Kerala

Controversy over man’s Haj pilgrimage on foot

Shihab Chottur amid his journey by foot to Makkah, where he is expected to arrive in February 2023.

Shihab Chottur amid his journey by foot to Makkah, where he is expected to arrive in February 2023.

A controversy has erupted among the Islamic scholars in the State over the recent Haj pilgrimage on foot by a man hailing from here. Although Shihab Chottur began his 8,600-km journey from Malappuram in the first week of this month, he had hardly reached the State border when scholars began fighting over the righteousness of his deed.

The dispute began when Mujahid Balussery, a Salafi scholar in the State, said during a speech that Shihab was going for Haj in violation of Prophet’s Sunnah as it was not good to walk when vehicle facilities were available. Mr. Balussery exhorted Shihab to stop his journey and come back home, saying that pilgrimage on foot was not Islamic in modern age. “Please come back, Shihab. And that’s better for you,” said Mr. Balussery.

However, some scholars of the traditional Sunni groups criticised Mr. Balussery saying that Islam did not proscribe pilgrimage on foot. “True that it is better to travel by vehicle. But when a person decides to go on foot, there is no point in stopping him,” said Haris Madani, a young Sunni scholar.

Mr. Madani soon locked horns with Rafeeq Salafi, a young scholar who came in support of Mr. Balussery. Their argument over the issue drifted to the level of settling old scores, however.

Mr. Madani defended the Sunni view by quoting Salafi leader Husain Madavoor, who had expressed his intention to meet Shihab during his journey. Mr. Madavoor had displayed excitement about Shihab’s journey as he pulled in large crowds during his Kerala leg of the journey.

Journey continues

Shihab, however, did not care for the dispute and continued his journey across the States. He is expected to reach Makkah for Haj in February 2023 after traversing India, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia on foot. Those close to him said that he continued his journey through Karnataka even as the Islamic scholars in Kerala continued to fight over the correctness of his decision. Many vloggers are promoting his journey as Shihab remains arguably the first man to conduct a Haj pilgrimage on foot from Kerala in the 21st century.

He is carrying a light baggage as he walks at least 25 km a day. He prefers to spend his nights in mosques. “I’m not carrying any tent now as want to walk light. But I will have to procure a tent later,” he said.


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Printable version | Jun 25, 2022 10:03:41 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/controversy-over-mans-haj-pilgrimage-on-foot/article65561966.ece