The scholar says if the snow models have no head or facial features, then there is no ban on it. Image Credit: Courtesy: Al Marsad

Manama: A religious scholar who sparked controversy for issuing a fatwa banning snowmen has softened his stance.

Mohammad Saleh Al Munajid had said people must not build any snowmen or snow models of animals, even by way of fun or play, because Islam prohibited them.

Only soulless things, such as trees, ships, fruits and buildings, can be made, he reportedly said as he was asked for his view on the snowmen and snow camels that people in northern Saudi Arabia made following snowfall in the area.

However, his fatwa was promptly blasted by online users who said the scholar associated with the Salafi movement was depriving people of joyful and innocent fun.

Al Munajid, who has more than 820,000 followers on Twitter, reacted by explaining that snowmen were allowed if the main features of the face, the eyes, nose and mouth, were not clear.

“The model should be like the scarecrow with no features sculpted into the face that is used by farmers to scare away birds,” he posted on his account late on Monday. “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,” he said.

However, he insisted that snowmen with clear facial features were banned under religious rules.

“The ban, condoned by religious scholars, also covers models of people and animals made of sweets and paste, not just snow, if their facial features are clearly sculpted,” he said. “This means that if the model has no head or the facial features are obliterated, then there is no ban on it,” he said.

Al Munajid waded into controversy in 2009 when he reportedly said that Mickey Mouse had to be killed.

He later said that his fatwa did not mean that Mickey Mouse the cartoon character must be killed, and that he was in fact referring to harmful rodents and mice.