No Food Is Better Than Mother’s Milk
By Al-Amin Ciroma
All of us have some information about nutritional facts of mother’s milk. We have read a lot about this and know that it is the only natural and most suitable kind of food for an infant. Although mother’s milk is considered to be a child’s food and it is an important source to protect him/her from infections, breast feeding is the most effective way to understand and gratify the child’s needs. Today in all societies, there are overall views and understandings regarding the value of mother’s milk which secures the child’s immunity and comes handy in his/ her survival. Today we encounter new pieces of information about the unique characteristics of mother’s milk in protecting the child and improving his/ her health and growth, and about its impact on the adulthood health condition of those who have drunk mothers’ milk in their childhood.
Researches show that, children who drink mother’s milk in childhood are mentally healthier than those who do not. The Australian researchers by conducting a research on 2500children, controlling them until they were 16 years old, have pointed out that mother’s milk has an important role in the growth of the minds of children. In these researchers’ ideas, those children who have been breastfed less than 6 months are 52% more liable to encounter emotional problems in their first two years of life. The possibility of facing these problems is 55% in 6 years of age, 61% in 8 and 37% when 10 years old.
The Role of Father in Breast- feeding Is Important!: It is interesting that father or his substitute, even government and society are responsible for making the conditions prepared for a child to be fed by mother’s milk. They have to make the conditions appropriate so that a mother feeds her child with milk. A father is responsible for providing the mother with nutritious foods and a safe environment so that she can feed her children free from all anxieties. The government is also obliged to provide employed mothers with some opportunities to feed their child at different times during the day.
How Long of Breast- feeding?: A complete period of breast- feeding according to verse 233 of Surah the al-Baqarah is two complete years and according to verse 14 of Surah Luqman , is 24 months. But according to Surah al-Ahqaf and its 5th verse, the minimum period of breast- feeding a child who has passed his/her nine months of fetal life, is 21 months. On this basis, the lesser the pregnancy period, the more a child should be breast- fed.
Breastfeeding the child doesn’t guarantee that one is a good mother. Likewise, feeding the child by powder milk doesn’t indicate that one is a bad mother. The most important thing is a mutual affection and the love of mother and child at the time of feeding and it leads a mother to become more familiar with her child.
Unripe Children and Mother’s Milk: This is not referred to a lot in the narratives, but one can understand from Ayah 15th of Surah Ahzab that the best food for an unripe child is his her mother’s milk. It is interesting to know that those mothers who bear unripe children secrete beestings for 21 days; this is while the period that a mother secretes beestings is 4 to 5 days. This is very interesting with regard to the fact the child’s immunity system is not complete yet.
Sleeping Next to the Child: It is indicated from the 2nd verse of Surah al-Hajj that sleeping next to the child has a great impact on the spirits and souls of both mother and the child. Previously, the child was often separated from his/ her mother. But today sharing bed with children by their mothers is an important factor in their being close to each other, touching looking at, shelling, and thinking about each other. This increases the secretion of milk in the mother.
Prophet Muhammad’s (SAW) opinion indicating that no food is better than mother’s milk is the best statement in explaining the importance of mother’s milk. The Commander of the Faithful Imam Ali (AS) also says, “The child is not fed with a better and more useful food than the milk of his her mother.
Cruelty Toward a Child: It is advisable to use a complementary food along with milk when the child’s milk teeth on the lower jaw grow, or when the child is 6 months old.
Prophet Muhammad (SAW) said, “Allah has placed a child’s food in his or her mother’s breasts, in one part water and in the other food; and from the time of birth He has appointed the child’s sustenance daily. Mother’s left bosom is a more appropriate place for the child. Researches, conducted at the University of Connell, explain the reasons. According to the new researches, when nursing mother has fed her child once or twice after midnight, the hormone level increases and feeding is done better. Islam also considers midnight breast- feeding to be accompanied by reward.
Hijab, A Modern Day Necessity
From Dr. Halima Owen
I met a woman who changed my perspective about myself and other women. She was a Lebanese girl, born and raised a Muslim. I saw in her something I had seen in few women. Self-confidence. Here was this short, stout sister in her mid twenties. She was not much to look at, but when I spoke to her, I could feel her warmth, sincerity and intelligence. She was a Ph.D. holder in psychology, a college professor and a soon- to - be mother.
How did she affect me? Well. While we were speaking, she and I got to the subject of choosing a good husband. She told me she had waited to marry because she had been waiting for the perfect man, a good practicing Muslim man. She said, “ I had a lot to offer a man. I was a good practicing Muslimah, educated, intelligent, and a respectable woman.” This was a real shock to me. I must say, I was brought up with the American vanities. When a woman says she has a lot to offer, none of those things are usually on the list. Normally, she should have said, “I am tall and thin. I have a pretty face. I have a good figure.” or, maybe, “I have blond hair and blue eyes.” But for her to list such unfeminine qualities as elements that would make her a good catch as a wife, shocked me, especially since she so obviously lacked in the departments I so vainly considered important.
Later, however, I thought about it. I realised that this attitude I had was a sad fact of American life, and a sad commentary about me. We were raised to idealize Barbie. Our role models were beautiful women. I did not know very many names of women who had academically, intellectually, or even physically (sports) excelled, but I could name several dozen models, singers and actresses.
I thought about myself. I had, at the time, graduated from my Master's degree. I was teaching English at a local college. I was working on my Ph.D. I was, and always had been considered to be of above average intelligence, but for as far back as I could remember, the only thing about which people ever commented about me to my parents was my beauty. Also, I could not imagine considering myself without considering my beauty. My self-image, like most American women, was tied to my beauty. If I lost that, even though I had so much, I had nothing.
A good friend of mine once commented to me how sad she felt that it took her so long to put on the Hijab, and even when she put it on, she had to make it pretty, by cinching the waist or wearing make up. Another sister, a new convert, told me just recently that she had tried putting the hijab on one day. She said that when she got back in her car, she started crying because she “...looked so ugly.” I knew exactly how they both felt. I, myself, delayed my entry into Islam because, as I told many of my friends, I was not going to be seen walking around in bed sheets.
What is wrong with us that we see ourselves based solely on the image reflected in the mirror? Allah Ta’ala has given us so much more. Allah (SWT) has created us mates for our husbands, daughters for our parents, mothers for our children and sisters to one another, but we have allowed the Western mentality to poison our perspectives. Don’t get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be beautiful. This is perfectly natural. The problem lies in making our self-image contingent upon this fact.
Look to the West. The best-paid women are those who play to men's fantasy either as actresses, models or even exotic dancers. The society is built around pleasuring men. All it takes is to watch one hour of television to figure this out. Are all consumers men? No. Then why are commercials ridden with beautiful, naked or practically naked women and tons of sexual imagery? It is so because men will buy for their woman to make her look this way, and women will buy to please some man who wants her to look this way. I am not placing all the blame on women for falling for this ploy. I am also blaming men (among them many of our Muslim men who help to perpetuate this poisoned myth).
It is a true shame that a woman should be so worried about her image that she disobeys Allah Ta’ala because she does not have the confidence to be less than beautiful. Hijab is an essential element of societal protection. It keeps the woman from tempting the man, and it keeps her from tempting herself. How? Because the attentions of a handsome man who has been turned by a pretty face or body is flattering to the woman. We enjoy the attention, and this can lead to too much more than 'friendly' chatting or ‘innocent’ flirting. Additionally, the hijab makes society judge the woman on a basis other than her beauty. This is also a protection. It makes the woman develop other talents. It makes her purity and modesty increase in value. It makes others respect her because it shows that she respects herself.
We need to recognize the obvious. Too many times you hear a woman say, “I dress this way to please myself.” Really? Well how many of you wear sexy tight dresses, heels, and are fully made-up when you are lounging around your house? If it is only for you, not for the attention it gets you from men, then why do you discard it when no man is present? Why do you not try to beautify yourself for yourself when only you are present?
The reason is that it is not for you, in that way. It is for your self-confidence. We all need a boost now and then, so dressing sexily and turning a few heads our way makes us feel good. Reminds us that we are still beautiful.
Therein lies the problem. Why do we need to have this type of reinforcement to make us feel good? Why is it that we have to gain our confidence from our looks? What is wrong with us? Look to men. You can see the shortest, fattest, baldest, ugliest one of them walking with a tall beautiful woman. Why, Because he has confidence in himself. He knows he has an asset, which appeals to others. He is rich or intelligent or even he is witty, or maybe he sings well.
We need to recognize our assets as women. The greatest asset we have is not our beauty. It is our virtue. Think about it. Men love to be seen with and to play with the sexy vamp, but he looks for a good girl to settle down and raise a family. Men recognize what we have allowed the West to make us forget. We truly have all the power.
When the women of Greece wanted men to stop going to war all the time, they made a pact to withhold sexual favors from their men. The men got the message, and the wars stopped. The women of the world have always used their power to make men desire what they could not have. They have preserved their dignity and men have recognized this and respected this. Now, we no longer respect ourselves. We make ourselves available for visual feasting and other feasting as well.
The American woman works harder than she ever did. She is raising her children without a father. She is suffering needlessly as are her children. Many times, she has to go to medical science to get the man to even admit that the child is his. How low have we fallen? We think we have freedom? We are more imprisoned than we have ever been. We are prisoners to the whims of men. Men are beating us, abandoning us, using us, and discarding us. Why, Because there is always a more gullible woman around the corner.
We are going to all kinds of extremes to attract men. Recently, I was driving on a Sunday. I saw these women going into a church, and I swear they looked like they were dressed for a night club, not a church. On the flipside, I see our Muslim sisters wearing ‘hijabs’ that show more than they conceal. I see the young girls playing with the beautiful Barbie dolls and arguing over who looks more like Barbie. Ya Allah! When will we wake up?
We have to protect ourselves sisters. We are Muslims. That is supposed to make us the best of nations. We are supposed to be the example to the world, so why are we the ones doing the following? We are the cream of the crop, so why are we wallowing in the mud? Sisters, I beg you to examine America for what it is.
America has from the highest crime rates against women. They say that women are respected, honored, and free? Well, I read a few years ago in the newspaper about a man who beat up his girlfriend and put her in the hospital. At the same time, he tortured and killed her pet rabbit. This man was given 6 months and a $6,000 fine for the beating of the woman. For the rabbit, he was given 6 years and a $60,000 fine. Respect, honor, freedom? It seems to me, the respect, honor and freedom belongs to the rabbit, not to the woman. SubhanaAllah, the rabbit is often lunch? Our lunch gets more rights than we do?
Until very recently, there were no laws in America protecting a woman from stalking, and it was not illegal for a man to beat up his wife. Still, in some states, if the scared woman does not press charges, they will do nothing to him. Would you press charges if you knew he would be out to beat you again soon? If you were to press the charges, chances are the next beating may be fatal. And they have the nerve to talk about Muslims. America -- clean up your own backyard!
When we show that we respect ourselves, we will get the respect we deserve, not until. We have to set the limit. We have to show plainly and clearly that we are women of dignity, that we are Muslim women. If we do so, they will respond, even if the culture and practice is not theirs.
I was at work one day, when a man was introduced to me. He extended his hand to me. I politely said, “Sorry, but my religion forbids me from shaking hands with men.” His response to me was, “My mother told me that one day I would go to shake hands with a lady, and she would refuse. I have finally met a lady.” Another time, I was in a market, and this sweet old man came up to me. He tugged on the back of my headpiece, and when I turned, he said, “May God bless you for this. It is so beautiful to see a woman who respects herself."
The point here is that we will be viewed as we present ourselves. Why are some American men so appalled when they hear that a woman should cover herself? It is because that means that they can not get that boost to their self-image by parading around with a trophy woman. Why are so many women against the idea of hijab? Because it means that they lose the confidence they have because their beauty is the key to their self-image. No beauty, no confidence. No beauty, no worth. Where would Cindy Crawford or Sharon Stone be if they had to rely on something other than their looks? Let's not fall into the trap they have laid for us.
Having stated all this let me get off my soapbox and get into the real reasons for my writing this. Having grown up as a non-Muslim in the West, I had more than a few concerns about the religion of Islam before I converted. The hardest thing for me was giving up what I considered to be my freedom to choose. But I finally realized that it was only by submitting to the rules of Allah (SWT) that I was able to recognize that this freedom was little more than a charade a drug used to lure the unsuspecting into a waking sleep. Let me elaborate a bit. Some people question why women have to cover or why women can not marry non-Muslim men. First, it is a fact of life that we are not in paradise.
But the sad fact is that we expect everything to be perfect. We expect men and women to act like angels and we get angry or frustrated because they don't. The first thing any Muslim has to realise is that there is a Superior force (Allah Ta’ala) at work running the universe. We may not agree with the decisions He makes or the plan He has created, but if we recognise Him to be superior, we must know that His choices are based on factors of which we are unaware, and His superiority makes His choice right and ours wrong, by default.
I shall give you a poor example. I am not a medical doctor. However, when I feel sick, I go to someone who is. He tells me you have cancer. He prescribes radiation treatment. He gives me a basic explanation of what is going on, and how the radiation works to kill it, but in the end, I have no choice but to trust that he knows more than I do about this, and I let him do what needs to be done to get rid of the cancer, or I can take my chances on my imperfect understanding - a move that has killed many a cancer patient.
When it comes to Allah (SWT), I can not tell you why men were created to be creatures that are stimulated sexually by visual stimuli. Nor can I tell you why women are less prone to this phenomena (This is why Playboy, Hustler...and these types of magazines are more popular than Playgirl.) I also can not tell you why it is that women tend to follow men that they love, even in this liberated age (did you know the vast majority of crimes committed by women were somehow or other connected to pleasing the man they love). We may not like the reality of it but we can not deny it exists and we can not hide our heads in the sand like an ostrich and say that because it does exist, they (those who are either unwilling or unable to control themselves) have to fix what’s wrong with themselves or that it’s not our responsibility to protect every man from himself. The sad reality is we have to protect ourselves because no one is going to protect us.
The Muslim woman covers as a way to be known and as a protection Allah Ta’ala says this in (Surat Ahzab 33: verse 59). Now, how is covering ourselves up going to protect us. It does so because it increases the respect men give us. As a non-Muslim, I dealt with the issues of sexual harassment and disrespect. When I put on hijab, nothing changed about me but the fact that I was now covered. For some reason, men acted different. They saw the no-trespass sign loud and clear. There was no ambiguity. You see, when a woman wears typical Western clothes, the man is unsure is she available? Does she 'play around'? Is she a respectable woman? They don't know. There is nothing to openly warn him, but the hijab states loudly and clearly, “This is a respectable woman who does not play games.” So, wearing the hijab actually helped me to progress in my career as a college professor with no problems of this type. I even presented a research paper at a national convention. My hijab allowed them to see me for my intellectual merits because they were denied access to my physical merits. As a non-Muslim, there were many days I went home in tears from all the “cute" comments and lewd innuendoes.
At first it seemed unfair that I should have to go to this extreme to protect myself, but I no longer see it this way, no more than I see it as extreme to avoid walking down a dark alley in New York City at 2 am waving a thousand dollars in cash. I recognise that I bear a certain amount of responsibility to be wise and to protect myself. If I do not care about my safety, who will? I need to be conscientious and wise. I cannot assume that all men out there have perfect self-control. For God's sake, I do not have it, so why should I expect it from anyone else?
Another issue that has bothered many of us is that we can only marry a Muslim man. As I said before, it is more natural for a woman to follow a man than for a man to follow a woman. Like it or not, this is reality. Allah Ta’ala could have made it different, but at some point we have to realise that there must be a reason for this. It may be to keep harmony in the family one needs to be more naturally submissive than the other one has to be stronger in general this is the man. Why? I don't know. One had to be why not the man?
Even the most intellectual of feminist philosophers recognises that men and women think, act and even communicate differently. Once again this is reality. Now the question is how do we protect ourselves (Survival - that's the ultimate aim - isn't it? We want to survive this world and even excel, if we can, so we can move on to bigger, better things namely Al-Jannah/Heaven.) One of the ways we do so is by not placing ourself in a situation that will cause us problems in the future. In this case, Allah (SWT) has done that for us. Allah Ta’ala wants to protect our religion. So in His Infinite Wisdom, He has forbidden the woman to allow her heart to overrule her head. She is to stay with Muslim men (don’t get me wrong there are plenty of bad Muslim men but be smart we are supposed to choose the best not the scum from our own). If we do so, then these problems are at least minimised, if not eliminated.
This is a gift from Allah (SWT). He has given us from His wisdom, and forbidden for us what will hurt us.
I have been around the Muslims for a while, 13 years, long enough to have seen women married to non-Muslims a few of them and I have yet to see one relationship that lasted, or even one where the man even converted or accepted her religious practices (although I am sure there is at least one out there. But the exception can never overrule the rule.). In the long run, it is usually a disaster (in the beginning they are all sugar and flowers but the honeymoon ends with a drastic shock to these women). I wish I could say that one worked out, but I am sad to say the only one that did not end in divorce was a neighbor I had who on a weekly basis had police visits to defend her from his beatings.
As for the other side I have seen the vast majority of Christian and Jewish women married to Muslim men convert or at least accept the religion with open minds and tolerance.
As I said. We may not like reality cause it's not what we want to do, but it is life and we have to live it. I don’t like having to lock my doors from fear of criminals, but I don’t avoid doing it in protest. That would be stupid and dangerous. I try to be wise and deal with what exists not what I want to exist. The laws of Allah Ta’ala are laws to help us deal with what exists.
Dr. Owen is a college professor, she wrote in from Worldwide Islamic Network Of Women
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