The interesting one in the Quranic verses regarding sexuality is the strong emphasis on ethics or morals in addressing reproductive organs, whether belonging to himself or others, and how to respond empathically during women’s reproductive, which is many, lengthy, and frequently accompanied by pain. One of the examples is the verse which talks about breastfeeding in QS. al-Baqarah / 2: 233 as the following:

وَالْوَالِدَاتُ يُرْضِعْنَ أَوْلَادَهُنَّ حَوْلَيْنِ كَامِلَيْنِ ۖ لِمَنْ أَرَادَ أَنْ يُتِمَّ الرَّضَاعَةَ ۚ وَعَلَى الْمَوْلُودِ لَهُ رِزْقُهُنَّ وَكِسْوَتُهُنَّ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ ۚ لَا تُكَلَّفُ نَفْسٌ إِلَّا وُسْعَهَا ۚ لَا تُضَارَّ وَالِدَةٌ بِوَلَدِهَا وَلَا مَوْلُودٌ لَهُ بِوَلَدِهِ ۚ وَعَلَى الْوَارِثِ مِثْلُ ذَٰلِكَ ۗ فَإِنْ أَرَادَا فِصَالًا عَنْ تَرَاضٍ مِنْهُمَا وَتَشَاوُرٍ فَلَا جُنَاحَ عَلَيْهِمَا ۗ وَإِنْ أَرَدْتُمْ أَنْ تَسْتَرْضِعُوا أَوْلَادَكُمْ فَلَا جُنَاحَ عَلَيْكُمْ إِذَا سَلَّمْتُمْ مَا آتَيْتُمْ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ ۗ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَاعْلَمُوا أَنَّ اللَّهَ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ بَصِيرٌ

Meaning:

“Mothers may breastfeed their children two complete years for whoever wishes to complete the nursing [period]. Upon the father is the mothers’ provision and their clothing according to what is acceptable. No person is charged with more than his capacity. No mother should be harmed through her child, and no father through his child. And upon the [father’s] heir is [a duty] like that [of the father]. And if they both desire weaning through mutual consent from both of them and consultation, there is no blame upon either of them. And if you wish to have your children nursed by a substitute, there is no blame upon you as long as you give payment according to what is acceptable. And fear Allah and know that Allah is Seeing of what you do” (QS. Al Baqarah : 233)

 

The above verse as the other verses on sexuality actually does not explain in detail about breastfeeding but comprise with a lot of moral guidance in addressing one of the reproductive stages. Some of which are that a mother can complete a breastfeeding up to two years, a father has an obligation to feed and provide clothes to  the baby even after a divorce with his/her mother, father-mother and a baby should not be troublesome one another, a father and a mother can wean the baby before two years old on the basis of mutual decision and contentment, a baby can be breastfed by the other woman with a proper price, a behavior to treat well between father and mother as well as between the parent and the baby in related to someone’s piety so that they are supposed to maintain good behavior as being supervised directly by Allah.

Wahbah az-Zuhaili in his tafsir (book of commentary) explains that the above verse is related to provisions for breastfeeding that a mother who is under the custody of her husband, is obliged to give breastfeeding according to appropriate norms. If the mother has been divorced by her husband, then the breastfeeding becomes sunnah (commendable) and voluntary. However, in a condition where the baby is hindered to receive breastfeeding of other than his/her mother or because of poverty or other causes in which the father can not find another woman who can breastfeed, the mother must breastfeed her baby and the father must give salary to the mother because it is as worth as breastfeeding applied in that place in both easy and difficult condition and rich or poor.[1] Ath-Thabari gives an explanation that is equally interesting. According to him, the sentence يُرْضِعْنَ أَوْلَادَهُنّ (a mother breastfeeds her child) shows that the mother is more entitled to breastfeed her baby than another woman, but not intend to emphasize the obligation.[2]

The above verse and the other verses on sexuality which also emphasizes on morals imply that the discussion on sexuality is not taboo even indispensable considering many people mistakenly treat human sexuality. For example, menstruation taboo that considers menstrual woman is disgusting even invites calamity.[3] Similarly, being indifference to woman’s difficulties who undergoes pregnancy and childbirth, the Qur’an describes it as an overlapping burden (wahnan ala wahnin) in QS. Luqman / 31: 14, as following:

وَوَصَّيْنَا الْإِنْسَانَ بِوَالِدَيْهِ حَمَلَتْهُ أُمُّهُ وَهْنًا عَلَىٰ وَهْنٍ وَفِصَالُهُ فِي عَامَيْنِ أَنِ اشْكُرْ لِي وَلِوَالِدَيْكَ إِلَيَّ الْمَصِيرُ

Meaning :

And We have enjoined upon man [care] for his parents. His mother carried him, [increasing her] in weakness upon weakness, and his weaning is in two years. Be grateful to Me and to your parents; to Me is the [final] destination. (QS. Luqman : 14)

 

Quraish Shihab in his tafsir alMishbah explains that the use of the word وَوَصَّيْنَا indicates that the message to all mankind to serve the parent in this verse is very strong, especially because the mother has conceived the baby in a state of weakness upon weakness, the multiple weakness which increased steadily from moment to moment.  Then she gave birth with difficulty then maintained and breastfed him any time, even at midnight when another man was sleeping. This till the time of weaning came after two years.[1] This parable contains a moral message that the husbands, the big families, the communities and even the states that govern human life should care to give support in order that this noble function can run safely and easily.

Indeed, this religious guidance on sexuality is very important to be discussed openly and politely in a scientific frame. Although the virtual world may provide correct and healthy information on sexuality, the information that comes from the sex industry is more intense and aggressive, either through paid websites, through various kind of viruses that often appear even close any sites we are opening, or even through various games for children and adolescents. Such sexual information may mislead the santri because it relies on business profit, indulgence in lust without limitation, contains pornography and porno-action, and can encourage anyone to commit sexual violence.

[1]  Quraish Shihab, Tafsir al-Mishbah, Jakarta, Lentera Hati, 2009, j. 10, h. 300.

[1]   Wahbah az-Zuhaili, at-Tafsir a-Wasith, Damaskus: Dar al-Fikr, 1422 H, j. 1, h. 129.

[2]  Muhammad bin Jarir bin Yazid bin Katsir bin Ghalib al-Amali, Jami’ al-Bayan fi Tawil al-Qur’an, Muassasah ar-Risalah, 1420 H, j. 5, h. 31.

[3]Nasarudin Umar, Menstrual Taboo, diunduh pada hari Senin 26 Oktober 2015 dari https://paramadina.wordpress.com/2007/03/16/menstrual-taboo/.

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