The Turkish Presidency of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) has declared that visiting Kaaba in the metaverse will not be considered a ''real Hajj''.
After a month-long discussion, Diyanet concluded on Tuesday that although the metaverse visit of the Kaaba can be performed, this won't count as real worship.
“This Hajj on the metaverse cannot happen,” Remzi Bircan, the director of Diyanet’s Department of Hajj and Umrah Services, said on February 1, according to Hurriyet Daily News.
“Believers can pay a visit to Kaaba on the metaverse, but it will never be considered a real worship,” he said while adding that “people’s feet should touch the ground.”
According to Bircan, Hajj should and will be practiced by going to the holy city in real life.
The metaverse version of Kaaba became controversial among Muslims across the globe following Saudi Arabia's "Virtual Black Stone Initiative” event in December 2021.
'Virtual Black Stone'
The country brought Islam’s holiest spot into the metaverse, allowing Muslims to virtually view a religiously revered rock called Hajr Aswad, or Black Stone in the city of Mecca from their homes.
“The initiative allows Muslims to experience the Hajr Aswad virtually prior to the pilgrimage to Mecca,” the Saudi officials said in a statement while announcing the initiative.
Bircan compared the initiative to a virtual reality (VR) viewing of the Archeological Museum in Istanbul.
“Like touring the museum with VR glasses, Saudis started this virtual travel program to promote the Kaaba,” said Birdan.
The project was formed by Saudi Arabia’s Exhibitions and Museums Affairs Agency, working with Umm al Qura University.
The founder of the project is the Haramain, which can be translated as “the two sanctuaries,” referring to Mecca and Medina and specifically the two holy mosques in those cities.