Sex and the Single Mullah


Islamic scholars are prepared to answer questions and issue fatwas on almost any realm of modern life. Sometimes, it can get a little kinky.


As Karim Sadjadpour recounts in his new articlefor Foreign Policy, an obscure cleric known as Ayatollah Gilani had a popular television show in the early days of the Iranian revolution during which he would opine upon the halal or haramstatus of various outlandish scenarios. His best-remembered went like this:

Imagine you are a young man sleeping in your bedroom. In the bedroom directly below, your aunt lies asleep. Now imagine that an earthquake happens that collapses your floor, causing you to fall directly on top of her. For the sake of argument, let’s assume that you’re both nude, and you’re erect, and you land with such perfect precision on top of her that you unintentionally achieve intercourse. Is the child of such an encounterhalalzadeh (legitimate) or haramzadeh (a bastard)?

(It’s halalzadeh in case you were wondering.)

In another famous broadcast, Gilani allegedly recalled being sexually aroused in the back seat of his chauffeured car after catching site of a few inches of a woman’s exposed ankle on the street. Naughty.

Eating your animal sex partner

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini

In his 1961 book, A Clarification of Questions, the supreme leader aimed to set out his position on 3,000 questions of everyday life, though “everyday” might be pushing it for some of them. Most famously, the ayatollah ruled that “If a person has intercourse with a cow, a sheep, or a camel, their urine and dung become impure and drinking their milk will be unlawful.”

The ayatollah also ruled that “Industrial alcohol used for painting doors, tables, chairs, etc., is clean if one does not know it was made of something inebriating” and, as apparently a fan of rudimentary in vitro fertilization, that “It is not unlawful to introduce a man’s semen into the uterus of his wife with devices such as suction cups.”

Workplace Breastfeeding

Dr. Izzat Atiya, lecturer at Cairo’s al-Azhar University

In 2007, Atiya was responding to a question of whether it’s permissible for a woman to work alone with a man in an office setting, or reveal her hair in front of him. His not-so-elegant solution was that such an arrangement would be acceptable if the woman fed the man “directly from her breast” at least five times, thus making them essentially family members.

“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.”

Atiya was widely mocked for the ruling and withdrew the fatwa after he was disciplined by his university, blaming it on “bad interpretation.” The controversy prompted Egypt’s minister of religious affairs to call for future fatwas to “be compatible with logic and human nature.”

Read the full article: Sex and the Single Mullah


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