Muslim man explains why these stunning photos of a deserted Mecca are so shocking

Moya Lothian-McLean@moya_lm
Thursday 19 March 2020 16:30
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(Getty)

Coronavirus is causing us to see sights may haven’t for decades, or… ever.

The Venetian canals are the clearest they’ve been in years due to less traffic.

And some people are claiming that smog in cities like Krakow is lifting a little.

And on 13 March, Saudi Arabian authorities emptied Islam’s holiest site, the Great Mosque in Mecca, to sterilise it.

This led to an extremely unusual phenomenon – empty space around the Kabba, a structure Muslims on Hajj (an annual pilgrimage all Muslims are supposed to embark on during their lifetime) encircle seven times while visiting the mosque.

And video game developer Rami Ismail, took to Twitter to explain just how jarring it was to see such a sight.

Hajj, Ismail says, is one of the “five pillars” of Islam and more than a million worshippers regularly fill the Great Mosque as part of the pilgrimage (it can accomodate four million).

The Kabba, Ismail explains, is right at the centre of that.

And there’s else that sets it out – whereas in other mosques around the world, worshippers pray in one direction, towards the Qibla ( قبلة, meaning: direction).

The Qibla, says Ismail, always points towards the Kabba. So in the Great Mosque, where the Kabba is located, worshippers are arranged in a circle.

Growing up, Ismail says, Mecca livestreams were a familiar sight for him.

Which is why he was so shocked to realise that he’d never once considered the what colour the floor was.

And while he says part of him was scared upon seeing the image, another part was cheered that if millions of worshippers could hold off, social distancing has a chance of success.

Saudi Arabia have actually recently re-opened the Great Mosque, although worshippers are now forbidden from touching the Kabba and have reportedly decreased in number.

How many more once-in-a-lifetime sights will we see before this is all over?

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