"Men are in charge of women by [right of] what Allah has given one over the other and what they spend [for maintenance] from their wealth. So righteous women are devoutly obedient, guarding in [the husband's] absence what Allah would have them guard. But those [wives] from whom you fear arrogance - [first] advise them; [then if they persist], forsake them in bed; and [finally], strike them. But if they obey you [once more], seek no means against them. Indeed, Allah is ever Exalted and Grand."
An-Nisa' 34, Al-Qur'an
Emphasis mine. Apparently we need to abolish some laws concerning spousal abuse in Malaysia.
How dare they deny men their God-given right to beat the crap out of their wives, amirite?
A while back, news broke on a fatwa issued by a Dr Izzat Attya (or Atiya), head of the department of Hadith in al-Azhar University in Egypt - the world's foremost Islamic institute. Its ulamas are considered to be second to none in their knowledge about Sunni Islam (the official, legal form of the faith here in Malaysia) and other Islamic universities in the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia, rely on al-Azhar for academic support. So, in a way, Dr Izzat is probably one of the most eminent scholars in the world on the Hadith. The Hadith, if you're not well-versed in all that is holy in Islam, is a collection of narrations of the words and deeds in the life and times of Muhammad bin Abdullah, the Last and the Mostest Importantest Prophet of Islam. These stories and quotes were written by his wives, relatives and close associates within several years of his death and were frequently consulted to settle matters which the Qur'an is mum or isn't clear on.
The fatwa - a religious opinion concerning Islamic law by an Islamic scholar - was issued to circumvent the problem of Muslim women having to work with men in the same premises, and the inevitability of a woman finding herself alone in the same room with one or more of her male coworkers at some point. And that is an expression of the serious sin of khulwa: the act of two unrelated, unwed persons of opposite genders interacting in a secluded setting where something
Dr Izzat Attya's solution is simple: A Muslim woman should breastfeed all her male colleagues "directly from her breast" at least 5 times to establish a mother-son bond, and hence, could be left alone together at work.
""Breast feeding an adult puts an end to the problem of the private meeting, and does not ban marriage."
"A woman at work can take off the veil or reveal her hair in front of someone whom she breastfed."
What the doc was saying is that a guy needs to plant his moist, eager lips on a woman's teats and suckle before he could be left alone with her. So, someone has to watch them do the deed first. And the guy has to call his female coworker "Mama" as well. How ludicrously kinky. Sounds more like the plot of an Islam-themed office porn flick than a religious prescription, eh? Not to mention the stipulation that a guy would have to take 5 swigs from a woman's milk bar before he can even catch a glimpse of her face or hair.
The basis of Dr Izzat's fatwa can be found in a particular hadith but in order for this to make sense, you will need to know a bit of back-story here, which I'll condense (haha) from what I gleaned from IslamOnline.net, the Qur'an, the Hadith and other various Muslim sources.
It all started when Muhammad wanted to marry Zaynab, the
"And [remember, O Muhammad], when you said to the one on whom Allah bestowed favor and you bestowed favor, "Keep your wife and fear Allah ," while you concealed within yourself that which Allah is to disclose. And you feared the people, while Allah has more right that you fear Him. So when Zayd had no longer any need for her, We married her to you in order that there not be upon the believers any discomfort concerning the wives of their adopted sons when they no longer have need of them. And ever is the command of Allah accomplished."
Surah al-Ahzab 37, Al Qur'an
It was also revealed to Prophet Muhammad that adoption is not okay in Islam (al-Ahzab 4-5), but the care and fostering of orphaned kids is still encouraged amongst Muslims. Also, foster children are not considered mahram (unmarriageable) to members of their foster families. As a result, the adopted Zayd bin Muhammad returned to carrying his biological father's name and became Zayd bin Harithah, while his ex-wife became fair game for Prophet Muhammad, yet more peace be upon him.
But that's not the end of it. With the revelation of al-Ahzab 4-5, all adoptions in the Islamic world were suddenly and summarily voided, and that opened another can of worms. Enter Abu Huthayfa and his wife, Sahla, who had adopted a freed slave called Salim before this. Sahla relied on Salim to help with the housework and the new verse made it a sin for the two to be alone together in their household. They came to the prophet for a solution and Muhammad's reply as reported in the Kitab Al-Nikah (number 3424) of the Hadith was,
"Allah's Apostle (may peace be upon him) said: Suckle him. She said: How can I suckle him as he is a grown-up man? Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) smiled and said: I already know that he is a young man."
This hadith on suckling a grown man is the basis of Dr Izzat Attya's fatwa.
The fallout? Outrage and much gnashing of teeth from the ummah swept through Egypt and the Arabic world, including (strangely enough) the men.
Mahmoud Zaqzouq, Egypt's minister of religious affair, reportedly said that future fatwas should "be compatible with logic and human nature." That made me laugh a little for, er, some inexplicable reason.
So, was the fatwa inherently flawed? Was it not in concordance with the Qur'an and the Hadith? Was it really a "bad interpretation" as he said when he rescinded the fatwa? Sounds like a perfectly valid interpretation to me, but that's just my opinion. And no one would dispute its incompatibility with simple, non-religious logic, of course, but does it really go against human nature? It has the stench of human nature all over it, methinks.
Was rooting for this particular fatwa,
k0k s3n w4i