Tuesday, December 30, 2014


Last Ramadan, I saw this amazing mini-series produced by Lokalab: Always a Traveller.

 In it, Ustadha Yasmin Mogahed explains the famous hadith: "Be in this world as if you were a stranger or a traveller along a path." (Sahih Bukhari)

Another relevant hadith is: "What relationship do I have with this world? My worldly life is no more than the halting of a traveller, taking rest under the shade of a tree for a moment and then moving on." (Ahmad, Tirmidhi)

Ustadha Yasmin Mogahed said this:
"There is a mindset that comes along with being a traveller; It's an automatic state of mind. This is the mindset that the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is trying to instil in us. In this entire world, in this entire journey through dunya, a person who sees this life as their permanent abode becomes like the one who is starting to complain a lot, or who now wants more things, demand more things and then gets more attached."


Travelling teaches you to detach from the familiar and from the comforts of home. This detachment is very important, especially in the materialistic world that we live in now. I love the above hadiths because of this lesson and  many others.

Travelling is a lot like Life in the following ways:

1) You have to have a purpose and a plan

Just like travelling, you need to figure out your purpose and have plans to achieve it. I guess you can go through life without any plans nor purpose but you'll just end up getting lost.

2) You expect difficulties

“A journey is like marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you control it.” (John Steinbeck)

Travelling is never smooth sailing. You experience air turbulence, motion sickness, lost luggage, theft, food poisoning, accidents, delayed flights, etc. But, again, you have that traveller mindset; you know that difficulties are inevitable. So you are less likely to whine and complain a lot.

Funnily, we don't have the same mindset with regards to our everyday life. In our day-to-day affair, we want everything to be in order. No troubles, no heartaches, no sadness. We want things to be perfect, which is both unrealistic and naive.

3) You just have to have Faith

Whenever you encounter the travel-related problems listed above, or other more dire situations, you automatically turn to Allah for help. Especially when you're travelling alone and you're somewhat cut off from your support system. When you're stranded at an airport, in the middle of the night, in a foreign land, how do you suppose your family and friends can help you?

Fear of the unknown, of potential pitfalls, will likely prevent many people from venturing out on their own. But Faith/Tawakkul is a powerful thing. If you put your trust in Allah, He enables you to do wonderful, miraculous things.

4) You need a trusted companion

“I have found out that there ain’t no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them.” (Mark Twain)

Travelling with someone, being with them for almost 24/7,  is an eye-opening experience. You discover sides to your friend / sister / colleague that you were unaware of before. They will drive you crazy with their untidy habits and likewise, you'll annoy them with your extremely long showers. People's warts and all will be revealed and your patience will be greatly tested.

Thus, to make your journey enjoyable, it is paramount that you have a trusted companion by your side, someone whose idiosyncrasies you can live with :)

5) You learn to do away with stuff

Packing for trips is tricky. Packing too little will not do since you'll be doing away with essential items. But packing too much will hamper your journey. Lugging heavy bags around is never any fun. You'll get tired easily and move much more slowly. So you learn to only bring enough; No more than you can carry. You learn to redefine the word 'essentials' and realise you can do away with a lot of stuff.

6) You become reflective

On the road, you encounter so many new things that you cannot help but reflect on all of them to make sense of your experiences. Travelling is so much more than photo opportunities. Mark Jenkins said:

“Adventure is a path. Real adventure – self-determined, self-motivated, often risky – forces you to have firsthand encounters with the world. The world the way it is, not the way you imagine it. Your body will collide with the earth and you will bear witness. In this way you will be compelled to grapple with the limitless kindness and bottomless cruelty of humankind – and perhaps realize that you yourself are capable of both. This will change you. Nothing will ever again be black-and-white.”

7) You celebrate diversity

Maya Angelou puts it beautifully:

“Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.”


Can you think of any other ways in which travelling is akin to Life? Do comment below! :)