Fawad Khan just completed his first Hajj this year and for him, it was a great escape from the spotlight. The 36-year-old actor was later invited to a dinner hosted by Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Media. And the one thing that Khan enjoyed most about his experience was the fact that he was just another face in the crowd.
“Being one among 2.4 million people is the easiest thing on earth,” he said in an interview with Arab News. “You feel comfortable because you are in the same space with other people who bare their hearts to God. You feel like any other person among them. And you are not under media scrutiny as you are on normal days."
The EP frontman added, “It feels nice to be a face in the crowd. But, I enjoy the anonymity now and then. In a way, it is very refreshing. People during Hajj are so busy and caught up in what they are doing that they don’t have time for these things. They are very considerate. They are very careful about what they are doing.”
Khan, a famous name in Pakistan and India, revealed he is often frightened by the admiration he receives.
“When I wake up, I feel just as human as all people do,” he said. “When I see such a massive outpouring of affection and adulation, I feel frightened since being elevated to such a position is something to be feared. It is an honour, yes, but I also feel afraid because the responsibilities are greater.”
What many might not know about the Khoobsurat actor is that he previously lived in Saudi Arabia during his childhood days. “I was in Riyadh from 1986 to 1992 as a child,” he recalled. “My mother is a very pious woman and when my father was posted to Riyadh, she would say, ‘I will never miss an opportunity to perform Umrah,’ so we used to perform Umrah every year."
So how does Makkah compare now? “The number of pilgrims has increased many times over,” Khan stated. “It was a very different time back then, but things have always been comfortable in Saudi Arabia. I remember seeing snow in Riyadh because of the extreme weather deserts sometimes have.”
When asked about his first impression when he saw the Holy Kaaba this year, he added, “It reminded me of my childhood. I really enjoyed the time when I was growing up. When I left Riyadh, I was sad because those were my formative years. I had a feeling of nostalgia. I remember as a child when performing Umrah, there wasn’t much rush or traffic. The running between Safa and Marwa as part of the ritual was more like a game because I would race with my sister at that time and being there again brought all those memories back."
Khan praised the people of The Kingdom for their warmth and affection. "The Hajj was made very easy by the ministry. The facilities made everything comfortable despite the blistering heat. And, people are very helpful. There is obviously a language barrier, but you overcome that somehow."
The Humsafar actor continued, “The banquet arranged for guests is a reflection of the host. A lot of love and affection goes into it. It is not about the quantity that you are given but the quality. And our experience was of the highest quality because there was a lot of care, love and affection in it. The pilgrimage was made very pleasurable.”
Happy to see that the message of peace and tolerance has been a continuous agenda for the Saudi government, Khan concluded, "The Kingdom has embraced the world with open arms."
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