MAKKAH – A video-sharing social media application has opened a window on Makkah on the celebration of Laylat Al-Qadr night, offering world Muslims a chance to change the perceptions others had of Islam through sharing millions of videos, photos and tweets.
“I read a bunch of tweets from non-Muslims about how this little 300 second story on Snapchat changed their thoughts about Islam,” Samar, a user from Canada, told Al-Jazeera.
“Genuine or not, it was crazy to see how many positive things people had to say.”
Every year, around 100 million Muslims make the pilgrimage to Muslims’ most sacred city in Makkah, Saudi Arabia.
Snapchat marked observance for the holy month of Ramadan with a 300-second “live” story documenting prayers in the sacred city.
Video messaging app Snapchat’s decision to live-stream Ramadan prayers in Makkah was an instant hit with over a million people tweeting about the #Mecca_live event as coverage went viral.
Snapchat Live showed snaps about Makkah from around the network and placed them in one feed, Al-Jazeera reports.
Makkah Live featured worshippers breaking their fasts over iftar meals, panoramic views of Makkah, prayers and even haircuts.
It was the first time the firm had covered the event, and many Muslims are thrilled with the response.
“The media showed the true colors of Muslims on snapchat last night. #mecca_live Islam is the truth, its [sic] always been the truth,” @yotaric tweeted.
Snapchat feed has been lauded by some for bringing positive attention to the annual pilgrimage made by Muslims around the world and changing the negative global narrative surrounding Islam.
“Thanks @Snapchat to let the world know about the peaceful #Islam. #mecca_live,” @aly_husein wrote on Twitter.
Khalafalla, another user, said the event was an “eye opening” experience and had helped Muslims show a positive side to their faith.
“I think this will inspire a lot of us Muslims who want to clarify our faith to people to try out more innovative initiatives,” he said.
Others went a mile further saying they consider to revert to Islam after seeing the inspiring photos from Makkah.
“I might convert to Islam after this, this is so beautiful,” one user wrote.
“Since watching #mecca_live, I want to become a Muslim, can anyone help me become a Muslim pleaseeee,” a second said.
A third wrote, “as a non-Muslim, I would like to ask something, is it easy to convert into Islam? It is just that after seeing #mecca_live I fell like in love.”
The Snapchat live feature works by stitching different short video clips in to one continuous stream of footage that users can swipe through. Users posted scenes of prayers, rituals, and even jokes.
Digital analytics site Topsy recorded more than one million mentions on Twitter alone, as Muslim users first lobbied Snapchat to feature the city and then reacted to the stream of content that flowed online once the hugely-popular, social media app agreed to do so.