A senior Saudi cleric on Monday called for the appointment of female Islamic scholars or “muftis” within Saudi Arabia's Council of Senior Scholars.
Muftis are jurists qualified to give authoritative legal opinions known as fatwas (religious edicts), while interpreting Islamic law.
Sheikh Abduallah Al Mutlaq, a member of the council, said female muftis would offer fatwas particularly on women’s issues.
In a televised program, Sheikh Al-Mutlaq said: “I call on the Grand Mufti to employ our daughters who are in universities such as the Imam Muhammad bin Saud Islamic University and Umm Al-Qura University and others who specialize in Islamic law.”
He added: “As men we have many issues to address other than those related to menstruation and other female issues, so I ask the Mufti, to allow women to join as the Fatwa Committee sees fit.
He said that he has previously sought advice from female family members when advising women, as "I have seen an embarrassment among women who ask muftis for advice.
“Women specialized in Islamic law are no doubt more knowledgeable than us on female issues, such as menstruation and the like. Women will be able to seek advice in a more comfortable, free and private manner.”
Sheikh Al-Mutlaq has previously said that women should not be obliged to wear abayas as the purpose of the Sharia code is to cover the entire body with any long and loose-fitting garment, whether using a cloak or any form of modest clothing.