RELIGION

Snapchat Honors Muslim Holiday With Live Video Feed

"Mecca deserves to be seen by the whole world."

Log into Snapchat and swipe left to get to the "Stories" page. Scroll down to "Live" and find Mecca listed among the locations. Press and hold to witness the holy Saudi city as it was on Monday, the Muslim holiday of Laylat Al Qadr.

Thousands circle Mecca's iconic Kaaba, pose for photos on the balconies above the Al-Masjid mosque, pray and read from the Quran, break their fast with sweet dates and rice and speak into the camera to describe the feeling of being in the midst of such a sacred gathering.

Laylat Al Qadr is considered the holiest night of the year for Muslims, and is traditionally celebrated on the 27th day of the fasting month of Ramadan. It is known as the "Night of Power," and commemorates the night that the Quran was first revealed to the Prophet Muhammad.

"As someone who's visited the Grand Mosque in Makkah thousands of times ... and prayed there on the night of the 27th of Ramadan at least a dozen times, I can tell you that it's an experience like no other," Yasir Qadhi, an American Muslim scholar and dean of academic affairs at the Al-Maghrib Institute, told The Huffington Post in an email.

"The air itself is electrifying; the crowds are far as the eye can see; the mood at once somber and exciting. People from all over the globe, dressed in all types of native dresses, all united in their worship, believing in One God, praying in unison, facing the same direction, invoking their Creator. The spiritual high that you feel in that gathering is something that cannot be described in words; only experienced."

 Snapchat launched its Live section in August 2014 as a way of letting users create and view public photos and videos taken at the same live event. The social media application requires users to turn on location services in order to verify that they are truly where they say they are. As with other photos and videos on Snapchat, those available in the Live section disappear after a short period of time.

Thousands of Saudis and Muslims around the world took to Twitter over the weekend using the hashtag #Mecca_live to petition Snapchat to include Mecca in its Live section.

When the city appeared on the application, thousands more expressed their joy and gratitude on Twitter. Snapchat did not immediately return The Huffington Post's request for comment. 

For Qadhi, the inclusion of Mecca in Snapchat's Live section showed promise for further education about a misunderstood faith.

"I'm ecstatic that Snapchat showcased this special and momentous occasion, because for the vast majority of the world's Muslims, THIS is what Islam is all about!" Qadhi said in an email to HuffPost. "If only the world saw this as the 'real' Islam (for it is the real Islam!), I think the perception that people have of us would change dramatically."

Others on Twitter expressed their love for the city and for the dizzying and beautiful experience the hajj pilgrimage can be:

As of July 7, more than 14 million worshippers and pilgrims had already traveled to Mecca to experience Ramadan in the holy city. 

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