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A Woman Suckles a Grown Man to Calm Her Husband’s Suspicion

June 15, 2011

Sahih Muslim, Book 008, Number 3425: ’A’isha (Allah be pleased with her) reported that Salim, the freed slave of Abu Hadhaifa, lived with him and his family in their house. She (i. e. the daughter of Suhail came to Allah’s Apostle (may peace be upon him) and said: Salim has attained (purbety) as men attain, and he understands what they understand, and he enters our house freely, I, however, perceive that something (rankles) in the heart of Abu Hudhaifa, whereupon Allah’s Apostle (may peace be upon him) said to her: Suckle him and you would become unlawful for him, and (the rankling) which Abu Hudhaifa feels in his heart will disappear. She returned and said: So I suckled him, and what (was there) in the heart of Abu Hudhaifa disappeared.

* This wasn’t a boy, this was a young man with a beard:

Sahih Muslim, Book 008, Number 3428: Zainab daughter of Abu Salama reported: I heard Umm Salama, the wife of Allah’s Apostle (may peace be upon himy, saying to ‘A’isha: By Allah, I do not like to be seen by a young boy who has passed the period of fosterage, whereupon she (‘A’isha) said: Why is it so? Sahla daughter of Suhail came to Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) and said: Allah’s Messenger, I swear by Allah that I see in the face of Abu Hudhaifa (the signs of disgust) on account of entering of Salim (in the house), whereupon Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) said: Suckle him. She (Sahla bint Suhail) said: He has a beard. But he (again) said: Suckle him, and it would remove what is there (expression of disgust) on the face of Abu Hudhaifa. She said: (I did that) and, by Allah, I did not see (any sign of disgust) on the face of Abu Hadhaifa.

* Islam assumes that the teachings on kinship it has, as a consequence of Arab culture, are universal for all peoples until the end of time. That means that this teaching – to suckle a young unrelated man who lives in your house in order to make him officially prohibited to you so that your husband need not worry – is a precedent for Muslims to use to solve such a situation in the future. This is a solution that makes no sense to most of the people of the world today, and it probably never really made any good sense at all. It is a sort of cultural anomaly.

* If you feel uneasy about leaving a young man alone with your wife, the last thing you want him doing is sucking on her breast. We can understand the dynamics of suckling relationships in that culture, but there is also the unavoidable reality of sucking on a woman’s breast arousing a little more than a motherly relationship.

* If you fear an illegal adulterous relationship to begin with, what makes you think that establishing a pseudo-suckling relationship will prevent the woman and young man in question from breaking that rule as well? Adultery is even more taboo than having a relationship with someone you are connected to through suckling. In fact, the issue of being related through suckling comes up many times as a barrier between two people who are interested in one another in the literature of hadith. So apparently being related by suckling did not turn them off, they rather wished that they could find a way around the rule.

* What is most likely to happen, with this teaching on the books of Islam’s universal teachings for mankind, is that this rule will be used to allow a man to fool around with a woman under the guise of a “suckling relationship”. Thus, this kind of teaching would have the complete opposite effect from the one originally intended for most people nowadays.

* This teaching carried some cultural weight in its day, but even then was not a wise solution. It is even more unreasonable to use this teaching as we go forward, under the notion that Islam is universal. The cultural relativity of teachings like this support the thesis that we as Muslim Rationalists have been proposing from the beginning – Islam is the man-made product of 7th century tribal Arabia, not a Divine revelation for all people until the end of time.

* Here is a contemporary fatwa based on this teaching:

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”.

13 Dec. 2008.

From → The Ridiculous

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