Of Snowmen and “Saudi Clerics”
The Tabuk region of Saudi Arabia saw snow this week. Everyone’s happy. And why shouldn’t they be? Snow is beautiful, so unique, so unlike any other creation of Allah. But apparently a “Saudi cleric” is bent on ruining everyone’s happiness, saying it’s wrong to build snowmen. Or is he?
“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,”-Mishaal [SputnikNews]
Living in Canada, I see plenty of snow. And snowmen. So I don’t really care much about the short-lived happiness of Saudis. But I do care about the propaganda against a highly respectable and qualified scholar and his efforts for the sake of Islam. So here’s my two cents in order to clarify the situation.
- The person who gave this fatwa, Muhammad Saalih Al-Munajjid, is not a “cleric”. He’s a scholar. Shaykh. More knowledgeable than all of us combined. Student of prestigious scholars such as ‘Abd al-‘Aziz ibn Baaz, Muhammad ibn al Uthaymeen, Abdullah Ibn Jibreen, Saleh Al-Fawzan, and Abd ar-Rahmaan al-Baraak. His one night of study and research is more beneficial to the Ummah than a thousand worshipers spending their nights in Tahajjud. So show some respect!
I wish they’d quote the whole fatwa instead of picking one or two lines from here and there to suit their agenda.
“It is not permitted to make a statue out of snow, even by way of play and fun. God has given people space to make whatever they want which does not have a soul, including trees, ships, fruits, buildings and so on.” [Telegraph]
What if I told you, there’s more to it than they let you see? The article they quoted the above from talks about the general prohibition of making 3D images of anything that has a soul, like animals and human beings. [Not sure which category a snowman belongs to.. none, I suppose?]
However, if you see this article on Shaykh al-Munajjid’s website, IslamQ&A, it states clearly:
“If the snowman does not have clear facial features such as eyes, a nose and a mouth, and it is merely a three-dimensional figure with no features, like the scarecrows that farmers set up to scare away birds, and signs that are put on roads as a warning of roadworks or construction, then there is nothing wrong with any of that.
Similarly, there is nothing wrong with what children do for fun, because such figures are not usually treated with respect (unlike statues and idols) and it is well-known that children have a psychological need to play and have some fun and excitement, especially in places where snow only falls on rare occasions.
But if the snowman has clear facial features, then the majority of scholars are of the view that it is prohibited, because of the general meaning of the prohibition on making images, which has been explained in detail in question no. 146628 [quoted above in Telegraph]. A similar ruling applies to figures that are made out of dough and other sweets, and so on.
But that is undoubtedly less serious than images that are made to last and are less likely to be treated with disrespect than snowmen. It is well-known that prohibitions are of varying degrees and it is well-known that the general meaning of shar‘i evidence prohibits images.”
Now I don’t know about you but I’m psyched to play with snow, make faceless snowmen and whatnot. Maybe I’m taking all of this too seriously. Or maybe I just feel like defending the shaykh. Do what you will, but don’t disrespect a scholar in front of me!