Medicine and Islam – Breastfeeding, Part 1


27 Sep 2014

Medicine / Health

Bilal Abdul Alim (Julius Phillips Jr.)

Evelyn Rue

This undated episode of Medicine and Islam is hosted by Dr. Bilal Abdul-Alim. He interviews Dr. Evelyn Rue about the benefits of breast feeding, the first in a series of episodes on the topic.  Rue works with an organization that supports maternal and child health, Breastfeeding Friends in Sharjah, UAE.  Rue suggests that breastfeeding’s guidelines are found in the Qurʾān, suggesting that a mother should breastfeed for two years.  She discusses the differences between human milk and formula, emphasizing that human milk is better for human babies than formula.  She suggests that there is are a number of medical problems associated with the use of formula for both mother and baby.  She says that feeding formula even once will cause digestive problems for the baby.  She says that the World Health Organization and UNICEF recommend feeding babies only mother’s milk for two years, with additional food.

This is one of the few videos that includes a woman.  She wears both hijab and niqab.

Credits are included at the end of the video:  Graphic: Jawad Serhan; Lighting: Suleiman Al Mazmi; Audio: Fāṭima Aḥmad and Hassan Jahawi; Video Editor: M. Abdul Muqtadir; Director: Khurshid Aḥmad Masudi.  It was originally broadcast on Sharjah TV, a government-based station (UAE).


The material on Islam is within the bounds of what Muslims have historically understood as acceptable.

The presentation on the medical benefits seem to be confirmed by studies done in both developing and developed countries.  Medical information does not seem to confirm any dire warnings about small amounts of non-human milk, but the amount of breast milk produced will decrease if the baby is not nursing.  Doctors do recommend exclusively feeding human milk as possible.

There is insufficient historical material on which to base an evaluation.

About Bilal Abdul Alim (Julius Phillips Jr.)

Born and raised in the southern United States as Julius Philips Jr., the man now known as Bilal Abdul Alim grew up during a tumultuous period in America’s history. Racial tensions were at an all time high during the 1950s and 1960s, and Alim’s childhood revolved around the church. His father founded and ran an all-black hospital in Louisiana, in addition to being a part-time preacher at their local church. Alim went on to pursue an undergraduate degree at Wesleyan University, and a medical degree at Baylor College of Medicine.

While attending Wesleyan University, a comparative religions course and a close Muslim friend peaked Abdul Alim’s interest in Islam, though he did not convert until he was midway through his medical degree at Baylor College. Alim went on to open a medical practice in Houston, and frequently visited Arab countries to learn more about the Muslim faith. In 1991, Alim decided to leave America and accepted a job in Saudi Arabia. While traveling through the U.A.E. in 1992 before starting his new job, Alim came across an old friend who just happened to be a member of the ruling family of Sharjah. Through his friend, Alim was offered the position to run Sharjah Charity International and Sheikh Sultan bin Mohamad Al Qasmi’s personal charity, Sharjah Awqaf General Trust, and has lived in the U.A.E ever since.  In 2007 he established the Islamic Online University in Doha, Qatar.

Alim immigrated to the UAE together with his first wife, Khadijah, where together they continued to raise their three children. Unfortunately, Khadijah soon contracted Lupus and passed away, leading to Alim taking on two other wives. In 1992 he married Hameeda, and in 1997 he married Mariam. Alim and his family continue to live in Sharjah to this day and he still works for the aforementioned charities.

Select bibliography:

Alim, Bilal Abdul. “Miraculous Story of How Dr. Bilal Abdul Alim Became a Muslim.” Islam Can. N.p., n.d. Accessed 14 May 2015.

Baldwin, Derek. “‘Islam Saved My Life’” Gulf News. Al Nisr, 20 Sept. 2007. Accessed 14 May 2015.

Swan, Melanie. “The Man Who Had a Dream.” The National UAE. Abu Dhabi Media, 17 Dec. 2010. Accessed 14 May 2015.