A talented photographer captured a heartwarming moment between a brother and sister in the city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia.
Editor's Note: This article was originally published on April 27, 2022
Abdul Rahman Al-Sahli, who goes by the username Heartmecca on Instagram, is a photographer who captures beautiful and heartwarming moments from the Saudi Arabian city of Mecca, the holiest site for Muslims. One of his posts, featuring a brother and sister duo, recently went viral online, prompting the woman in the photograph to react. In the image, Abeer Najjar is seen seated behind her praying sibling so she can be shielded from the harsh summer sun. While many confused the man to be her husband, she cleared it up and affirmed how transformative it can be to experience Umrah (an Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca) with a sibling, the Saudi Gazette reports.
The photograph was captured during the holy month of Ramadan at the Masjid al-Haram, also known as the Great Mosque of Mecca. According to Al-Sahli, he took the photos at about 1 p.m., noting that the sun and the weather were exceptionally hot at this time. Once he spotted the brother providing his sister shelter from the scorching hot sun, he immediately pulled out his camera. He shared with the news outlet, "As a photographer, you must be prepared for such rare moments, and if you’re a second late, you will miss the shot!"
After clicking a series of shots, he said he felt he had landed a prize moment. In fact, he felt sure that the pictures would go viral on social media. And sure enough, once he posted the pictures to Instagram, they did. However, many assumed the man to be Najjar's husband rather than her brother, but she set the record straight on Instagram. "Salaam all, I appreciate everyone making an effort to correct the accounts that have posted the photo of me and my brother, but with an inaccurate description," she writes in her post. "I wanted the caption corrected obviously to be accurate, but more importantly because I was reading so many comments from people fixated on only going to Umrah after they have found a partner to join them."
Najjar continues, "While that is a beautiful goal and wish, it is also beautiful to experience Umrah with your siblings, family, friends, or on your own! And I just wanted people to know that." She also called for social media users to be kinder to the photographer and social media accounts that had inaccurately described the situation as they had received aggressive comments. She affirms, "It was an honest mistake." She also said she was grateful to Al-Sahli for capturing the moment.
"It has been a source of joy for many people, Alhamdulilah," she concludes. "Appreciate all the love and please keep our family in your dua. Ramadan Mubarak." (In Islam, a dua is a prayer of invocation, supplication, or request.) She added in an interview with the Saudi Gazette, "This was a really special trip for so many reasons, so I am grateful we have this photo to remember it." You can check out similarly heartwarming photographs captured by Al-Sahli on his Instagram page.