For Muhammad Fauzan, the lifetime spiritual journey of Hajj was an arduous travel on bicycle for nearly 5,000 kilometers on his way from Indonesia to Saudi Arabia, taking more than seven and a half months.
The young Indonesian traveled from Magelang, Central Java, on Nov. 4, 2021 and performed Umrah after reaching Makkah last week. He will join other pilgrims from Indonesia, the most populous Muslim nation, which is sending the largest contingent of 100,051 pilgrims for the upcoming Hajj. So far around 21,000 Indonesian pilgrims have arrived in Madinah.
“My intention is to perform Hajj and visit the Three Holy Mosques in Islam — the Grand Mosque in Makkah, the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah and the Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. After performing Hajj, I have plans to continue my bicycle journey to Palestine to visit the Aqsa Mosque and also visit other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) States,” he said.
In an interview with Saudi Gazette, Fauzan said that his bicycle pilgrimage is the best example of how Almighty God makes possible things that ordinary people think impossible.
“Everybody told me that it is impossible for you to accomplish this difficult mission but I can now demonstrate to them that God made it possible for me. My message is also that we can make it possible anything that we may think impossible if we have the goodwill and the earnest supplication to God coupled with tireless hard work to attain the goal,” he said.
Fauzan, who is holder of master’s degree and well versed in Arabic, said that he had thought that this is the best way to perform Hajj without long years of waiting.
“Normally Indonesians have to wait for around 40 years for their turn to perform Hajj after their registration. But I was impatient to visit Islam’s holiest places and perform the annual pilgrimage and hence started preparations by saving money from my salary as a teacher,” said Fauzan.
Fauzan works as a teacher of religion and the Qur’an memorization after obtaining his bachelor degree in Arabic language and Islamic studies from Makassar University in South Sulawisi province, Eastern Indonesia.
“My main intention is to perform Hajj and pray for parents who are alive as well as for family and relatives.” Fauzan has wife and two children — a son, and a daughter, who was born after he had set out for the lifetime journey.
Speaking about his travel experiences, Fauzan said that he departed his hometown after attending the graduation ceremony after obtaining master’s degree in personal status affairs from the Islamic University of Malang.
The journey began with the savings amounting to 10 million Indonesia rupiah (SR2,567). He also earned some more money to meet his travel expenses by selling traditional herbal medicines that he brought from Indonesia, in addition to carrying out cupping at mosques along his route from Magelang.
“My first destination was Jakarta, which is nearly 500 km from my native place. I traveled from Jakarta to Bandan, from where I took a ferry to Sumatra Island, and after passing through Jambi province, I reached Batang Island and then took the ferry to reach Singapore,” he said.
Despite the tediousness and fatigue of travel, Fauzan observed fasting during the month of Ramadan and used to break his fasts at mosques along his routes in Singapore and Malaysia. He joined Eid Al-Fitr celebrations in Malaysia.
Fauzan also recalls the warm reception accorded to him at the Indonesian embassies in Singapore and Malaysia. “During the reception in Kuala Lumpur, Indonesian Ambassador to Malaysia Hermono traveled along with me on bicycle to express his solidarity with the mission,” he said.
Fauzan said that his travel was mostly through jungles and had face-to-face encounters with several animals, mainly monkeys. “I have kept no weapon with me for self-defense but only courage to accomplish my mission with the belief that ‘where there is a will, there is a way’. The climate was a bit tough and was exposed to rain in some regions and I took rest and slept mostly during the daytime after erecting tent on the roadside,” he said.
He noted that the travel was mostly during nighttime. He prepared tea and light food in the tent and used to buy lunch from eateries.
Fauzan said he is expecting the permit to perform Hajj soon. The Indonesian Hajj Mission in Jeddah has started the necessary procedures in this regard. The 28-year-old enthusiast said that he would soon cycle to Madinah to visit the Prophet’s Mosque and greet the Prophet (peace be upon him).
Referring to his plan after Hajj, Fauzan said that post-Hajj priority is to visit the Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third holiest shrine. “I also plan to visit the GCC States apart from Palestine before flying back to Jakarta,” he said.
Fauzan recounted the difficulties that he had encountered to get travel permission to Myanmar after cycling a long path through Thailand.
“All my attempts to get entry visa to Myanmar were in vain and hence, I was forced to halt the cycling trip in Thailand after traversing nearly 4,000 km on bicycle and therefore flew from Bangkok to Riyadh on May 26.”
Upon his arrival in Riyadh, he was received by Indonesian Ambassador Abdul Aziz Ahmad and Deputy Chief of Mission and Chargé d’affaires Arief Hidayat.
It took one week to reach Makkah from Riyadh, cycling nearly 900 km and from there cycled to Jeddah and visited the Indonesian Consulate General where he was welcomed by Indonesian Consul General Eko Hartono and other consulate officials.