Riyadh: Prominent Saudi scholars slammed a recent call by another scholar to demolish the Al Haram Mosque and reconstruct it in a way that would prevent the mingling of men and women during circumambulation (Tawaf) and prayers.

They agreed in unison that this was a ridiculous call by a scholar, who had no authority or jurisdiction to do so.

While ridiculing the call, Shaikh Abdul Mohsen Al Obaikan, adviser to the Royal Court, said such individual opinions should not be taken into consideration and must be rejected outright. They were commenting on the recent controversial remarks of noted preacher Yousuf Al Ahmad, a former professor of Islamic jurisprudence at Imam Mohammad Bin Saud Islamic University in Riyadh.

Taking part in a TV programme, he said that mixing of men and women during Tawaf around the Ka'aba was against Islam, and that the expansions carried out during the Ottoman era and the rule of King Saud at the Al Haram Mosque should be demolished, adding that it would create more room for pilgrims who come for the Haj and Umrah.

Talking to the satellite TV channel Bidayah (beginning), he said the mixing of men and women during Tawaf is haram.

"This engineering solution will give women privacy and keep them away from cameras that film them and show them on satellite channels," he said.

Yousuf Al Ahmad also expressed the same view in an interview with the electronic newspaper Anaween.

He said: The Holy Ka'aba was demolished and reconstructed earlier. What is preventing us from demolishing and rebuilding it once again in a way that avoids the mingling of men and women?