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Hajj Selfies go viral on Twitter despite warnings by Muslim scholars
One of the most trending pilgrim selfies was posted on September 30, replicating the most re-tweeted Oscar selfie posted by television celebrity Ellen DeGeneres
Sunday October 5, 2014 10:18 PM, & Agencies

Despite warnings by Muslim scholars not to take pictures without valid reasons, pilgrims are racing to capture - from Tawaf to prayers atop Mount Mercy in Arafat, and stoning of the 'devil' in Mina, every moment of Haj on cameras and smartphones to post on social networking sites for instant sharing.

Hajj Selfies
[One of the most trending pilgrim selfies was posted on September 30, replicating the most re-tweeted Oscar selfie posted by television celebrity Ellen DeGeneres. (Photo: Amr Abdallah Dalsh/Reuters) ]

"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'," she added.

Haj is one of the world's largest religious gatherings. It has attracted over two million believers this year.

"As this is my first pilgrimage, it is important for me to document all the events taking place around me," Ali, 24, said, snapping a picture of himself with a green sign reading "Big Jamarah", which refers to a wall where Muslims ritually stone Satan.

"Wherever I go, I take pictures, especially since nowadays we have these little cameras... that offer a full view of the area," the bearded Kuwaiti, casually dressed in sweatpants and a pair of trendy sandals, said with a smile.

Many young Muslims believe that posting selfies on social media is the best way to communicate with their families and document precious moments.

"I'm taking a selfie with Kaaba behind me to post on my Facebook so my family and friends can see me. That's the way we communicate these days – no need to call," Reuters quoted Turkish student Mehmet Dawoud as saying.

"Selfies are just a way to make the memory last in the coolest possible way. Haj is always seen as something very serious and for older people. Selfies make it cool again," said Egyptian architect Amir Marouf.

One of the most trending pilgrim selfies was posted on September 30, replicating the most re-tweeted Oscar selfie posted by television celebrity Ellen DeGeneres.

The tweet said: "Can the #HajjSelfie beat the #OscarSelfie in Retweets? Let's RT this to infinity #Muslim and say #mashAllah."

The increasingly popular phenomenon however has sparked controversy among some, with a few taking to Twitter to criticise pilgrims who take selfies.

"When we went for Umrah in the mid-90s, Dad nearly had his camera confiscated to shouts of 'haram!' Now, #HajSelfie is A Thing. What a world," wrote one Tweeter.

Another user named Kahwaaa wrote: "It's a time to connect to Allah and purify my soul. #Hajselfies shouldn't be taken."

Jeddah-based scholar Sheikh Assim Al-Hakeem said: "Photography without a legitimate reason is an issue of dispute among scholars. However, despite this difference of opinion, there shouldn't be any dispute when it comes to the real meaning of Haj and the essence behind it.

"It is based on sincerity and following the sunnah. The Prophet (peace be upon him) when he went for Haj, he said: O Allah, I ask of you a pilgrimage that contains no boasting or showing of. Taking such selfies and videos defy the wish of our Prophet."

Famous scholar Sheikh Abdul Razzaq Al-Badr warned against taking photos during Haj, saying: "When the Prophet (peace be upon him) reached the Miqaat he would say: '0 Allah make this a Haj 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. 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.

"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!

"And we have seen some of the people when they are ready to take the picture they raise their hands in the appearance of humility, fear, and tranquility. And then after the picture is snapped they drop their hands", he said.




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