‘Umar as to when was he sent to Umm Kulthum on the orders of ‘Aisha. This incomplete report and perhaps misconception of some people led the likes of al-Zuhri to believe it was about adult breast suckling. But, on the other hand, Nafi‘ and Ibn Juraij, as we have seen above, had fuller information that Salim was then only an infant.

5.3 ‘Ata’ on ‘Aisha’s opinion on the subject

Contrary to what we have argued for and seen above, there is a report from ‘Ata’ b. Rabah which attributes to ‘Aisha the opinion of adult nursing. ‘Abdul Razzaq al-San‘ani records:

أخبرنا ابن جريج قال: سمعت عطاء يسأل، قال له رجل: سقتني امرأة من لبنها بعد ما كنت رجلا كبيرا أأنكحها؟ قال: «لا». قلت: وذلك رأيك؟ قال: «نعم» قال عطاء: كانت عائشة: «تأمر بذلك بنات أخيها»


Ibn Juraij informed us: I heard ‘Ata’ when he was asked. A man told him, “I drank the milk of a woman after I had grown up. Can I still marry her? ‘Ata’ said, ‘No.’ I said to him, ‘Is this your opinion?’ He said, ‘Yes.’ ‘Ata’ said [moreover], ‘‘Aisha ordered the same to daughters of her brother.”[35]

Here again, it is clear that the attribution is linked to what ‘Aisha got done through her nieces, the details of which we have earlier seen. There is a misreading of what ‘Aisha meant. In this connection, it is essential to note that ‘Ata’s reports from ‘Aisha were not all based on direct transmission; therefore, the possibility of it being disconnected (mursal) cannot be precluded.[36] Moreover, since ‘Ata’s mursal reports are not deemed reliable,[37] it is pretty reasonable to put the narration down in favour of the specific evidence we have of what ‘Aisha arranged for.

5.4 ‘Aisha and question of the validity of adult suckling

While we have noted that reports that are dubious in terms of narrative authority suggest that ‘Aisha considered adult breastfeeding valid based on the uninformed assumption that she asked her female relatives to practice it.

Other reports confirm that ‘Aisha did not vouch for adult breastfeeding. We have earlier seen that she reported the Prophet’s (ﷺ) saying to this effect. While one may ordinarily consider the possibility that she might have deemed it abrogated given Salim’s episode, the fact that she is reported to plainly stated the same herself makes this an untenable suggestion.

‘Ali b. al-Ja‘d (d. 230/845) has through Shu‘bah [b. al-Hajjaj] that al-Hakam [b. ‘Utaiba] stated:

سمعت قيس بن أبي حازم، وأبا الشعثاء، عن عائشة قالت: «يحرم من الرضاع ما أنبت اللحم والدم»


I heard Qais b. Abi Hazim and Abu al-Sha‘tha’ relate that ‘Aisha said: Consanguinity by fostering relation is established through suckling that nourishes flesh and blood [i.e. during infancy alone].[38]

Al-Jassas also mentioned this report and highlighted that the validity of adult breastfeeding was an odd opinion that could not be attributed to ‘Aisha.[39]

This positive statement authentically related from ‘Aisha shows that she too held that adult breastfeeding did not establish foster relation.

6. On ‘Aisha’s difference with other Wives of the Prophet ()

Details above, however, make one wonder what then was the difference of opinion between ‘Aisha and the rest of the Wives of the Prophet? The account of it in the report of al-Zuhri is not decisive because it too is part of the unattributed part. We are thus not sure, but whatever the case, there is no warrant to attribute to ‘Aisha an opinion that goes against what she had related from the Prophet (ﷺ) and positively noted herself.

In another report of al-Zuhri that he related on the authority of Abu Ubaida, the grandson of Umm Salama, narrated through her mother that:

أم سلمة، زوج النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم، كانت تقول: ” أبى سائر أزواج النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم أن يدخلن عليهن أحدا بتلك الرضاعة، وقلن لعائشة: والله ما نرى هذا إلا رخصة أرخصها رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم لسالم خاصة، فما هو بداخل علينا أحد بهذه الرضاعة، ولا رائينا “


Umm Salama, the wife of the Prophet (ﷺ), used to say that all other wives of the Prophet (ﷺ) disclaimed the idea that one with this type of fosterage should come to them. So she said to ‘A’isha: By Allah, we do not find this, but a sort of concession given by Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) only for Salim, and no one was going to be allowed to enter (our houses) with this type of fosterage, and we do not subscribe to this view.[40]

The key here is “this type of fosterage” (bi tilka al-rad‘ah / bi-hadhihi al-rad‘ah) as to whether it referred to the fact that Salim was grown up when he was made to take Sahla’s milk, or it was about the fosterage not done for the immediate considerations of the child but only to establish foster relations.[41]

 Thinking about the former and not being aware of the detailed reports about what ‘Aisha ordered, narrators like al-Zuhri appear to have inadvertently misconstrued the entire issue.

In other words, ‘Aisha appears to have understood the incident of Salim, the freed-slave of Abu Hudhaifa, a warrant for the validity of suckling done solely to establish a relation akin to blood relations with all its accompanying restrictions and relaxations. However, Umm Salama seems to have objected to it, stressing that Salim’s case was the only exception.[42] Her reservation is understandable because ‘unnecessary’ fosterage would limit marriage possibilities when the children so nursed grew up.

Another narration about disputation between ‘Aisha and Umm Salama mentions that the latter objected when she saw an adolescent boy in ‘Aisha’s presence. The former referred to the Salim-Abu Hudhaifa by way of justification.[43] However, it does not indicate when he was nursed by someone close to ‘Aisha, whether in infancy or adulthood. Thus, anecdotal it too cannot be viewed except in the light of evidence on the general practice of ‘Aisha, already discussed.

7. Hafsa’s opinion on the issue

It is only relevant to see the reception of Hafsa’s opinion on the subject because it is relatable to the discussion on ‘Aisha in many ways. While reports on the position of Wives of the Prophet (ﷺ) single out ‘Aisha for allegedly condoning adult breastfeeding as valid proof for establishing foster relation, oddly the same opinion has been attributed to Hafsa bt. ‘Umar as well. Unfortunately, this attribution followed the same kind of flawed reasoning as in the case of ‘Aisha.

Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalani (d. 852/1449) quoted a report from al-Tabari with sound (sahih) isnad through Ibn Juraij and Nafi‘ that Safiyya bt. Abu ‘Ubaid said:

أن حفصة أرسلت ببعض موالي عمر بن الخطاب إلى أختها فاطمة لترضعه، تأمر به أن ترضعه عشر رضعات، وكان يدخل عليها.


Hafsa sent one of the freed-slaves of ‘Umar b. al-Khattab to her sister Fatima for suckling. She ordered her to suckle him ten times, after which he would come to Hafsa.[44]

Ibn Hajar then claimed it as evidence against anyone who thought ‘Aisha was alone in vouching for adult breastfeeding as proof of foster relation.[45]

This conclusion suffers from the same indiligence as has been highlighted in the case of ‘Aisha. Moreover, this report is mute on how old was the person Hafsa had sent to her sister, Fatima. However, other reports give us his name and tell us that he was only an infant when Hafsa desired him to be nursed by Fatima.

Malik b. Anas reported:

أن حفصة، أم المؤمنين، أرسلت بعاصم بن عبد الله بن سعد إلى أختها فاطمة بنت عمر بن الخطاب، ترضعه عشر رضعات؛ ليدخل عليها، وهو صغير يرضع، ففعلت. فكان يدخل عليها.


Hafsa, the mother of the believers, sent ‘Asim b. ‘Abdullah b. Sa‘d, when he was infant, to her sister Fatima bt. ‘Umar b. al-Khattab that she suckles him ten times that he could come before Hafsa. Fatima did it, and ‘Asim used to go before Hafsa.[46]

‘Abdul Razzaq al-San‘ani’s narration of the report goes as:

أن حفصة بنت عمر زوج النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم، أرسلت بغلام نفيس لبعض موالي عمر إلى أختها فاطمة بنت عمر: «فأمرتها أن ترضعه عشر مرات»، ففعلت فكان يلج عليها بعد أن كبر. قال ابن جريج: «وأخبرت أن اسمه عاصم بن عبد الله بن سعد مولى عمر»


Prophet (ﷺ) wife Hafsa sent a decent boy from one of the freed-slaves of ‘Umar to her sister Fatima bt. ‘Umar asking her to suckle him ten times. Fatima did, and the boy used to come to Hafsa even after he had grown up. Ibn Juraij added: I was informed that his name was ‘Asim b. ‘Abdullah b. Sa‘d.[47]

 Carefully noting these details, a leading authority of hadith in our times, Muhammad ‘Awwama, highlighted how an incomplete and ambiguous narration with al-Tabari had made Ibn Hajar attribute to Hafsa an opinion she had not held.[48]

The same has happened in the case of ‘Aisha, except that unwary reporting by al-Zuhri and ‘Ata’ made it less evident.

8. Scholars’ take overtime

 It was for this reason that Ibn Abi Mulaika (d. 117/735), one of the narrators of hadith about Salim and Sahla said:

فمكثت سنة أو قريبا منها لا أحدث به وهبته ثم لقيت القاسم فقلت له: لقد حدثتني حديثا ما حدثته بعد. قال: فما هو؟ فأخبرته قال فحدثه عني، أن عائشة أخبرتنيه


I refrained from (narrating this hadith) for a year or so on account of fear. I then met al-Qasim and said to him: You narrated to me a hadith which I did not narrate (to anyone) afterwards. He said: What is that? I informed him, and he said: Narrate it on my authority that ‘Aisha had narrated that to me.[49]

Another narration has that al-Qasim b. Muhammad said:

حدث به، ولا تهابه


Narrate it and do not worry about it.[50]

Al-Qasim b. Muhammad, nevertheless, was reported to have held that Salim’s was a case of special dispensation.[51] Malik b. Anas,[52] al-Zuhri,[53] and ‘Urwah,[54] the key narrators of this report, are all said to have opined against the validity of fosterage if suckling took place after weaning.

Commenting on Ibn Abi Mulaika’s words Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr (d. 463/1071) said:

هذا يدلك على أنه حديث ترك قديما ولم يعمل به ولم يتلقه الجمهور بالقبول على عمومه بل تلقوه على أنه خصوص


This confirms that the hadith was abandoned early on and was not practised. The general body of the community did not take it as general in import; instead, they understood it as a specific case only.[55]

With clarity on the views of ‘Aisha and Hafsa brought about and the knowledge of the consensus among Muslims from very early times that the Salim-Sahla incident cannot be taken as a precedent for adult nursing, one must overlook any views otherwise being aberrant. These include the opinion of Ibn Hazm (d. 456/1063), who took it for general permission,[56] and Ibn Taimiyya (d. 728/1328), who allowed for it in cases of dire need.[57]

9. Summary and Conclusion

While Islamic law considers foster relation akin to uterine or blood ties in terms of bearing on the intermingling of genders and restriction on marriage possibilities, there is a consensus that it is valid only if the fosterage occurs while a child is an infant. When rulings restricting intermingling of genders were first revealed, a female companion of the Prophet (ﷺ) Sahla approached him and told him how her husband Abu Hudhaifa disliked the coming of an adolescent Salim, his freed-slave, in her presence. She emphasized that they had always treated him as their son. Considering their extraordinary situation, the Prophet (ﷺ) asked Sahla to give her milk to Salim, which would make Salim her son legally as well, i.e. by way of foster relation. The same was done without any physical contact between the two.

The wives and companions of the Prophet (ﷺ) all agreed that it was an exceptional case which could not be taken as a precedent for others. However, ‘Aisha and Hafsa arranged to ask their sisters or nieces to suckle certain male infants. Those children thus became their foster relatives and could, therefore, enter in the presence of ‘Aisha and Hafsa, respectively, even after attaining adulthood.

While for Hafsa, only one such case is reported, ‘Aisha, it appears, did it for numerous children and thus invited criticism of Umm Salama. In response to the complaint, ‘Aisha alluded to the incident of Sahla and Salim as precedent for making foster relations for reasons other than nourishment of the child. Some narrators, however, misconstrued ‘Aisha’s take and related it as if ‘Aisha condoned nursing the adults. Since they linked it with the description of what ‘Aisha asked her sister and nieces to nurse certain boys, it made their mistake in grasping her position known because other narrators had carefully preserved the fact that ‘Aisha’s arrangement was only for certain male infants, and not adults. ‘Aisha’s narration of the Prophet’s (ﷺ) command and her statement on clearly limiting the validity of fosterage to infancy only confirm the case.

Because of this, we can safely conclude that the Prophet (ﷺ) and his wives never approved of adult breastfeeding as a way to establish foster relation. The case of Salim, the freed-slave of Abu Hudhaifa, was not of breastfeeding, rather of Salim taking Sahla’s milk otherwise. Moreover, it was always recognized as a specific incident that was not to be taken as a precedent for others. ‘Aisha and Hafsa, like the rest of the wives of the Prophet (ﷺ) did not vouch for adult breastfeeding let alone arrange for or command the same.

Notes & References:

[1] See, for instance, the reports about a recent provocative speech made by the French president Emmanual Macron; President Macron says Islam ‘in crisis all over the world’, prompting backlash

[2] Musa, ‘Abdullah Ramadan, Kashf Akadhib al-Qasis Hawl Rada‘ al-Kabir, (Duhok: al-Athariyya li al-Turath, 2010)

[3] Malik b. Anas, al-Muwatta, (Abu Dhabi, Moassasah Zaid bin Nahyan, 2005) Hadith 2251/538; Muslim b. Hajjaj, al-Sahih, (Riyadh: Darussalam Publishers, 2007) Hadith 3568-3570 (1444-1,2,3)

[4] Ahmad b. Hanbal, al-Musnad, (Beirut: al-Resalah Publishers, 2001) Hadith  1096

[5] Al-Bukhari, Muhammad b. Isma‘il, al-Sahih, , (Riyadh: Darussalam Publishers, 2007) Hadith 2645; Ahmad b. Hanbal, al-Musnad, Hadith  2490

[6] Al-Bukhari, al-Sahih, Hadith 2647, 5102

[7] For all the references see al-Arna’ut, Shu ‘aib, et al. (editors) / Ahmad b. Hanbal, al-Musnad, Vol.7, 187-188 (under Hadith 4114)

[8] Malik b. Anas, al-Muwatta, Hadith 2247/537

[9] Al-San‘ani, ‘Abdul Razzaq, al-Musannaf, (Dabhel: Majlis al-‘Ilmi, 1983) Hadith 13886; Ahmad b. Hanbal, al-Musnad, Hadith 26179; al-Tabarani, Abu Al-Qasim, Mu’jam Al-Kabir, (Cairo: Maktaba Ibn Taimiya, 1994) Vol.7, 60 Hadith 6377; see also, al-Tabarani, Abu al-Qasim, Mu‘jam al-Kabir, Vol.24 Hadith 741and al-Hakim, Abu ‘Abdullah, al-Mustadrak, (Beirut: DKI, 1990) Hadith 2692 which have both ‘Urwah and ‘Amrah bt. ‘Abdul Rahman relate it from ‘Aisha.

[10] They were;

  • ‘Abdul Rahman b. al-Qasim [his son], see, Muslim b. Hajjaj, al-Sahih, Hadith 3600 (1453-26)
  • Ibn Abi Mulaika; see, Muslim b. Hajjaj, al-Sahih, Hadith 3605 (1453-28)
  • Yahya b. Sa‘id al-Ansari; see, Ibn Hibban, al-Sahih, (Beirut: Resalah Publishers, 1988) Hadith 4213
  • Rabi‘a b. Abu ‘Abdul Rahman; see, Ibn Hibban, al-Sahih, (Beirut: Resalah Publishers, 1988) Hadith 4213
  • ‘Ubaid Ullah b. Abi Ziyad al-Qaddah; see, Ibn al-A‘rabi, al-Mu’jam, (Dammam: Dar Ibn al-Jawzi, 1997) Hadith 23; al-Tabarani, Mu’jam Al-Kabir, 7, 59 Hadith 6374

[11] Ibn Sa‘d, Muhammad, al-Tabaqat al-Kubra, (Beirut: DKI, 1990) Vol.3, 64

[12] Motzki, Harald, “The Jurisprudence of Ibn Shihab al-Zuhri: A Source-Critical Study” included in Motzki, Harald/ Boekhoff- van der Voort, Nicolet/ Anthony, Sean W., Analysing Muslim Traditions: Studies in Legal, Exegetical and Maghazi  Ḥadith (Leiden: Brill, 2010) 39

[13] ash-Shafi‘i, Muhammad bin Idris, al-Umm, (Beirut: Dar al-Ma‘rifa, 1990) Vol.5, 34

[14] al-Kasani, Abu Bakr, al-Badai’ as-Sanai’, (Beirut: DKI, 1986) Vol.4, 8

[15] Ibn Sa‘d, Muhammad, al-Tabaqat al-Kubra, Vol.8, 212; also Al- ‘Asqalani, Ibn Hajar, al-Isabah fi Ma‘rifah al-Sahaba, (Beirut: Dar al-Kotob al-Ilmiyah) Vol.8, 193

[16] Al-Suhaili, Abu al-Qasim, al-Rawd al-Unuf  fi Sharh Sirah al-Nabawiyya li Ibn Hisham, (Beirut: Dar Ihya’ al-Turath al-‘Arabi, 2000) Vol.4, 121

[17] Al-Qazwini, Ibn Majah, al-Sunan, (Riyadh: Darussalam Publishers, 2007) Hadith 1943; also, Muslim b. Hajjaj, al-Sahih, Hadith 3600 [1453-26]

[18] Al-Dainawi, Ibn Qutaiba, Ta’wil Mukhtalif al-Hadith, (Beirut: Al-Maktab al-Islami, 1999) Vol.1, 437-438

[19] Usmani, Muhammad Taqi, Takmila Fath al-Mulhim, (Beirut: Dar Ihya’ al-Turath, 2006) Vol.1, 71

[20] Muslim b. Hajjaj, al-Sahih, Hadith 3601 [1453-27]

[21] Ibn al-A’rabi, al-Mu’jam, Hadith 23; al-Bazzar, Abu Bakr al-Shafi‘i, Kitab al-Fawa’id, (Riyadh: Dar Ibn al-Jawzi, 1997) Hadith 565; al-Tabarani, Mu‘am Al-Kabir, Vol.7, 59 Hadith 6374; Vol.24, 290 Hadith 738

[22] Ibn Sa‘d, al-Tabaqat al-Kubra, Vol.3, 62; Vol.8, 211

[23] Ibn Sa‘d, al-Tabaqat al-Kubra, Vol.8, 211-212

[24] Al-San‘ani, ‘Abdul Razzaq, al-Musannaf, Hadith 13886

[25] Al-Razi, Ibn Abi Hatim, al-‘Ilal, (Riyadh: Matba‘a al-Homaidi, 2006) Vol.4, 55; al-Dhahabi, Shams al-Din, Siyar al-‘Alam al-Nubala, (Beirut: al-Resalah Publishers, 1985) Vol.5, 339

[26] al-Arna’ut, Shu‘aib et al. (editors), Musnad Ahmad b. Hanbal, (Beirut: al-Resalah Publishers, 2001) Vol.43, 114. Orientalist Guilluame concords; see, Guilluame, Alfred, The Life of Muhammad: A translation of [Ibn] Ishaq’s Sirat Rasul Allah with introduction and notes, (Karachi: Oxford University Press, 2004)  xix

[27] They were;

  • Malik b. Anas, see, Malik b. Anas, al-Muwatta, Hadith 2251
  • Ma‘mar b. Rashid; see al-San‘ani, ‘Abdul Razzaq, al-Musannaf, Hadith 13885, 13927
  • ‘Uqail b. Khalid; see, al-Baihaqi, al-Sunan al-Kubra, (Beirut: DKI, 2003) Hadith 15648
  • Shu‘aib b. Abi Hamza; see, al-Tabarani, Musnad al-Shamiyin, (Beirut: Al-Resalah Publishers, 1984) Hadith 3079
  • Yunus b. Yazid; see, al-Sajistani, Abu Dawud, al-Sunan, (Riyadh: Darussalam Publishers, 2008) Hadith 2061
  • Muhammad b. Ishaq; see, Ahmad b. Hanbal, al-Musnad, Hadith 26315
  • Muhammad b. ‘Abdullah – Al-Zuhri’s nephew; see, Ahmad b. Hanbal, al-Musnad, Hadith 26330
  • ‘Abdul Rahman b. Khalid b. Musafir; see, al-Tabarani, Abu al-Qasim, Mu‘jam al-Kabir, Vol.24 Hadith 741

[28] Al-Dhahabi, Shams al-Din, Tadhkirah al-Huffaz, (Beirut: DKI, 1998) Vol.1, 128; al-Dhahabi, Siyar al-‘Alam al-Nubala, Vol.6, 330, 332

[29] al-San‘ani, ‘Abdul Razzaq, al-Musannaf, Hadith 13887; Ahmad b. Hanbal, al-Musnad, Hadith 25650; Ishaq b. Rahwayh, al-Musnad, (Madina: Maktaba al-Iman, 1991) Hadith 706

[30] Malik b. Anas, al-Muwatta, Hadith 2239

[31] Al-San‘ani, ‘Abdul Razzaq, al-Musannaf, Hadith 13928

[32] Al-Jassas, Abu Bakr, Ahkam al-Qur’an, (Beirut: Dar Ihya’ al-Turath  al-‘Arabi, 1405 AH) Vol.2, 114

[33] This was highlighted by an Andalusian scholar by the name of Muhammad b. Khalil who Ibn Hajar found quoted in the hand of Taj al-Din Subki (d. 771/1370). See, al-‘Asqalani, Ibn Hajar, Fath al-Bari, (Beirut: Dar al-Ma‘rifa, 1379 AH)  Vol.9, 149

[34] Al-San‘ani, ‘Abdul Razzaq, al-Musannaf, Hadith 13927

[35] Al-San‘ani, ‘Abdul Razzaq, al-Musannaf, Hadith 13883

[36] Ibn ‘Asakir, Abu al-Qasim, Tarikh Damishq, (Beirut: Dar al-Fekr, 1995) Vol. 40, 378; al-‘Asqalani, Ibn Hajar, Tahdhib al-Tahdhib, (Hyderabad: Da’ira al-Ma‘arif al-Nizamia, 1326 AH) Vol.7, 203

[37] Yahya b. Sa‘id al-Qattan and Ahmad b. Hanbal are both reported to have termed the mursal reports of ‘Ata’ as weakest of all mursal reports. See, al-Razi, Ibn Abi Hatim, al-Jarh wa al-Ta‘dil, (Beirut: Dar Ihya’ al-Turath al-‘Arabi, 1952) Vol.1, 243 ; Al-Fasawi, Ya‘qub b. Sufyan, Al-Ma’rifah wa al-Tarikh, (Beirut: al-Resalah Publishers, 1981) Vol.3, 239-240

[38] Al-Jawhari, ‘Ali b. al-Ja‘d, al-Musnad, Edited by ‘Amir Ahmad Haidar (Beirut: Mo’ssasa Nadir, 1990) Hadith 175; Qais b. Abi Hazim (d. 90) was not a Companion and had reached Madina only after the death of the Prophet (ﷺ), see Al-‘Asqalani, Ibn Hajar, al-Isabah fi Ma’rifah al-Sahaba, (Beirut: Dar al-Kotob al-Ilmiyah) Vol.5, 400; and Abu al-Sha‘tha’ Sulaim b. Aswad al-Muharibi (d. 83) was definitely younger.

[39] Al-Jassas, Ahkam al-Qur’an, Vol.2, 114; al-Jassas does not give full isnad but the part of it he preserves tells us that from al-Hakam it was narrated by al-Hajjaj [b. al-Arta’?] as well. In another work al-Jassas records that from al-Hajjaj it was narrated by Hammad [b. Salama?]. See, al-Jassas, Abu Bakr, Sharh Mukhtasar al-Tahawi, (Beirut: Dar al-Basha’ir al-Islamiyya, 2010) Vol.5, 270

[40] Muslim b. Hajjaj, al-Sahih, Hadith 3605 (1454-31)

[41] Al-Kasani appears to have gone for this distinction. After mentioning details of ‘Aisha practice that what she arranged for was about infants alone, al-Kasani says her practice was against that of other Wives of the Prophet (ﷺ) which implies they were not comfortable with ‘Aisha way of getting younger males to become her foster relatives only for the sake of it and thus come in her presence. See, al-Kasani, al-Badai‘ as-Sanai‘, Vol.4, 6

[42] Musa, ‘Abdullah Ramadan, Kashf Akadhib al-Qasis Hawl Rada‘ al-Kabir, 121-122

[43] Muslim b. Hajjaj, al-Sahih, Hadith 3605 (1453-29)

[44] Al-‘Asqalani, Ibn Hajar, Ithaf al-Maharah bi al-Fawai’d al-Mubtakarah min Atraf al-‘Asharah, (Madina: King Fahad Printing Complex, 1994) Hadith 21390

[45] Al-‘Asqalani, Ibn Hajar, Ithaf al-Maharah, Vol. 16, 910; also al-‘Asqalani, Ibn Hajar, Fath al-Bari,  Vol.9, 149

[46] Malik b. Anas, al-Muwatta, Hadith 2240

[47] al-San‘ani, ‘Abdul Razzaq, al-Musannaf, Hadith 13929

[48] Ibn Abi Shaiba, al-Musannaf, Edited by Muhammad ‘Awwama (Beirut: Dar Qurtuba, 2006) Vol.9, 287-288; he thus also retracted his earlier take on the opinion of Hafsa which was in fact based on Ibn Hajar’s claim. Cf. al-Dhahabi, Shams al-Din, al-Kashif, Edited by Muhammad ‘Awwama (Jeddah: Dar al-Qibla, 1992) Vol.2, 531

[49] Muslim b. Hajjaj, al-Sahih, Hadith 3605   (1453-28)

[50] al-Nasa‘i, al-Sunan, Hadith 332

[51] al-Kirmani, al-Harb b. Isma‘il,  al-Masa’il, (Makkah: Jami’a Umm al-Qura, 1432 AH) Vol.2, 783

[52] Malik b. Anas, al-Muwatta, Hadith 2245

[53] Al-San‘ani, ‘Abdul Razzaq, al-Musannaf, Hadith 13908

[54] Malik b. Anas, al-Muwatta, Hadith 2242

[55] al-Qurtubi, Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr. Al-Tamhid lima fi Muwatta’ min al-Ma’ani wa al-Asanid, (Morocco: Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs, 1387 AH) Vol.8, 259

[56] Al-Andalusi, Ibn Hazm, al-Muhalla bi al-Athar, (Beirut: Dar al-Fikr, n.d.) Vol.10, 211-212

[57] Al-Harrani, Ibn Taimiyya, Majmu‘a al-Fatawa, (Madina: King Fahad Qur’an Printing Complex, 1995) Vol.34, 60

About the author

Waqar Akbar Cheema


  • Assalamualaikum ya ustadh, would you consider updating the article on adult nursing in ICRAA? Because I found the following link and it presents the views of prominent scholars that the act was not specific for Salim.


    I need help with this shubuhat. It seems that nursing is not limited for the weaning process. Adults can be nursed as well. A report like that of Ata was attributed from Ali ibn Abi Talib

    Jazak Allahu khayr,

    • Wa alaikum assalam

      I went through it, it’s from Ibn Hazm’s al-Muhalla. There is no precedent for the position he takes. He mentions the case of ‘Aisha rA, which is discussed at length in the article. As for a narration from ‘Ali rA, the original source, i.e., Musannaf Abdul Razzaq, mentions a follow-up statement that has the opposite implication of not recognizing the adult feeding. While ‘Ali rA has other principle statements of restricting the recognized breastfeeding to the infancy years, the act of ‘Ali rA prohibiting a person from marrying a woman whose milk he had taken as an adult may be viewed as an administrative measure without deeming it prohibited.