Two Saudi clerics have decreed that women should give their breast milk to male colleagues and acquaintances in order to avoid breaking strict Islamic law forbidding mixing between the sexes, have said. They are at odds, however, over precisely how the milk should be conveyed.
Sheikh Al Obeikan set off a firestorm of controversy when he said on TV that women who come into regular contact with men who aren't related to them ought to give them their breast milk so they will be considered relatives.
"The man should take the milk, but not directly from the breast of the woman," he said "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."
Obeikan said the fatwa applied to men who live in the same house or come into contact with women on a regular basis. Unfortunately those who rely on the internal combustion engine for their livelihood, drivers are not included.
Al Obeikan, who made the statement after being asked on TV about a 2007 fatwa issued by an Egyptian scholar about adult breast-feeding, said that the breast milk ought to be pumped out and given to men in a glass.
But his remarks were followed by an announcement by another high-profile sheik, Abi Ishaq Al Huwaini, who said that men should suckle the breast milk directly from a woman's breast.
Shortly after the two sheiks weighed in on the matter, a bus driver in the country's Eastern Region reportedly told one of the female teachers whom he drives regularly that he wanted to suckle milk from her breast. The teacher has threaten to file a lawsuit against him.
Under Islamic law, women are encouraged to breast-feed their children until the age of 2. It is not uncommon for sisters, for example, to breast-feed their nephews so they and their daughters will not have to cover their faces in front of them later in life. The custom is called being a "breast milk sibling."
But under Islamic law, breast milk siblings have to be breastfed before the age of 2 in five "fulfilling" sessions. Islam prohibits sexual relations between a man and any woman who breastfed him in infancy. They are then allowed to be alone together when the man is an adult because he is not considered a potential mate.
The original adult breast-feeding fatwa was issued three years ago by an Egyptian scholar at Egypt's al-Azhar University, considered Sunni Islam's top university. Ezzat Attiya was expelled from the university after advocating breast-feeding of men as a way to circumnavigate segregation of the sexes in Egypt.
Well,,, err... What can one say to that except wonder if these clerics are actually living on this planet!