Old Fatwa That Don’t Seem To Go Away
Some Muslim countries – notably Saudi Arabia - prohibit gender mixing (aka sex segregation) between unrelated males and females. So how can an office function without male employees coming into close contact with female colleagues. An old fatwa, which has been examined and re-examined many times says that if an unrelated male were to be breastfed by a female, a maternal bond is established, and thus they become related. After that, the female can remove her veil and work together with the male colleague. Many Muslims do not accept this fatwa, but now the Kuwaitis are relooking at this again.
About That Adult Breastfeeing Fatwa
It was Ezzat Attiya, president of the hadith department of Egypt’s al-Azhar University who started it with his 2007 fatwa on adult breastfeeding as a way to get around the sex segregation rule. For that controversial fatwa, Ezzat Attiya was sacked, but later he was reinstated when the Cairo Administrative Court overturned his sacking.
In his 2007 fatwa, Ezzat Attiya said that in order for the maternal bond to be established, a Muslim woman must breastfeed an adult man 5 times “directly from her breast”. Ezzat Attiya clarified: “Breast feeding an adult puts an end to the problem of the private meeting, and does not ban marriage. A woman at work can take off the veil or reveal her hair in front of someone whom she breastfed.”
In 2010 Sheikh Al Obeikan (aka Sheikh Abdul Mohsin al-Abaican) said: “The man should take the milk, but not directly from the breast of the woman. He should drink it [from a cup] and then becomes a relative of the family, a fact that allows him to come in contact with the women without breaking Islam’s rules about mixing.”
But another Saudi cleric Sheikh Abi Ishaq Al Huwaini disagreed with Sheikh Al Obeikan, insisting instead that men should suckle the breast milk directly from a woman’s breast.
Female blogger Eman Al Nafjan said then: “All this back and forth between sheiks and not one bothers to ask a woman if it’s logical, let alone possible to breastfeed a grown man five fulfilling breast milk meals. Moreover, the thought of a huge hairy face at a woman’s breast does not evoke motherly or even brotherly feelings. It could go from the grotesque to the erotic but definitely not maternal.”
Kuwait Enters The Fray
Now this adult breastfeeding fatwa is being re-examined in Kuwait, from a different perspective - in the context of relations between a man and his wife. The issue is whether a husband can be breastfed by his wife.
First off, Sheikh Nazim Misbahi, head of the Fatwa Committee of the Islamic Heritage Revival Society in Kuwait said: “It is not forbidden for a man to breastfeed from his wife.”
That is a general statement of principle. But now comes the details. Sharia professor Sheikh Bassam al-Shatti said: “If the husband deliberately sucks to obtain milk from the breast of his wife, this is forbidden; however, if it happens unintentionally during foreplay with his wife, then there is no problem – though it is disliked according to the four schools [of Sharia]“.
Adding to the discussion is Sheikh Sa’d al-Anzi who said: “If the man, while being intimate with his wife, sucks her nipples, it is nothing, considered foreplay; but if the milk reaches his mouth, he should spit out -even if goes down in his stomach.”
Think About It
So what do we get out of all this? Is anybody going to follow this fatwa? As female blogger Eman Al Nafjan said: “Nobody bothers to ask a woman” about this adult breastfeeding fatwa. Why? Without inputs from women, wouldn’t all this discussion come to nought?