Saudi Cleric Issues Fatwa Banning All You Can Eat Buffets

A Saudi cleric has issued a fatwa, or religious edict, against all-you-can-eat buffets, setting tongues wagging in the kingdom and, presumably, stomaches rumbling.

The cleric, Saleh al-Fawzan, made the anti-buffet proclamation during a broadcast on al-Atheer, a Quranic TV station in Saudi Arabia, Al Arabiya News reported Thursday.

"Whoever enters the buffet and eats for 10 or 50 riyals without deciding the quantity they will eat is violating Sharia [Islamic] law," Fawzan reportedly stated.

The statement set of a fierce debate on Twitter, where many were quick to condemn the ruling.

"You can't even parody this stuff," reads one tweet. "And we're supposed to respect it?" Another reads, "What is going on in this world?! I am speechless.."

Musa Furber, a different Muslim scholar who is also qualified to issue fatwas, attempted to explain Fawzan's logic in a blog Friday, writing, "The Sheikh’s reasoning is that 'the value and quantity of what is sold should be pre-determined before it is purchased.' This is not surprising or shocking since one of the requirements of a valid sales transaction ... in Shāfiʿī and Ḥanbalī fiqh is identifying the goods being exchanged."

Fortunately for buffet-loving Muslims, fatwas are not generally regarded as being legally binding, which means the edict is "optional for the individual to respect or not," writes the Islamic Supreme Council of America.

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