An Egyptian cleric has issued an Islamic fatwa (religious edict) allowing men to secretly watch women who are showing, so long as the male intends marry her and his intentions are "pure".

The Salafist preacher Usama al-Qawsi has said a man is "entitled to hide" and watch a bathing woman if he chooses her to be his future wife, potentially giving voyeurism a religious sanction.

"If you were really honest and wanted to marry that woman, and you were able to hide and watch her in secret, see the things that she wouldn't usually let you see before marrying her, then it is acceptable as long as your intentions are pure," the Muslim cleric says in the video uploaded in YouTube, according to the translation provided by Al Arabiya.

"One of the Prophet [Mohammad's] companions did that. Some disapproved and told him: 'How do you do that when you're one of the Prophet's companions?' The Prophet answered: 'If you can see something that would make you want to marry her then go ahead and do it.'"

According to some interpretations of Islamic teachings, women's clothing must cover their entire body, except for their hands and face, so her body is not seen by men, other than her husband or family members.

Al-Qawsi has drawn flak for his latest fatwa.

Egypt's minister of religious endowments Mohammad Mukhtar quickly denounced the fatwa, telling Albawaba website: "This is what we say to him and the likes of him: where is the glory and masculinity in watching a woman shower? Would you allow this to happen to your daughter? If it was OK with you then it isn't with the conservative, civilized Muslim and Christian societies – they disapprove of it. Besides, Islam preaches that modesty should be in our nature and all religions concur."