May 25, 2012 Special Dispatch No. 4754

Uproar Over Fatwa By Moroccan Sheikh Permitting Necrophilia

May 25, 2012
Morocco | Special Dispatch No. 4754

In February 2012, former Moroccan MP Sheikh 'Abd Al-Bari Al-Zamzami, a founding member of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, headed by Sheikh Yousef Al-Qaradhawi, republished his fatwa from May 2011 on the issue of necrophilia. The fatwa permits a husband to have intercourse with his wife's corpse up to six hours after her death, on the grounds that the marriage contract between them still holds. Al-Zamzami is also the author of a fatwa permitting women to use vegetables to gratify their sexual desires.[1]

Following the reissuing of the necrophilia fatwa, reports in the Egyptian and Arab press claimed that a draft law had been submitted to the Egyptian parliament, based on Al-Zamzami's fatwa, permitting necrophilia and various other offensive practices that violate women's rights. A report in Al-Ahram by journalist 'Amru 'Abd Al-Samih claimed that the head of Egypt's National Council for Women, Dr. Mervat Al-Talawy, had sent a letter to the parliament speaker demanding to reject this draft law.[2] Al-Talawy denied this;[3] she and Egyptian MPs stated that the draft law never existed and that the reports about it were unfounded rumors.[4]

Egyptian MP Amin Iskandar, of the Al-Karama party, pointed out that the rumor was not surprising. "The general atmosphere in parliament," he said, "gives rise to rumors of this kind, especially after the [recent] submission of a draft law proposing to lower the age of marriage for girls from 18 to 14... These are dangerous draft laws, which sow confusion and fear in society."[5] In his article, 'Amru 'Abd Al-Samih likewise mentioned "the [strained] cultural, social, and political atmosphere in Egypt, and the concern over how the new constitution will define the character of the state."[6]

The fatwa and the rumored Egyptian draft law evoked angry and derisive responses from many in the Arab public, who protested what they called the moral depravity of some Muslim clerics and of the Egyptian parliament. Some articles saw the fatwa as a facet of the chauvinist mentality that regards women as inanimate objects to be used, while others expressed concern about other laws that the new Egyptian parliament might pass in violation of women's rights.

On May 9, several women MPs held a protest rally in Alexandria against discriminatory laws, attended by representatives of several local women's organizations. A communiqué issued after the conference called to "preserve the women's achievements; to include women in the committee for drafting the [new] constitution, as was done in Tunisia, where half the [members of the constitution-drafting] committee were women; and to amend or revoke laws that discriminate against women."[7]

The following are excerpts from some of the articles published in response to this affair:

Saudi Journalist: Such Fatwas "Offend [Our] Noble Human Sentiments And Open The Door To Psychological Disorders..."

In an article in the government Saudi daily Al-Riyadh, columnist Dr. Hasna 'Abd Al-'Aziz Al-Quna'ir attacked the fatwa and warned against clerics who harm Islam and corrupt its moral character:

"In recent years, a [new] phenomenon has emerged, namely jurisprudential discourse that is preoccupied with people's sex life and is not part of the familiar framework of shari'a, and which sanctions sex between a man and an inanimate object, namely a man and a corpse – [practices] that deviate from man's natural sexual and psychological inclinations... It would not be an exaggeration to say that some [clerics] are more interested in sexual fatwas than in fatwas dealing with [any other] domain of life..."

Al-Quna'ir complained about the "porno" television clerics who love to pry into people's sex lives and to address bizarre sexual questions "that are of no real benefit" and only lend religious sanction to various perversions. As an example, she mentioned Sheikh Yousef Al-Qaradhawi, "who issued a fatwa on his Al-Jazeera [program] sanctioning oral sex while going into offensively immodest details..." Such clerics are causing moral deterioration, she said.

She continued: "In 2011, a Muslim preacher in Europe forbade women to touch fruits and vegetables of a certain shape, lest they become aroused, and recommended that the man of the house cut these [fruits and vegetables] into small pieces... before serving them to the women of the household. Conversely, a different cleric, in Morocco [i.e., Sheikh Al-Zamzami]... ruled it permissible for women to satisfy their sexual urges with such [fruits and vegetables], lest they sin [by having forbidden sex with a man]... What moral depravity, what perversion of human nature, which treats sexual desire as a means for propagating the human race, and not as an end in itself... Such bizarre fatwas make us wonder what these clerics wish to do with Arab society...

"A cleric who ignores the meaning [of such fatwas], and turns the fruit market and the kitchen into a bedroom, offends [our] noble human sentiments and opens the door to psychological disorders and the disruption of the family equilibrium...

"Our surprise grew when we discovered that the same [Moroccan] cleric also permitted a man to have sex with his dead wife. Clearly, a man who does such a thing is nothing but a barbarian who has lost all human feeling, for [the values of] compassion and the dignity of the dead [obligate us] to bring a dead body to burial as soon as possible, rather than use it for sexual purposes... The danger inherent in such fatwas obliges us to warn against them, and to demand that those in charge of satellite [TV channels] and [internet] search engines restrain these perverts... so that we can protect our children from their disregard for values and morals.

"Some might object that the programs and films aired on the satellite networks are even more dangerous for the youth. But [I maintain that] the fatwas issued by the clerics are more dangerous [than films and TV programs], because the clerics are respected and trusted by the public – especially by their followers and by the [common] people. Nobody, regardless of his status, can convince [these followers] not to heed a fatwa [issued by] a preacher or religious jurisprudent.

"The question which naturally arises is [the following]: Why is there such a proliferation lately of fatwas that deal in minute detail with sexual relations, especially with their physical aspects, as though man is a sexual animal that thinks of nothing but [carnal] relations? These fatwas also reflect the clear hostility towards women in our [society]. There has been a flood of fatwas on [women's] issues, for instance: a women may not sit on a chair immediately after a man has [vacated] it, because it still bears the warmth of his body, and this might arouse her; [a woman] is not allowed to watch television or [surf] the Net without a [male] guardian, lest she be aroused by [sexy] images; a man living without a wife must not own a female pet and a woman living without a husband may not own a male pet... Why give these [issues] priority over other aspects of the reality of Muslim women, such as poverty, ignorance, illness, violence and denial of rights?

"Who benefits from these fatwas that blacken the name of Islam, increase its isolation in the world, and give its enemies a chance to scoff at it? Until when will they continue to hang like a sword over the head of the woman, who is regarded as a sexual object?..."[8]

Palestinian Journalist: The Islamists In The Egyptian Parliament Are Undermining Its Morality

Treating the Egyptian "necrophilia draft law" as a fact, Norway-based Palestinian journalist Nidhal Hamed warned against the moral deterioration of the Egyptian parliament, which is dominated by Islamists. He wrote on the website Middle East Online:

"With Egypt drowning in a sea of political, economic, social, and security problems, and problems that threaten its very existence, the members of the new Egyptian parliament, which is dominated by Islamists – the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafis – found nothing more urgent to discuss than a draft law permitting necrophilia... Never in my life have I heard of such deterioration and such scary ideas, fueled by despicable sexual cravings. Unfortunately, there are sheikhs and imams, albeit few, who permit this...

"Naturally, one cannot remain silent in the face of such a backward law... Ideas and people of this sort destroy countries and nations. It is no surprise that this [draft] law has sparked a furor and evoked anger among Egyptians, in particular among women. This law regards [women] as sex dolls, like those that can be bought in sex shops in Europe and the West...

"It was some of those Islamists who [now] control the parliament that submitted this draft law. The reports [about it] embarrass the Egyptians who voted for these extremist groups, who are now wondering... about the nature of the laws that have recently been preoccupying the parliament. It is a parliament of beards and bizarre fatwas, a parliament that devotes all its time and energy to debating how one can have intercourse with a woman even after her death, when she is a lifeless corpse. Are these the people you [expect] to disseminate Islam and restore it to its days of glory?...

"It was the fatwa of the Moroccan cleric that made it possible for these people to submit such draft laws and to approve them in [Egypt's] first democratically-elected parliament...

"The danger lies in the internal enemy who [opposes] progress... [namely] the groups of political Islam that control the Egyptian parliament. This mentality and way of thinking will take Egypt back to the Stone Age. The Egyptians must carefully reconsider [the character of] their country, their future, and those whom they elect to the parliament and the presidency... These MPs... are yet another threat to Egyptian society..."[9]

Egyptian Writer: Nobody To Defend Women's Rights In The Egyptian Parliament

Coptic Egyptian writer and columnist Karima Kamal warned that the Egyptian parliament is about to declare war on women: "The mentality that gives rise to such a draft law is likely to oppose all laws defending the women's freedoms and rights... [The Islamists] see the woman as nothing more than a body, a vehicle for sex even after her death. That is, her existence [as a human being] is not important. Only her body is important, even after her death.

"Should we leave it to these people to legislate laws pertaining to women? And don't anybody tell me that the women members of parliament will thwart [attempts] to harm women, alive or dead – because the [current] parliament includes no [real] women. Nor can anyone claim that it includes a party that represents the Egyptian woman, speaks for her or defends her rights. In this parliament women have no presence at all, except for a handful of female MPs, most of them from the [Muslim Brotherhood's] Freedom and Justice party... who represent nobody but themselves... [In fact] they attack women and harm their rights...

"Who will speak for Egypt's women and who will defend their rights against the [Islamists'] assault on the khul' law [divorce initiated by the woman, who must pay compensation to her husband]...? If that is their attitude towards [rights] anchored in Islam, what will be their attitude toward any other right or legislation? They started with khul' and ended with necrophilia, pausing on the way to lower the marriage age and harm the mother's right to raise her children... How can we trust this parliament to deal with women's issues?... We must realize that women can expect many additional blows from this parliament, in which women are not represented, since most of its female members are anti-feminist. We must realize that the war on [women] is growing near, that it is a real possibility, and that we are prepared for it..."[10]


[1] See MEMRI-TV Clip No. 3426, "Moroccan Cleric Abd Al-Bari Al-Zamzami: Husbands May Have Sex with Dead Wife's Corpse; Women May Use Carrots as Vibrators," March 24, 2012,

[2] Al-Ahram (Egypt), April 24, 2012. Other reports claimed that the draft law was submitted by Salafi MP Hajji Ahmad. See, for example, Al-Siyassa (Kuwait), April 28, 2012.

[3] Al-Ahram (Egypt), May 1, 2012.

[4] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), April 28, 2012.

[5] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), April 28, 2012.

[6] Al-Ahram (Egypt), April 24, 2012.

[7],May 9, 2012.

[8] Al-Riyadh (Saudi Arabia), April 18, 2012. Another article on the subject, by Egyptian politician Ayman Anour, was published May 4, 2012 on the website

[9], May 1, 2012.

[10] Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), May 3, 2012.

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