At Psychology Today, Molly Castelloe points out: “The blogosphere is abuzz with a recent breast-feeding fatwa or religious ruling in the Saudi world.

Sheik Abdel Mohsen Obeikan, a scholar and consultant at Saudi Arabia’s royal court, called for women to give breast milk to their drivers and male coworkers in order to avoid illicit mixing of the sexes. Yes, you heard me. [Emphasis added]

According to conservative Islamic tradition, if a woman breast-feeds a man five times they are considered “relatives” rather than potential lovers. They are therefore allowed to intermingle or be alone together. This milk-relationship permits other familiarities normally forbidden between an unmarried man and woman: the woman can also remove her veil and reveal her hair.

One’s first impulse is to laugh this off because aside from not constituting actual laws or even decrees, fatwas are sometimes issued by lesser clerics. Thus the Sheik’s affiliation with the Saudi Arabian court makes this somewhat troubling. In fact, Ms. Castelloe continues:

Religious and political leaders in the Arab world declare that recent fatwa practices are causing a crisis in Islam because they promote extremist thought and intolerance. … This mammary madness, which fueled a week’s worth of headlines in the oil-rich Saudi kingdom, highlights the challenges some Muslim scholars face as they strive to interpret their faith — while also preserving balance and flexibility in Islamic law.

Incidentally, lest I be accused of bias towards Islam, this kind of arcanery is common to all religions. It’s a men’s sport, of course. I urge Focal Point readers to read the rest of the Psychology Today post and see if you agree (with me, anyway) that the more deeply “theologians” such as the Sheikh explore the recesses of their minds, the farther they move from spirituality. Kindly respond in the comments section.

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