There is a Hadith in which it seems to say that a woman can breastfeed an adult man and it will cause a Mahram relationship. What is the Hanafi opinion on this issue?

Quran

Hadith

Islamic Text

It is not permitted, the hadith is deemed to be specific to that situation and not general.

عَائِشَةَ أَخْبَرَتْهُ أَنَّ سَهْلَةَ بِنْتَ سُهَيْلِ بْنِ عَمْرٍو جَاءَتِ النَّبِيَّ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ فَقَالَتْ: يَا رَسُولَ اللهِ إِنَّ سَالِمًا – لِسَالِمٍ مَوْلَى أَبِي حُذَيْفَةَ – مَعَنَا فِي بَيْتِنَا. وَقَدْ بَلَغَ مَا يَبْلُغُ الرِّجَالُ، وَعَلِمَ مَا يَعْلَمُ الرِّجَالُ. قَالَ: «أَرْضِعِيهِ تَحْرُمِي عَلَيْهِ»

(Sayidah) Ayesha  narrated that Sahlah  bint Suhayl bin Amr came to the Prophet ﷺ and said, O Messenger of Allah ﷺ  indeed Salim  (Salim was the freed slave of Abu Hudhaifah) is with us in our house, and he has become a man and knows what men know. He ﷺ said, ‘Give him breastmilk, he will become Mahram to you.’ (Sahih Muslim, 1453 – 28).

The Hanafi scholars consider this Hadith to be Kahss, meaning specific to that situation, and not a general ruling. In the Hanafi Madhab it is not permitted to give breast milk to a child above the age of two years and six months. Imam al-Ayni explained this issue in Umdatu al-Qari:

وَعند جُمْهُور الْعلمَاء من الصَّحَابَة وَالتَّابِعِينَ وعلماء الْأَمْصَار إِلَى الْآن لَا تثبت إلاَّ برضاع من لَهُ دون سنتَيْن، وَعند أبي حنيفَة: بِسنتَيْنِ وَنصف، وَعند زفر: بِثَلَاث سِنِين، وَعَن مَالك: بِسنتَيْنِ وَأَيَّام، وَاحْتَجُّوا فِيهِ بقوله تَعَالَى: {والوالدات يرضعن أَوْلَادهنَّ حَوْلَيْنِ كَامِلين لمن أَرَادَ أَن يتم الرضَاعَة} (الْبَقَرَة: 233) وبأحاديث كَثِيرَة مَشْهُورَة، وَأَجَابُوا عَن حَدِيث سهلة على أَنه مُخْتَصّ بهَا وبسالم، وَقيل: إِنَّه مَنْسُوخ، وَالله أعلم. (عمدة القاري شرح صحيح البخاري)

According to the Majority of scholars of the Sahabah, Tabi’een and others it (the Mahram relationship) is not established except for a child below the age of two. According to Abu Hanifah two and a half (is also valid), and Zufr said three years, with Malik it is two years and some days. They (the Majority of scholars) respond to it (the above Hadith) with the words of Allah Most High, ‘And Mothers shall suckle their children for two complete years; for those who wish to complete the suckling (period).’  (Surah al-Baqarah, 233). They also used many Hadith as proof, and they responded to the Hadith of Sahlah by saying it is specific to her and Salim. It has been said that it is abrogated (Mansukh). And Allah (Most High) knows best. (Imam Badr al-Deen al-Ayni, Umdatu al-Qari).

The Hanafi position of this being a specific ruling and not generally applicable is further supported by the following narration, where Sayidah Umm Salamah makes it clear that they considered this to be a specific ruling and not a general one:

زَيْنَبَ بِنْتَ أَبِي سَلَمَةَ، أَخْبَرَتْهُ أَنَّ أُمَّهَا أُمَّ سَلَمَةَ، زَوْجَ النَّبِيِّ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ، كَانَتْ تَقُولُ: ” أَبَى سَائِرُ أَزْوَاجِ النَّبِيِّ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ أَنْ يُدْخِلْنَ عَلَيْهِنَّ أَحَدًا بِتِلْكَ الرَّضَاعَةِ، وَقُلْنَ لِعَائِشَةَ: وَاللهِ مَا نَرَى هَذَا إِلَّا رُخْصَةً أَرْخَصَهَا رَسُولُ اللهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ لِسَالِمٍ خَاصَّةً، فَمَا هُوَ بِدَاخِلٍ عَلَيْنَا أَحَدٌ بِهَذِهِ الرَّضَاعَةِ، وَلَا رَائِينَا “

Zaynab daughter of Umm Salamah  said that her mother Umm Salamah , wife of the Prophet ﷺ  used to say, ‘All of the wives of the Prophet ﷺ   refused to let anyone enter upon them using that type of breastfeeding. And they used to say to (Sayidah) Aishah , By Allah (Most High) we do not consider this to be anything but a specific dispensation given by the Messenger of Allah ﷺ to Salim specifically, and no one can  enter upon us with this type of breastfeeding, nor can they see us.’ (Muslim 1454 – 31).

Some people raise the issue of a man seeing and touching the Owrah of a woman in this Hadith. This is a misunderstanding; in the above Hadith the breastmilk would have been extracted privately and given to Sayidina Salim .

See also:

Is the Hadith of giving breastmilk to Sayidina Salim Sahih?

How long should a woman breastfeed her child?

See also (video):