A doll with no facial features has been launched for Muslim children in line with Islamic rules about avoiding the depiction of faces.
The featureless toy comes dressed in a hijab and red dress but has no eyes, nose or mouth.
It has been designed to comply with strict Muslim teachings which rule against the representation of humans and animals in other forms, and specifically Muslim gods and their companions.
An ‘Islamic doll’ with no facial features at all is being sold for £25 in line with Muslim rules which teach that items which represent features of living things, humans or animals, should not be produced and owned
However critics have dismissed the doll as ‘foolish’ and say it represents antiquated views of Islam teachings and fails to acknowledge that Muslim’s are part of modern culture.
The doll, which comes in just one design, is called Romeisa and named after the female companion of the Prophet Muhammad.
It is aimed at children living in strict Muslim families.
‘There is an Islamic ruling which forbids the depiction of facial features of any kind and that includes pictures, sculptures and, in this case, dolls,’ the designer, who is known as Ridhwana B, told the Lancashire Telegraph.
‘I spoke to a religious scholar in Leicester who guided me through what was and what was not permissible when producing the product.
‘The Deeni Doll has no face on it whatsoever and is Shariah compliant.’
A lot of Islamic art, like this Ottoman ivory and turquoise-inlaid box, has geometric patterns rather than faces
The former teacher, who used to work at a Muslim school in Lancashire, said she came up with the idea to design the doll after speaking to parents who were concerned about toys with facial features.
She said it took four years to design and added: ‘The Islamic range in kids toys is quite limited at the moment with few choices. Although this project took a while, I am looking at researching other ideas in the future.
‘I am looking at compiling a book for the Islamic upbringing of children in the future too.’
However Professor Fawaz Gerges, a specialist in Muslim societies and politics at London School of Economics, said: ‘This is silliness and foolishness.
‘Muslims are now part of a global community .
‘In early Islamic history imagery was not preferred for a variety of reasons. But the debate is, how far do you go now?
BANNING GODS AND ANIMALS: HOW ‘ANICONISM’ CREATED FACELESS DOLLS
Islam teaches aniconism – the practice of avoiding creating images of living things.
The most absolute prohibition is images of God, followed by Islamic prophets and then relatives of Muhammad.
However this teaching is extended to humans in the hadith, which is open to interprettion.
This has led to Islamic art being represented in geometric patterns and calligraphy.
The Quran doesn’t specifically prohibit depictions of humans, but it does rule against idolatry – the worship of an idol or physical object as a symbol of God.
Sunni authorities interpret the hadith as prohibiting any representations of living things while others have a less strict approach that takes into account the variety of images available and used today.
‘The overwhelming majority of Muslims are living 21st century lifestyles, things have not been frozen from the 6th century.
‘There are some people who would like us to think Muslim history is frozen in time and space but it has evolved. Young Muslims are now globalised.
‘The doll is a gimmick, an ultra-conservative interpretation. It is a very isolated phenomenon and with all due respect I imagine it would only appeal to a very tiny group.
‘It’s a cultural luxury and I don’t think it will have much of an audience or many clients. ‘
Aniconism is taught in Islam, which rules against the creation of living beings. However interpretations of the teachings have evolved over time as more imagery is used in modern society, for example on television and in adverts.
Today the avoidance of idolatry is the main concern for devout Muslims.
It is hoped the doll will be able to be used by Muslim children who often face having to have their toys removed at night because teachings forbid anything with eyes being left in the room.
The doll is being sold for £25 and although it is not the first of its kind in the world, it is thought to be the only one produced to such a high quality. Only a limited number have been made but Ridhwana said she has already had orders.
It has been named after one of the female companions of Muhammad, who are known by the collective name Sahabiyat.
The prophet had hundreds of companions who knew Muhammad and recited hadith, which were the basis of developing the Islamic tradition. Companions are loosely defined as anyone who saw the prophet Muhammad and died a Muslim.
The idea of creating dolls for children to play with and learn from is based on stories that Prophet Muhammad’s wife, Aisha, also played with the featureless items.