A video of an enterprising pilgrim using a so-called hoverboard to circle the Kaaba in Mecca has surfaced online — and some Muslims aren’t sure quite what to make of it.
In the video, the man clasps his hands together serenely as he glides past older men walking with canes and women pushing wheelchairs.
A visit to Mecca, also known as the Hajj, is one of the five pillars of Islam. The Hajj traces the steps of Abraham’s second wife, Hagar. Muslims believe it was Abraham himself who built the Kaaba in Saudi Arabia, with the help of his son Ishmael.
As part of the Hajj, pilgrims circle the Kaaba seven times, an act called tawaf. People with disabilities can participate by using wheelchairs.
‘Hoverboard’ is one of the most popular terms used to describe the scooter this man was using, but it doesn’t fit the bill perfectly, since it doesn’t hover. It looks like he’s having a great time, regardless.
On social media, the video left some Muslims scratching their heads in disbelief, while others were quick to take sides.
When Ihsan Bagby, an associate professor of Islamic studies at the University of Kentucky, heard about the man’s hoverboard, he burst out laughing.
The professor, who took his own trip to Mecca in 2000, first questioned the video’s authenticity. Then, he wondered if floating through a tawaf didn’t take something away from what is supposed to be a very spiritual and sacred act of faith.
“The real purpose is to walk. It’s the walking motion and trying to remember God that aids in the concentration of the mind and makes this a truly deep spiritual experience,” Bagby said. “If you take away the actual walking experience, you take away something of the purpose of what this type of meditation is. And it is a form of meditation.” (Huffington Post)