Image 1 of 8: 2012 has been a scandalous year for Tamer Hosny - rumors have been rife about his marriage to Basma Bosil, with former fans hitting out at the star for reportedly forcing his wife to dump her career. Not letting the haters keep them down, the pair hope they might at least get God's blessing on Hajj this year.
Image 1 of 8: No stranger to controversy, Saed Al Sughair has admitted to using prostitutes and just last year was accused of stealing donations given to Egyptian martyrs. But, luckily for the bad boy of Arab folk he is able to 'wash his sins away' every year by performing Umrah.
Image 1 of 8: Egyptian star Sharihan spent much of last year shaking off rumors that she survived an assassination by the family of former President Hosni Mubarak after an engagement to his son Alaa went awry. But, this year she'll be getting away from drama and back to religion.
Image 1 of 8: Former Miss Egypt Horeya Farghaly made a scandalous name for herself with her seductive role in controversial film 'Call Me Please,' and her four month marriage raised more eyebrows across the region. But, in recent times the sexy star has swapped scandal for spirituality.
Image 1 of 8: Try Hajj! Elham Shahin was left red-faced earlier this year when Sheikh Abdallah Badr of conservative TV channel 'El-Hafez' circulated racy photos of the actress, asking on live TV: "How many have you mounted in the name of art?" Now good pal and fellow star Yusra has told Shahin that Hajj could be the answer to her troubles.
Image 1 of 8: Back in 2010 Sharif Munir caused controversy when Spanish TV aired a clip of him praising Israel as a "great country". Munir hit out at the show for twisting his words and since then any Israeli-Arab drama coming from the star has been scripted. Out of work, the star likes to play the religious, real-life role of pilgrim.
Image 1 of 8: The rumor mill was in full swing this year with news that Egyptian heart throb Ahmad Ezz was caught up with an Islamic political party after the usually bare-faced star sported facial hair for his role in hit film "Aziz's Dream". When the film hit the big screen, the model snuck away for his Hajj (a four-year habit since his mother passed away).
Image 1 of 8: Egyptian actress Ghada Abdel Razek carries her religion on her sleeve... when she's wearing any! She has swung between two extremes ever since news broke that her husband was cheating on her - courting flesh-baring scandal, and religion for marital advice. Last Eid, Ghada was Mecca-bound for her Umrah with her philandering husband in tow.
- the honorific title given to a devout Muslim who has completed the once-in-a-life-time pilgramage to Mecca - carries the kudos of the knighthood in the Commonwealth world. Like turning 'Sir' one who has completed Hajj is vaunted with the proud pre-fix 'Hajj' before their name, and so joins the ranks of the global faithful and most typically grandparents everywhere. Celebrities with their eye on the glory, more than any other starry eyed members of society, love the chance to be piled with more titles and honors, especially if they have failed to bag an Oscar or Murex D'Or.
Whether they're more famous for their good acting, stellar singing or scandalous private lives, many of the Arab world's darling celebrities are taking a break from the hype to make that spiritual journey to Mecca for Hajj or Umrah. Celebs can be good Muslims too, their public pilgrimages suggest. But is there more to these religious sacrifices than meets the eye?
During this holy Hajj week leading up to the Muslim Eid al Adha, (Feast of Sacrifce)
we put the spotlight on some of our fickle Arab celebs who like to flirt with their religion like their fans. Some use it to repair marriages - the ultimate couple counselling - others to earn brownie points with the Almighty and wipe their scandal-ridden slates clean. Most celebs after all will try anything once!
A bit like the Catholic faith that allows for habitual cleansing of sins, it seems that certain of the year-round party set, those rich and famous, but also fallen, Muslims latch on to the spiritual journey of Hajj or Umrah (Hajj light)
as a chance to redeem themselves in the eyes of God but also their fanbase. Not so popular a decision with some Saudi Mecca officials who would like to see a ban on the less than holy supplicants, but of course Islam's holiest sites are not privy to a screening policy (though a no-go area for non-Muslims).
Still other naughty Hajji hopefuls will use the whole exercise as an excuse to be away from home and family. Gulf men have been called out on their dishonest pilgramage ruse to go on a boys trip abroad. Some thirty Kuwaiti wives were none too impressed to find their husbands had spent the New Year in Lebanon while supposed to be on a Umrah in Mecca, and struck back with divorce suits.
As for our favorite entertainers, some of them should be permitted to be in touch with their religious, spiritual side, and others well, they can hood-wink us into believing they need to serve their Islamic
duties while enjoying all that Hajj-vegas (increasingly commercial Mecca and Medina)
has to offer.
What do you think of these celebrity Arab on Hajj? Should they keep their religious journeys more private?