Enver Beganovic, a Bosnian living in Austria, started his sacred pilgrimage to Mecca, in Saudi Arabia, 42 days ago. He is not using transportation of any kind.
Beganovic, who has already walked more than a thousand kilometres so far, told N1 he came to the idea after he ran his usual route one day.
“I felt so strong, good… and capable,” he said.
Beganovic also felt it is time for him to fulfil one of his religious obligations as a devout Muslim, the Hajj – a sacred pilgrimage that is required of every Muslim at least once in their lifetime.
So he thought, why not do it on foot?
From Austria, he walked to Croatia, where he visited his son and mother, and then headed for Bosnia and Herzegovina. He walked in the night, in the snow, in all kinds of weather conditions.
Beganovic said he spent half a year preparing for the trip – with running, fitness and swimming. He also made sure he is well equipped, with a first aid kit, personal protection, adequate clothing, spare shoes and his mobile phone charger.
So far, he only had positive experiences.
Beganovic described one of the most impactful moments of his trip. He said he met a merchant who stopped the car and offered him everything he had.
“I thanked him and told him I have everything I need. He hugged me and started crying. He said he cried as soon as he saw me… ‘take everything you need’, he tells me. I only told him he could give me a hat because I took off my hat and put it on the cart, and a truck came and blew it away,” he said.
Now, Beganovic holds on to that hat as a keepsake reminding him of this interaction.
He said BiH citizens of all ethnic groups also greeted him with enthusiasm.
“In Kotor Varos, people met me at the gas station and told me: We are all Serbian Orthodox, we want to help you and wish you a happy journey. They treated me to dinner and secured accommodation… they also collected some money…”, he said.
Beganovic plans to finish his journey at the end of June next year. Challenging terrains, forest roads, abandoned places, but also metropolises await him.
“So far, what I've experienced, I wouldn't trade it for anything… believe me. I could not have imagined that I would be taking this journey at this age, on this path, and that I would be this happy,” he said.
Beganovic is currently in Sarajevo, where he will spend a few days. He has more than six thousand kilometres ahead of him before he can fulfil his dream – to pray with a view of the Kaaba.