A prominent Saudi Arabian cleric has whipped up controversy by issuing a religious ruling forbidding the building of snowmen, described them as anti-Islamic.
Asked on a religious website if it was permissible for fathers to build snowmen for their children after a snowstorm in the country’s north, Sheikh Mohammed Saleh al-Munajjid replied: “It is not permitted to make a statue out of snow, even by way of play and fun.”
Quoting from Muslim scholars, Sheikh Munajjid argued that to build a snowman was to create an image of a human being, an action considered sinful under the kingdom’s strict interpretation of Sunni Islam.
“God has given people space to make whatever they want which does not have a soul, including trees, ships, fruits, buildings and so on,” he wrote in his ruling.
That provoked swift responses from Twitter users writing in Arabic and identifying themselves with Arab names.
“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 (religious ruling) 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 recognize matters that even Satan does not think about.”
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.
I wouldn’t have thought this would be a problem in Saudi Arabia, but evidently it does snow there. In any case, this ruling is not as crazy as it might appear. Islam is a religion which strongly forbids even the suggestion of idol worship and for this reason Islamic law and culture has discouraged the visual representation of any human or animal which might be taken as an object of worship. This is why the arts in Islamic cultures have never produced any equivalent to the works of renaissance artists like MichelAngelo with their precise, almost photographic portraits and detailed studies of human anatomy and perspective. Persons with an artistic bent in Islamic countries have generally concentrated on beautiful calligraphy, generally of Koranic verses and abstract geometric designs. According to the strictest interpretations of Islamic law, as is found in Saudi Arabia, any representation of the human form for any reason is forbidden. Forbidding the creation of snowmen is simply taking the iconoclasm of Islam to a logical extreme.
This does say something about the nature of Islam. Islam does not seem to be a very joyful religion and its adherents certainly do not seem to have much of a sense of humor. The Ayatollah Khomeini is reported to have said,
Allah did not create man so that he could have fun. The aim of creation was for mankind to be put to the test through hardship and prayer. An Islamic regime must be serious in every field. There are no jokes in Islam. There is no humor in Islam. There is no fun in Islam. There can be no fun and joy in whatever is serious. …”
Mohammed didn’t care for music, believing it to inspire sin, so Islamic cultures have tended to discourage music. There is no Bach or Mozart in Islam. There seems to be no joy in Islam.
It also says something, that every detail of life, no matter how trivial, seems to be subject to endless rules concerning what is allowed and what is forbidden. Can you imagine a person of any other religion even wondering if building a snowman is acceptable? There doesn’t seem to be much emphasis on thinking or reasoning for yourself in Islam. Every decision seems to be based on what Mohammed would do or what the religious authorities centuries ago wrote.
In contrast, Christians are told to:
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding,will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Phil 4:4-7)
We are set free from rules and are made sons of God.
23 Before the coming of this faith, we were held in custody under the law, locked up until the faith that was to come would be revealed. 24 So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith. 25 Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian.
26 So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female,for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
What I am saying is that as long as an heir is underage, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate. 2 The heir is subject to guardians and trustees until the time set by his father. 3 So also, when we were underage, we were in slavery under the elemental spiritual forces of the world. 4 But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. 6 Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir. (Gal 3:23-4:7)
4 So, my brothers and sisters, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God. 5 For when we were in the realm of the flesh, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in us, so that we bore fruit for death. 6 But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.(Romans 7:4-6)
This does not mean that we are free to commit sins, of course, but if we do commit sins we follow a God more interested in forgiving and saving us than one eager to condemn us. It may be said that Christians and Muslims worship the same God, and to a certain extent it is true, but we have very different ideas about who God is and what He wants from us. Our God wants us to be His sons and sent His own son to die for us. Their God wants us to be slaves of a harsh master. I think I prefer Jesus over Allah. At least Jesus doesn’t have any issues with snowmen.
- Saudi Arabia beheads Pakistani heroin trafficker (nation.com.pk)
- Saudi cleric condemns snowmen as anti-Islamic (timesofmalta.com)
- Muslim cleric bans ‘anti-Islamic’ snowmen as snow falls in Saudi Arabia (yahoonewsdigest-intl.tumblr.com)