A video showing a pilgrim cruising around the Ka`aba on a hoverboard at the Holy Grand Mosque in Makkah went viral this week, triggering mixed reactions.
The footage showed a man riding on a self-balancing smart scooter to perform Tawaf [or circumambulation around the Ka’aba] - the cube-shaped structure toward which Muslims pray every day.
It is commonly known that wheelchairs are allowed during Tawaf, for those who have a disability and are unable to walk.
But the unusual use of a rolling skateboard attracted lots of viewers, who engaged in a religious debate on whether it was appropriate to use the device at the sacred site.
Some Twitter users mocked the act, describing it as “unbelievable.”
“Yoo someone doing Tawaf on a hoverboard? That’s kinda messed up maaan,” wrote Twitter user @nawalala
“How can you be using hover board to do tawaf??? People take things too far” tweeted @NassPepper
But others welcomed the idea, saying it would help Muslims with physical difficulties perform the ritual.
“Amazing idea, perfect for disabilities,” wrote @habibahamid
Commenting on the matter, a religious studies associate professor told Al Arabiya News it was preferred that members of the public and Muslim scholars refrain from judging the individual appearing in the video.
“Only the person in question knows his specific ailment,” said Zachary V. Wright, an associate professor of religious studies at Northwestern University in Qatar.
He said it would be difficult to justify whether a person was willing to perform the Tawaf unaided.
“Muslim scholars should not judge this man on the Segway, but in no way could Islamic jurisprudence be used to justify this as normative practice. Indeed it is very difficult to imagine a case where a person is able to mount and balance on a Segway but cannot walk.
“I'm sure the person had a valid reason, but it should be clear that the Ka’aba should not suddenly be surrounded by whirring Segways.”