Primary Source

Qur'an Verse on Breastfeeding [Religious Text]


Among the normative verses of the Qur'an dealing with family life and women's legal rights in marriage, this verse refers to the recommended term of two years for breastfeeding. It is a recommendation rather than a legal requirement upon the woman, but it also protects the woman's right to sustenance and support during this period as an obligation upon the husband or his heirs, in case of his death. The text imposes no compulsion upon the woman to breastfeed her child, but allows that she may require the husband to pay compensation to a wet nurse, or to wean the infant by mutual consent between husband and wife before the end of two years. The verse is from the Qur'an, the holy book of Islam, which Muslims believe was revealed to Prophet Muhammad during the 23-year period prior to 632 CE, when he died. The translation, or explanation of the meaning, is by Marmaduke William Pickthall (1875-1936), the first native speaker of English to translate the Qur'an.


Marmaduke Pickthall, The Meaning of the Glorious Qur’an: Text and Explanatory Translation (New York: Muslim World League, 1977).

Primary Source Text

Mothers shall suckle their children for two whole years; [that is] for those who wish to complete the suckling. The duty of feeding and clothing nursing mothers in a seemly manner is upon the father of the child. No one should be charged beyond his capacity. A mother should not be made to suffer because of her child, nor should he to whom the child is born (be made to suffer) because of his child. And on the [father's] heir is incumbent the like of that [which was incumbent on the father]. If they desire to wean the child by mutual consent and [after] consultation, it is no sin for them; and if ye wish to give your children out to nurse, it is no sin for you, provided that ye pay what is due from you in kindness. Observe your duty to Allah, and know that Allah is Seer of what ye do.

Qur'an Chapter 2, Verse 33

How to Cite This Source

"Qur'an Verse on Breastfeeding [Religious Text]," in Children and Youth in History, Item #407, (accessed August 10, 2021).