He's back: Breastfeeding fatwa sheikh back at Egypt's Azhar

Egypt court annuls Azhar’s decision to expel controversial sheikh

Ezzat Attiya will be rehired at Azhar
Ezzat Attiya will be rehired at Azhar

CAIRO (AlArabiya.net)

The case of the male breastfeeding fatwa, or religious ruling, just took another strange turn as the scholar who issued the controversial opinion was rehired after being fired by Egypt’s al-Azhar University.

The Cairo Administrative Court overturned the decision by al-Azhar’s disciplinary committee to expel Ezzat Attiya, the president of the hadith department, for issuing a fatwa condoning the symbolic breastfeeding of grown men in 2007.

“ No one can argue with a court order. We respect the Administrative Court and follow its orders without thinking twice “
Sheikh Fawzy el-Zefzaf

The court annulled the university’s decision to expel Attiya after he issued a fatwa permitting symbolic breastfeeding of men as a way to loosen the customs of segregation between the sexes in Egypt. 

“No one can argue with a court order,” Sheikh Fawzy el-Zefzaf, head of religion and dialogue committee at al-Azhar, said in a statement Monday. “We respect the Administrative Court and follow its orders without thinking twice.”

Some students at al Azhar University who disagreed with the fatwa nonetheless endorsed the court’s deicision, saying that no Azhar teacher should be expelled.

“I am glad the Attiya is back at Azhar because no sheikh should be expelled from his job for his opinions,” Abdul Qader Ramadan, 23, told Al Arabiya.

“ I am glad the Attiya is back at Azhar because no sheikh should be expelled from his job for his opinions “
Abdul Qader Ramadan, Azhar student

Islam prohibits sexual relations between a man and the woman who breastfed him in infancy. Attiya said that if a woman were to symbolically breastfeed a male colleague, she could be alone with him since he would no longer be considered a potential mate. 

Attiya’s unusual opinion was widely publicized by Arabic language satellite channels and largely ridiculed in the Western press. It was even discussed in the Egyptian parliament.

In 2007 Attiya made his statement on Al Arabiya, saying that after five breastfeedings the man and woman could be alone together without violating Islamic law because the man becomes a symbolic relative of the woman, and therefore they could be alone and the woman could remove her headscarf to reveal her hair.

He later retracted his statement and apologized saying his interpretation war reserved for exceptional cases.

3 thoughts on “He's back: Breastfeeding fatwa sheikh back at Egypt's Azhar”

  1. I’d like to enlarge my family .
    Could you find me some women to suckle on –
    preferably about 18 yeas of age

  2. Breastfeeding fatwa causes stir


    One of Sunni Islam’s most prestigious institutions is to discipline a cleric after he issued a decree allowing women to breastfeed their male colleagues.
    Dr Izzat Atiya of Egypt’s al-Azhar University said it offered a way around segregation of the sexes at work.

    His fatwa stated the act would make the man symbolically related to the woman and preclude any sexual relations.

    The president of al-Azhar denounced the fatwa, which Dr Atiya has since retracted, as defamatory to Islam.

    According to Islamic tradition, or Hadith, breast-feeding establishes a degree of maternal relation, even if a woman nurses a child who is not biologically hers.

    ‘Family bond’

    In his fatwa, Dr Atiya, the head of al-Azhar’s Department of Hadith, said such teachings could equally apply to adults.

    He said that if a woman fed a male colleague “directly from her breast” at least five times they would establish a family bond and thus be allowed to be alone together at work.

    “Breast feeding an adult puts an end to the problem of the private meeting, and does not ban marriage,” he ruled.

    “A woman at work can take off the veil or reveal her hair in front of someone whom she breastfed.”

    The legal ruling sparked outrage throughout Egypt and the Arab world.

    On Sunday, Dr Atiya retracted it, saying it had been the result of a “bad interpretation of a particular case” during the time of the Prophet Muhammad.

    Egypt’s minister of religious affairs, Mahmoud Zaqzouq, has called for future fatwas to “be compatible with logic and human nature”.

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