Our Mother A’ishah= Aisha ‘RA’ view regarding breastfeeding adult

Question 

Assalamu alaikum. I have come across some anti-Islam sites that allege that ‘A’ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, breastfed people who wanted to come in and see her. Could you please clarify this? I have read somewhere that she made her sister and daughter pour milk into a utensil and had people drink from that. Is that true? I also heard that she first thought that adult breastfeeding was a general thing, as in the case of Salim, but that according to Al-Kaasani, she retracted her view and took the same view and vast majority of the scholars. Is this true? 

Please clarify this issue, Brother, because anti-Islamists and Shiites are using this to slander ‘A’ishah, may Allah be pleased with her. Please get back to me, this is causing me quite a lot of concern. May Allah, The Exalted, bless you and your family for helping me. Thank you.

Answer:

All perfect praise be to Allah, The Lord of the worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah and that Muhammad peace be upon him is His slave and Messenger.

First, you should know that the enemies of Islam or those who attack ‘A’ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, are continuously trying to find matters which they could use to undermine the religion or mock the Mother of the Believers – and they will not find such matters – and they fabricated lies to satisfy their desires and achieve their evil objectives. So, a Muslim should not follow what they say; rather, it is not permissible for a Muslim who does not have sufficient knowledge that enables him to refute their misconceptions to read their writings lest the misconceptions affect his heart and lead him astray. If he comes across any misconception, he should not pay any attention to it, let alone make it a reason for concern.

Ibn Al-Qayyim may Allah be pleased with him said in Miftaah Daar As-Sa’adah:

“Shaykh Ibn Taymiyyah, may Allah be pleased with him, said to me, when I started to report to him one misconception after another, ‘Do not make your heart, when exposed to such misconceptions, absorb them like a sponge and thus give out nothing but misconceptions, but let it be like an impermeable glass vessel; misconceptions pass by it but do not remain in it. Such a vessel sees the misconception with its [the vessel’s] clearness but repels it with its firmness. 

Otherwise, if your heart absorbs every misconception that passes by it, then, in that case, your heart becomes a settling place for misconceptions,’ or as he said. So, I do not see that I have ever benefited from any advice in repelling misconceptions more than I benefited from this advice. A misconception is called as such because the truth is confused with falsehood in it, as it puts the garment of truthfulness on the body of falsehood…”

What is important to us is that you become aware of the matter in terms of Sharia. As regards those people, perhaps nothing can convince them due to the disease that they have in their heart. Allah says (what means): {Indeed, those upon whom the word of your Lord has come into effect will not believe. Even if every sign should come to them, until they see the painful punishment.} [Quran 10:96-97]

The issue of breastfeeding an adult person is simpler than to raise all such fuss. It is a matter of Ijtihad (personal reasoning) and ‘A’ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, was inclined to the view of establishing Tahreem=Prohibition (i.e., making a male and female Mahram [permanently unmarriageable] to each other) through breastfeeding an adult person based on the hadeeth about Salim, the freed-slave of Abu Hudhayfa – who was not his son; rather, he was his freed-slave. 

Imam Muslim narrated that Umm Salamah said to ‘A’ishah, may Allah be pleased with them both, “Boys at the threshold of puberty whom I do not like to enter upon me enter upon you!” ‘A’ishah said, “Do you not see an example to follow in Allah’s Messenger? The wife of Abu Hudhayfa said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, Salim enters upon me and now he is an adult, and Abu Hudhayfa feels uneasy about that.’ The Messenger of Allah peace be upon him said to her, ‘Suckle him (so that he may become your foster-child), and thus he can enter upon you (freely).’”

The Mothers of the Believers opposed ‘A’ishah in this respect and were not of this view. Imam Muslim narrated that Umm Salamah, the wife the Prophet peace be upon him  used to say that all the wives of the Prophet peace be upon him  disclaimed the idea of letting someone enter upon them through this kind of breastfeeding, and they said to ‘A’ishah, “By Allah, we do not find this but a concession given by the Prophet peace be upon him  only for Salim, and no one is to enter upon us or see us through such breastfeeding.”

Most scholars are against such Tahreem=Prohibition and see that the story of Salim is peculiar to him alone. Nonetheless, some Tabi’i (generations following that of the Companions) scholars agreed with ‘Aa’ishah, such as ‘Ata’ and Al-Layth ibn Sa’d.

In any case, as we have previously stated, it is an issue of Ijtihad, and a person who makes Ijtihad =personal reasoning is rewarded in all cases, whether he is right or wrong, as in the hadeeth by ‘Amr ibn al-‘Aas, may Allah be pleased with him, who related that he heard the Prophet peace be upon him  say, “If a ruler issued a ruling based on Ijtihad=personal reasoning and he is correct, then he has two rewards, and if he issues a ruling and makes Ijtihad and he is incorrect, then he has only one reward.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

As regards the statement of Al-Kaasaani that ‘A’ishah withdrew her opinion, then we have come across his statement as follows, “As for the view of ‘A’ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, it was narrated that she withdrew her opinion. It was narrated that she said, ‘The breastfeeding that makes a person prohibited in marriage is the one that nurtures flesh and blood (i.e., the one that takes place when the child is still a baby – within two years of age).’”

But we have not come across a narration that proves that she withdrew her view. Some scholars were confused that she condones breastfeeding the adult while she narrates the hadeeth, “Breastfeeding (that establishes Tahreem=Prohibition) is the one that results from hunger.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

Ibn Hajar may Allah be pleased with him addressed this confusion, saying, “Perhaps she understood his words ‘breastfeeding is the one that results from hunger’ in terms of the amount of breast milk that makes the one being breastfed satiated. This is a more general meaning regardless of whether the breastfed is an infant or an adult; thus, this hadeeth would not be an explicit text in forbidding the breastfeeding of an adult person.”

The same applies to pouring the milk in a container so that an adult person drinks it; we have not come across any text that states it, but this is only what the scholars mentioned in their interpretation of the story of Salim. An-Nawawi may Allah be pleased with him quoted this meaning in his commentary on Sahih Muslim and considered it to be good; he said, “Al-Qaadhi said that perhaps she milked herself into a container and then he drank it without touching her breast and without their skins touching; and what Al-Qaadhi said is good.”

Allah knows best.