Snowmen are Blasphemous
Snow has covered upland areas of Tabuk province near Saudi Arabia’s border with Jordan for the third consecutive year as cold weather swept across the Middle East. A recent snowfall in the middle eastern country saw Saudis eagerly building snowmen and even snow camels. With snow covering the highland areas of Tabuk province in Saudi Arabia, there’s not much else to do with the fluffy white stuff other that building snow sculptures. You are a devout Muslim, you don’t see snow very often and you think you can have fun doing this with your kids… Well, that’s too bad — at least according to Saudi Arabia’s Sheikh Mohammed Saleh al-Munajjid, a prominent cleric. Recently, the prominent religious scholar from Saudi Arabi has given the cold shoulder to snowmen – by issuing a fatwa against them. When asked whether the unusually snowy winter in Saudi Arabia meant that parents could build snowmen with their children, Munajjid delivered the bad news. “It is not permitted to make a statue out of snow, even by way of play and fun,” Munajjid wrote on his Web site, according to Reuters.   Seeing the photos of snowpeople and snow camels popping up everywhere, the cleric made it clear that Islamic teachings strictly prohibit the practice. So the authorities recently decreed that building snowmen – or indeed creating any living creature out of snow – was an insult to the Islamic religion. He declared that inanimate objects such as ships and buildings could be imitated – or food – but not animals, according to Gulf News.  He wrote: ‘God has given people space to make whatever they want which does not have a soul, including trees, ships, fruits, buildings and so on. If you think that sounds slightly depressing, you’re not alone. ‘The fatwa – or religious ruling – was given a “frosty reception” in the social medias and the blogosphrere. Blogger Mishaal complained that the ruling took the joy out of the unusual weather. He said: ‘We have snow for fleeting days, maybe even hours, and there is always someone who wants to rob us of the joy and the fun. It seems that the only thing left for us is to sit down and drink coffee.’  On Twitter users writing in Arabic and identifying themselves with Arab names joined in the debate. ‘They are afraid for their faith of everything … sick minds,’ one Twitter user wrote.     Another posted a photo of a man in formal Arab garb holding the arm of a ‘snow bride’ wearing a bra and lipstick. ‘The reason for the ban is fear of sedition,’ he wrote.     A third said the country was plagued by two types of people: ‘A people looking for a fatwa for everything in their lives, and a cleric who wants to interfere in everything in the lives of others through a fatwa,’ the user wrote.  Sheikh Munajjid had some supporters, however. ‘It (building snowmen) is imitating the infidels, it promotes lustiness and eroticism,’ one wrote.  ‘May God preserve the scholars, for they enjoy sharp vision and recognise matters that even Satan does not think about.’  And blogger Al Marsad wrote: ‘It has no value in our traditions… those fascinated by the West should emulate their inventions and sciences, not their culture,’ according to Gulf News. 
After the Social Media Debacle, Munajjid Correct Himself and Brings a Very Important Precision
In the wake of the raucous debate on social media sparked by his fatwa, Munajjid weighed in again and walked back his comments — sort of. On Twitter, Munajjid noted that snow objects can be made, so long as they don’t have human or animal features. Specifically, a model with no head and obliterated features is perfectly fine.  “The model should be like the scarecrow with no features sculpted into the face that is used by farmers to scare away birds,” he wrote, according to Gulf News. “It could also be similar to some shapes that are used to warn people about roadworks. There is no problem with the shapes that children build since children need to play and to have fun, especially in areas where snowfall is scarce.”  No date was set for the implementation of the fatwa and there was no government comment, The Telegraph reported.  Anyone trained in Islamic law can issue a fatwa, or formal legal opinion, based on their knowledge of the law. 
The Lunacy Continue…
Last year the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowment (GAIAE) in the UAE issued a fatwa against living on Mars. The committee argued that an attempt to dwell on the planet would be so hazardous as to be suicidal and killing oneself is not permitted by Islam. The astronauts, the committee said, would end up dying for no ‘righteous reason’ and would face the same punishment in the afterlife as someone who’d committed suicide.  The GAIAE has issued around two million Fatwas through its Official Fatwa Centre since its inception in 2008. In Malaysia, meanwhile, Muslim clerics have issued fatwas banning everything from yoga to Valentines Day in a bid to stop the influence of Western culture.  To ensure Muslims can keep pace with the rules, an ‘e-fatwa’ site has been started the Globalpost reports.  The issue recently came to a head at a dog-petting festival for Muslims, with the organiser receiving threatening phone calls. Muslims are taught that canines are unclean. Malaysian activist Zainah Anwar, recently wrote that Muslims are ‘sick and tired of being told, yet again, of more categories of Muslims and practices to be denounced, hated and declare deviant’. Her women’s rights group, Sisters in Islam, has also been targeted.  It was issued with a fatwa for pushing ‘liberalism’. It had pushed for Muslim women to be able to enter beauty pageants. The group were challenging the ruling. The list of fatwas now includes, Halloween, which is said to be too Christian and black metal because it is ‘powerful enough to force a Muslim to forsake his faith’. Botox is banned, but can be used if medically necessary.