Two Muslim Albanian men from Tetova city, the capital of the Albanian province in Slavic Macedonia (FYROM), are now filming their lifetime journey of Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca by bicycles.
A prayer leader, Amir Aslani, and his professional cyclist friend, Senad Idrisi, are fully aware of the difficulties they might face throughout their long trip.
However, “we want to experience the difficulties that faced the early Muslims who traveled for months to perform this pillar of Islam,” the Muslim youth said.
The six-week route will take the two guys across a sum of five countries; the Albanian provinces in FYROM and Albania, then Greece. Afterwards, they will pass the Aegean Sea towards Turkey.
Moreover, they will cross the Mediterranean Sea to Egypt, and from the Aqaba Gulf they will take a ship towards the Hijaz to bike all the way south to the holy cities of Mecca and Medina.
“We already faced heavy rain in Albania. We are aware that we’ll bike through hot summery conditions during the rest of the route. We are prepared for any challenges,” Aslani said determinedly.
Speaking about their goals, “Beside Hajj, we also seek visiting other historic sites in Turkey and Egypt. We want to motivate other people and future generations to perform Hajj regardless of any hardships.”
Albanian Muslims are the largest ethnic minority in FYROM. During London’s Great Powers Conference in 1912, some Albanian regions in the south of Kosova were granted to FYROM.
The plan of London Conference came into effect in 1946. As a result, about one million Albanian Muslims found themselves currently representing 25.2% of FYROM’s population, according the 2002 national census.
Nevertheless, this Muslim population is still concentrated in the north and west of FYROM near the borders with mainland Albania.