A team of British Muslims made headlines this week as they cycled from the UK to Saudi Arabia to perform Hajj. The group of men called their expedition, “Tour De Hajj”, a humorous play on the “Tour De France”, to enlighten the world on their version of Islam, being “a religion of peace and tolerance among the countries they passed through." Not only did they cycle all the way to Saudi to pray, but they also raised money for charity by doing so.
The group cycled around 6,500 km and upon their arrival in the Kingdom, they were welcomed by Mishaal Al Touhami, the chairman of the Society of Culture and Arts in Medina. A traditional welcome also awaited the cyclists as locals offered up Arabian coffee, Zamzam water and dates.
Tour De Hajj’s captain, Taher Hasan Akhtar who has led many a cycling trip to Mecca for Hajj, spoke of the team’s journey with Al Arabiya, "The trip was amazing, we came through 17 countries. It's spiritual, beautiful journey.” The group of Muslim Brits applauded the kingdom’s efforts to make Hajj a comfortable journey, and the new facilities in place for pilgrims this year.
In 2017, Taher Hasan Akhtar spent 5 weeks cycling with 7 others, arriving to Mecca for Hajj. Referring to themselves as the “Hajj Riders”, their journey started in England, through France, Germany, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Italy, Greece, and Egypt and finally Saudi Arabia as they continued on to perform Hajj. In 5 weeks, the team cycled 3200 km across 9 countries.
Akhtar’s team aren’t the only ones to have cycled to Saudi Arabia to observe a holy pilgrimage; a Chinese Muslim pilgrim and cyclist, rode his bike from his home in China, cycling over 8000km, to perform Hajj in 2016.