Is it permissible to establish a milk bank? What are the disadvantages of it and what measures can be taken against them?

Details of the Question
Is it permissible to establish a milk bank? What are the disadvantages of it and what measures can be taken against them?
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

Milk banks have been established recently in order to provide human breast milk to babies in need in the Western countries; the milk obtained from women is stored and given to babies.

The issue whether it is permissible to establish such a bank according to Islam has been on the agenda of Islamic scholars individually and fatwa committees institutionally.

In this context, some fatwa committees decreed that it was not permissible to establish milk banks because they might cause confusion about sucking milk and lead to marriages among milk relatives, which is forbidden by Islam, without being noticed.

However, this decree is not based on the essence of the issue but originates from the concern that people will not act sensitively about the milk kinship that will occur between the mothers who donate milk and the babies who are given milk and that it will lead to marriages that are forbidden by the religion because the milks and the milk kinships will be confused.

In principle, it is permissible to give children the milk of other women by breastfeeding when there is a need; it is also permissible to store the milk taken from some women and then give it to the babies who need milk. However, it is necessary to take all kinds of measures and to apply those measures very sensitively so that the prohibition of marrying milk relatives will not be violated.

Therefore, it is decreed that it is religiously permissible to store human milk and to give it to the babies that need it later if the following conditions are taken into consideration:

1. The mother who gives her milk should not deprive her own child of milk.

2. The milk taken from one woman needs to be given only to male babies or only to female babies as a practical measure in order to narrow the possibility of being mahram among the children who drink the milk of other women.

3. The identities of the woman who gives milk and the child who drinks milk should be recorded and this record need to be given to both parties.

4. This issue needs to be ensured by legal regulations.

5. The milk from one woman should not be mixed with the milk of another woman in order to prevent the circle of milk kinship that prevents marriage from being widened.

6. The woman who gives her milk should not be given any money apart from her expenses; the milk taken from a woman should not be sold.

7. The children who can be breastfed by their own mothers should not be allowed to get milk from this system.

Author

Directorate of Religious Affairs

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