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Austin Cline

Saudi Arabia: Women Should Breast-Feed Adult Men

By June 14, 2010

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In more conservative and fundamentalist Muslim circles, it's immoral and even illegal for a woman to be alone with a man who isn't related to her. This social restriction creates significant inconvenience and problems for both men and women, especially in a nation like Saudi Arabia where this rule is enforced very strictly. There is a big debate in Saudi Arabia right now over whether a woman can turn an unrelated man into a relative by breast feeding him -- yes, breast feeding an adult man. There's a strong precedent for doing this with infants where it is used to establish "maternal relations" early on, so some have decided that doing it with adults is legitimate.

In a sane society, no one would suggest something so twisted. In a half-sane society, there might be a debate between the twisted people suggesting it and sane adults criticizing or mocking it. In Saudi Arabia, the main debate seems to be between those who think it's sufficient to drink the woman's breast milk from a glass and those who insist that the only legitimate method is to suckle directly from the woman's breast. Of course, none of those involved have bothered to ask women what they think -- their opinions don't count. They aren't fully equal human beings whose bodies belong to themselves.

Sheikh Al Obeikan, an adviser to the royal court and consultant to the Ministry of Justice, set off a firestorm of controversy recently 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," Al Obeikan said, according to Gulf News. "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, except for drivers.

Source: AOL News

I guess I have to give a little credit to the creativity of the people behind this. Muslims have painted themselves into a corner with the taboo against contact between women and unrelated men, leading to lots of problems where the taboo is taken to extremes and enforced strictly. In those latter contexts, they can't solve the problems by simply dropping the bans so creative solutions are needed. Re-interpreting old laws and traditions in creative ways has long been a means by which traditional religions have tried to come to terms with developing social situations. This allows them to change while insisting that they haven't really changed -- all they've done is return to the roots by reapplying traditional laws.

But while creatively modernizing is generally a good thing, even if you refuse to admit that you're modernizing, this just breaks all previous records for absurdity. At least it did until the next guy weighed in to argue that men have to suckle directly from the woman's breast in order to establish a relationship:

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.

The absence of any concern with what women think is no surprise, but given the nature of Saudi society there is something surprising: why aren't they asking the husbands? I'd have expected Saudis to put significant weight on the opinions of the husbands who otherwise have extensive control over what their wives are allowed to do. There is something fishy going on here. This is normally the sort of story you would read in The Onion, not factual news sources. These clerics are moving beyond parody and into some nebulous realm.

Comments
June 16, 2010 at 10:43 am
(1) Ali says:

I’m going to go ahead and state the obvious: women don’t lactate 100% of the time. But I guess in a country where contact between women and men is regulated one can’t exactly expect those sheiks to think of that fact.

June 18, 2010 at 7:33 pm
(2) Borsia says:

Thanks Ali that was one of the things that came to mind. Are all these women to be inseminated like cows?
Only in the Middle East could such a thing be given serious debate. But Islamic / Muslim religion seems to be taking hold in more and more countries. Maybe this will be debated one day in the US congress,, lol.

June 18, 2010 at 7:56 pm
(3) Barry Johnstone. says:

Muslim woman suckling adult men to make them related? No wonder I’m a confirmed atheist! It’s stuff like this that makes me realise how Muslim women are generally treated. All religion causes extreme problems.

June 19, 2010 at 9:39 am
(4) Ramli says:

This is utter nonsense. This is one of the ways made up by those who are bent on discrediting Islam. To the non-Muslims, my advice is to take this with a pinch of salt. Consult people in the know about Islamic teachings and they’ll tell you to just go to basics and commonsense.

Indeed, Islam is defenceless against all sorts of allegations potrayed by the medias. Little do those responsible that all the invectives they hurl against the religion is ineffective amongst those who is in their right of mind. The non-Muslims find that the steady increase of those who embrace the religion all over the world including the US is very alarming and disturbing. They are fearful out of sheer ignorance. No matter what, can they stop the rising tide? Not to worry too much, it is a good tide. Leave all the worrying to the devout followers of Lucifer.

June 19, 2010 at 10:05 am
(5) Steve says:

The problem with all religions is they won’t take KNOW for an answer.

June 19, 2010 at 12:35 pm
(6) Austin Cline says:

This is utter nonsense. This is one of the ways made up by those who are bent on discrediting Islam.

So… Muslim religious leaders in Saudi Arabia are bent on discrediting Islam? News to me.

Indeed, Islam is defenceless against all sorts of allegations potrayed by the medias.

Yeah, Islam is defenseless against the silly things that some Muslims are doing and saying. OK.

Little do those responsible that all the invectives they hurl against the religion is ineffective amongst those who is in their right of mind.

You assume that the people who are critical of the silly things done by some Muslims have some goal with regards to other Muslims.

Leave all the worrying to the devout followers of Lucifer.

So, people who are critical of the silly things done by some Muslims are… followers of Lucifer? If that’s what you sincerely believe, you’ll find atheists counting that as one of those “silly beliefs” held by some Muslims.

June 20, 2010 at 11:19 pm
(7) Ramli says:

Isn’t it great to stand by the sidelines watching all those people (theists) doing silly things. To those silly people what they are doing is not silly.
They think because they doubt, and they doubt because they think.

So, for those who cannot think, there’s nothing much to talk about.

July 5, 2013 at 10:13 am
(8) ASIF RAZA says:

First of all I do not believe in man made writings and that after 200-250 years after the death of Holy Prophet of Islam and attributing such filthy disgusting nonsensical and abrupt narrations to the Prophet of Islam.This was the defeated mentality of Persians and all 6 so called books were written by them.No Arab dared to record the sayings of the Prophet because he himself forbade his companions to write nothing from him except the Holy Quraan.
And what if the man or woman get aroused while sucking.This is disgraceful to Islam and woman .

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