Alhamdulillah was-salatu was-salaamu 'ala rasoolillah. All thanks and praise is to ALLAH, Subhanahu wa ta'ala, and we ask that HIS blessings and peace be upon HIS Messenger, Muhammad, salla ALLAHu alaihi wa sallam.
The mothers shall suckle their offspring for two whole years, (that is) for those (parents) who desire to complete the term of suckling, but the father of the child shall bear the cost of the mother’s food and clothing on a reasonable basis. No soul shall have a burden laid on it greater than it can bear. No mother shall be treated unfairly on account of her child, or father on account of his child. And on the (father’s) heir is incumbent the likes of that (which was incumbent on the father). If they both decide on weaning, by mutual consent, and after due consultation, there is no blame on them. And if you decide on a foster suckling-mother for your offspring there is no blame on you, provided you pay (the mother) what you agreed (to give her) on a reasonable basis. And fear ALLAH and know that ALLAH sees well what you do. (Al-Baqarah: 233)
And We have enjoined on man (to be good) to his parents. His mother bore him in weakness and hardship upon weakness and hardship, and his weaning is in two years - give thanks to ME and to your parents. Unto ME is your final destination. (Luqman: 14)
And we have enjoined on man to be dutiful and kind to his parents. His mother bears him with hardship. And she brings him forth with hardship, and the bearing of him, and the weaning of him is thirty months, ... (Al-Ahqaaf: 15)
In these ayat from the Quran, ALLAH, Subhanahu wa ta'ala, gives us a guideline about suckling, indicating that two years is a normal term for breast-feeding a baby. Actually, the two year term is the limit for developing family bonds that prohibit marriage. Of course, one is prohibited from marrying his siblings and their offspring. The same applies to the siblings of the foster mother that suckled the infant. If an infant is suckled by other than the birth mother during the first two years after birth, the same marriage prohibitions must be observed with the children of the foster mother. (There are minimum suckling requirements for this to apply.) For example, if Abdullah is born to Fatima. He is suckled by Meriam. All of Meriam’s daughters are Abdullah’s sisters in suckling and they are prohibited to him in marriage. (There are others who become prohibited in marriage as well, but we will not discuss this further since we are concentrating on breast-feeding, not these relationships.)
Also evident from these ayat is that the minimum, normal pregnancy can be 6 months, since the suckling period is two years and “the bearing and the weaning” period is 30 months. (The reference to the cost of the mother’s expenses applies in the event of a divorce during the suckling term or the pregnancy. In that case, the father must bear the mother’s expenses during this period.)
The importance of breastfeeding is emphasized by the suggestion that a foster mother can be used to suckle the infant.
While no health benefits have been detailed in the Quran, medical science has documented numerous advantages for breast-feeding. Human milk contains the right amount of fatty acids, lactose, water and amino acids for human digestion, brain development and growth. Cow’s milk is well suited to calves, but has different protein than human milk and is not as easy to digest.
The best nutrition for a baby is breast milk. Research over the past twenty years indicates breast-fed babies have less medical problems, lower rates of hospital admission, less ear infections, rashes, diarrhea and allergies than bottle fed babies. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends not giving infants cow’s milk during their first year. They should either be breast-fed or formula-fed. They also recommend a minimum breast-feeding period of 6-12 months, with no maximum period. And no solid food should be given during the first 4-6 months.
It should be noted that immediately after childbirth, the breasts do not yet contain milk. Instead, they contain colostrum, a fluid that contains antibodies. It is very important that the newborn receives this, so breast-feeding is recommended shortly after childbirth.
Some of the advantages of breast-feeding are:
Cost - it is normally less expensive to breast-feed than it is to use formula or cow’s milk. It also requires less effort since there is no need to sterilize bottles or prepare formula. It is a balanced supply and demand situation. The more the infant feeds, the more milk is produced, so the supply keeps up with the demand.
Hygiene - since the milk is direct from the breast, it is not contaminated by organisms in the bottles or the water used to wash the bottles. This reduces the risk of diarrhea. If breast milk is used with bottles, this benefit is not realized, but the other advantages still apply.
Control - it gives the child more control over the flow of milk. Also, breast-feeding requires more effort to suck milk, so it helps jaw development.
Immune system - breast milk contains a large number of cells that kill bacteria. This provides protection from illnesses such as pneumonia, bronchitis, staph infections, and influenza. Also, the mother’s antibodies are transferred to the child with the milk, so the baby is protected from diseases that his mother (and likely he) were exposed to.
Pregnancy recovery - breast-feeding helps the mother recover from the pregnancy and delivery. It helps return the uterus to its original size and may help weight loss since it uses up extra calories.
Healthier Mom - it should promote better health habits for the mother. She must eat a balanced diet, get plenty of rest, avoid foods that irritate the baby, etc. to maintain her strength. (It can lead to some discomfort, including engorged breasts, sore nipples, and sometimes, breast infections. Engorgement and sore nipples should ease once the mother gets used to breast-feeding. If infections develop, immediate medical attention should be obtained.)
Cancer risk reduction - breast-feeding reduces the risk of breast cancer, both for the mother and the child. Studies have shown a 15-35% reduction in breast cancer among women who have lactated for 3-24 months. In addition, women who were breast-fed experienced a reduction in breast cancer of 24%. If one has done both, the benefits are greater, reducing the risk of breast cancer nearly 50%.
Halal - it provides Halal food to the infant, with no certification required.
Finally, the father is also enriched by the experience. He takes great pleasure is seeing the bond created between his dear wife and dear child as they share this very personal experience. He can see the satisfaction in their eyes and the peace and tranquility that surrounds them.
For more information on breast-feeding, visit http://www.fda.gov/fdac/features/895_brstfeed.html and http://www.aap.org/family/brstguid.htm.
Halal Food Conference 2002 will be held at the Sheraton Gateway Hotel at the Toronto International Airport, Toronto, Canada on April 21-23, 2002. Click here for more details, to check out the program and to register.
Phillip Morris will remove the depiction of a mosque from packages of Chesterfield cigarettes sold in Turkey. The Religious Directorate objected to the depiction. (Reported in Arab News, March 29, 2002)
Unilever is suing to overturn a law that prevents the sale of yellow margarine in Quebec. Unilever claims the ban violates NAFTA and increases the cost of margarine since it must produce two types, yellow and white. The ban is intended to protect the dairy industry, arguing that yellow margarine takes market share away from butter. The courts will decide. (Reported in The Canadian Press on March 21, 2002)
US regulations require the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to publish updates to the nutrition labeling every 4 years. The FDA is proposing a change to clarify the guidelines and to incorporate updated nutrition information. Comments will be accepted until June 3, 2002. (Reported in IFT Weekly Newsletter on March 20, 2002)
Beech-Nut Nutrition Corp. will market First Advantage, a baby food containing DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and ARA (arachidonic acid). DHA and ARA are fatty acids found in breast milk. (IFT Weekly Newsletter on March 27, 2002)
The European Commission has proposed a permanent ban on the use of antibiotics in animal feed. David Byrne, European Union food safety commissioner expects antibiotics to be phased out completely by 2006. (Reported on www.meatingplace.com on March 27, 2002.)
Velvet Ice Cream Company of Utica, Ohio, announced it will produce a new line of light ice cream using Splenda, a no-calorie sweetener. Splenda is Halal certified by IFANCA. (Note: the ice cream is not certified by IFANCA.)
There are many substances, which are sugars but the normal reference to sugar is sucrose. Sucrose is a white disaccharide, with a sweet taste and is classified as a carbohydrate. It is the major product of photosynthesis and is produced by all fruits and vegetables. Most commercial sugar comes from sugar cane and sugar beets, but there are other sources, such as sugar maple sap.
Sugar is a natural substance and is essentially unchanged after processing. Processing basically extracts the sugar from the cane or beets and removes impurities.
Processing sugar involves pressing the cane to extract the juice, boiling the juice to thicken and crystallize it, centrifuging the mixture to recover the crystals, refining the crystals to remove the color and impurities and finally crystallizing it again, drying and packaging it.
Sugar is produced in a number of forms, including regular, granulated, powdered (confectioners) and others. In addition, there are brown sugars and liquid sugars.
Most sugar cane in the United States comes from Florida, Hawaii, Louisiana and Texas. Sugar cane contains about 20% sucrose. Sugar cane is normally processed in two steps. First the cane is processed in a sugar mill, which is normally located near the cane fields. This produces a raw sugar, which is about 97% sucrose. The raw sugar is then shipped to a refinery for purification and packaging.
Most sugar beets in the United States come from the Pacific, Rocky Mountain and Midwestern States. They contain about 17% sucrose. The growing season is about 5 months long and processing is done near the farms. Unlike cane sugar, the entire process is done in one plant.
The final product is over 99.9% pure sucrose. Molasses is also produced as a by-product of the sugar production process. Other by-products or waste are used as fuel or animal feed.
Sugar contains no fat and about 15 calories per teaspoon. Sucrose breaks down to form glucose and fructose, in equal volumes. Honey is a mixture of sucrose, glucose and fructose.