Ashrafi for collective action to promote breastfeeding, dispel misconceptions

Ashrafi for collective action to promote breastfeeding, dispel misconceptions

ISLAMABAD, Aug 23 (APP): Pakistan Ulema Council Chairman Hafiz Muhammad Tahir Mahmood Ashrafi on Wednesday said breastfeeding provided a wide array of health benefits for both infants and mothers religiously and scientifically.

Addressing an advocacy and awareness seminar – World Breastfeeding Week 2023 here at a local hotel, he emphasized that it was a collective responsibility to promote breastfeeding urging religious scholars to actively participate in encouraging this healthy practice and dispelling misconceptions related to it in society.

Ashrafi said breast milk was uniquely designed to cater to the nutritional needs of infants as it contains the ideal balance of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals necessary for the baby’s growth and development. “Colostrum, the initial milk produced after childbirth, is rich in antibodies that offer immune system support,” he added.

He said Islam promoted the nourishment and protection of children, adding that the breast milk was packed with essential nutrients, antibodies, and enzymes that strengthen a child’s immune system, reduce the risk of infections, and aid in proper physical and cognitive development.

He said breastfeeding was not only beneficial for the child but also for the mother as it helps reduce the risk of postpartum haemorrhage and aids in uterine contraction, aiding the mother’s recovery after childbirth. “Additionally, it contributes to weight loss and helps reduce the risk of certain diseases, such as breast and ovarian cancers,” he emphasized.

Ashrafi said Islam promoted responsible family planning, and breastfeeding could act as a form of natural contraception known as the Lactational Amenorrhea Method (LAM), as breastfeeding delays the return of menstrual cycles, providing a natural spacing of pregnancies.

He called for strict consequences for those who neglect their responsibility to breastfeed their children without valid reasons. “If a mother withholds breastfeeding from her child without genuine justification, she should face appropriate penalties,” he asserted.

He suggested that medical professionals advising against breastfeeding should have their licenses revoked.

Ashrafi assured that the religious scholars always aligned themselves with the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations & Coordination on this matter and called for the formation of committees at both the national and provincial levels to address breastfeeding-related concerns. “These committees should be established not only as annual initiatives but as year-round efforts,” he maintained.

Meanwhile, Council of Islamic Ideology Chairman, Dr. Qibla Ayaz, emphasized that mother’s milk served as a comprehensive nutritional supplement for infants.

He mentioned that he tasked the council’s research wing with gathering comprehensive information on breastfeeding from both religious and scientific perspectives.

He said this effort would facilitate a specialized meeting where the council could endorse these beneficial practices unequivocally.

Interfaith Commission for Peace and Harmony Chairman, Allama Muhammad Ehsan Siddiqui, suggested that individuals following various faiths must be engaged in this comprehensive nation-building programme.

Numerous distinguished scholars from various schools of thought also shared their observations at the conference.

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