Tag Archives: sheikh abi ishaq al huwaini

Kuwait – Reopening The Adult Breastfeeding Fatwa

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?

Previous posts

Saudi Clerics Tells How To Overcome Sex Segregation Rule
Saudi Women Turning The Table On Adult Male Breastfeeding Fatwa

Saudi Women Turning The Table On Adult Male Breastfeeding Fatwa

The Ultimatium – Let Us Drive Or We Breastfeed Our Male Foreign Drivers

Saudi women have long been disadvantaged in that they need  male guardians to do certain things, cannot comingle with members of the opposite sex unless they are related by blood ties, and they can’t drive cars.  Now a group of Saudi women had enough of this and are threatening to implement a recent fatwa on adult male breadfeeding unless they are allowed to drive.

The Recent Fatwa on Adult Male Breastfeeding

A recent fatwa by Sheikh Abdul Mohsin Bin Nasser Al Obaikan, a member of the Saudi Council of Senior Scholars,  adviser to the Saudi king and consultant to the Ministry of Justice caused an uproar.  Sheikh Abdul Mohsin Bin Nasser Al Obaikan said that the way to circumvent Saudi Arabia’s strict sex segregation law is to change the status of the males who come into frequent contact with the females, from being unrelated by blood ties to one that is related through a maternal relationship.  It seems that Islam considers breast milk kinship to be just as good as blood relationship.

Sheikh Abdul Mohsin Bin Nasser Al Obaikan said that foreign drivers can mix freely with all members of their employers’ family without breaking Saudi Arabia’s sex segregation law if they were to be breastfed by Saudi women of their employers’ household.

Sheikh Abdul Mohsin Bin Nasser Al Obaikan said: “A woman can breastfeed a mature man so that he becomes her son. In this way, he can mix with her and her daughters without violating the teachings of Islam.”

How To Be Breastfed 

Sheikh Abdul Mohsin Bin Nasser Al Obaikan said: “The man should take the milk, but not directly from the breast of the woman. He should drink it 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.” 

However, another high profile Saudi cleric, Sheikh Abi Ishaq Al Huwaini disagreed when he said that men should suckle the breast milk directly from a woman’s breast instead of drinking it from glasses. 

Let Women Drive Campaign

Now a group of Saudi women has started a campaign to be allowed to drive vehicles.  Based on the recent fatwa by Sheikh Abdul Mohsin Bin Nasser Al Obaikan, the campaign has this eye catching slogan:  “We either be allowed to drive or breastfeed foreigners.” Amal Zahid, a member of the campaign team said: “As every Saudi family needs a driver, our campaign will focus on women’s right to drive.”

Ridiculous And Weird

The campaign is somewhat like an ultimatium.  Either let Saudi women drive, or else let them breastfeed their foreign drivers. Fatima Al Shammary said: “This fatwa has become a hot topic of debate among women. Is this is all that is left to us to do: to give our breasts to the foreign drivers?” Another Saudi woman said: “Does Islam allow me to breastfeed a foreign man and prevent me from driving my own car?

Suzan Al Mashhadi, a Saudi writer asked a pointed question: “Do the women have to breastfeed the driver in the presence of their husbands or can they do this alone?”  And here is a follow up question by Suzan Al Mashhadi: “Who will protect the wife if the husband entered the house unexpectedly and found his wife breastfeeding the driver?”

And there are those who find this all so ridiculous. One Saudi woman said: “I have not breastfed my own children. How do you expect me to do this with a foreign man? What is this nonsense?”

How About Applying The Fatwa The Other Way?

And for the Saudi husbands, here is something to ponder over.  One Saudi woman suggested that the recent adult male breastfeeding fatwa should also be applicable the other way.  Saudi husbands should be breastfed by their housemaids so they can comingle in the household.

Think About It

Saudi Arabia’s sex segregation law is supposed to be strictly enforced.  But what happens to households with housemaids?  How can members of the household not come into daily contact with housemaids  who are usually unrelated by blood ties and are foreigners?  What about households who employ male foreign drivers?  How can such drivers overcome this sex segregation law when ferrying female members of the employers’ households?  Wouldn’t it be better for Saudi women to drive instead of being driven by male foreign drivers?  Can this campaign – more like a threat – to either let Saudi women drive, or else, following the recent fatwa, let Saudi women breastfeed their male foreign drivers so they won’t break the sex segregation law when being driven around by male drivers, succeed?  And should Saudi men start a campaign to be allowed to suckle breast milk directly from their housemaids?  Isn’t the whole thing bordering on the ridiculous and weird?

Previous post

Saudi Clerics Tells How To Overcome Sex Segregation Rule

Saudi Clerics Tells How To Overcome Sex Segregation Rule

Drink Women’s Breast Milk

Saudi Arabia is well known for strict enforcement of its sex segregation rule, which prohibits the mixing of genders unless the mixing parties are blood relatives, or have established maternal relations between them.  Now 2 Saudi clerics have given advice on how to circumvent the sex segregation rule.  And the answer, according to a 2007 fatwa issued in Egypt, is simply to drink women’s breast milk in order to establish a maternal relationship, which will then allow the parties to this relationship to mix freely.  The difference between the 2 Saudi clerics boils down to this – how is the women’s breast milk going to be consumed by the adult males?

The 2007 Egyptian Fatwa On Adult Male Breastfeeding

In 2007, Islamic scholar Ezzat Attiya issued a fatwa which became known as the male breastfeeding fatwa.  Ezzat Attiya is no ordinary Islamic scholar.  He is the president of the hadith department of Egypt’s al-Azhar University. The fatwa issued by Ezzat Attiya permits symbolic breastfeeding of men as a way to circumvent sex segregation between sexes in Egypt. Ezzat Attiya was sacked by al-Azhar University following the issuance of his male breastfeeding fatwa, but he was reinstated following a decision by the Cairo Administrative Court which overturned al-Azhar’s decision to sack him.

What Ezzat Attiya said back in 2007 was indeed controversial.  Ezzat Attiya said that if a Muslim woman were to breastfeed an adult man 5 times, then the man would become a symbolic relative of the woman who breastfed him.  Because of this maternal relationship, the man and the woman would then be permitted under Islamic law to be alone together.  Furthermore, the woman would then be able to remove her headscarf to reveal her hair.

Breast Milk Sibling

Ezzat Attiya apparently based his fatwa after a custom called “breast milk sibling”. Islamic law encourages women to breastfeed their children for the first 2 years of their lives.  But it’s not just the mother who is doing the breastfeeding.  Quite often, the mother’s sisters may breastfeed their nephews.  This action establishes a maternal relationship so that the sisters’ own daughters will not need to cover their faces in front of their male cousins in the future.  The nephews, in effect, became “breast milk siblings” to their female cousins via this maternal relationship.

Again Islamic law dictates that breast milk siblings must be breastfed 5 times before their second birthday.  Once these 5 breastfeedings are accomplished, the “breast milk siblings” can be alone together during adulthood, because as “siblings”, they are prohibted from marriage, and from sexual relationships.

Saudi Cleric Sheikh Al Obeikan Supports The Fatwa On Male Breastfeeding

Sheikh Al Obeikan is no ordinary Saudi cleric.  He is an adviser to the royal court and consultant to the Ministry of Justice.  Recently Sheikh Al Obeikan was asked on TV his thoughts on the 2007 Egyptian fatwa on adult male breastfeeding. His reply caused an uproar.  Sheikh Al Obeikan agreed with Ezzat Attiya that the way to circumvent the strict sex segregation law is for women to give their breast milk to their male friends, or any male persons they come into regular contact so that they become “relatives” through a maternal relationship.

But how is the man going to consume the woman’s breast milk?  Sheikh Al Obeikan said: “The man should take the milk, but not directly from the breast of the woman. He should drink it 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.”  In effect, Sheikh Al Obeikan is saying that the breast milk should be pumped out and given to men to drink in glasses.

Saudi Cleric Sheikh Abi Ishaq Al Huwaini Disagrees On How Breast Milk Should Be Consumed

After Sheikh Al Obeikan’s comments on TV, another high profile Saudi cleric, Sheikh Abi Ishaq Al Huwaini came out to disagree on how the woman’s breast milk is to be consumed.  While agreeing that the 2007 fatwa on male breastfeeding is the correct way to circumvent Saudi Arabia’s sex segregation rule, Sheikh Abi Ishaq Al Huwaini said that men should suckle the breast milk directly from a woman’s breast instead of drinking it from glasses.  This remark caused another uproar in Saudi Arabia.

Reactions

One immediate reaction To Sheikh Abi Ishaq Al Huwaini’s statement came from Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Region.  A bus driver there told a female teacher who is a regular commuter on his bus that he wanted to suckle milk from her breast.  It seems that the teacher refused, and is now threatening to sue the bus driver.

Female blogger Eman Al Nafjan said:  “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.”  Eman Al Nafjan added: “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.”

Later in a press interview, Eman Al Nafjan said: “The whole issue just shows how clueless men are.  We have many important issues that need discussing. It’s ridiculous to spend time talking about adult breast-feeding.”

Think About It

Is Eman Al Nafjan correct is saying that there are more important issues to discuss than adult breastfeeding?  If so, then why are senior clerics issuing fatwas on non-important, or even trival issues?  Some people are saying that there should be rules governing the issuance of fatwas.  Should there?  And if so, who should decide on such rules, and who should enforce them?  When senior clerics are advising people on how to circumvent the sex segregation rule, is this rule still relevant today?

Previous posts

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