Indian pilgrim Shuaib Al Din (right) talking to Al Ekhbariya. The interpreter appears on left. Image Credit: Video grab

Cairo: An Indian Muslim has reached Saudi Arabia to perform Hajj pilgrimage after a journey he started more than a year ago on foot heading to Mecca, home to Islam’s holiest site.

The man, named Shuhaib Aldin, set foot in Mecca earlier this month capping his trek that had taken him through four countries — Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait — ahead of upcoming Hajj.

He told Saudi television Al Ekhbariya that he had spent one full year and 17 days in the Mecca-bound journey that he initiated in the 11th Islamic lunar month of Dhul Qadah last year.

He recalled facing severe cold in Iran.

During the journey, he used to walk for about 15 kilometres daily if the weather was cold, but if it was fine, he would walk for 40 to 50km.

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After arriving in Saudi Arabia, the trek picked pace, reaching about 60km per day.

Asked about the message he wanted to send by setting out on the gruelling journey, he said through an interpreter: “Anyone with good intentions can make his wish get fulfilled. Hard work is always rewarded.”

Hajj is one of Islam’s five obligatory duties.

Muslims, who can physically and financially afford Hajj, have to perform it at least once in a lifetime.

Saudi Arabia has said there will be no limits on the numbers of pilgrims from around the world for the upcoming Hajj season, reversing earlier restrictions prompted by the global pandemic.

In the past two years, Saudi Arabia downsized the numbers of Muslims allowed to perform Hajj to prevent spread of COVID-19.

Around 2.5 million Muslims used to attend Hajj annually in the pre-pandemic times.

Tens of thousands of the faithful have arrived in Saudi Arabia in the past few days bracing for Hajj rituals due later in June this year.