“When I finish school, get a job and get married.” “After I have settled down and have kids.” “When my kids grow old or after I get that big promotion at work.” These are some of the typical responses heard when the topic of Hajj, one of the five pillars of Islam, is broached. In Islam, every able-bodied adult Muslim who can financially afford the trip must perform Hajj at least once in their lifetime. For many caught up in the banality of a material world, there is an endless list of excuses as to why one can’t make Hajj. For others, such as Senad Hadzic, all it took was a dream to start him on the journey of a lifetime – to walk to Hajj! According to Hadzic, he saw a dream in which God told him to walk to Hajj. As he says: “For all the riches in the world, I would never stop what I am doing.”
In order to reach Mecca for the Hajj in 2012, which begins at the end of October, Mr. Hadzic began walking in December 2011 from his home country of Bosnia Herzegovina. The trek is arduous and totals 3,600 miles from Bosnia to Mecca. To hear his audio interview with NPR’s The World, click here.
Thus far he has crossed Serbia, spent 20 days waiting for permission to cross the Bosphorous Bridge from Europe into Asia, and has kept remarkable upbeat throughout his trip. He travels with very little money, a backpack and a flag of every country he crosses through. Hadzic says he has mostly been welcomed on his pilgrimage by strangers he meets: “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.”
To date, Hadzic has passed Istanbul, Turkey and has yet to cross a tumultous Syrian terrain, but Hadzic remains undettered. He plans to wear a Syrian flag with the word “victory” on it while praying for the victims of the conflict. “I’m not afraid of a tank or a bullet, only God. And then when I get to Makkah I will say a prayer for all of us.”
“The point, my friend, is learning the meaning of ‘thank you’. The poor people who live in the countryside love God and support me with generosity. The rich people in the cities love their ATMs,” says Hadzic.
My hat goes off to Mr. Hadzic. Unlike the guy in all those commercials, who is just an actor, he really is one of the most interesting men in the world.