Travel is encouraged in Islam. As Muslims, we travel to search for knowledge, to earn livelihood, and to marvel on Allah’s vast creations. In this modern age, traveling has become very easy – what with cheaper airfare, simple online bookings, and information readily available on the Internet.

Explained below are some benefits of traveling that we should seek as Muslims.

The pilgrimage to Makkah

Photo by Zakaryaamr at the English language Wikipedia

Photo by Zakaryaamr at the English language Wikipedia

Traveling to complete the Hajj, or pilgrimage to Makkah, is one of the five pillars of Islam, and must be carried out by Muslims who are financially and physically able at least once in their lifetime. It takes place once a year in the month of Zulhijjah.

During this pilgrimage, Muslims firstly carry out several physical and internal purification rites. They then perform several rituals, such as tawaf (circumambulating around the Kaabah), sai’e (walking between Safa and Marwah) and wuqf (stopping in Arafah). The Hajj pilgrimage is often viewed as the spiritual journey of a lifetime.

Seeking knowledge

The best scholars of Islam often travelled across the globe to seek knowledge. Ibn Battuta is widely known as one of the greatest travellers of all time, having travelled from his native town in Tangier, Morocco, to the Arabian Peninsula and Central Asia, among others.

From the early years of Islam, learning direct from a master was given priority over studying texts, thus, students of knowledge would travel great distances to learn directly from renowned scholars. Examples of such traveling is also found in the Quran – we see that Prophet Musa AS travelled to seek the wisdom of Al-Khidr, as mentioned in Surah al-Kahf: And (remember) when Musa said to his boy-servant: “I will not give up (travelling) until I reach the junction of the two seas or (until) I spend years and years in travelling” (Surah Al-Kahf:60).

Traveling to seek knowledge also brings great rewards from Allah SWT. In a translation of Sunan Abu-Dawud, Book 25, it is reported that the Prophet (SAW) said: “If anyone travels on a road in search of knowledge, Allah will cause him to travel on one of the roads of Paradise. The angels will lower their wings in their great pleasure with one who seeks knowledge, the inhabitants of the heavens and the Earth and the fish in the deep waters will ask forgiveness for the learned man.

The superiority of the learned man over the devout is like that of the moon, on the night when it is full, over the rest of the stars. The learned are the heirs of the Prophets, and the Prophets leave neither dinar nor dirham, leaving only knowledge, and he who takes it takes an abundant portion.”

Seeing Muslims in other countries

It is always fascinating to see how Muslims in other countries practice their faith. This also leads to profound respect and empathy towards others of different cultures.

Many countries in the world have a rich Islamic history and heritage, such as Turkey, Morocco, Egypt, Spain, and China. Traveling around the Muslim world creates a sense of the unity of the Muslim Ummah – the realization that we are all bonded together by faith.

Travel - Masjid Hassan II in Casablanca, Morocco. Photo by Lynn Zulkarim

Masjid Hassan II in Casablanca, Morocco. Photo by Lynn Zulkarim

View and appreciate nature

Most of us live in big cities surrounded by concrete. More often than not, it is only when we travel that we have the opportunity to experience the wild and view nature in its full glory.

This is the perfect time to reflect on the magnificence and beauty of Allah’s creations in the sky and on land, as reflected in the Qur’an.

Travel - Sunrise at the Sahara Desert. Photo by Lynn Zulkarim

Sunrise at the Sahara Desert. Photo by Lynn Zulkarim

Dark skies, away from light pollution, provide a beautiful backdrop for millions of stars. From mountain tops, we are gifted with far-reaching views of villages that cling to mountain sides in a seemingly never-ending series of tiny winding roads. Large lakes the size of small countries provide us with a sense of tranquility. And climbing the vast sea of sand dunes to catch a magnificent sunrise or sunset sparks a feeling like no other.

Truly, God is great.

Increase self-confidence

Traveling forces us to come out of our comfort zone, as we interact in unfamiliar languages with locals and attempt to navigate the customs of other cultures. The way we think and how we look at things also dramatically changes when faced with something we are not used to. This increases self-esteem and lets us learn more about ourselves.

But most importantly, always remember to show good morals as Muslims no matter where you go.

Travel - Tizi n Tichka Pass at the High Atlas Mountains range. Photo by Lynn Zulkarim

Tizi n Tichka Pass at the High Atlas Mountains range. Photo by Lynn Zulkarim

Appreciate what you have back home

The saying “absence makes the heart grow fonder” rings true. After traveling, it is always nice to come back to a place called home. The familiar faces and places make you appreciate more of what you already have.

Traveling may not be an outwardly virtuous act, but remember to always seek the pleasure of Allah, have proper intentions and turn it into an act of worship. After all, at the end of the day, we are all travellers in pursuit of a beautiful eternal life in the Akhirah.

“Leave your country in search of loftiness and travel! For in travel there are five benefits: Relief of adversity, earning of livelihood, knowledge, etiquette, and noble companionship.”Imam as-Shafi’e