Bonnyrigg brothers set off on 3,635 mile 'Pedal 2 Hajj' cycle to Saudi Arabia to raise money for Gaza

Edinburgh charity volunteers embark on 60 day pilgrimage for Hajj
Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

Two brothers from Bonnyrigg have set-off on a 3,635 mile 60-day cycle to Saudi Arabia to make a pilgrimage for Hajj and raise money for those impacted by the war in Gaza.

Abdul Rahman Ali, 34, and his brother Reehan Ali, 29, are both volunteers for Edinburgh-based charity World Care Foundation. Having left at 11.30am this morning from Bonnyrigg Masjid, they hope their 'Pedal 2 Hajj' appeal will reach a million people and that if each person donates £1 they can raise an incredible £1 million for the people affected by the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Hajj is an annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, the holiest city for Muslims. Hajj is a mandatory religious duty for Muslims that must be carried out at least once in their lifetime by all adult Muslims who are physically and financially capable of undertaking the journey.

Reehan and Abdul Rahman pictured before setting off from Bonnyrigg on April 1 for the Pedal 2 Hajj campaign to raise funds for the people of Gaza. Reehan and Abdul Rahman pictured before setting off from Bonnyrigg on April 1 for the Pedal 2 Hajj campaign to raise funds for the people of Gaza.
Reehan and Abdul Rahman pictured before setting off from Bonnyrigg on April 1 for the Pedal 2 Hajj campaign to raise funds for the people of Gaza.

Abdul, a joiner by trade, started volunteering for the local charity when it was established in 2015 to help those caught up in the Syrian refugee crisis in 2015 in Europe.

He said: "Over the past few years we have done a number of charity challenges. When we came to plan how to cycle this long-distance endurance cycle we looked at brothers from London who did one in 2019, that was our inspiration.

"The Hajj pilgrimage occurs once a year. It's one of the five pillars that Muslims should do in their lifetime. We did the minor cycle pilgrimage to Mecca in 2022. So that ignited the push to do this challenge.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"Cycling was the way we wanted to do it. As 50-100 years ago this is how people would have to do their pilgrimages, by foot, bike or cart across land and sea. Before you could just jump on a flight. Going by plane nowadays takes away a bit from pilgrimages.

"It's been a year and a half in the planning. On average we will be covering 80 miles a day. We have set up for 60 days to get there, including 50 cycles days and 10 rest days.

"We try and stay energised generally with some sort of training to keep fit, but as the years go on it can be a chore. So that's why we set ourselves challenges like this to keep us going and keep us fit.

"Initially we were just doing this as our pilgrimage, trying to keep it simple with this age old way of travelling. Then we thought about how our challenge could raise money for a worthy cause, so that's why we are doing this for Gaza."

Friends, family and supporters waved the brothers off on their journey this morning.Friends, family and supporters waved the brothers off on their journey this morning.
Friends, family and supporters waved the brothers off on their journey this morning.
Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Before setting off on Monday morning, mechanic Reehan spoke about the importance of taking on this challenge, for him personally, and for the people of Gaza.

He said: "This challenge holds a lot of importance to myself for a few reasons. One of them is being a Muslim and one who is conscious of my religion. It is an obligation in our faith that if we have the means to do our pilgrimage we must do so. Based on that understanding it was always something in the back of my mind.

"To complete our pilgrimage is a blessing in itself, to also be able to cycle there and traverse through multiple countries, travelling at a speed closer to how people carried out journeys in the past before the advent of flight and the automobile. It's a step in just slowing things down and taking time out of our lives to focus on the here and now. 

"The cause for Gaza was an obvious one for us to fundraise for. We have been aware of the backdrop of this conflict for several years and we understand this did not begin on October 7. Without getting into anything political or historical, the loss of life has been incredible.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"What makes it even more disturbing, is the indiscriminate attack on civilians, the majority being women and children. The loss of life has been significant but the numbers are much higher when it comes to those who have been orphaned, widowed, displaced, injured, families lost, require healthcare, lost education.

"These are just a handful of the trials that the people in Gaza are facing now and will face in the future. We wish to give a voice to the people of Gaza, raise awareness, and hopefully give hope and help in any little way that we can."

The first mile in this mammoth 3,635 mile charity cycle for the brothers from Bonnyrigg.The first mile in this mammoth 3,635 mile charity cycle for the brothers from Bonnyrigg.
The first mile in this mammoth 3,635 mile charity cycle for the brothers from Bonnyrigg.

Reehan believes positive thoughts will help him and his brother through this challenge of cycling through 13 countries.

He said: "I'm feeling surprisingly optimistic and excited. In the past I have done some challenges but they were a lot shorter but definitely more intense and sinister on the body. This time it's a different kind of challenge based more on long-term endurance and using our resourcefulness along the journey.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"Of course there are nerves present, we are going into the unknown, but being with my brother brings some peace to mind. Ultimately I'm looking forward to taking time out of my life to be in a state where I will be uncomfortable and living in the moment day by day. I hope we come to the understanding and acceptance that mileage is just going to be a part of our daily work for the next 60 days.

"I've always kept a reasonable level of fitness, I used to also box and I've dabbled in running and cycling and generally like to keep athletic. The training could have been a lot better for this cycle but due to the nature of my job I travel a lot, so to get into a sustainable routine which is consistent has proved to be quite difficult.

The promotional poster for the Pedal 2 Hajj fundraiser. All photos supplied by the World Care Foundation.The promotional poster for the Pedal 2 Hajj fundraiser. All photos supplied by the World Care Foundation.
The promotional poster for the Pedal 2 Hajj fundraiser. All photos supplied by the World Care Foundation.

"I'm treating this like a training camp, how I would have with boxing. Mentally I'm just training everyday, it's going to suck at times, some days I will perform better than others but the work has to be done regardless. By the end of it I should be a professional cyclist ready to compete, haha!

"Maybe there's some naivety there, but based on experience I know it will be painful on the body regardless of how fit I will get prior. A large part of it will be mental strength and it's that part which I will need to stay on top of and keep positive throughout this journey."

You can donate to the Pedal2Hajj fundraiser online now.

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.