Farid Feyadi said he hopes his walk to Mecca will inspire people to be stronger and kinder. (AA Photo)
At a time when fear and new forms of extremism have blinded many to tolerance and peace, one man is attempting to prove to the world that Islam is indeed a religion of peace and that what we see in the media and across the world today are just cynical exploitations
In an attempt to put on full display to the world that Islam is indeed a religion of peace, British national Farid Feyadi, 40, has undertaken a journey of thousands of miles to reach Mecca from London – entirely on foot.
A Mancunian designer and inventor, Fayedi recounted his journey to Anadolu Agency while stopping off for some respite in Istanbul: “As a Muslim, I believe each of us is an ambassador of this religion. We have a big responsibility on our shoulders to represent Islam and Muslims in the best way to the world. I tried to do something in a very peaceful way to show Islam is a wave of peace that draws from the word ‘Salaam’ (the Arabic word for peace),” he said, decrying the “bad impression” of the religion and “horrible” deeds committed by the Daesh terrorist organization, supposedly in its name.
Though he initially wanted to make the pilgrimage via bicycle, he later decided to go on foot once he found out that others had made the journey in the same manner.
“I said if they can do it, why shouldn’t I? So, I decided to do it by walking. When I told my friends, they didn’t believe me,” he recalled.
Making the pilgrimage to Mecca – a religious obligation for Muslims with sufficient means – on foot is an honor and blessing, he said. “I started this journey on Nov. 3, 2019. I have never experienced travel like this, I have traveled by plane; I have booked nice hotels, but never like this. I was so excited,” he said.
Once he had made the five-day journey from London to the port of Dover, he took a ferry over to France. Boarding the ferry Fayedi said, he was “so excited because I couldn’t believe I was doing it”.
Feyadi said he had to change the trolley he was using to carry his essentials three times so far due to his lack of experience and had faced difficulties along the way.
“I’ve had so many dangerous encounters while camping in places far from cities. There were times I was scared, so then I decided to camp in city centers or places where there were people I could reach,” he said.
So far, he has worn out four pairs of shoes and is now on his fifth and even takes medicines and vitamins every night to mollify the aching in his knees from every long day’s journey.
Feyadi plans to arrive in the sacred city of the Kaaba, where millions of Muslims journey every year, in July, as the scorching summer heat takes hold of the region.
“I’ve walked 4,000 kilometers to Istanbul. I pushed myself very hard to arrive here,” he said, adding that he had roughly 2,700 kilometers to go.
After Istanbul, near Turkey’s northeasternmost corner, Feyadi marched on southeastward to the capital Ankara and was on his way to the central city of Konya and from there, down to Antalya on the Mediterranean coast.
From there, he will make the only non-foot segment of his journey, catching a flight to Jordan to avoid the ongoing violence in Syria and Iraq.
“I will continue my journey to Saudi Arabia from Jordan. Hopefully, I will arrive in July,” he said.
One reason for his late arrival, he explains, will be the weather, as the rising temperatures will prevent him from walking at his usual pace. According to his calculations, he has budgeted his time well and is about three weeks ahead of schedule.
Aside from his message of peace, Feyadi also aims to inspire hope in cancer patients across the world.
“I’m a kidney cancer survivor; I live with one kidney. I’m doing this project, and I walk around 60 kilometers every day. All these blessings come from Allah. Without His help, I wouldn’t have got this far. I’ve trudged through heavy rain, snow and freezing cold water,” he said.