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IRSYAD AL-FATWA SERIES 153 : THE RULING OF SELLING BREAST MILK

153 pic

Question:

What is the ruling for a woman to sell her milk?

 

Answer:

Alhamdulillah, praise and thanks to Allah for the many countless blessings He has blessed us all with. Blessings and salutations to the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his wives, his family, companions and all those that follow his teachings to the day of judgement.

The scholars have differing opinions regarding the sale of humans’ milk. Here, we include the opinions of fuqaha regarding this issue:

Opinions of Fuqaha

  1. Absolute permissibility: This is the opinion of scholars from mazhab Maliki, al-Syafie[1] and an opinion in mazhab Hanbali.[2] The permissibility to sell breast milk here means it is permissible for all women, whether they are free or are slaves to sell their milk.
  1. Absolute Prohibition: This is the opinion of scholars from mazhab Hanafi and Abu Qasim al-Anmati from mazhab al-Syafie. It is also the second opinion in mazhab al-Hanabilah.
  1. Makruh (Undesirable): This is the opinion of al-Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal
  1. Permissible only for women slaves: This is the opinion of al-Qadhi Abu Yusuf from mazhab Hanafi and also the opinion of some scholars of al-Hanabilah.

Evidences Behind the Ruling

  1. For the scholars that ruled it permissible to sell breast milk, they refer to the following evidences:
  • Breastmilk is clean and beneficial for humans especially in dire situations, such as feeding a baby.
  • Islam permits the payment received for nursing other people’s children. Allah SWT states:

فَإِنۡ أَرۡضَعۡنَ لَكُمۡ فَ‍َٔاتُوهُنَّ أُجُورَهُنَّ

“…And if they breastfeed for you, then give them their payment,”

Surah al-Talaq (6)

  • Breast milk is clean and permissible to be sold through qiyas (analogical deduction) with other beneficial and pure drinks such as goat’s milk.
  1. As for the prohibition of selling breast milk, the evidences the scholars refer to are:
  • Breast milk is not a form of property of someone, for it is considered as a part of the human itself, and humans are honoured and respected.
  • Abu al-Qasim al-Anmati added that breast milk is prohibited to be sold for it is considered as najis (impure).
  • Breast milk is a fluid that flows out of human’s body and is prohibited to be sold, just like sweat.
  1. The opinion that ruled it makruh (undesirable) is from al-Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal Rahimahullah, he uses the evidences used by scholars that ruled it prohibited to sell breast milk. However, in his opinion, although there is a restriction in selling breast milk, it does not reach the status of prohibition. His opinion was written by Ibn Qudamah al-Maqdisi in his book al-Mughni. [4]
  1. The opinion that states the permissibility of selling breast milk only for slave women uses the evidences that ruled its absolute permissibility.

Conclusion

Reviewing the above scholars’ opinions and our own analysis regarding the issue, we are inclined towards the opinion that prohibits the selling of breast milk. Here we include our evidences and arguments that supports our opinion:

  1. Indeed, humans are honoured in Islam and this fact is not argued by both the scholars that ruled it permissible or prohibited to sell breast milk.
  2. Humans are unlike property that can be sold. Humans are also not to be gifted or donated to anyone. This is agreed by all scholars and it is also the reason why humans are not to be treated like property.
  3. The opinion that permits the selling of breast milk are from scholars that compared it to other clean and beneficial beverages. Thus, here we state that breast milk is a necessity for every child. Other types of drinks cannot replace breast milk. Hence this qiyas is inaccurate in our opinion.
  4. As for the opinion that permits the selling of breast milk through the qiyas of the permissibility of selling goat’s milk is qiyas ma’a al-faariq. The reason is, humans own the goats and goats are a form of property for humans. Thus, it is different from human’s milk. Human’s flesh is prohibited to be eaten, while goat’s meat is permissible to be eaten. Humans are also honoured by syarak regardless whether they are alive or dead, while we are permitted to take benefit from goats. Furthermore, there is no specific rulings for goat’s milk, unlike human’s milk where it is prohibited to marry your milk siblings. Hence, this qiyas is inapplicable.
  5. The opinion that states the absolute permissibility to sell anything that is beneficial is inaccurate. If we study this matter further, we will find that everything that is prohibited by syarak does not deny its benefits altogether. For example, there are some benefits of alcoholic beverages, however it is prohibited according to syarak. Hence, the condition of the permissibility of something depends on the benefit and the purity of it according to syarak.
  6. No free human is owned by another, and we are prohibited from selling a human or part of a human, for everyone has a right on themselves.
  7. The widespread selling of breast milk without a proper system and control would lead to problems in determining lineage and doubts in identifying milk siblings. Marriage between milk siblings may happen, when it is clearly prohibited in Islam. This supports the prohibition of selling human’s milk considering the maqasid al-syar’iyyah of hifz al-nasl (protecting the lineage) and also as sad al-Zari’ah.

Wallahu a’lam.

End notes:

[1] However, there are al-Syafi’eyyah scholars that ruled it impermissible to sell breast milk, such as al-Mawardi, al-Syaasyi and al-Ruyaani. See Al-Majmu’ (9/254).

[2] Al-Imam al-Nawawi. Al-Majmu’ Syarh al-Muhazzab. Dar al-Fikr, (9/254). See also Al-Mughni (4/196) written by Ibn Qudamah al-Maqdisi.

[3] Al-Imam al-Nawawi wrote that this is a syaz opinion (singular). See Al-Majmu’ (9/254)

[4] Ibn Qudamah al-Maqdisi. al-Mughni. Maktabah al-Qaherah, (4/196).


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