Shihabudeen Sayid Alawi, also known as Shihab Chottur, has accomplished his lifelong aspiration of walking from his hometown in Kerala to Makkah for Hajj, covering a remarkable distance of 8,640 kilometers. Over the course of one year and 17 days, he traversed five countries—India, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, and Kuwait—finally reaching Makkah on June 7 after departing from Kerala on June 2, 2022. Alawi expressed his joy in an exclusive interview with Arab News, recounting the moment he touched the sands of Saudi Arabia at the Kuwaiti-Saudi borders during Ramadan. His journey was fulfilled when he visited the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah before proceeding to Makkah to perform Hajj.
Upon reaching Makkah, Alawi immersed himself in prayer, expressing gratitude to those who supported him and requested prayers in front of the Kaaba, extending his prayers to the entire Muslim Ummah. He recounted the experiences he had during his journey, receiving support and hospitality from people in India, Pakistan, and the kindness of those who recognised him in Kuwait. Alawi appreciated the assistance provided by officials, police, and military personnel, as well as the generosity of individuals who invited him to stay in their homes.
Preparation for the arduous journey took Alawi a year, including obtaining visas from diplomatic missions in New Delhi to ensure smooth passage through the countries he needed to cross. With his minimalist approach, he carried essential items in his backpack, such as clothing, pepper spray for protection, an extra pair of shoes, utensils, official documents, and some money for Hajj. Alawi used branded shoes, going through six pairs before entering Pakistan, and thereafter only using one pair until he reached Madinah.
Alawi funded his trip with his savings but found that the support of fellow Muslims from the countries he crossed diminished his expenses significantly. During the journey, he lost 18 kilograms of weight, attributing it to a simple diet of traditional food, which he considered nourishing for the soul and body. While exploring different cultures and cuisines, Alawi also encountered challenges posed by nature, including the presence of wild animals like tigers and bears, and enduring changing weather conditions during his solo trek across Iran.
Motivated by his unwavering faith and trust in Allah, Alawi achieved his dream of reaching Makkah and Madinah on foot, inspiring many others to perform Hajj. With a substantial following on social media platforms, Alawi shared snippets of his journey, connecting with over 4.9 million followers on Instagram, 1.5 million on YouTube, and maintaining a verified Facebook page.