It’s 4am as Pakistani granddad Mohammad Dawood, 65, revs up the engine of his beloved BMW R1200 RT sport touring bike and heads out in the darkness.
The Sharjah resident is on a unique mission: to ride his motorbike to every mosque in the UAE for the fajr prayer.
He has already driven to nearly 100 mosques in the Northern Emirates and shared some of his experiences on his YouTube vlogging channel, In Love with Masajids.
At one time, Dawood had five motorbikes. Now he has just two. His other bike is a Kawasaki Ninja ZX14.
The bike enthusiast, who relocated to the UAE from Saudi Arabia around two decades ago, said he hopes to offer the obligatory early morning prayer in all the 4,000-odd mosques in the country during his lifetime.
A sales manager at an American company, Dawood embarked on his mission around three years ago.
“What began as a whim has now turned into a daily ritual,” he said.
“Long before the crack of dawn, I get into my biking gear and drive down to far flung mosques, often braving heavy fog and chilly winds. Every day it’s a new mosque and a new experience."
The other day his passion led him to a small mosque in a remote part of Ras Al Khaimah.
"It was about 100 kilometres from my place in Al Heera. I left my house at 3.30am. The driving conditions were treacherous because of the dense fog, with visibility down to just a few metres on some stretches but I managed to reach the mosque well before fajr and get back home safely.”
Dawood said he routinely gets curious and admiring glances from fellow worshippers.
“An elderly man riding a cool sports bike to a mosque under night skies, miles away from his house, you don’t see that often, do you?” he chuckles.
“They are even more amazed and intrigued when they learn my story. Many of them have since become good friends.”
Dawood said he is overwhelmed by the response he has got from fellow worshippers and mosque imams alike.
“Whenever I visit a new mosque I make sure to meet the imam and exchange pleasantries. They have been very supportive of my efforts. In fact, it’s their encouraging words that have kept me going,” said Dawood, as he recalled a heartwarming interaction with the imam of Sharjah Mosque, the largest mosque in the Emirate.
The Covid-19 pandemic threw Dawood’s plans off course and set him back by several weeks following the closure of mosques and suspension of congregational prayers in the country. “I was delighted when the mosques eventually reopened. But since the ablution areas still remained closed, I had to carry my own water to perform wudhu.”
A demanding job requires Dawood to travel to 22 countries, leaving him with little time to pursue his dream. But he remains optimistic.
“I will visit as many mosques as I can. After me, my sons and then, possibly my grandsons — Moosa and Abdullah — will carry out my mission.”
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