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CAN A WOMAN BREASTFEED HER CHILD IN FRONT OF HER MAHRAMS?

Praise be to Allah.

A woman’s ‘awrah before her mahrams such as her father, brother, and brother’s son is her entire body except that which ordinarily appears such as the face, hair, neck, forearms and feet. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

“and not to reveal their adornment except to their husbands, or their fathers, or their husband’s fathers, or their sons, or their husband’s sons, or their brothers or their brother’s sons, or their sister’s sons, or their (Muslim) women (i.e. their sisters in Islâm)”

[al-Noor 24:31]

So Allaah has permitted a woman to show her adornment before her husband and her mahrams. What is meant by adornments is the places where adornments are worn, so the site of the ring is the hand, the site of the bracelet is the forearm, the site of the earring is the ear, the site of the necklace is the neck and chest, and the site of the anklet is the calf.

Its apparent meaning indicates that it is permissible to show ones adornments to the husband and other mahrams mentioned alongside him (father, brother etc). It is well known that what is meant is the places where adornments are worn, which are the face, hand and forearm. Therefore it is permissible for them to look at these places as these are the sites of concealed adornments. Non mahrams are allowed to see only the external adornments whereas for husband and mahrams they are allowed to looks at or rather ut is permissible to uncover the hidden adornments. It was narrated from Ibn Mas’ood and al-Zubayr (that it refers to) earrings, necklaces, bracelets and anklets.

The husband and those who are mentioned alongside him are equal with regard to that. The general meaning indicates that it is permissible for those mentioned to look at the places where adornment is worn, just as it indicates that it is permissible for the husband to do so. Because Allaah mentioned alongside the father other mahrams to whom it is permanently forbidden to marry her, this indicates that those to whom the same prohibition applies come under the same ruling, such as the daughter’s husband, wife’s mother, women who are mahrams due to breastfeeding, and so on.

Al-Baghawi (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: The words of Allaah, “and not to reveal their adornment” mean that they should not uncover their adornments before non-mahrams. What is referred to here is hidden adornments. There are two types of adornment, apparent and hidden. The hidden adornments include things such as the anklets, henna on the feet, bracelets on the wrist, earrings and necklaces. It is not permissible for her to show them or for a non-mahram to look at them. What is meant by adornment is the site where the adornment is worn.

Based on this, the woman must cover her breasts when she wants to breastfeed her son in the presence of any of her mahrams, so she may offer her child the breast beneath a blanket and the like. This is part of modesty and keenness to remain covered.

And Allaah knows best.

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