Official Saudi website for fatwas

Other News Materials 7 October 2007 10:58

( BBC ) - Saudi Arabia has launched an official website to publish Islamic legal rulings, or fatwas.

The move is apparently an attempt to ensure that fatwas issued by authorised scholars are given prominence.

Visitors to the new website will be able to ask questions on various topics and get replies from the Council of Senior Ulema (Islamic scholars).

Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy governed according to a conservative interpretation of Islamic Sharia law.

A section of the Saudi site is devoted to the former head of the council, Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Baz.

Sheikh bin Baz, who died in 1999, was known for issuing controversial religious rulings.

In 1991, he issued a fatwa prohibiting women from driving cars.

The religious establishment in Egypt has been considering a similar move to publicise official fatwas.

Last month, the head of Egypt's prestigious Al-Azhar University, Ahmed al-Tayeb, said he wanted to establish a satellite TV station dedicated to broadcasting authorised rulings.

The situation at present, he said, was fatwa chaos, with Muslim scholars issuing rulings that clash with the official line of the religious establishment, spreading confusion.