Can someone enter the Kaaba in Mecca

Forbidden for people of different faiths

"I am a Christian and would like to experience the religious festivities in Mecca with my Muslim friends," writes a user on the Deutsche Welle Facebook page. He is not the only one who cannot understand why the Kaaba and the Al-Ahram Mosque as the holiest places in Islam are closed to members of other religions. Isn't that exactly the opposite of dialogue, openness and transparency? Can you really get to know each other when visiting such central places is impossible? Many professing Christians or secular citizens from Western countries ask such questions. "I know that the Islamic laws of Saudi Arabia and other countries in the Middle East are very conservative and very reactionary," says a German Christian whom we meet before evening prayer in Cologne Cathedral. "But you should really try to gain a modern, international and multicultural attitude here."

Open to visitors: The Al-Azhar Mosque in Cairo

The man knows from his own experience that there are definitely differences from country to country. He has already visited mosques in Germany, Egypt and Turkey - that was not a problem. But in other countries such as Morocco or Yemen, non-Muslims are often not allowed into mosques or only at certain times. There is no generally binding regulation for all mosques worldwide, if only because Islam does not have a recognized supreme earthly authority - as does the Pope among Catholics.

A consequence of the understanding of Islam in Saudi Arabia

While Muslims can usually easily visit the Vatican or the Way of the Cross in the city of Jerusalem, which is also theirs, the holy places in Mecca are likely to remain taboo for non-Muslims for the foreseeable future. And only because the prevailing understanding of Islam in Saudi Arabia prescribes this. But this prohibition is by no means pure arbitrariness or chicane. Rather, it is based on a particularly strict interpretation of religious sources. Imam Metwali Mousa, chairman of the Federal Association for Islamic Activities and member of the Central Council of Muslims in Germany, has a historical explanation that goes back to the Koran: "In the time of the Prophet Muhammad there were polytheists who were naked and unclean around the Kaaba ran, "he explains. "They were described as 'unclean' in the Koran and were forbidden to enter the Kaaba."

It is precisely here that the subtle but important differences in interpretation between Islamic scholars begin. Some understand the word "unclean" as a synonym for "non-Muslim" - others only as "unclean" or "dirty". Only one thing seems certain: the "Mecca ban" for non-Muslims originally arose from the fear that otherwise the pre-Islamic cult of polytheism on the Kaaba could return. For Imam Metwali Mousa there is therefore no reason to change anything about it. "The ban doesn't harm anyone! And you shouldn't interpret that as a lack of respect or contempt for non-Muslims," ​​he says. The ban should therefore simply be accepted as the Western constitutions by the Muslims living in Europe.

Criticism of the Mecca ban for people of different faiths

Gaddafi is against the Mecca ban on people of different faiths

The example of a leading Arab politician who is not otherwise known as a friend of the West shows that this can also be viewed quite differently: The Libyan revolutionary leader Muammar al-Gaddafi criticized the "Mecca ban" very clearly five years ago. for people of different faiths and called on the Saudis to give Christians and Jews access to the holy places. "The visit is not only allowed to Arabs and Muslims," ​​said al-Gaddafi. The Kaaba mosque is the house of God. Therefore everyone is invited to take part in the Hajj pilgrimage.

A similar opinion is held by a Muslim woman of Arab origin from Germany who has just visited one of the most famous Christian landmarks in her adopted home Germany, Cologne Cathedral: "Some say that non-Muslims are not allowed to visit the Kaaba. And others say: They are allowed to visit! And I also believe that non-Muslims are allowed to visit the Kaaba! Because I believe that Islam is a tolerant religion. " After all, in response to the sometimes fierce integration debates in their country, the Muslim associations in Germany set a signal years ago that differs markedly from the Saudi understanding of Islam: they invite their non-Muslim fellow citizens to an "Open Day" once a year Mosque "a.

Author: Ali Almakhlafi
Editing: Szabo, Tamas / Theresa Tropper