Tawaf on Segway board: Opinions differ on whether it is Islamic

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Updated 01 September 2015

Tawaf on Segway board: Opinions differ on whether it is Islamic

JEDDAH: A short video showing a pilgrim, draped in the two pieces of seamless cloth called ihram, circumambulating the Kaaba in Makkah using a Segway board, has gone viral on social media.
The well-built man is seen swooshing past fellow pilgrims on the second level of the mobile platform set up in the Grand Mosque’s open mataf section specifically for wheel-chair-bound and elderly pilgrims.
The high-tech device, which is a self-balancing battery-operated machine with no handlebars, also known as the “uberboard,” was perhaps used for the first time by a pilgrim in this manner. The video was taken by a visitor to the mosque, with the pilgrim oblivious to the fact that he was being filmed.
The video was first posted on Monday evening by British Haj Travel Limited on their Twitter handle @BHTofficial. From there, the clip went viral. It was on Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and every other platform.
The clip elicited thousands of responses with everyone wondering if it was right from an Islamic point of view to circumambulate perched on this innocuous self-propelled machine.
“This is not fair. If you can walk, then you must perform Tawaf by walking; this is disrespectful,” tweeted Ahsan via @AsnSaleem. “People in pain walk to get the reward and he is just abusing it,” wrote @ibeabdul.
“It is allowed,” ruled Riyadh-based Maulana Najeeb Qasmi Sambhali, who has done his postdoctoral thesis in Hadith from a reputable university in India. He is a graduate of the world famous religious seminary Darul Uloom Deoband. “As long as the pilgrim’s feet are not covered by the contraption, it is all right. There is no problem with that. It is like doing circumambulation in a wheelchair.”
On whether an able-bodied pilgrim should use the device, Maulana Qasmi said: “Different scholars will have different opinions on this particular aspect. As far as possible, where such things can be avoided, they should be avoided.”
He said if performing Tawaf on this contraption obstructs fellow pilgrims, then the ruling would be very clear. “It must not be used. If it harms fellow pilgrims, crashes into them, or creates fear, it must not be used at all.”
To a query posed on Twitter in response to the video clip on whether Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, performed Tawaf seated on the back of a camel, Maulana Qasmi said: “This is true. The Prophet performed Tawaf on a camel and had a stick in his hand which he pointed in the direction of the Black Stone (Hajr-e-Aswad) when starting each of the seven mandatory rounds around the Holy Kaaba.”
The Segway board, known by various names such as the “leviboard,” has been a viral sensation, being used by celebrities and video personalities to showcase a new and innovative method of personal mobility. The board consists of two plates attached to a large wheel on either side, thereby allowing the user to stand on the board without falling over.
Maneuvering the board is a simple process, involving the user to simply tilt in the direction needed. The board has a limited top speed of 4 mph, costs roughly $1,000 and is powered by a rechargeable battery that holds sufficient charge for six hours of continuous usage. The maximum weight the board can support is 110 kg.

VIDEO: Man performs Tawaf on Segway board


Tolerance key to promoting inclusive society: EU envoy

Updated 17 October 2019

Tolerance key to promoting inclusive society: EU envoy

  • Intellectuals, diplomats discuss challenge of blending cultures, faiths and values

RIYADH/JEDDAH: The European envoy to Saudi Arabia on Wednesday called for more tolerance and respect to help bring diverse societies closer together.

Ambassador Michele Cervone d’Urso, head of the EU delegation to the Kingdom, made his appeal as he welcomed attendees to a high-profile lecture to discuss Saudi and European perspectives on religious tolerance and diversity.

Organized by the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies (KFCRIS), the event gathered together top intellectuals, diplomats and scholars to debate the issues of tolerance, forgiveness and acceptance of others.

Opening the lecture at the King Faisal Foundation building in Riyadh, d’Urso spoke about tolerance and how it was core to the transformation of societies, especially in Europe which had become more diverse.

“Today’s European society is a mixture of cultures, faiths, values, ideas, and habits. The challenge is to make sure our society is more inclusive, enhance mutual understanding and promote tolerance and respect,” the envoy said.

He pointed to the UN’s blossoming partnership with the KFCRIS and the importance of the lecture as key building blocks in the process of bridging cultural and religious gaps between societies.

“I think there are few more teams that are exchanging on the Saudi and European perspectives of religious tolerance and diversity. All of us know that the KFCRIS builds from the legacy of the late King Faisal and has been a pillar in promoting Islam,” d’Urso added.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Ambassador Michele Cervone d’Urso, head of the EU delegation to the Kingdom, made his appeal as he welcomed attendees to a high-profile lecture to discuss Saudi and European perspectives on religious tolerance and diversity.
  • Dr. Mohammed bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa, secretary-general of the Muslim World League (MWL), told delegates that when he talked about tolerance in Islam, he also meant tolerance in Saudi Arabia as a state that applied and was governed by Shariah law.
  • The director of the European Network Against Racism (ENAR), Dr. Michael Privot, who converted to Islam 26 years ago, spoke about how the EU was characterized by increasing diversity, including religious and philosophical beliefs, even from the Muslim perspective.

He noted that in Europe there were many people of faith that had respect for coexistence. 

Dr. Mohammed bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa, secretary-general of the Muslim World League (MWL), told delegates that when he talked about tolerance in Islam, he also meant tolerance in Saudi Arabia as a state that applied and was governed by Shariah law.

He said a state that respected others, human existence and brotherhood could not exist “unless there is respect for diversity and differences as a universal norm that no one can collide.”

According to Al-Issa, the Charter of Madinah (regarded as the first Islamic state constitution) was considered one of the best achievements of civil legislation in human history. “This document was held by the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, with the Jews and represented binding legislation for Muslims toward religious minorities.”

The MWL chief noted that the document included the protection of civil and religious rights. “The document cannot be absorbed by extremism, it is clear. These rights and freedoms have been preserved by this legislation. And the Prophet Muhammad coexisted with everyone and understood these differences and diversity.”

In his speech, Al-Issa explained how the Qur’an gave Jews and Christians a special name to celebrate their religious origins where they were called “people of the book,” in reference to the Torah and the Gospel. The history of Christians and Jews was also never omitted.

Addressing the event, director of the European Network Against Racism (ENAR), Dr. Michael Privot, who converted to Islam 26 years ago, spoke about how the EU was characterized by increasing diversity, including religious and philosophical beliefs, even from the Muslim perspective.

“We encounter such a diversity of ways of being Muslim from a theoretical, cultural, philosophical, ideological point of view. Any single Muslim group or community is represented somewhere in Europe and this situation puts European Muslims in a very unique environment which is different from any other Islamic majority society in the world,” said Privot.

He pointed out that for the first time in history Muslim groups from Uzbekistan and Senegal were living together and trying to become a community in European societies.

“Societies, which have completely liberalized the market of religions, believe all faiths are accepted,” he added.

Earlier on Monday, an MWL forum in Makkah recommended that Islamic discourse should adhere to the principles of the Qur’an and Sunnah, the Muslims’ uppermost legislative sources, which are also known as the Two Divine Revelations.

The forum, titled “The Service of the Two Revelations,” called upon concerned authorities in the Muslim world to regulate Islamic fatwas in a way that prevented extremism and stopped producing any misguided explanations of the divinely revealed texts.

The participants also encouraged the use of modern technology, especially social media, to better serve the Qur’an and Sunnah to help link Muslim youths with the two revelations.

In addition, the gathering proposed establishing platforms for producing software and smart apps related to the Qur’an and Sunnah and the launch of an international service award under the umbrella of the MWL.

Al-Issa added that the MWL had staged a number of Qur’an memorization programs in 78 countries and said there were now 68 colleges and institutes where 7,500 students were studying the Qur’an.

“Some 61,275 Qur’an readers have graduated from these institutes, with 5,055 reciters having obtained authentic reading certificates. The IOQAS (International Organization of Qitab and Sunnah) has also carried out 193 training courses and provided nearly 3,000 scholarships,” he said.