Do you want to build a snowman? You'd love to? Well, that's too bad — at least according to Saudi Arabia's Sheikh Mohammed Saleh al-Munajjid, a prominent cleric.
With snow covering the highland areas of Tabuk province in Saudi Arabia, there's not much else to do with the fluffy white stuff other than build snowmen and snow camels.
إبداعات أبناء تبوك والشمال في فن النحت بالثلج تجلّت خلال أيام البياض الفائتة وهذه أنثى من ثلج تبدو فاتنة بالبياض pic.twitter.com/SE1mjlZUDF
— عبدالرحمن العكيمي (@ALOKEMEabdualrh) January 12, 2015
— عرّاب الصحراء (@saud444111) January 11, 2015
— Ahmad Althekair (@Aalthekair) January 10, 2015
But with photos of snowpeople and snow camels popping up everywhere, Munajjid made it clear that Islamic teachings strictly prohibit the practice.
Asked whether the unusually snowy winter in Saudi Arabia meant that parents could build snowmen with their children, Munajjid delivered the bad news.
"It is not permitted to make a statue out of snow, even by way of play and fun," Munajjid wrote on his Web site, according to Reuters.
He also pointed out that making images of humans and animals — anything with a "soul" — is strictly off-limits.
"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 added.
If you think that sounds slightly depressing, you're not alone.
“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,” wrote a blogger identified by Gulf News as Mishaal. “It seems that the only thing left for us is to sit down and drink coffee."
But Munajjid has his supporters.
"It [building snowmen] is imitating the infidels, it promotes lustiness and eroticism," wrote one person, according to Reuters.
In the wake of the raucous debate on social media sparked by his fatwa, Munajjid weighed in again and walked back his comments — sort of.
On Twitter, Munajjid noted that snow objects can be made, so long as they don't have human or animal features. Specifically, a model with no head and obliterated features is perfectly fine.
“The model should be like the scarecrow with no features sculpted into the face that is used by farmers to scare away birds,” he wrote, according to Gulf News. “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."
And for those who were wondering, the prohibitions also apply to gingerbread men and other human-shaped winter treats.
“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,” Munajjid added. “This means that if the model has no head or the facial features are obliterated, then there is no ban on it."
Sounds like a blast.