What is the legal opinion for estab...

Egypt's Dar Al-Ifta

What is the legal opinion for establishing a bank for storing mothers’ milk in a Muslim country?


What is the legal opinion for establishing a bank for storing mothers’ milk in a Muslim country?


It is established in the jurisprudence of Abu Hanifa that breastfeeding does not establish milk-relations that impede marriage except under specific conditions. These are:

- The milk must belong to a woman.
- The milk must reach the infant’s stomach through its mouth or nose.
- The milk must not be mixed with anything else.

When the milk is mixed with another substance, it is mixed with another liquid such as water, medicine, or ewe milk; solid foodstuff; or the milk of another woman. According to the unanimous opinion of the leading scholars of the Hanafi school of jurisprudence, milk that is mixed with solid food and cooked over fire does not create relations that bar marriage, whether or not the amount of the milk exceeds the amount of solid food. Similarly, the prohibition is not established if the milk is not cooked over fire whether or not the amount of solid food exceeds the amount of milk according to the dominant opinion in the Hanafi school. This is because when a solid is mixed with a liquid, the liquid takes the same ruling as the solid (the foodstuff).

Mohammed and Abu Yusuf contended that the institution of milk-kinship that prohibits marriage hinges on quantity. The prohibition that impedes marriage is established when the amount of milk exceeds the amount of solid foodstuff with which it is mixed, otherwise it does not impede marriage. Likewise, if the milk is mixed with a liquid such as water, medicine, or ewe milk, consideration is given to which liquid exceeds the other. The decisive factors for this are the liquid whose components outweigh the other’s/the dominant liquid or changes in milk’s color and taste. According to Mohammed (may God be pleased with him) the dominance of a liquid over milk means that the milk [has been modified so much] that it can no longer be considered milk. The same opinion is mentioned in Al-Siraj Al-Wahhaj.

Abu Yusuf argued that if the milk of two females is mixed together, a milk-relation link is only established with the woman whose milk was the most and if the amount of milk from both is equal, milk relations and therefore the prohibition of marriage, is established with both. Conversely, Mohammed maintained the milk of both women [regardless of their amounts] creates milk kinship that prohibits marriage and this is the predominant opinion within the Hanafi school. Hanafi scholars further opined that rida’ is not established in the case of doubtfulness about the number of suckling sessions or about the identity of the woman who suckled the child. Similarly, the prohibition of marriage is not established if an infant consumes the milk in the form of buttermilk, curd, or cheese.

Scholarly opinions expressed in books of jurisprudence
Al-Bada`i’ and other books

Marriage impediments are not created if an infant is fed [human] milk that has turned into buttermilk, curd, or cheese, because consuming these foodstuffs cannot be termed rida’ (suckling). Additionally, they do not institute the kinship that bars marriage because they do not contribute to the baby’s growth and development and do not constitute sufficient nourishment for the infant.

Prohibited milk-relations are not established if a woman’s nipple is inserted in the infant’s mouth and she is uncertain whether the infant has suckled. This [uncertainty] is similar to a situation where a baby girl was breastfed by a woman from a certain village whose identity is not known and this girl later marries a man from the same village. The marriage in this case is valid because the deterrent is not met i.e. the identity of the woman who nursed her is unknown.

If the suspicion of milk-relations exists between a female and male infants and the truth of this is not known, it is permissible for them to marry as long as a trustworthy person does not confirm the matter. It was stated elsewhere in the book that the prohibition of marriage due to rida’ is not established if a girl is breastfed by some women from the same village whose identities are not known and she is later married to a man from the same village; the marriage is valid.

Al-Bahr (cited from Al-Khaniyyah)
A girl is nursed by women from the same village whose identities and number are not known and a man from the same village wishes to marry her. Abu Al-Qasim Al-Saffar said that such a marriage is permissible if there is nothing to prove the existence of milk-relations between them and no one testifies to this effect.

Through the application of the above mentioned rulings, familial relations that give rise to marriage prohibitions are not established by the milk collected from several women whose exact number and identities are not known and whose milk has been pooled together. The above mentioned juristic texts are explicit concerning the permissibility of marriage between individuals who were nursed as infants from milk pooled from different women whose identities are not known. This is due to the impossibility of establishing marriage prohibition based on the unknowable identity of the woman or women who nursed the infant. Consequently, there is no legal impediment to the marriage and there is no legal objection to establishing a bank for storing mothers’ milk when necessary.

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