Technology and Hajj pilgrimage: Can we achieve an equilibrium?
When speaking of technology, among the first things that come to mind are social media outlets, mobile applications, smartwatches, and many more. It connects everyone despite any barriers and brings them together. The same process happens when looking at the state of Hajj performers. In fact, technology eases their journey. Grants them a sense of security, and facilitates their transportations. However, there is always a darker side to anything. Sad but true, when technology intervenes during the Hajj process, it distracts the pilgrims and pushes them to deviate from the true religious essence that it provides.
Easier transportation due to technology
There is no doubt that technology facilitated the travel process for those who want to perform Hajj. Beginning from the British agency that was the first to launch several travel packages back in the 1880s. Mainly for the Indian subcontinent. Later, in 1908, the Ottoman empire, in addition to its remarkable innovations throughout history, created the Hajj railways. Specifically from Damascus to Al-Madina. These two remarkable steps toward facilitating the transportation of Hajj performers encouraged Muslims to seek Hajj more often. The peak of Hajj attendees was reached when flights were launched.
Safety and security in Hajj
Hajj officials used technology in a beneficial manner in order to ease the Hajj experience on pilgrims. Notably, they launched online sites that offer 360-degree video, similar to the virtual experience that shows Mecca and the steps toward Hajj. in order to grant them safety, the Saudi Government invented a wearable device or a bracelet that monitors their movement as well as saving their personal data in case a group gets lost or needs medical services.
Since the pilgrims’ families or friends would want to check up on them, these bracelets monitored their locations 24/7. Another technological solution was mobile applications that streamed Hajj news for both, the pilgrims and their own families. No one can skip the social media role, where Snapchat streamed peaceful and beautiful images and videos of the Hajj experience. Non-muslims get the chance to see the true essence of Hajj and maybe push them to seek the right path.
Drawbacks of technology in Hajj?
The exaggerated intervention of technology in the Hajj experience created some sort of negative thoughts about it. For instance, the unstoppable selfies at Mecca or the phone calls tend to distract the hajjis from being spiritually connected with Hajj. one of the purposes of seeking Hajj is to disconnect from the outside world and to connect only with God. But this can’t be possible if the phone keeps ringing during Salah time, or chatting while sitting in Kaaba. One seeking Hajj should disconnect from any material possessions and devote themselves to Allah (SWT).
No one can deny the major contributions of technology in our lives. In the case of Hajj, it facilitated the transportation of pilgrims as well as granting their safety by monitoring their location. However, pilgrims would find themselves spiritually detached from the true essence of Hajj due to the endless chat, selfies, and phone calls.
(Written by freelancer Yara Lotfy)