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Last Updated: 2010/07/13
Summary of question
What is the Islamic law on breastfeeding in the state of janabat (ritual impurity) and sexual intercourse in the presence of a breastfeeding child?
question
If a couple has a breastfeeding baby and they have sexual intercourse: 1 – What is the Islamic law about breastfeeding their child whilst the woman is in the state of ritual impurity (janabat)? 2 – If the child is in the same room in which the couple is having sexual intercourse, what would the Shari\'ah point of view? (The child might be asleep or awake.)
Concise answer
Ritual purity (wduhu and ghusl) are very effective on the child's upbringing and education and it is better or the mother not to breastfeed her child whilst she is in the state of ritual impurity (janabat). Also, there is no problem in having sexual intercourse with one's spouse in a room in which there is a child, if the child is not discerning (mumayyiz) between good and bad. However, if the child is awake, having sexual intercourse close to it is abominable and disapproved (makrooh).
 
Detailed Answer
Although there is no narration or tradition to forbid a woman from breastfeeding her child while she is in the state of ritual impurity (i.e. janabat), it is better for her to avoid breastfeeding it insofar as she has not performed ghusl. Those women who attached importance to educating and proper upbringing of their children made sure to breastfeed their children in the state of ritual purity or even in the state of wudhu. There are instances of successful men and women whose mothers have said to have never breastfed their children without wudhu (minor ablution).
Hence, as is the apparent cleanness of things including the milk is important and effective on the child's health, so is the external purity (wudhu and ghusl) which should not be neglected. 
Also, there is no problem in having sexual intercourse with one's spouse in a room in which there is a child, if the child is not discerning (mumayyiz). However, if the child is awake, having sexual intercourse close to it or in the same in which the child is sleeping is abominable and disapproved (makrooh). It has been narrated that: "If a woman and a man have sexual intercourse near a wakeful child, this will lead the child to become an adulterer in future."[1] There is no doubt that what has been stated in these narrations do not necessarily imply perfect causality and a universal rule. That is to say it is not true to say that all children who have been breastfed while their mothers have been in the state of ritual impurity will end up becoming adulterers. In fact, it means that ritual impurity can be a precursor to moral deviations and one should not allow such a precursor (or preliminary) to come into being. On the other hand, if parents have conjugal relationships at a place where there are no children, it does not mean that they won't fall into error of any kind but they are, of course, less likely to commit such sins.
It is therefore very appropriate for parents not to have sexual intercourse even in the presence of their breastfeeding children.

[1] Kulayni, Muhammad bin Ya'qub, al-Kafi, vol.5, p. 500, Hadith No. 1 Ali bin Ibrahim from his father, from Qasim bin Muhammad al-Jawhari, from Ishaq bin Ibrahim, from Ibn Rashid from his father who said that he heard Imam Ja'far Sadiq say:  قَالَ سَمِعْتُ أَبَا عَبْدِ اللَّهِ ع يَقُولُ :"لَا يُجَامِعِ الرَّجُلُ امْرَأَتَهُ وَ لَا جَارِيَتَهُ وَ فِي الْبَيْتِ صَبِيٌّ فَإِنَّ ذَلِكَ مِمَّا يُورِثُ الزِّنَا "؛  Al-Kafi, vol.5, p. 500.
Hadith 2:  Ali bin Ibrahim from his father, from Abdillah bin al-Hussayn bi Zaid fromhis father from Imam Ja'far Sadiq (As) who said that the Messenger of Allah (S) said:
وَ الَّذِي نَفْسِي بِيَدِهِ لَوْ أَنَّ رَجُلًا غَشِيَ امْرَأَتَهُ وَ فِي الْبَيْتِ صَبِيٌّ مُسْتَيْقِظٌ يَرَاهُمَا وَ يَسْمَعُ كَلَامَهُمَا وَ نَفَسَهُمَا مَا أَفْلَحَ أَبَداً إِذَا كَانَ غُلَاماً كَانَ زَانِياً أَوْ جَارِيَةً كَانَتْ زَانِيَة..."
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