On nursing your baby during the Jummah khutba

Earlier this year my college roommate Lesley came up from Long Island to spend the weekend with Min and me. Over dinner one evening we were chatting about various baby things when I told her that I took Min to the mosque for Friday prayers (Jummah).

I told her I would nurse him during the call to prayer (athan) and pre-prayer sermon (khutba) so he didn’t get scared. And then once Min got acclimated to the overhead speakers I’d lay him on a blanket next to me and pray with the women.

And do you guys know what Lesley said?

She got all deep and scholarly and goes, “Are you sure you’re allowed to nurse him during the sermon?” And I was all, “Yeah, of course! I mean…what? What do you mean? Am I not allowed?” And Lesley was all, “I don’t know!” and I was like, “Oh my God! I DON’T KNOW EITHER!”

And then Lesley shot me this look from over her chicken like, Yeah. YOU BETTER CHECK ON THAT.

Now the reason this would even be something to look into is because there are very clear “Hadith” (traditions/reports/deeds of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him) that say you’re not allowed to talk during the khutba (the sermon) or move about excessively.

Basically, be quiet and stop digging through your purse for a mint! Also, you really don’t need to say hello to your pals as they walk into the prayer area once the sermon has started. You can do that after the prayer over lunch, which is served at the mosque every Friday. Meals are usually prepared/donated by someone in the community and cost $5 to $10 per plate. The money goes back to the mosque for upkeep and/or other in-house charitable causes.

But I digress.

So Lesley’s thought process created a snowball of my own thoughts and I started thinking about how the khutba (sermon before Friday prayer at the mosque) counts as part of the prayer. And since I wouldn’t nurse Min while I prayed then could I nurse him during the sermon?

And therein boys and girls lies the knowledge to be seeked.
Sought. Whatever.

So The Boss’s brother-in-law shared an article about the permissibility of nursing your baby during the Friday sermon (Jummah khutba) and then The Boss’s sister translated it for me. Yay family! The translation isn’t word-for-word, but the meat of the information is below and I cite the source at the very end.

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QUESTION:

Can a woman nurse her baby during the Jummah khutba (Friday prayer sermon)?

ANSWER:

There should be no problem for a woman to nurse during the khutba (sermon before the Friday prayer) because there is no daleel (proof) that says nursing during the khutba is not permissible.

Even if nursing your baby means there will be a degree of distraction [during the sermon] it is still allowed. This is because it is better to nurse the baby [and quiet him/her] than let the baby cry, which can cause others to lose their focus.

However, during the sermon the woman should avoid playing with the baby, talking or cooing with the baby because there is a daleel (proof), which comes from a Hadith (a Prophetic tradition) which clearly states not to talk during the khutba (sermon). The woman should also avoid excessive movement while nursing as [both men and women] are required to listen and be quiet during the khutba [in order to get the most reward from God.]

It is also important for the woman to remain covered [i.e. use a nursing cover, be as discrete as possible] unless she needs help. While [your breasts can be uncovered] in front of other women many Islamic scholars hold the opinion that a woman should not show her body to other women except for her: hair, neck, legs below the knee, feet and the area of her arm from her elbow to wrist (i.e. what would be exposed when wearing a three-quarter sleeve shirt).

The nursing woman should also make sure that the child(ren) she is nursing are wearing pure/clean clothes because if they have an accident and leak on the woman [poo, pee] then the woman [may not be able] to pray in those clothes.

However, it is still okay to nurse the child even if nursing could lead to uncovering a part of your body that you’re not allowed to uncover during salah (prayer) and/or if holding the child could make your clothes dirty [if baby has a leak]. The reason for this is because uncovering your body [momentarily and for necessity] does not invalidate the khutba (sermon). And if the child has a leak and dirties your clothes that also does not invalidate the khutba (sermon).

There is nothing cited in the Hadith (prophetic tradition) that says a woman cannot or should not attend Friday prayers at the mosque therefore making it permissible for women to pray at the mosque. However, there is a greater reward from God for women who pray Friday prayers at home instead of at the mosque. This is understood from the Sunnah (Prophetic tradition) as well as from a consensus among Islamic scholars as praying the Friday prayer at the mosque is not obligatory on the woman.

And God knows best.

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This answer was given by the “Wizarat Al-Awqaf Wal Shu’oon Al-Islamiya,” a group of students doing research in Islamic knowledge and Islamic teachings. This group is part of The Fatwa Department under The Religious Affairs of Qatar and derived its answer based on the following:

1. Teachings from the Qur’an, the central religious text in Islam

2. The Sunnah, teachings, practices and interpretations of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)

3. Ijmaa, consensus among Islamic scholars

4. Qiyas, deductive analogy, which compares/contrasts the Qur’an and Hadith (Prophetic tradition) in order to create a new ruling

The full article article can be found at www.Fatwa.IslamWeb.net (Raqam/number: 115965)