Mecca: Saudi Arabia snaps at Kaaba spiritual selfie-takers on Umrah pilgrimage

Mecca: Saudi Arabia snaps at Kaaba spiritual selfie-takers on Umrah pilgrimage
The Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah urged Muslims to 'dedicate yourself to worship in the purest parts of the world'.
2 min read
26 April, 2022
Some Muslims enjoy taking photos at Mecca's Grand Mosque during Hajj and Umrah [KARIM SAHIB/AFP via Getty Images-file photo]

Worshippers in Saudi Arabia have been told not to snap selfies in front of the Kaaba or elsewhere in Mecca's Great Mosque while on pilgrimage.

The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah bemoaned the number of photographs being taken in the holy site during the Umrah - the minor Islamic pilgrimage that can be performed at any time of the year - saying it distracts worshippers from "reverence and obedience to God".

It could also cause pilgrims to bump into one another or bother passers-by, the ministry warned.

"Dedicate yourself to worship in the purest parts of the world," the ministry tweeted in Arabic, attaching an emoji of a "no entry" or "forbidden" sign next to one of a mobile phone.

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The Kaaba is believed to have been constructed by Prophet Ibrahim, or Abraham, alongside his son Ismail, and is the holiest place in Islam. It is also the location which Muslims face in prayer.

Muslims flock to Mecca's Great Mosque during the Hajj - the major pilgrimage performed during the last month of the Islamic calendar and is mandatory for Muslims who are able to, at least once in their lifetimes.

Many Muslims also perform Umrah, the optional minor pilgrimage, if they can. Ramadan is a particularly popular time for this pilgrimage.

"Respect the privacy of others while they are performing rituals," the ministry told pilgrims, adding that they should "avoid photographing any private situation."

The ministry's advice discourages pilgrims from taking photos but is not seen as an official ban.

Taking photos at Mecca's Great Mosque used to be illegal and there were religious rulings, or fatwas, that declared it banned in Islam.

Saleh Al-Fawzan, who sits on Saudi Arabia's Council of Senior Scholars, the highest Islamic organisation in the kingdom, argued in 2014 that some of those who go to the Kaaba to take photos should have their cameras destroyed, news website Arabi 21 reported.

He said photography at the mosque is "immoral and harming Muslims".