When I was a child, I was taught that Islam is no laughing matter and that anyone making fun of it will be plagued with blasphemy and hanged before they have the chance to experience marriage and ergo, legalized sex. Well,I was naive back then. Turned out, like most system, there are loopholes and I found amusement in religion from time to time. I thought the most amusing ones are the fatwa on tapai and of course, recently the Yoga thingymajigey, until I read this brilliant book by Syed Akbar Ali titled "Things In Common".
This book pointed out the practices that are common amongst religion, and as compared to the practices of the Muslims that are claimed to be stated in the Quran but are NOT. Again, I think Syed Akbar did a good job, although I do not have any commission in the sales of this book, I strongly recommend you pick it up because it is simply brilliant.
On page 18, he wrote,
" The other issue that made me jump was the fatwa in May 2007 by the famous Egyptian cleric Ezzat Attiya who is the Head of Department at Egypt's world famous Al Azhar University in Cairo. Al Azhar is considered the summa cum laude (of high academic distinction) or premier institution of Sunni religious scholarship in the world. Attiya had proclaimed that to avoid suspicion of an illicit relationship between a man and a woman who have to work together i the same office or room, (what we Malaysians would label khalwat) the man should breastfeed from the woman, to create 'blood relationship' between the tow, thus allowing the two to be together without any more fuss. This fatwa is not based on anything that is written in the Quran. We will also visit this issue in detail later in this book."
My nurse ran in to see what was that noise that came out from my room. What they've heard was the sound an unfamiliar gush of laughter through my long acclimated trachea. It's been a while since I have had a good laugh. In cyber jargon simply known as ROFLOL (Roll onto floor, laughing out loud).
This coming from the cleric, Head Department of Sunni's most prestigious Higher learning center makes one wonder in all honesty...WHY? and the even bigger question, HOW? (In cyber jargon simply known as WTF?!, or what the fish?!)
But this article is not about what may have been going on in the clerics deduction system, tucked away in the mysterious deep gray matter. The same kind of sea depth that took the Titanic. It may have been the heavy turban impinging onto his middle meningeal arteries, (one each side temple, partly responsible in supplying blood to the brain), for all I care. No, this article is to venture the possible consequences of that fatwa, should it be bestowed upon the Muslims in Egypt, or even in Malaysia , since we Al Azhar's biggest copy cats.
Here are some issues;
#1 : Unless the cleric had confused a woman to a cow, he should be aware that a woman doesn't have milk in her breasts at all times. For her to be able to milk her colleague, she has to have milk in her breasts, otherwise it will not be called breastfeeding,rather, a foreplay. How do we solve this problem?
#2. Even with the help of modern science, (which most clerics are not fond of, e.g. contraceptives) of which a general practitioner may have a few out of textbook tricks up his sleeve to induce milk production from a virgin's breasts, what if a lady needs to work with a different men alone in the room on separate occasions? Does she need to breastfeed all of them? It's difficult enough to augment lactation enough for one man, a few, may require an overdose of milk producing drugs, hence the side effects of that drug. A male doctor will come up happy from all this. Actually, all male will come out happy from all this. Gay men would not be too thrilled, but would be the only people benefiting from all this. Free milk for breakfast, like that school milk programme we use to have back in primary school.
#3. What if the two colleagues working together,have marriage in mind. In Malaysia, it is a common scenario that two people met their "jodoh" (spouse destined) at work. This fatwa may contribute further to the statistics of singleton.
#4. What if the woman is menopaused, there are women who experience early menarche (first menses) who would menopause before retirement age? Even modern science hitherto, cannot help her produce milk. Then what about this woman's daughter? She will have problems looking for men who are technically NOT HER BREASTFED-BROTHER to marry because, by the time the mother work till she is in her menopausal age, (imagine the number of men the mom had breastfed to get to where she is in her career) exactly how many men left available to marry? (and I have not included gays in this equation by the way)
#5 What if this same menopaused woman had lost track of who she had breastfed during her carrier climbing the corporate ladder, has a daughter who marries one of her breastfed-brother without realizing it,than later remembered, would that be considered as incest?
#6. What if a woman decided to wait and marry the right guy. By the time she finally found her true love, she would have been at the age where she had breastfed the entire men in her town (well, there are people who changes jobs like they change their sanitary pad ). What if she realized that she had fallen in love with a man she breastfed 6 years ago,( well, people may realize they love someone after some time...Remember "When Harry met Sally) and that it was that particular breastfeeding session that had instigated that unforgettable love in the first place. Again, would she be able to pursue her true love without committing incest?
#7 What if the men can produce milk,as some may suffer a medical condition? Some of the better known conditions leading to galactorrhea (producing milk from breasts) in men are prolactin-producing tumours (growth/cancer) and liver cirrhoses (condition where the liver shrank), a condition in which the normal degradation of male estrogens is impaired. So who has to breastfeed who then?
#8. Of course a couple can abuse this fatwa, by working too closely together in a Clinton-Lewinsky mannerism, and when they are caught, just shrug their shoulders and claim that they are blood relatives, (or should it be called milk relative?). It'll be more difficult to prove beyond any reasonable doubt if there were any milk involved in the breast suckling bond between the two. It's not that anyone can prove a breast have be suckled by so and so, like how a hymen can be determined intact or contrary, via vaginal examinations in rape cases. There's no "certificate of breastfeeding" like the marriage certificate is there?
Syed Akbar wrote in his book,"It is not surprising that (according to the media) the Al Azhar University dragged this religious scholar onto the rug and disciplined him for making such a fatwa. Bus Izzat Atiyya is not alone in promoting this idea. This idea is also written down in the bok Al Muwatta which I have mentioned earlier....."
Well, so the cleric's fatwa stirred Egypt and action was taken against him. But I can't help but wonder, how a man of his position could come up with such a fatwa. It's simply mind boggling. Even more mind boggling is knowing that there are more like him, out there, sitting in their offices, thinking. What these people think can be detrimental to the Muslims if their thoughts are put into action. Imagine if this breastfeeding fatwa became a reality. What will we call it then? The Milky Way?
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