Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia Abdul Aziz ibn Abdullah Al-Asheikh
Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia Abdul Aziz ibn Abdullah Al-AsheikhReuters

Just when you thought you'd heard it all: A report circulating throughout the Arabic-language media claims a leading Saudi cleric has issued a fatwa (religious ruling) permitting husbands to eat their wives (yes, eat them) in the event that they are really, really hungry.

The report appeared among other places in the major pan-Arab, London-based Al Quds Al-Arabi, which cited the alleged edict by the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia Abdul Aziz ibn Abdullah Al-Asheikh permitting a husband to eat his wife if he is afflicted with "severe hunger". 

It claimed Al-Asheikh clarified that the husband could choose to eat her entirely or, if he wasn't that hungry, to limit himself to a limb or two, or a "portion of flesh."

According to the report, the ruling's basis was that it exhibited the degree to which a woman should be devoted to her husband and desire for them to become "of one flesh." 

The alleged ruling provoked a storm of criticism and mockery in equal measure in Saudi Arabia and across the Arab world, particularly on Twitter, which is widely used throughout the gulf kingdom.

However other Saudi Twitter users quickly cast significant doubt on the authenticity of the story, noting that it first originated in Rai Al Youm - a paper considered pro-Iranian and hostile to the Saudi regime, without any corroboration.

Moreover, the alleged ruling does not appear anywhere on the Mufti's official website, 

Either way, the controversy has generated some fairly hilarious responses on Twitter, including this one suggesting Al-Asheikh change his title to "Mufti of the Zombies."

Fake or not, if would be far from the first extreme or controversial ruling issued by the mufti.

In 2012, he infamously ruled that all churches in the region should be destroyed.

And according to Al Quds Al-Arabi this most recent ruling by Al-Asheikh comes just weeks after he ruled that marrying a girl younger than the age of 15 was permitted according to Islam - another controversial ruling, particularly in light of the growing concern over the phenomenon of child brides in the Muslim world.