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Piety of selfie-taking Haj pilgrims questioned

Many users lament the growing trend saying that pilgrimage is meant to be a journey away from the superficial

Image Credit: Twitter
This picture of a Haj pilgrim taking a selfie during the stoning ritual has gone viral on social media.

Manama: A picture of a pilgrim taking a selfie while symbolically stoning the devil, one of the pilgrimage rituals, has rekindled the online debate over digital self-portraits while engaging in spiritual activities.

Most social media users criticised the pilgrim for “trading off spirituality and supplications for showing off and ostentatiousness.”

“This is definitely the picture of the year: A selfie with the devil,” one commenter posted.

Another said that the picture “took away from the  serenity of the moment.”

Ahmad said that he could not understand the obsession that people had with selfies as they are performing rituals meant to take them away from worldly things and focus on spiritual meanings.

“If the selfie is to be posted on Facebook or Instagram or sent on Whatsapp or Viber, then we have someone who is showing off and this is totally rejected in Islam because Muslims are told to avoid ostentatious behaviour at all times, and particularly during prayers and pilgrimage,” he said.

“The Haj is a very private relationship between a Muslim and God, and Muslims should please God, and not show off or try to make others envious or jealous.”

Another user, writing under the moniker of Old Man with Youthful Heart, attributed the pilgrim’s behaviour to the spread of ignorance.

“Ignorance and absurdity are taking over. Faith is losing ground and love for material things and showing off is gaining ground. These developments show a shocking lack of knowledge about the basics and principles of religion. They are too preoccupied with selfies and pictures to pay greater attention to the core of the religion,” he posted.

Those who defended the pilgrim argued he was not harming anyone and he was doing something to help him recall the significance of the occasion.

“I do not see the reasons for this onslaught on a man taking a picture. I am sure he has his reasons and the picture does mean a lot to him. Let him enjoy these special moments of happiness,” Al Harbi posted.

The sight of pilgrims taking pictures and selfies has become common in Makkah and Madinah since Saudi authorities relaxed an initial ban on cameras at scared places, particularly the Grand Mosque where the Kaaba is located.

Despite repeated calls by religious scholars to focus on their rituals and prayers and not get distracted by taking pictures, the number of worshippers taking selfies has been steadily increasing.