In a remarkable tale of determination in search of Prophetic knowledge, Mamadou Safayou Barry, a 25-year-old Muslim student from Guinea, embarked on an epic 4,000-kilometre (2,485-mile) bicycle journey across West Africa to fulfil his dream of studying at Egypt’s prestigious al-Azhar University. 
His incredible journey, which spanned four challenging months, took him through countries plagued by political instability and conflict.
However, his determination to study Islam pushed him on, despite the adversities and challenges he faced.
As the father-of-one stated,
“I learned about the status of al-Azhar al-Sharif in my country, Guinea, and everywhere in Africa, and I wished to join this historic institution.” 
Mamadou’s dream of attending al-Azhar, one of the world’s most influential centres for Islamic learning, was marred by financial constraints. He couldn’t afford the tuition fees, let alone the cost of a flight to Egypt.
However, driven by his unwavering determination for Islamic knowledge, he decided to embark on an extraordinary adventure.
Setting off from his home in Guinea in May, Mamadou began his journey. While travelling, he passed through Mali, Burkina Faso, Togo, Benin, Niger, and Chad — various nations that have been marred by internal conflicts and some recent military coups.
An arduous journey with numerous challenges
Throughout his journey, he faced multiple challenges, including three unjust arrests and detentions — twice in Burkina Faso and once in Togo.
In an interview with BBC News, Mamadou said,
“To travel through these countries is very hard because they don’t have security at this time. They have so many problems and people there are very scared — in Mali and Burkina Faso people were looking at me like I am a bad man. All over, I was seeing the military with their big guns and cars.” 
Whilst in Chad, a journalist happened to interview the student, sharing his remarkable story online.
The viral exposure led to the support of kind-hearted individuals who generously funded his flight to Egypt, sparing him from cycling through the war-torn regions of Sudan and Libya.
Light at the end of the tunnel
On 5 September, Mamadou’s epic journey culminated in his arrival in Cairo.
By this point, his unwavering determination had caught the attention of Dr. Nahla Elseidy, the Dean of Islamic Studies at al-Azhar University.
Impressed by his dedication, Dr. Elseidy offered him a place on al-Azhar’s Islamic Studies course, complete with a full scholarship.
Praise be to Allah
Lost for words, all Mamadou could do was thank Allah for His generosity.
“I cannot tell you how happy I was. I thanked God.” 
In addition, Dr. Elseidy expressed the university’s commitment to sharing knowledge with students from all corners of the globe, emphasising that this philosophy is not bound by borders.
Founded in the year 970 (359 AH), al-Azhar has a proud tradition of welcoming students from diverse backgrounds, providing them with support, and offering financial support to deserving individuals such as Mamadou.
As the Dean of Islamic Studies states,
“This support not only covers international students in Egypt but also extends abroad. al-Azhar receives students from all countries, takes care of them, and offers them grants.” 
Mamadou Safayou Barry’s incredible journey, marked by challenges, adversity, and determination, is a testament to the power of seeking Islamic knowledge and bettering oneself for the sake of Allah ta’āla.
His story serves as an inspiration to aspiring seekers of Islamic knowledge worldwide, demonstrating that with unwavering commitment, even the most formidable obstacles can be overcome in pursuit of Prophetic knowledge.
Analysis by Ustadh Faizaan Mahmood
While contemplating the sacrifices Mamadou relentlessly made, with the hopes of gaining a place in the prestigious university of al-Azhar, I was reminded of a tiring journey that one of the disciples of the Sahaba, Zir ibn Hubaysh, had undertaken to collect a single hadith.
As recorded in the Jāmi` of al-Tirmidhi (3,535), Zir ibn Hubaysh narrates,
أَتَيْتُ صَفْوَانَ بْنَ عَسَّالٍ الْمُرَادِيَّ أَسْأَلُهُ عَنِ الْمَسْحِ عَلَى الْخُفَّيْنِ
I came to Safwan ibn `Assal al-Muradi to ask him about wiping over leather socks (and their likes).
He (Safwan) asked me,
مَا جَاءَ بِكَ يَا زِر
'What has brought you, O Zirr?'
فَقُلْتُ ابْتِغَاءَ الْعِلْمِ
So, I said: 'The desire for knowledge.'
إِنَّ الْمَلاَئِكَةَ تَضَعُ أَجْنِحَتَهَا لِطَالِبِ الْعِلْمِ رِضًا بِمَا يَطْلُب
'Indeed, the angels lower their wings for the seeker of knowledge, out of pleasure with what he is seeking.'
Considering the above report — which clearly illustrates the high-ranking status that the pursuer of knowledge has been given — we become more certain that Mamadou Safayou Barry will become a beacon of knowledge for his community and other Muslims around the world.
 Jāmi` al-Tirmidhi, 3,535; https://sunnah.com/tirmidhi:3535