Man set to walk

Man set to walk: Before modern transport facilities came into existence, many Indians made the Haj pilgrimage to Mecca entirely on foot.

MALAPPURAM: Before modern transport facilities came into existence, many Indians made the Haj pilgrimage to Mecca entirely on foot. The faithful rarely take such a risk these days. But Shihab Chottur, a 30-year-old from Malappuram, has decided to do just that. He plans to walk 8,640 kilometers to be a part of Haj 2023. With the journey scheduled to start on July 2, he is expected to complete the trip in 280 days. 

An intense desire to travel on foot to Mecca led him to the decision, Shihab says. “I just decided to do it. Then I worked for it. And so I am now ready to start the journey. All able Muslims are obliged to visit Mecca at least once in their lifetime. I am healthy and able to walk at least 25 kilometers a day. I think I should do it now as I have the support of a large number of people, including my family members and friends,” he says. 

Kerala man on 8640 km walking expedition to Mecca for Hajj reaches Maharashtra’s Palghar

Shihab — who runs a supermarket at Kanhipura — plans to carry with him luggage weighing around 10kg. It will include a sleeping bag, four t-shirts and trousers, and an umbrella. He will use the free accommodation and food provided by the worship places on the way. He began preparing for the journey eight months ago. 

“I needed to take travel insurance to get financial help in case something goes wrong while traveling. Then, I had to get visas to enter Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia. The ministry of external affairs and Union Minister V Muraleedharan helped me during the process. Almost all preparation is over,” he says. 

Once he reaches Saudi Arabia after walking through six countries, Shihab will apply for Haj 2023.

A 29-yr-old Kerala man begins the walk to Makkah for Haj 2023

“I am eager to perform the series of rites as part of Haj. Performing Haj sincerely, solely for the sake of Allah, will turn a person as pure as he was on the day his mother gave birth to him. I hope to come back from Mecca as a pure soul,” he says. Shihab says he has done thorough research on traveling safely through the six countries. But he could not find a person who had previously taken up the adventurous journey to learn of that experience. 

Many of them walked with Shihab to support his goal and also requested him to pray for them once he reaches Mecca.

Shihab offered his prayers at the local mosque before taking the road of the Mumbai-Ahmedabad National Highway. He will walk through Gujarat and reach the Wagah border to enter Pakistan, from there to Iraq, Iran, and Kuwait, and will reach finally Mecca some time in early February 2023 just in time for the holy Hajj pilgrimage.

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