SHAFAQNA (International Shia News Association)-Criticizing the arrival of “selfie fever” to the holy mosque of Ka`bah, Saudi scholars have advised pilgrims not to take selfies in the holy sites as an aberration of the spiritual atmosphere of the life-time journey.
“Taking such selfies and videos defy the wish of our Prophet,” Jeddah-based scholar Sheikh Assim Al-Hakeem told Arab News on Tuesday, September 30.
Thousands of selfies taken by pilgrims and the visitors of the two holy mosques have sparked anger and debates among scholars and other Muslims worshippers.
Selfies of pilgrims “walking around the Kaaba, kissing the black stone, perched close to the mount of Safa or Marwa, or standing near the green dome of the Prophet’s mosque” were the most common at social media.
“In Madinah, I noticed a family facing the sun, raising their hands as if they were making dua. I couldn’t figure out what exactly they were doing. But then I noticed a person in front of them taking their picture,” said Zahra Mohammad, 27, an Islamic studies teacher in Riyadh.
“I have seen pilgrims in Masjid Al-Haram taking selfies with the Kaaba in the background and this selfie is then posted on Facebook making it a social media event and ruining their act of ibadah by ‘humble-bragging’.”
Muslims from around the world pour into Makkah every year to perform hajj, one of the five pillars of Islam.
Hajj consists of several ceremonies, which are meant to symbolize the essential concepts of the Islamic faith, and to commemorate the trials of Prophet Abraham and his family.
Every able-bodied adult Muslim who can financially afford the trip must perform hajj at least once in a lifetime.
Hajj is officially expected to fall between October 2 and 7, with the climax falling on October 3 when the faithful descend the Mount `Arafat.
Capturing their precious moments at the holy mosque to share them happily at social media, people who use cameras have been criticized as disturbing dozens of worshippers who need to concentrate while praying.
“I was trying to pray Jumma in Masjid Al-Haram but a few people kept coming in front of me to film the Khutba (sermon) with their cameras. What happens to one’s khushoo (serenity in prayer) in such a situation is anyone’s guess,” said Ahmad, a Jeddah-based expat performing Hajj this year.
“The number of people I’ve seen with cameras inside the Haram probably amounts to thousands during Umrah last year, and given so many people have camera phones, it’s an endemic not easy to stop.”
The reason behind the surge in the number of private cameras at the holy sites is the relaxation of rules that allow using camera phones.
Urging pilgrims to abandon their cameras and focus on hajj rituals instead, Sheikh Abdul Razzaq Al-Badr reminded Muslims about the main purpose of the spiritual journey.
“When the Prophet (peace be upon him) reached the Miqaat he would say: ‘0 Allah make this a Hajj without riya (showing off) and without trying to be heard of.’ This supplication is said at the Miqaat. And after making this supplication it is followed by action and striving against the soul,” he said.
“But now at the Miqaat many of the people are taking pictures as mementos. They take pictures on Tawaf, and Arafat, and while throwing at the Jamarat.”
Al-Badr also stressed that: “It is as though the only purpose of this trip is to take pictures and not worship.
“And when they return home they say: ‘Come look at me, this is me on Arafat, this is me in Muzdalifah!”