Rapper Akon recently visited Islam’s holiest site in the Saudi city of Mecca.
The world-famous Senegalese-American singer and rapper, whose real name is Aliaune Thiam, was filmed performing the Umrah pilgrimage in the traditional white clothing known as “ihram”.
Videos of Akon at the Kaabah, a large black cube structure inside Mecca’s Grand Mosque, circulated on social media, with many expressing their surprise at seeing a different side to the rapper.
It appears Akon travelled on to Mecca from Jeddah, where he performed last week. He was reportedly there with family and friends, according to media reports.
Posting about the concert on Instagram, the rapper wrote: “Saudi Arabia was crazy!! Thanks again Saudi for the love once again.”
Not many of Akon’s fans know that he is Muslim, being born into a Muslim family in St. Louis, Missouri in 1973.
Akon rose to prominence as a singer in 2004 and has released several hit singles.
Akon has attributed his successful singing career to his faith in the past.
“For me, real success is faith. If God is not smiling upon me I am not successful. I don’t care even if I have a billion dollars in the bank. And what good am I if have a billion dollars sitting in the bank in the first place?” Akon said at a conference in the UAE last year.
Akon also performed Umrah last year after performing a concert in Dammam.
The ultra-conservative kingdom has recently embarked on a “modernisation” drive, allowing for concerts and loosening restrictions on women.
News of Akon’s pilgrimage comes as Saudi Arabia suspended Wednesday the year-round Umrah pilgrimage over fears of the new coronavirus spreading to Islam’s holiest cities, an unprecedented move that raises fresh uncertainty over the annual hajj.
Umrah, which refers to the Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca that can be undertaken at any time of year, attracts millions of Muslims from across the globe each year.