Issue 100 January 2013
Travelling is an act encouraged by Islamic tradition and we should actively explore the world around us, whether it be to see the natural wonders, Islamic history, or to help those who are less fortunate than us.
Travel is about having new experiences and learning new things. It is about forcing yourself out of the comfort of your own home country, so that you can understand a new culture and way of living. For some of us living in the West, daily prayers are unfortunately secondary to our lifestyle, but in Muslim countries, the day is structured around the daily prayers. The call to prayer can be heard booming through the streets as people shut up shop and rush to the mosque. Experiencing that for yourself can be quite profound, and help you to reassess your priorities once you return back your travels.
A lot of figures in Islamic history were travellers. Ibn Battuta, who was possibly one of the greatest travellers of all time, set out from his native Morocco in the early 14th century and spent nearly thirty years on the road. During this time, he travelled across North Africa, Egypt, East Africa, Arabia, Palestine, Syria, Iraq, Persia, Afghanistan, India and China. Along the way, Ibn Battuta recorded all his observations of people, customs and traditions, and when he returned to Morocco, he compiled an account of his travels, which paints a very realistic picture of what the world was like during this time period. Imam Ghazali is another historical figure who is known for travelling. He grew up in Persia, but left to go and teach in Baghdad. After undergoing a spiritual crisis, he spent time in Makkah, Damascus and Jerusalem, before returning to teach in Nishapur. The Prophets mentioned in the Qur’an were also travellers. Abraham journeyed from his native Mesopotamia to Egypt, before going to Arabia and Palestine. Moses was brought up in Egypt, but had to flee to Madyan after the Pharaoh sentenced him to death. He returned back to Egypt after receiving God’s Command, and then led the Israelites to Canaan.