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SAUDI ARABIA: Cleric in hot seat after calling for women to give men breast milk to avoid illicit mixing


A Saudi cleric finds himself in the hot seat after issuing a decree permitting unrelated women and men mingle so long as the guy drinks the woman's breast milk.

Sheik Abdel Mohsen Obeikan, a scholar and a consultant at Saudi Arabia's royal court, has called for women to give men breast milk to establish maternal relations and get around the ultra-conservative kingdom's ban on mixing between men and women who are unrelated.

"The man should take the milk, but not directly from the breast of the woman," UAE-based Gulf News quoted Obeikan as saying in local media reports. "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."

Some Islamic scholars frown on the mixing of unmarried men and women. Islamic tradition, or hadith, stipulates that breastfeeding establishes a degree of maternal bond, even if a woman breast feeds a child who is not her own.

Egyptian scholar Izzat Attiyah caused a stir and raised many eyebrows when he issued a 2007 Islamic ruling urging women to breastfeed their male colleagues to avoid illicit mixing between men and women at work. The act, the scholar argued, would establish a symbolic maternal bond between the men and women and would inhibit any sexual relations.

As in the case of the Egyptian fatwa, Obeikan's ruling has raised concerns over the need to apply stricter regulations about how and by whom fatwas can be issued. Attiyah's infamous 2007 breastfeeding fatwa did not make it far, attracting heavy criticism -- as well as ridicule -- throughout the Arab world. The scholar himself retracted the fatwa and eventually was disciplined by Egypt's Al-Azhar University, one of Sunni Islam's most prestigious institutions.

Obeikan's decree perhaps tries to be a bit less scandalous. It suggests that the women pump breast milk so that men can drink it out of a glass instead of suckling from the women's breasts. 

But then another prominent cleric, Sheik Abi Ishaq Huwaini, quickly weighed in, insisting that, in fact, men need to suckle in order to make the relationship permissible under Islam.

Elaborating on his ruling, Obeikan said the fatwa applies to men living in or regularly visiting a house where there are women unrelated to them. Drivers, for example, are exempted.

"The fatwa is only for those who live in the house or need to get in often," he said.

Both the Saudi media and the blogs have been abuzz with the news about the sheikh's renewed calls for the Egyptian breastfeeding fatwa. Gulf News said the ruling was even issued on the very day of the three-year anniversary of Attiyah's decree, May 22. Some Saudis are appalled by the fatwa and the reasoning behind it.

"All this back and forth between sheiks, and not one bothers to ask a woman if it is logical, let alone possible, to breastfeed a grown man five fulfilling breast-milk meals ... 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!" blogger Saudiwoman wrote in a recent post.

-- Alexandra Sandels in Beirut

Photo: Saudi Sheikh Abdel Mohsen Obeikan has found himself in the hot seat after issuing a bizarre fatwa calling for women to breastfeed men to avoid illicit mixing between the sexes. Credit: Al-Riyadh newspaper.

Comments () | Archives (29)

That is TOTAL ABUSE. I cannot believe what I just read. Those poor women over there are suffering from creeps like him who give wrong information. That is NOT Islam. Shame on that jerk.

Putting religions aside lets judge the ordasity of this man, to me
he implies that women are cows, I trust these dominated women who breed for them, follow behind them, have no individual rights.. do not to surrender their minds and bodies to disgusting oily smelly bearded men. This upsets me because his a cleric and could influence innocent young women.

It's us western women who feel compassion for these Muslim women, we are not against their faith or relationship to god, it's the insanity of how they are treated. I cannot believe their god to be so cruel, for it is their very womb that is the temple of god's is man that bows to women for she carries his
seed and is humbled by her gifts. A women owns her body.

"Some Islamic scholars frown on the mixing of unmarried men and women." Are you kidding me?!?! It is absolutely NOT allowed by LAW (and the people at large) in Saudi Arabia. This is not an issue of what some scholars think. It is an unbelievably difficult fact of life for Saudis, especially the women--who can do nothing without a male "guardian". My dear friend (before coming to America) almost gave birth to one of her children un-aided while waiting for a male family-member to become available to take her the hospital (her husband was away.) No women are allowed to drive in SA and, as it would involve "mixing" there could be no calling a taxi for her! This fatwa seems ludicrous indeed, but it was conceived in the belly of the even MORE ridiculous system currently reigning in Saudi Arabia.

If you're Christian or Jewish, before calling Islam names, please consider the fact that:

ONLY Muslims would follow your Prophet's name with "PBUH" -- Peace be upon Him.

And might I add.....I am a Muslim woman....and I'm not oppressed.

"Wanna know what the muslim religion has contributed to our world?? Suicide bombers, unspeakable treatment of women, and 12th century social mores. You oughta be proud of yourselves, muslims..."

Oh for God's sake! Not this again!

This is what the QURAN clearly states : "Allah forbids you not, with regard to those who fight you not for [your] Faith nor drive you out of your homes, from dealing kindly and justly with them: for Allah loves those who are just." (Qur'an 60:8)

Also there is a whole chapter in the QURAN called Surah Kafirun (or the Unbelievers) which ends with the lines "unto you your religion...unto me my religion".

And for every non-Muslim reading this who STILL believes that Islam is a religion of terror, did your media ever tell you that Us Muslims believe Allah loves *ALL* his creatures (not just Muslims) 70 times more than a mother can love her child? Or that Islam has made it an obligation for us to treat our neighbour with kindness? Or that when a Muslim says "Assalamu alaikum" he is actually wishing *PEACE* upon you?

Oh no....but that's were too busy judging the religion of millions by the actions of few.

Religions attract strange people, mostly losers who can't do much, and those who have weird obsessions.
The priesthood attracts pedophiles who pray for a cure only to end up abusing boys and clearly this nutter is obsessed with breasts.
All lunatics, the sad thing is so many people actually listen to these losers.
Man is insane

In my opinion, this *proposed* decree, which seems to be made by a cleric who wants to attract attention, is not as weird as the well-established practice of cutting the foreskin off of males in some other nutter religion..

For every crazy Islamic cleric, I'm sure you can find loads of even worse Christian reverends and priests.

This kind of a case is not new to Islam, but interpretation is important issue as to when women has to breastfeed a man?

This happened at the time of Sahaba but the fundemental background is different.

"It could go from the grotesque to the erotic, . . ."


This idiotic declaration has nothing to do with can only ignore such illogical comments made by some weirdo in the name of a great religion like Islam.

Please, don't believe that this is related to Islam...

Non-logic = Non-Islamic

I'm a Muslim, and I would never do that...

As I tell my nine year old daughter "Religion is a form of mental coersion in the service of the strong to enslave the weak and, most importantly, to condition them to fight the wars necessary to maintain the strength of the rulers"

Sure, it isn't a nuanced expression of very complex relations but it cuts to the heart of the matter. This Islamic Cleric is not to be ridiculed but to be respected and feared as you would any enemy. He's "Crazy Like A Fox" as the saying goes. The subjegation of women is as crucial to maintaining the power structure in that part of the world as it is anywhere else. In the U.S. we have folks who would very much like to have women be "barefoot and pregnant" and are working hard to make it so.

Ridiculing the enemies of truth and enlightenment diverts our attention from the important things.

Steven Matherly
Durham, NC

no need to that!!!!specialy for adult male NOOO....

maybe young boys who lost parents or orphen and want to live new family.

It's the heat talking. Drives anyone crazy.

How can you take Islam seriously, when we are constantly entertained with stuff like this? I bought a Q'ran so I could better understand Islam. And then there are these stories of the 79 year old woman who got 40 lashes because she wasn't related to the two men who brought her bread, and she couldn't prove she nursed one of the men when he was a baby. One man got 40 lashes, the other got 30.

Women can't drive, and have to cover their faces, because you can't trust that men will be able to control themselves. It's the woman's fault. You can't trust a woman to go outside by herself; she must be accompanied by a male family member. Would that include her one year old son?

There just isn't anything like it. It would be funny, if it weren't true.

LOL I had to read the article twice to be sure of what I read. These so called clerics must have these women under some kind of wierd spell. Why would anyone put up with such garbage?

Zkwc, you hit the nail on the head. Organized religion is A BIG LIE!!!

Wanna know what the muslim religion has contributed to our world?? Suicide bombers, unspeakable treatment of women, and 12th century social mores. You oughta be proud of yourselves, muslims...

WTF, do these yahoos wake up in the morning and think; what crazy-ass crap can I come up with today? Hey Betty, lets do lunch, but do you mind if I suck on your tit first? You are lactating aren't you? Islamic Religious dogma is whack!

Too bad that Muslims are drowning in myths, unjustified stupidity. They are never related to development, work or humanity. Why would the world respect a Muslim or Islamic nations as long as they are making themselves a nice catch for all objective critics. Western media can not be blamed for exaggerating small issues to draw a bad pictures of Muslims; they just drew the picture themselves.
Couldn't be more stupid!
@Sean: It is amazing, yes!

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