A man dubbed the ‘Cycling Imam’ has racked up more than a massive 4000 miles over the past ten months on his bike.

Mawlana Atiqur Rahman, 29, was born in Oldham and is a father of two who studied for seven years to qualify as an Imam. He graduated from an Islamic college in 2017.

He is a faith leader at the Jalalabad Mosque which was established 40 years ago and he is also the first English speaking Imam to be employed there.

He said: “In August 2020 I weighed myself and was shocked to find that I weighed 17 stones. I was huge and basically obese.

"I couldn’t believe that I had put on so much weight. I went on a charity hike with a group of friends and struggled so much - it was a reality check for me as I realised how I had neglected myself.

“Previously I used to play football regularly and was very active but I was unable to carry out even a short hike. I realised I had to make a change in my lifestyle so I bought a second-hand bike, initially I could manage only 15 minutes and would become exhausted. At the time, even cycling for an hour was such a hard job.

“I slowly got into it and my first official charity ride was from Oldham to Rochdale and back which was about 12 miles and I made the decision to cycle more and do more activities. I managed to get a few people to join me and within a month I lost one stone.

“I started to do my research on cycling and different routes and learned about what kind of gear to wear and bike maintenance. Very slowly I began to enjoy bike riding and took it as a sport rather than exercise.

"I decided that being busy as an Imam and a father and a teacher is no excuse to be physically inactive. I also wanted to inspire others to take up exercise for health benefits."

Asian Image:

He said:  “I had a discussion with some people and the concept of the ‘Cycling Imam’ came about, it was basically a brand to encourage others. I’m an Imam and I love cycling so I combined the two.

"My message is that you can be an Imam and a parent and a community activist and look after your health by cycling too.

“Now, I have established a cycling club with thirty members and we go out on rides every single weekend. We have cycled on 50 mile routes and recently even a 90 mile route.

"Since I started I have lost five stones solely due to cycling without even going on a diet. Every month on average I cycle about 300 – 400 miles.

“The project has been recognised all over Oldham and people approach me and are surprised at my weight loss."

Asian Image:

Mawlana Rahman said cycling had turned out to be great way to de-stress.

“I sleep less and have more energy and I’m actually more active, it is therapeutic physically and mentally to see the countryside on different routes; it is a great way to unwind from a busy lifestyle. It calms you down and problems don’t seem like problems when you’re out there.

“We also raise money for various charities and organisations. We are planning to carry out a five-day Oldham to Paris charity ride soon. As an estimate we have raised about £100,000 for many causes over the past year.”

Unlike running, which is a high impact form of exercise, cycling is incredibly gentle on the joints. According to research it was found that people who cycled for 30 minutes or more per day had a 40% lower risk of developing diabetes.

A member of the Cycling Imam group, Ripon Hussain said: “Before I started cycling I had never been interested in riding bikes. The rides usually happen during the weekend after the pre-dawn prayer which is convenient and manageable. Cycling made me realise about my own health and how unfit I was.

“Our Imam is very encouraging and we cycle as a team and enjoy each other’s company aswell. I started off doing 20 miles and gradually built up to a 90 mile ride."