Senad Hadzic, a 47-year-old Muslim from northern Bosnia, has recently completed an epic 5,700 km journey, from his hometown to the to the Saudi city of Mecca, by foot.
Making the pilgrimage to Mecca, the holiest city in the religion of Islam, at least once in their lifetime is obligatory for all able Muslims. Each year, millions travel to the birthplace of Muhammad, but not many of them walk thousands of miles to get there. That’s what makes Senad Hadzic’s experience so impressive. The Bosnian departed from his town of Banovici, in December 2011 and has walked for 314 days through Serbia, Bulgaria, Turkey, Syria and Jordan to reach the Muslim holy city in south-western Saudi Arabia. Despite experiencing severe weather conditions, like temperatures ranging from minus 35 Celsius in Bulgaria to plus 44 Celsius in Jordan, Senad managed to walk at a rate of between 20 to 30 kilometers per day, to reach Mecca after an unbelievable 5,700 km journey.
“To be honest, before I started on this trip, everybody was frightened for me, asking how will I, as a Muslim, be able to travel though Christian countries like Serbia and Bulgaria,” Hadzic said. But Christians proved very friendly and supportive of his religious effort. “In one case, a professor in Serbia invited me to stay in his house. This Serbian professor, who was a Christian, told me that I was the first Muslim who had stepped in his house in his life. It was a great honor for me.” In Istanbul, he spent 20 dyas trying to get permission to walk across the Bosphorus bridge connecting Europe to Asia, because it was open only to vehicles, but he somehow managed to cross over. “I’ll tell you, this trip has had millions of problems,”Hadzic told The World back in March. “I’ll explain it to you like this: God willing, I’m going to enter Asia today, and then Syria. And I’m not afraid of a tank or a bullet, only God. And then when I get to Mecca I will say a prayer for all of us.” And he did go through war-torn Syria, on foot. “I passed through Syria in April. I walked some 500 kilometers in 11 days. I went through Aleppo and Damascus and passed dozens of check-points held by pro-government and rebel forces alike, but I was never detained,” Hadzic said in an AFP interview.
On his journey, Senad Hadzic met people, who, impressed by his dedication, offered to give him the money so he could comfortably reach Mecca on board an airplane. But he respectfully refused. “By this act, I am proving that everything I do is for the love of God,” Hadzic said during his long walk. “For all the riches in the world, I would never stop what I am doing.” He decided to walk to the holy city after God appeared in his dreams and told him to do it. “I walked in the name of Allah, for Islam, for Bosnia-Hercegovina, for my parents and my sister,” he added.
Senad ventured on his incredible trip with just a 20-kilogram backpack on his back, and very little money, depending mostly on the kindness of others for the most basic things. “During my walk through the desert and with temperatures from 46°C a police patrol gave me two litres of water. Of course, every drop of water is welcome,” he said. “Thanks to Allah there is good people. I really have to mention the hospitality of the people of Jordan. People here are really hospitable, when I arrived in the city of Aqaba they welcomed me with open arms and settled me into a hotel.”
Senad Hadzic documented his progress on the 314-day walk on his Facebook page.