Manama: A Saudi religious scholar has called for the appointment of women as muftis, who would use their expertise in Islamic law to counsel women on religious matters, and explain and give rulings.

Currently, women in Saudi Arabia and most Islamic countries have to turn to male muftis for answers even when their concerns are gender-specific, sensitive and personal.

“The appointment of women experts in the Sharia [board] would spare men from dealing with matters related to menstruation and post-partum depression and periods and would prevent embarrassment,” Shaikh Abdullah Al Mutlaq, member of the Commission of Senior Scholars, said as he addressed Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti Shaikh Abdul Aziz Al Shaikh. “Women are more knowledgeable and more capable than men in such issues,” he said during an interview on television, Saudi daily Okaz reported on Tuesday.

Al Mutlaq suggested the Grand Mufti recruit the Sharia experts from well-established Saudi universities in order to help women to inquire about matters related to religion from female experts with “ease and discretion”.

“In the past, we did not have women experts in Sharia so men had to answer queries from women. Now, we have many women with medical expertise and others who are well versed in religion and their specialities and can therefore contribute to issuing religious fatwas. Men have enough issues with which they can deal, so it is best to leave matters related to women such as menstruation and its relationship with prayers, fasting and pilgrimage to women,” he said.

In September, Saudi Arabia’s Shura Council voted to allow Saudi women to issue fatwas. The approval by 107 members of the 150-seat Shura ended decades of allowing only men to issue religious edicts in the kingdom.

In March last year, women members at the Shura called for allowing women with expertise in jurisprudence to become muftis.