Eight men cycle from London to Saudi for Haj for noble cause
The riders from the UK-based charity Human Aid hope to raise £1 million for medical aid in Syria.
London - The riders hope to raise Dh4.7million for medical aid in Syria
A group of eight youngsters from the UK-based charity Human Aid will embark on a six-week journey, cycling from London to perform Haj in Saudi Arabia.
The riders hope to raise £1 million (approximately Dh4.7million) for medical aid in Syria, reports Al Arabiya English.
As per their plans, the group will first cycle to New Haven and will take a ferry to Dieppe in France. They will bike to Paris and then to Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Liechtenstein and Italy.
From Venice the group will catch a ferry to Igoumenitsa in Greece. They will cycle through Greece and take a plane over the sea to Alexandria.
They will travel from Yanbu to Medinah on the last leg of their journey.
The group will collect donations from people during their Haj Ride and the money will be used for emergency services in Syria.
Human Aid and a few other organizations in UK and in Malaysia organised a unity convoy and since April they have sent 80-85 ambulances to Syria.
The funds raised this time will be used to replenish these ambulances and give them the equipment they need.
Abdul Wahid, the founder of Haj Ride conceptualized the project when he converted to Islam 11 years ago.
"People say you have to change everything about you when you become Muslim. I had a lot of time to think about how I can merge my lives. I thought I love cycling and I want to go to Haj, so why don't we go back to the old way of journeying?" Wahid told Al Arabiya.
Wahid joined a London to Paris cycle ride in 2015 and realised that cycling form London to Madinah is indeed possible.
Among the eight men, three are Bengali British, four Pakistani British and one from the UK.
"The spirit of Haj has been lost. People used to travel for half a year or a year to go to Haj. Some people would have been gone for two years at a time. It is a spiritual journey and it is a chance for us to see different people. We will be talking to people and educating them about our cause," he said.
They also want to raise awareness about medical efforts in Syria. "I have found that people throughout Europe and further are very respectful of your intentions and efforts when I tell them about it. I hope this will spread the nobility of Islam," he said.
"Being away from our families and friends and being on the roads for nearly two months will be the biggest challenge. We have to support each other in these difficult times," Wahid pointed out.
Another rider, Dobbir Uddin, is a lab technician originally from Bangladesh who is born and brought up in London and is performing Haj for the first time.
"Climbing the mountains is going to take time. Greece onwards the heat is going to be a challenge as we haven't had training in the heat. The heat will be a challenge and it's going to be quite arid and dry," he said.
"I am looking forward to the brotherhood and the bond that will hopefully develop between us. Since the beginning of Haj, people have travelled for days and months to go to Haj. Now, people perform express Haj, within a few days. We are trying to revisit the tradition and keep alive the spirit or essence of Haj," Uddin said.E
Saifullah Nasser an Imam based in Northampton is also going on the Haj Ride. "The fact that it is unique is what makes stand out. People from Russia and China have cycled to Hajj in the past. We are all cycling enthusiasts, but none of our professional athletes," said Nasser.
"Going for Haj is not difficult. I have done it earlier but this time I will actually travel on the land I once flew over. I feel to appreciate the highs you have to experience the lows. We hope to inspire the British public. Muslims have been tested in recent times in Britain. We can fulfil our duties and do amazing projects like this," Nasser said.