In the wake of a large storm that covered large swaths of the Middle East in snow, a prominent Saudi cleric has issued a fatwa, or religious ruling, forbidding “un-Islamic” snowmen with facial features, Reuters reported Monday.
Asked after the storm if it is permissible under Islamic law to fashion snowmen, Sheikh Mohammed Saleh al-Munajjid reportedly replied that “if the snowman has clear facial features, then… it is prohibited,” adding that “a similar ruling applies to figures that are made out of dough and other sweets.”
However, the sheikh added, “if the head is cut off or the features are erased, then the prohibition no longer applies.” Snowmen are only allowed if they resemble a “three-dimensional figure with no features,” he said.
The decree was posted on the popular Salafist question and answer website Islamqa.
The ruling falls in line with an injunction in Islamic law banning the creation of images and artistic representations of living beings.
According to Al-Jazeera, al-Munajjid is considered a highly respected scholar in the Salafist movement, a fundamentalist stream of Sunni Islam that is dominant in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states.
The cleric has stirred controversy in the past, including with a fatwa he issued permitting the hacking of “Jewish websites,” as well as blaming the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami on “Christian immorality,” according to Middle East Media Research Institute, an Arab media watchdog.
Several centimeters of snow fell in the northern Saudi Arabian desert last week, following days of inclement weather that saw blizzards sweep through parts of Israel, Lebanon, Syria and even Pakistan.