HUB, Balochistan: Barefoot and frail, with a long muslin cloth draped over his turban, an old Pakistani shepherd roaming the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah became an unlikely social media sensation when a video of him went viral last week, prompting even Turki Alalshikh, adviser to the Saudi Crown Prince, to tweet about where to reach him.
But the 82-year-old Abdul Qadir Bakhsh who returned to his home in the village of Goth Hajji Rahim in Hub, Balochistan on Saturday after performing Umrah, doesn’t even own a phone. Steeped in poverty, Bakhsh had saved for 15 years to make the pilgrimage, and the first time he saw his viral video was during this Arab News interview inside his wall-less hut on Sunday.
“I feel like all my worries have vanished. My heart is content. I am not even short of sustenance, I am happy. My wish to visit the shrine of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) and Makkah have been granted,” Bakhsh told Arab News.
With failing eyesight, and holding a walking stick in his hands, Bakhsh is a heart-wrenching sight walking alone in the video which has been viewed over a million times already, often turning around as if lost and searching for somebody. Arab social media users were moved by his simple appearance, with some comparing his simplicity and humility to famous Islamic personalities.
Back home in his village, in a bare shanty structure made of tree trunks and grass, he sits on the floor while excited visitors come and go, congratulating the old shepherd for completing the pilgrimage – a beloved dream for so many in this part of the world. For years, Bakhsh sold many of his goats and saved up as much as he could to see his dream come true.
His happiness, he said, knew no bounds when he saw Makkah for the first time. He reached the city without a guide, speaking only Balochi which made it hard to communicate for directions. But his prayers were answered he said, when he made it to the Holy Kaaba.
“I wandered around until I finally reached there,” he said.
At the Prophet’s shrine, he wept: “I said, God, you have showed me the way and brought me here.” It was there that a still unknown person made and shared the video that immediately went viral.
Bakhsh then went back to Makkah to perform Umrah once again, and now that he’s back home, said he is already preparing to save and collect money for performing the Hajj one day-- his greatest wish.
“At the Kaaba, I prayed: ‘Allah, I don’t know this place, so you are my guide. I have no guide here. If I’m not healthy then this place is better for me; I’m not a learned person and I have weak eye sight. Guide me as you’re my only guide... guide me to your secrets,’” he said.
His prayers, he added with a glint in his eyes, were answered.