Al-Azhar University, one of Sunni Islam’s most prestigious institutions, ordered one of its clerics Monday to face a disciplinary panel after he issued a controversial decree allowing adults to breast-feed.
Ezzat Attiya had issued a fatwa, or religious edict, saying adult men could breast-feed from female work colleagues as a way to avoid breaking Islamic rules that forbid men and women from being alone together.
In Islamic tradition, breast-feeding establishes a degree of maternal relation, even if a woman nurses a child who is not biologically hers. It means the child could not marry the nursing woman’s biological children.
Attiya – the head of Al-Azhar’s Department of Hadith, or teachings of the Prophet Muhammad – insisted the same would apply with adults.
He argued that if a man nursed from a co-worker, it would establish a family bond between them and allow the two to work side-by-side without raising suspicion of an illicit sexual relation.