Since I can remember I have always gotten an inexplicable feeling everytime I travelled. I remember when I was younger how I would get a rush of excitement way long before even flights were booked and my parents would simply be discussing and planning our next trip somewhere. I would be elated when it came to the actual day of the journey, continuing to cherish moments and memories from it long after our return home. I dreamed of spending the future travelling the world, visiting every single country. Fascinated with atlases and maps. Discovering new things I had never seen before. And it’s all still there; it never left me. My parents helped instil the desire in me to delve deep into another city’s history, the opportunity to meet a new culture, to see/learn/discover the new and to appreciate signs and blessings in this world. So I was thrilled to have come across this poem, written by Imam Al-Shafi’i on the benefits of travelling, making me ponder that little bit more about why I have such a love for travel and adding my thoughts.
Leave your country in search of loftiness
And travel! For in travel there are 5 benefits,
Relief of adversity and earning of livelihood
And knowledge and etiquettes and noble companionship.
If it is said that travelling brings humiliation and difficulty
And long journeys across deserts and toil and trouble,
Then death is better for a person than him remaining
In a humiliating land between traitors and enviers.
Sitting in a room, reading this on a laptop screen (as we so often do now) it is easy to fall into the familiar sense of non-appreciation where the beauty of the world around us fails to reach our contemplation and we only respond with perhaps a roll of the eyes. However, once we are out there standing on top of a mountain in the middle of nowhere looking at the most amazing landscape we have ever seen in our life, we do appreciate and we do recognise miracles. I really feel that travel heightens our sense of awareness, appreciation and gratitude. We have an altered, clearer perspective as we move away from home leaving behind our everyday surroundings and issues of life. This allows us to remember the tremendous miracles which we tend to overlook or forget in our regular lives.
Do they not observe the birds above them, spreading their wings and folding them in? None can uphold them except (Allah) Most Gracious: truly it is He that watches over all things. — Quran, 67:19
‘Do you not realize that Allah drives the clouds, then joins them together, then turns them into a heap? Then you see the rain coming out from their midst. He sends down from the sky mountains (of clouds) having hail in them, then He afflicts with it whomsoever He wills and turns it away from whomsoever He wills. The flash of its lightning seems to snatch away the eyes.’ — Qur’an, 24:43
Our family holidays have never been the relaxing kind spent at resorts spent reading a novel poolside. Much to the contrary, we wake up in the early hours to get showered, pray Fajr, get ready, eat breakfast as soon as the restaurant doors open in the morning and before we know it, we’re out. We come back in the evening with tired feet, melted faces and dusty shoes. There is nothing like discovering the history of a place when we actually go there and explore for ourselves. Quite different to a chapter in a book (though books are amazing) we remember these moments for the rest of our lives in a whole different light and are able to tell better stories when relating back to our friends and families after we return home.
To be honest I sometimes still cannot put a finger on it, but I know I love it.
‘…Travel in the land and see how (Allah) originated the creation…’