The Quran

Commentaries for 2.233

Al Baqara (The cow) - البقرة

2.233 Abbas - Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs
(Mothers) who are divorced (shall suckle their children for two whole years; (that is) for those who wish to complete the suckling) of the child. (The duty of feeding) of suckling the child (and clothing nursing mothers in a seemly manner) without excess or stinginess (is upon the father of the child. No soul should be charged) for providing sustenance for suckling (beyond its capacity) except in proportion of what Allah has given it of wealth. (A mother should not be made to suffer because of her child) by taking her child from her after having accepted what was given to someone else for suckling her child, (nor should he whom the child is born) i.e. the father ((be made to suffer) because of his child) by handing him the child after the latter became familiar with his mother and would not take any other breast. (And on the (father's) heir) the heir of the father and it is also said the heir of the child (is incumbent the like of that (which was incumbent on the father)) in terms of providing sustenance and avoiding causing harm, in case this person is not the father. (If they) the mother and father (desire to wean the child by mutual consent) of the father and mother (and (after) consultation) between them, (it is no sin for them) i.e. the father and mother, if they do not suckle the child two full years; (and if ye wish to give your children out to nurse) by other than the mother and the latter wants to remarry, (it is no sin for you) for both the mother and father, (provided that ye pay what is due from you) provided that you spend what you have given (in kindness) in consent and without any disagreement. (And observe your duty to Allah) fear Allah regarding harming and disagreement, (and know that Allah is Seer of what ye do).
2.233 Asrar - Kashf Al-Asrar
Mothers shall suckle their children two whole years-for those who desire to complete the suckling.
Great is that Lord who is unique in loving kindness and without peer in caressing servants. He bestows in testing, He is loyal to assurances. If we call Him, He hears, and if we do not, He knows. He is generous, loving, love-showing, and love-increasing; gentle, defect-hiding, excuse-hearing, a good God. His bounty is beyond all bounty, His generosity beyond all generosity, His mercy greater than all mercies, His love not like other loves.
The example given of utmost mercy is the mercy of mothers, but God's mercy toward His servants is more than that, and His love is not like their love. Do you not see that He commands mothers to give milk to their children for two complete years, He urges them to nurture them, and He counsels them to take care of them? He does not confine Himself to the love of mothers and leave it at that. This is so that you will know that God is more lovingly kind to the servant than a mother is to her child.
Once MuṣṬafā was passing by when a woman with a child in her arms was baking bread. They had told her that God's Messenger would be passing. She came forward and said, “O Messenger of God! We have heard you say that the God of the world's inhabitants is more lovingly kind to His servants than a mother to her child.”
The Messenger said, “Yes, that is so.”
That woman became happy and said, “O Messenger of God! A mother would never toss her child into this oven.”
MuṣṬafā wept. Then he said, “God chastises in the Fire only those who refuse to say, 'There is no god but God.'”
Kaʿb ʿUjra said that one day God's Messenger said to his companions, “What do you say about a man slain in God's path?”
They said, “God and His Messenger know best.”
He said, “He is in the Garden.” Then he said, “What do you say about a man concerning whom two just men have said that they knew nothing of him but good?”
They said, “God and His Messenger know best.”
He said, “He is in the Garden.” Then he said, “What do you say about a dead man concerning whom two just witnesses say that they never saw any good from him?”
The Companions said, “He is in the Fire.”
The Messenger said, “How badly you have spoken-a sinful servant and a forgiving Lord!
Say: 'Each acts according to his own manner' [17:84].”
Part of His complete mercy and generosity to His servants is that tomorrow at the resurrection, a group will be taken and made to pass easily by the Scales, the Narrow Path, and the bridge over hell. They will arrive at the door of paradise and be told to halt. Then a letter will arrive from the Exalted Presence, a letter whose title is “The Eternal Love.” From beginning to end it will be rebuke and war with the friends. He will rebuke the servants as is appropriate to their state.
The letter will say, “My servants! Did I not create you gratis and sculpt you in a beautiful form? Did I not stretch out your stature? You were infants and did not know the road to your mother's breast. I showed you. I brought forth pure milk as your food from the midst of blood. I made your mother and father kind to you and had them nurture you. I preserved you from water, wind, and fire. I conveyed you from infancy to youth, and from youth to old age. I adorned you with understanding and excellence, I decorated you with knowledge and recognition. I sculpted you with hearing and eyesight. I had you obey and serve Me. At the door of death, I kept My name on your tongue and My recognition in your spirit. Then I put you on the pillow of safety. I who am Beginningless and Endless-I did all these beautiful things for you. What did you do for Me? Did you ever give a dirham to a beggar for My sake? Did you ever give water to a thirsty dog for Me? Did you ever move an ant from the path out of mercy?
“My servant! You did what you did, but I am ashamed to chastise you as is worthy for you. Instead I will do what is worthy for Me. Go, for I have forgiven you, so that you will know that
I am I and you are you.”
Indeed, if a beggar goes before a king, they do not ask him what he has brought.
They ask him what he wants.
O God, what could come from a beggar that would be worthy of You if it were not that You are worthy of what comes from a beggar?
One of the pirs of the Tariqah said, “How can He not caress, when He is the most generous of the generous? How can He not forgive, when He is the most merciful of the merciful? How can He not pardon, when several times in the Qur'an He commands people to pardon? So pardon them [3:159], Let them pardon and forbear [24:22], Take to pardoning [7:199].”
On the same topic is what He brings at the end:
2.233 Jalal - Al-Jalalayn
Mothers, shall, suckle their children for two full years (kāmilayn, ‘two full ones’, is an adjective for emphasis); this is, for such as desire to fulfil the suckling, and this is the maximum length of time. It is for the father to provide, food for, them, the mothers, and clothe them, during the suckling if they be divorced, honourably, to the best of his ability. No soul is charged save to its capacity, its ability; a mother shall not be harmed by her child, that is, on account of the child, by being forced to suckle it, if she does not want to; neither, should, a father, be harmed, by his child, that is, on account of it, by being charged with more than he is able to bear. The mention of both parents here in relation to the child is intended to show sympathy [for both]. The heir, the one inheriting from his father, that is, the young man who is the trustee of his [father’s] property, has a similar duty, to that of the father in terms of providing sustenance and clothing for the [other] parent. But if the two, parents, desire by mutual consent, agreement, and consultation, so that the child’s best interests are clear, to wean, that is, to effect ablactation before the completion of the two-year period, then they would not be at fault, in this matter. And if you (addressing the parents) desire to seek nursing, from other than the mothers, for your children, you would not be at fault, in this respect, provided you hand over, to them, what you have given, what you intend to give them in the way of wages, honourably, in kindness and good nature; and fear God, and know that God sees what you do, and that nothing of it can be hidden from Him.
2.233 Kathir - Ibn Al Kathir
The Suckling Period is only Two Years
This is a direction from Allah to the mothers to suckle their infants through the complete term of suckling, which is two years. Hence, suckling after two years is not included in this address. Allah said:
لِمَنْ أَرَادَ أَن يُتِمَّ الرَّضَاعَةَ
(...who desire to complete the term of suckling,)
Therefore, the suckling that establishes Tahrim (prohibition, i.e., one cannot marry his mother or sister from suckling) is what occurs before the two years end. If the infant is suckled only after two years of age, then no Tahrim will be established. At-Tirmidhi under Chapter: `Suckling establishes Tahrim within the first two years,' reported that Umm Salamah narrated that Allah's Messenger said:
«لَا يَحْرُمُ مِنَ الرَّضَاعِ إِلَّا مَا فَتَقَ الْأَمْعَاءَ فِي الثَّدْيِ وَكَانَ قَبْلَ الْفِطَام»
(Suckling establishes Tahrim if it is on the breast and before Fitam (before weaning, i.e., before the end of the first two years).)
At-Tirmidhi said, "This Hadith is Hasan Sahih. The majority of the people of knowledge among the Companions of Allah's Messenger and others acted upon this, that is that suckling establishes Tahrim (prohibition in marriage) before the end of the two years and that whatever occurs after that does not establish Tahrim". At-Tirmidhi is alone in recording this Hadith and the narrators in its chain meet the criteria of the Sahihayn. The Prophet's statement:
«إِلَّا مَا كَانَ فِي الثَّدْي»
(On the breast) refers to the organ of suckling before the two years. Imam Ahmad reported a Hadith in which Al-Bara' bin `Azib narrated, "When Ibrahim, the Prophet's son, died, the Prophet said:
«إِنَّ ابْنِي مَاتَ فِي الثَّدْيِ، إِنَّ لَهُ مُرْضِعًا فِي الْجَنَّـة»
(My son has died on the breast and he has someone to suckle him in Paradise.)
Furthermore, Ad-Daraqutni related that Ibn `Abbas said that Allah's Messenger said:
«لَا يَحْرُمُ مِنَ الرَّضَاعِ إِلَّا مَا كَانَ فِي الْحَوْلَيْن»
(Suckling establishes Tahrim only within the (first) two years.)
Imam Malik reported this Hadith from Thawr bin Zayd who narrated that Ibn `Abbas related it to the Prophet. Ad-Darawardi reported this Hadith from Thawr who narrated it from `Ikrimah who narrated it from Ibn `Abbas. In this narration, which is more authentic, he added:
«وَمَا كَانَ بَعْدَ الْحَوْلَيْنِ فَليْسَ بِشَيْء»
(Whatever occurs after the two years is not considered.)
Suckling beyond the Two Years
It is reported in the Sahih that `A'ishah thought that if a woman gives her milk to an older person (meaning beyond the age of two years) then this will establish Tahrim. This is also the opinion of `Ata' bin Abu Rabah and Layth bin Sa`d. Hence, `A'ishah thought that it is permissible to suckle the man whom the woman needs to be allowed in her house. She used as evidence the Hadith of Salim, the freed slave of Abu Hudhayfah, where the Prophet ordered Abu Hudhayfah's wife to give some of her milk to Salim, although he was a man, and ever since then, he used to enter her house freely. However, the rest of the Prophet's wives did not agree with this opinion and thought that this was only a special case. This is also the opinion of the majority of the scholars.
Suckling for Monetary Compensation
Allah said:
وَعلَى الْمَوْلُودِ لَهُ رِزْقُهُنَّ وَكِسْوَتُهُنَّ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ
(...but the father of the child shall bear the cost of the mother's food and clothing on a reasonable basis.) meaning, the father of the baby is obliged to provide for the expenses of the mother and to buy her clothes, in reasonable amounts usually used by similar women in that area, without extravagance or stinginess. The father spends within his means in this case. Allah said in another Ayah:
لِيُنفِقْ ذُو سَعَةٍ مِّن سَعَتِهِ وَمَن قُدِرَ عَلَيْهِ رِزْقُهُ فَلْيُنفِقْ مِمَّآ ءَاتَاهُ اللَّهُ لاَ يُكَلِّفُ اللَّهُ نَفْساً إِلاَّ مَآ ءَاتَاهَا سَيَجْعَلُ اللَّهُ بَعْدَ عُسْرٍ يُسْراً
(Let the rich man spend according to his means; and the man whose resources are restricted, let him spend according to what Allah has given him. Allah puts no burden on any person beyond what He has given him. Allah will grant after hardship, ease.) (65:7)
Ad-Dahhak commented, "If the husband divorces his wife, with whom he had a child, and she suckles that child, he is required to provide for the mother's expenses and clothes within reason.''
No Darar (Harm) or Dirar (Revenge)
Allah said:
لاَ تُضَآرَّ وَلِدَةٌ بِوَلَدِهَا
(No mother shall be treated unfairly on account of her child,) meaning, the mother should not decline to rear her child to harm its father. The mother does not have the right to refrain from suckling the child after giving birth, unless she suckles him/her the milk that is necessary for his/her survival. Later on, she is allowed to give up custody of the child as long as she does not do that intending to harm the father. In addition, the father is not allowed to take the child from his mother to harm the mother. This is why Allah said:
وَلاَ مَوْلُودٌ لَّهُ بِوَلَدِهِ
(...nor father on account of his child.) meaning, by taking the child from its mother intending to harm the mother. This is the Tafsir of Mujahid, Qatadah, Ad-Dahhak, Az-Zuhri, As-Suddi, Ath-Thawri and Ibn Zayd, and others on this Ayah.
Allah then said:
وَعَلَى الْوَارِثِ مِثْلُ ذلِكَ
(And on the (father's) heir is incumbent the like of that (which was incumbent on the father).) meaning, by refraining from harming the relative (of the father, i.e., his infant), as Mujahid, Ash-Sha`bi and Ad-Dahhak stated. It was also reported that (the Ayah requires) the inheritor (of the father) to spend on the mother of the child, just as the father was spending, and to preserve her rights and refrain from harming her, according to the Tafsir of the majority of the scholars. We should state that Ibn Jarir has explained this subject in detail in his Tafsir and that he also stated that suckling the child after the second year might harm the child's body and mind. Sufyan Ath-Thawri narrated that `Alqamah asked a woman who was suckling her child after the second year ended, not to do that.
Fitam (weaning) occurs by Mutual Consent
Allah said:
فَإِنْ أَرَادَا فِصَالاً عَن تَرَاضٍ مِّنْهُمَا وَتَشَاوُرٍ فَلاَ جُنَاحَ عَلَيْهِمَا
(If they both decide on weaning, by mutual consent, and after due consultation, there is no sin on them.)
This Ayah indicates that if the father and the mother decide on the Fitam (weaning) before the two years (of suckling) end, and for a benefit that they duly discuss and agree upon, then there is no sin in this case. So, the Ayah indicates that one parent is not allowed to make this kind of decision without duly consulting the other parent, as stated by Ath-Thawri. The method of mutual consultation protects the child's interests. It is also a mercy from Allah to His servants, for He has legislated the best method for parents to rear their children, and His legislation guides and directs the parents and the children to success. Similarly, Allah said in Surat At-Talaq (chapter 65 in the Qur'an):
فَإِنْ أَرْضَعْنَ لَكُمْ فَـَاتُوهُنَّ أُجُورَهُنَّ وَأْتَمِرُواْ بَيْنَكُمْ بِمَعْرُوفٍ وَإِن تَعَاسَرْتُمْ فَسَتُرْضِعُ لَهُ أُخْرَى
(Then if they give suck to the children for you, give them their due payment, and let each of you accept the advice of the other in a just way. But if you make difficulties for one another, then some other woman may give suck for him (the father of the child).) (65:6)
Allah then said:
وَإِنْ أَرَدتُّمْ أَن تَسْتَرْضِعُواْ أَوْلَـدَكُمْ فَلاَ جُنَاحَ عَلَيْكُمْ إِذَا سَلَّمْتُم مَّآ ءَاتَيْتُم بِالْمَعْرُوفِ
(And if you decide on a foster suckling-mother for your children, there is no sin on you, provided you pay (the mother) what you agreed (to give her) on a reasonable basis.) meaning, if the mother and the father both agree that the father assumes custody of the child due to a circumstance that compels her or allows him to do so, then there is no sin in this case. Hence, the mother is allowed to give up the child and the father is allowed to assume custody of the child. The father should kindly give the mother her expenses for the previous period (during which she reared and suckled the child), and he should seek other women to suckle his child for monetary compensation. Thereafter, Allah said:
وَاتَّقُواْ اللَّهَ
(And fear Allah) meaning, in all of your affairs,
وَاعْلَمُواْ أَنَّ اللَّهَ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ بَصِيرٌ
(And know that Allah is All-Seer of what you do.) meaning, none of your affairs or speech escapes His perfect Watch.
2.233 Maududi - Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an
This applies to all the cases in which the husband and the wife have separated in any manner divorce, khula' or judicial separation) and the child is still a suckling.
If the father dies, the responsibility of remunerating the mother or the wet nurse who suckles the infant lies on the guardian just as it lay on the father.
2.233 Qushairi - Al-Qushairi
Mothers suckle their children for two full years for such as desire to fulfill the suckling. The ultimate metaphor for mercy is the mercy of mothers. God سبحانه commanded mothers to fulfill mercy by suckling their children for two complete years. Cutting off the suckling before two years [for those who so desire] is an allusion to the fact that the mercy of God toward his servant is more perfect than the mercy of mothers. It is for the father to provide them and clothe them honorably. This means that the father must provide for nursing women and clothe them honorably. When they are performing an act for you their right is your obligation. Surely the [child] who is entirely yours is entirely your responsibility. No soul is charged save to its capacity; The holding back of one with ability is miserliness-to stop in a moment of weakness is a [poor] excuse. a mother shall not be harmed by her child in the suckling and what is necessary for it. neither a father by his child. The heir has a similar duty. This means that the father [shall not be harmed] by his child that is with regard to the support and tenderness that are obligatory for [the child]. Just as the right of the child is incumbent on the parents the right of the parents is incumbent on the child. َ But if the two desire by mutual consent and consultation to wean [the child] then they would not be at fault. And if you desire to seek [others to] nurse your children you would not be at fault provided you hand over what you have given honorably and fear God and know that God sees what you do. This refers to weaning before two years-if it is done with the right intention there is no fault. The verse includes [that which] smooths the path of companionship and teaches the best moral qualities in the precepts of marital life. Surely those who are not merciful will not themselves be treated with mercy wa-inna man lā yarḥamu lā yurḥamu. The Prophet ﷺ said to someone who mentioned that his children did not kiss him “Surely God does not take away mercy except from a miserable heart.”