A year-long walk from Indonesia to Makkah
The underlying reason for his journey is both a test of his physical and spiritual strength and more importantly, to share the message of hope.
Indonesian national Mochammad Khamim Setiawan, 28, started his journey to Makkah from Pekalongan City in the Central Java province of Indonesia by foot almost a year ago. He said, according to the Holy Quran, walking is a pure form of doing the Haj.
Putting his full trust in God, saying that we are all but God's guests on earth, he started his journey of more than 9,000km on August 28, 2016, with nothing but a couple of shirts, two pairs of pants and shoes, a dozen pair of socks, several undergarments, a sleeping bag and tent, a portable torch, a smart phone and a GPS.
He has been travelling light - carrying a single backpack emblazoned with a mini Indonesian flag, and wearing a shirt which reads 'I'm on my way to Mecca by foot'.
He has shunned away any worldly materials, left his business in Indonesia (he has an economics degree from Semarang State University and had a flourishing contracting company) and started with only a couple of Indonesian rupiah notes in his pocket.
The underlying reason for his journey is both a test of his physical and spiritual strength and more importantly, to share the message of hope, tolerance and harmony.
"I believe that doing the Haj is not just a demonstration of solidarity with the Muslim people," Mochammad told Khaleej Times in a chat at the Indonesian Consulate in Dubai on Wednesday. "My way of showing my full submission to Allah (SWT) is to learn Islam from various Muslim scholars and meeting people of various persuasions to study their culture and observe tolerance."
"I am also doing a greater form of jihad, which is disciplining myself and overcoming a spiritual struggle against sin," added Mochammad, who has actually been fasting daily, except during religious holidays, in the last five years.
Prior to his journey, Mochammad said he spent a fortnight in the forest of Banten province in Indonesia for physical conditioning. He also spent several weeks in a mosque for spiritual strengthening.
Because he is fasting, he travels only at night, covering at least 50km daily when he is in good form. If he feels his knees are weak, he only covers 10-15kms.
Despite the rigours of his travels, he only fell sick twice - in India and Malaysia. He only ate halal food and did not have any food supplements, taking only honey mixed with water to build his immunity against inclement weather conditions.
He said he never met any muggers on the road but recounted he had at least three encounters with venomous snakes in Malaysian forest. "But miraculously, before they could even bite me, they just suddenly fell down and die," Mochammad said.
"I never begged but I always met people who gave me food and other provisions," he continued. "I was welcomed at a Buddhist temple in Thailand; village people in Myanmar fed me; I studied and met Muslim scholars from various countries at Jamaah Tabligh mosque in India; and I became friends with an Irish Christian couple who were riding bikes in Yangon.
"It was through God's grace and also through positive vibes - having no ill will to people I meet - that I am still able to continue with this travel, despite having no financial resources," Mochammad added.
On Saturday, Mochammad will go to the Indonesian Embassy in Abu Dhabi to wait for his visa. From there, he will continue his travel to Makkah. His aim is to reach Islam's holiest city before August 30 this year.
Meanwhile, Indonesian consul Murdi Primbani said Mochammad is a role model for young Muslims for his humbleness, spirituality, inclusiveness and determination.
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