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Adult suckling (Arabic: رَضَاعَةُ الْكَبِيرِ), or the act of breastfeeding a male adult, is mentioned in several relied-upon collections of hadiths. According to five hadiths in Sahih Muslim, Muhammad once plainly instructed the daughter (or wife -- sources are unclear) of a companion named Suhail to suckle a "grown-up" freedman named Salim so that Salim would become the daughter's mahram, or a relation whom the daughter could no longer marry, and thus render Salim's cohabitation with the family appropriate and legal. Reports in the Muwatta of Imam Malik and Sunan Ibn Majah add that this instruction was reified by a verse in the Qur'an, Islam's holy scripture, which was still present in the Qur'an after Muhammad's death, indicating that it had not been abrogated by Muhammad while he was alive. The report in Sunan Abu Dawud continues with Aisha, Muhammad's favorite wife, reporting that while she was "preoccupied with [Muhammad's] death", "a tame sheep came in and ate" the scrap of paper upon which the verse of "breastfeeding an adult" was written. The practice, sanctioned by a number of traditional jurists, is popularly rejected by Islamic scholars today.
Translated literally, "mahram" means "that which is prohibited (haram)", which explains the phrasing used in the hadiths (e.g. "[he] would become unlawful for [her]"). The word mahram is used to refer to relations who one cannot marry. As a result of mahrams not being permitted to conceive of each other as marital/sexual prospects (e.g. a brother and sister), the female does not have to observe all the requirements of hijab and is permitted to be alone with a male.
Following the publication of a book in Egypt promoting adult suckling by Dr. Abd Al-Mahdi Abd Al-Qadir, a scholar at al-Azhar (the "Harvard of Islam"), another scholar at al-Azhar, Dr. Izzat Atiyya, published a fatwa promoting the practice in a widely-read weekly magazine in 2007, causing national and international controversy. The Egyptian government subsequently called for the removal of the relevant edition of the magazine from sellers' shelves and Dr. Atiyya was suspended from his post at al-Azhar.
Adult suckling in scripture
In the hadiths
An entire chapter in Sahih Muslim, containing six hadiths, is dedicated to the topic of "Breastfeeding an adult" (باب رَضَاعَةِ الْكَبِيرِ). The hadiths describes how, via suckling, an adult male can become a female's mahram and thus be allowed to accompany her in private.
Hadiths regarding adult suckling are also found in the Muwatta of Imam Malik, the Sunan of Ibn Majah, and the Musnad of Imam Ahmad.
Aisha's opinion vs. that of her co-wives
One of the six hadiths on adult suckling in Sahih Muslim describes Aisha as the individual who instructed Muhammad's companions to implement the practice sanctioned by Muhammad.
An account described in the Umm of Imam Shafi'i provides further detail, stating that Aisha enforced the suckling requirement on all those who wanted to meet with her. Imam Shafi'i also describes how Aisha would have her sister Umm Kulthum suckle those who wanted to meet with Aisha in her place, since being the mahram of one person renders one the mahram of all of that person's sibling.
'Abdullah b. al-Zubayr reports that the Prophet said, 'One suckling does not constitute the ban, nor two, nor does one or two sucks.'
'Urwa b. al-Zubayr reports that the Prophet commanded the wife of Abu Hudhayfa to feed her husbands mawla [freed slave], Salim, so that he could go on living with them. The prophet specified five breast-feeds.
translation taken from: John Burton, The Sources of Islamic Law: Islamic theories of abrogation, Edinburgh University Press, p. 157, 1990 (archived from the original), https://web.archive.org/web/20170914141028/http://www.hadith-studies.com/Burton-Theories-Abrogation.pdf
Similar statements are found in the following hadith in Muwatta Malik, where we also see that Muhammad's other wives adamantly refused the instruction, and considered the ruling given by Muhammad to be a special dispensation just for Salim and Suhail's daughter. 
Similar sentiments from Muhammad's other wives are expressed in a hadith in Sahih Muslim.
In the Qur'an
Accounts provided in the hadith agree that a verse requiring ten sucklings was revealed, followed by a verse requiring just five sucklings. The same hadiths detailing these verses state that the final verse, having been written only upon a scrap of paper stored under Aisha's pillow, was lost after the death of Muhammad when a sheep entered her room and ate the scrap of paper. As noted above, the ruling had been very unpopular with Muhammad's other wives. The Qur'anic verse on stoning adulterers is likewise said to have been lost in this same incident.
2007 Azhar fatwas
Dr. Izzat Atiyya
In 2007, Dr. Izzat Atiyya, the head of the hadith department at al-Azhar university (one of if the highest authorities in Sunni Islam today and the world's most renowned Islamic university - often described as the "Harvard of Islam"), issued a fatwa empowering Muslims to implement the practice of adult suckling to avoid the social and professional inconveniences generated by the requirements of female hijab. He encouraged that one should be breastfed by a woman's sisters or mother in order to attain mahram status if it was not possible for whatever reason to suckle the woman directly. He also encouraged that women who adopt children, since there is no legal recognition for adoption in Islamic law, ought to breastfeed their adopted sons, no matter their age, so that they can establish a legal mother-son relationship. The fatwa was published in al-Watani al-Yawm, a weekly newspaper published by Egypt's ruling National Democratic Front party, and explained by Dr. Atiyya in person during an interview with the publication. Dr. Atiyya repeatedly declared that the sources he quoted belonged to the Islamic holy texts with the highest possible authority. According to him no less than 90,000 contemporary scholars confirmed that the hadith referred to is authentic. Dr. Abd Al-Mahdi Abd Al-Qadir, another scholar at al-Azhar, wrote and published a book rendering similar ideas based on the same Islamic sources prior to Dr. Atiyya's fatwa.
"Being together in private means being in a room with the door closed, so that nobody can see them... A man and a woman who are not family members are not permitted [to do this], because it raises suspicions and doubts. A man and a woman who are alone together are not [necessarily] having sex, but this possibility exists, and breastfeeding provides a solution to this problem... I also insist that the breastfeeding relationship be officially documented in writing... The contract will state that this woman has suckled this man... After this, the woman may remove her hijab and expose her hair in the man's [presence]...
"is that the man and the woman must be related through breastfeeding. [This can also be achieved] by means of the man's mother or sister suckling the woman, or by means of the woman's mother or sister suckling the man, since [all of these solutions legally] turn them into brother and sister...
"The logic behind [the concept] of breastfeeding an adult is to transform the bestial relationship between [two people] into a religious relationship based on [religious] duties... Since [this] breastfeeding takes place between [two] adults, the man is still permitted to marry the woman [who breastfed him], whereas [a woman] who nursed [a man] in his infancy is not permitted to marry him...
"The adult must suckle directly from the [woman's] breast... [This according to a hadith attributed to Aisha, wife of the Prophet's Muhammad], which tells of Salem [the adopted son of Abu Hudheifa] who was breastfed by Abu-Hudheifa's wife when he was already a grown man with a beard, by the Prophet's order... Other methods, such as [transferring] the milk to a container, are [less desirable]...
"[As for the possibility of using a breast-pump, which] increases the production of the milk glands... that is a matter for doctors and religious scholars who must determine if the milk [thus produced] is real milk, i.e., if its composition is identical to that of the [woman's] original milk. If it is, this method is permissible..."The fact that the hadith regarding the breastfeeding of an adult is inconceivable to the mind does not make it invalid. This is a reliable hadith, and rejecting it is tantamount to rejecting Allah's Messenger and questioning the Prophet's tradition."
Dr. Atiyya's fatwa was followed by immense controversy in Egypt and internationally. Shortly after publication, a committee assembled by al-Azhar suspended Dr. Atiyya from his academic post and the Egyptian information minister ordered the removal of the relevant edition of al-Watan al-Yawm from sellers' shelves. Dr. Atiyya was ordered by al-Azhar to make a public apology. Dr. Atiyya complied.
The head of the al-Azhar Supreme Council, Sheikh Dr. Muhammad Sayyid Tantawi, publicly refused to accept Dr. Atiyya's apology.
The Muslim Brotherhood also criticized the fatwa harshly and took the matter to parliament. Despite 50 Egyptian MPs discussing the matter however, they "refrained from submitting a parliamentary question in order to avoid creating too big an uproar".
- Breastfeeding adults in Islam
- The Middle East Media Research Institute on Dr. Atiyyas Suspension and related matters (with many links)
- Article in Arabic on Al Arabia online with more than 2400 comments
- "Breastfeeding fatwa causes stir", BBC, May 22nd, 2007 (archived from the original), https://web.archive.org/web/2020*/http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/6681511.stm
- Sahih Muslim, hadiths 3424-3428
- Al-Muwatta 30:17
- Sunan Ibn Majah 3:9:1944
- L. Lavi, "Al-Azhar Lecturer Suspended after Issuing Controversial Fatwa Recommending Breastfeeding of Men by Women in the Workplace", Inquiry & Analysis Series, 355, MEMRI, June 3rd, 2007 (archived from the original), https://web.archive.org/web/20201213113417/https://www.memri.org/reports/al-azhar-lecturer-suspended-after-issuing-controversial-fatwa-recommending-breastfeeding-men ; see also Al-Watani Al-Yawm, Egypt: National Democratic Front Party, May 15th, 2007
- "(7) Chapter: Breastfeeding an adult [باب رَضَاعَةِ الْكَبِيرِ]", Sahih Muslim (archived from the original), https://web.archive.org/web/20201213071552/https://sunnah.com/muslim/17
- Fatwa No 342208: Aa'ishah's view regarding breastfeeding adult, IslamWeb.net, January 1st, 2017 (archived from the original), https://web.archive.org/web/20210104022820/https://www.islamweb.net/en/fatwa/342208/aaishahs-view-regarding-breastfeeding-adult
- Lane's Lexicon سقط
- Lane's Lexicon نسخ
- Quran 2:106