Riyadh: One cleric`s endorsement of
breastfeeding for grown men and another`s saying music is not
un-Islamic have opened up a pitched battle in Saudi Arabia
over who can issue fatwas, or Islamic religious edicts.
Hardline and progressive religious scholars, judges and
clerics have taken the fight public in what some describe as
outright "chaos" in the once ivory-tower world of setting the
rules that govern much of life in the ultra-conservative
Much of the fight in the past week has focused on a fatwa
endorsing music issued by Adel al-Kalbani, a Riyadh cleric
famed as the first black imam at the Grand Mosque in Mecca,
Islam`s holiest city.
Kalbani, popular for his soulful baritone delivery of
Koranic readings, said he found nothing in Islamic scripture
that makes music haram, or forbidden.
But, aside from some folk music, public music performance
is banned in Saudi Arabia, and conservatives say it is haram
even in the home.
"There is no clear text or ruling in Islam that singing
and music are haram," Kalbani said.
Also in recent weeks, a much more senior cleric, Sheikh
Abdul Mohsen al-Obeikan, raised hackles with two of his
opinions, both of which could be considered fatwas.
First, he endorsed the idea that a grown man could be
considered as a son of a woman if she breast-feeds him.
The issue, based on an ancient story from Islamic texts
and source of a furore last year in Egypt, is seen by some as
a way of getting around the Saudi religious ban on mixing by
unrelated men and women.
It brought ridicule and condemnation from women activists
and Saudi critics around the world.