A determined Pakistani student embarked on an extraordinary journey, walking more than 4,000 km (2,485 miles) to fulfill his lifelong aspiration of reaching Mecca by foot in time for the annual Hajj pilgrimage.
Carrying a backpack and an umbrella, Usman Arshad set off from his hometown of Okara in October 2022, beginning a six-month trek through Pakistan, Iran, the United Arab Emirates, and finally Saudi Arabia, where the holy city of Mecca awaited.
“For every Muslim, it is a dream to come to Mecca, the house of God, and to visit Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) mosque at least once in their lifetime,” expressed Arshad to Reuters. “And I had the same wish, but I wanted to complete this journey on foot.”
Although his original plan involved walking from Pakistan through Iran, Iraq, and Kuwait before reaching Saudi Arabia, Arshad had to make adjustments due to visa difficulties. Consequently, he had to temporarily interrupt his on-foot journey and take a boat trip from Iran to the UAE.
Throughout his expedition, Arshad faced numerous challenges, such as visa rejections, inclement weather, and difficult sleeping arrangements. However, he attributes his resilient spirit and positive mindset as the driving forces that propelled him towards his destination.
Sporting a banner on his back that read “Okara to Mecca for Hajj on foot,” the 25-year-old student encountered many people along the way who offered encouragement and support, keeping his motivation high. He expressed his gratitude for the individuals he encountered on remote and deserted roads, which boosted his morale during the arduous journey.
Hajj, a sacred pilgrimage and one of the largest religious gatherings globally, attracts millions of Muslims from around the world each year. Arshad’s extraordinary feat exemplifies the deep devotion and determination that individuals bring to this revered pilgrimage.