Muslim clerics in Mumbai have slammed the new trend emerging this Haj season: of pilgrims clicking ‘selfies’ at Mecca, the Kaaba or other places considered holy in Islam, and often uploading them on social networking sites. While these pictures have invited a lot of curiosity from the around the world, they have also invited the ire of Islamic scholars.
Criticising the practice as being contrary to the “spirit of Haj”, some city clerics said they were considering taking up the issue in the upcoming community gatherings.
Maulana Syed Athar Ali, executive committee member of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, said: “We are learning about this trend for the first time. It is not in good taste. This is against the spirit of the holy pilgrimage, which, if carried out in the right manner, should leave no room for any kind of fun in the pilgrim’s mind.”
“Until the recent past, phones were not even allowed. Now that the rules have relaxed, we fear we would see more of this,” Ali added.
Maulana Mehmood Daryabadi, member of the Ulema Council, said selfies are a form of bragging. “Only those pilgrims who want to look superior to others are indulging in this practice, which is un-Islamic. The pilgrimage is about coming close to Allah in all your humility. Selfies at the holy sites are condemnable,” he said.
The Haj Committee of India, however, is more lenient in its stance. Ataur Rehman, chief executive officer (CEO) of the Mumbai-based committee, said, “There is nothing wrong with the practice. We neither prescribe it nor discourage pilgrims from doing this.”
The committee takes the pilgrims through two rounds of do’s and don’ts sessions with a focus on religious practices and logistics, Rehman said, adding there would be no instruction to the pilgrims about selfies in the coming year.
A total of 99,966 Indian residents went for Haj this year, with more than 7,000 from Maharashtra, Rehman informed.
“Only 16% of them were above 70 years of age. The majority of the pilgrims were young,” said Rehman.