Faizel Patel, Radio Islam News – 29-08-2017
A team of nine Malaysians, seven men and two women have travelled more than 15,000km by land from Malaysia to perform Haj in Saudi Arabia.
For the Malaysia-based association called Pertubuhan Kembara Amal (PeKA), the initial plan was to drive across 10 countries, crossing mainland Asia then to Iran, to the UAE, and to Saudi Arabia – a full 16,000 kilometres journey.
But because of challenges along the way, including visa problems, the trip was cut to 15,000 kilometres and they had to fly to Saudi from the UAE on Sunday instead of drive another 1,000 kilometres.
PeKA Chairman Khir Bin Ariffin says they want to feel the true journey of completing the fifth pillar of Islam.
“The philosophy of Haj is about sacrifice. So instead of going to Haj by aeroplane, we decided to go over land for the adventure and the hardest way to go is better.”
The team began their journey on July 17, covering roughly 500 kilometres to 700 kilometres per day for eight to 12 hours a day. Everyone in the team was driving and they rotated after every 200 kilometres.
But Bin Arriffin says the journey has not been free of bumps.
“The first challenge was border crossing because of the documentation and waiting time. Then for example at the China border, because of the terrorist issue in Xinjiang, security was very strict. In Uzbekistan, they [authorities] stopped us because one of our members had a drone.”
Malaysian Consul-General Yubazlan Yusof, who sent off the team from Dubai to Saudi on Sunday, described the team as unstoppable.