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Why travel? | Ashab al-Hadith

Why travel?

Praise be to Allah, The Creator of the heavens and the earth. He makes seasons of prosperity as a means to profit and a time of blessings - a road to His mercy. All praise be to Him. We obey Him and He thanks and appreciates us. We disobey Him but He forgives us. Nothing in the heavens or the earth is beyond His knowledge. Nothing in the air on the mountains or in the bottom of the sea is out of His sight. All praise be to Him for He is the Bringer of all prosperity and to Him returns everything. Whoever seeks Him is never disappointed. The kingdoms of heaven and earth are in His hands. He is capable of inflicting harm, but can never be harmed. Praise be to Him in this world and in the Hereafter, He is the Sole Judge, and to Him we shall all return.


I testify that there is no god but Allah, Who has no partner and that Muhammad (Salla Allahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) is His Servant, and Messenger whom He sent as a warner and a bringer of good news. He (Salla Allahu Alaihi Wa Sallamcalled unto people to worship Allah and lighted their way. The Prophet (Salla Allahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) delivered the message and offered advice to the nation. He (Salla Allahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) spared no effort in striving for the sake of Allah until the day he (Salla Allahu Alaihi Wa Sallam)died. May Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him, his righteous household, his companions, and those who follow their example until Judgment Day.


O People, I advise you and myself to fear Allah, and to abide by the strongest bond of Islam, Beware of committing sins, for you will not be able to tolerate the Hellfire. Fear Allah, worship Him, and thank Him for it is to Him that you shall all return.


O Pilgrims, who have been to the Sacred Mosque and performed the rituals of the pilgrimage. You stood on the hill of Arafat. Driven by yearning, you headed for Muzdalifah. You shed tears at Muzdalifah  (About midway between Arafat and Minah) where the Prophet (Salla Allahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) performed a long prayer. It has become a rite of the pilgrimage and pilgrims are directed to follow that example on their return.


Many of you are straitened by the fear of Allah! Many of you are in awe of Him and believed in His promise! Many of you deserved to be punished in Hellfire but are saved by Allah! Many of you have attained your long sought goal on the eve of Arafat.


O Pilgrims of Allah’s Sacred Mosque, the winner on that day is not he whose riding camel is at the front, but rather he whose sins have been forgiven and whose good deeds have been accepted. So, perform the pilgrimage solely for the sake of Allah, and abide by the traditions of your Prophet (Salla Allahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) so that you may prosper. Whoever falls short of abiding by all of Allah’s commands should resist the temptation of his soul, for this is great Jihad,


Beware of blotting out your good deeds by evil ones, as they ruin one’s faith. Allah says which translates as: “And be not like her who undoes the thread which she has spun after it has become strong …” (An-Nahl: 92). I swear by Allah, nothing is better than a good deed followed by another, and nothing is worse than a good deed followed by an evil one. So beware, servants of Allah, from going astray after you were guided to the right path.


Servants of Allah, since Ibrahim (peace be upon him) proclaimed the pilgrimage among men, people have come to Allah’s Sacred Mosque on foot and mounted on every kind of riding animal and other means of transport, journeying through deep and distant mountains and highways. Therefore, the pilgrimage, which has been repeated every year, proves the fact that traveling and crossing vast tracts of land is one of the significant aspects in the life human beings. People often have to travel for moral or material purposes, Allah’s Messenger, (Salla Allahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) repeatedly went on journeys during his youth before the mission of prophet hood. After his being commissioned as a prophet, he also traveled to perform the pilgrimage (Hajj) and the minor pilgrimage (Umrah) and for Jihad. When traveling, man usually drops the mask behind which be hides his true nature. Traveling and contemplating amazing and exotic creatures enhances one’s   knowledge of Allah, glorified is He, by providing evidences that this universe surely has a Creator, a single God that solely deserves to be worshipped, A man on a journey contemplates what he sees, reflects on it then cannot help, but fear Allah. This all happens when he observes Allah’s amazing creatures, and His magnificent ability. Allah says which translates as: “...(These are) the creations of Allah, Who perfected all things, verily! He is Well-Acquainted with what you do” (An-Naml: 88). Allah, exalted be He, censured people who have lost their sensitivity, He says which translates as: “And how many a sign in the heavens and the earth they pass by, while they are averse there from” (Yusuf: 105).


Traveling is both praised and dispraised. Traveling serves to dispel boredom of people and places as well as feelings of distress. One may travel in order to seek beneficial knowledge, or visit a relative or a brother in faith. In that case, traveling is praised. However, it is also dispraised for being a cause of exhaustion and because the traveler’s heart is distracted and his mind is occupied with parting from his family and loved ones. That is why the Prophet, (Salla Allahu Alaihi Wa Sallamsaid: “Traveling is a portion of the torment. It denies you your sleep, food, and drink. When you have accomplished your purpose, you should hurry back to your family” (Al-Bukhaarie & Muslim).


Torment in the Hadith refers to the pain arising from the exhaustion of riding or walking, driving or flying. Some scholars such as Al-Qurtubi and others maintain that banishing the adulterer is a way of torturing him. Since traveling is among the causes of torture. The Imam of the two Holy Mosques was asked: why is traveling a cause of torture? He answered immediately: Because a traveler has to part from his loved ones.


Servants of Allah, traveling nowadays is different from traveling in the previous centuries. Roads have been paved, different kinds of vehicles transport people on land, by planes or aboard ships according to their needs and desires. Long periods have been cut short. What used to take months of exhaustion and toil is now finished within a few days or even a few hours and with very little trouble. The Prophet (Salla Allahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) is reported as saying that “the quick passage of time is a sign of the Day of Resurrection”, (Al-Bukhari).


Nonetheless, despite this comfort, the risks involved in traveling still exist. When one travels aboard a plane and soars high in the sky, cutting his way among the clouds, he is actually bargaining with death, which may be lurking behind a loose screw or a malfunction in the engine.


This emphasizes the necessity of seeking Allah’s refuge and praying for His mercy. This is realized through abiding to the Islamic rules set for traveling and abandoning sins particularly while flying. This necessitates having no prohibited food or beverages aboard the planes and having the crew, be they men or women, dress decently and refrain from all that which may cause them to be ‘over stimulated’ or to be stared at. One wonders at the understanding of the disbelievers who lived during the lifetime of the Prophet, as they used to resort to Allah in times of distress, as Allah says which translates as: “And when they embark on a ship, they invoke Allah, making their Faith pure for Him only, but when He brings them safely to land, behold, they give a share of their worship to others” (Al-Ankabut: 65) compared to some of the contemporary disobedient Muslims, whose times of joy and distress are both alike. May Allah’s curse be on such people who have less faith than the disbelievers at the time of the Prophet (Salla Allahu Alaihi Wa Sallam).


Fellow Muslims, the proximity of time and place due to modern technology is in fact a great blessing and a definite mercy from Allah that we ought to praise Him for and seek refuge in Him and to remember what He, glorified is He, did to the People of Sheba (Saba) who enjoyed his blessings and bounty. There was a chain of villages all along their routes of travel so that a traveler did not need to carry provisions or water. Allah says which translates as: “And We placed between them and the towns which We had blessed, towns easy to be seen, and We made the stages (of journey) between them easy (saying): “Travel in them safely both by night and day” (Saba’: 18). However, when they were ungrateful to Allah and when they yearned for what they did not have, as Allah says which translates as: “But they said: “Our Lord! Make the stages between our journey longer,” and they wronged themselves, so We made them as tales (in the land), and We dispersed them all, totally … ” (Saba’: 19). Allah dispersed them after they were united, and so they became a tale to be told, and Arabs would describe any nation that were dispersed saying; they were dispersed the way the people of Sheba were dispersed.


Servants of Allah, among the most significant of the benefits of traveling and the most directly related to Allah is the fact that a traveler gets to learn about Allah’s grandeur and ability when he contemplates the amazing creatures of Allah, glorified is He, be they living or dead, motionless or moving, and the various shapes those creatures have been endowed with which dwell in the furrows of lands or on top of mountains. Allah’s creatures are of various colors; some have attractive wings and various shapes. “Verily, in this is an instructive admonition for whosoever fears Allah” (An-Nazi‘at: 26). He created them though they had not existed before, and endowed them with numerous breathtaking shapes, thanks to His power and precision. Some of them are of a single spotless hue, whereas others are of one color and are lined with another. As Allah says which translates as: “And of men and Ad-Dawab (moving living creatures, beasts, etc), and cattle, in like manner of various colors. It is only those who have knowledge among His slaves that fear Allah …” (Fatir: 28).


Glory be to Him. The evidence and signs of His grandeur and power lead minds to admit His presence and yield to Him. They come to realize that the Creator of the ant is the same as the Creator of the Palm tree.


Woe unto whoever denies the existence of or is ungrateful to The One who predestines and arranges, Some claim that they are like plants, that were not created by anyone and whose various shapes were not designed by anyone. It has totally escaped their sick minds that there is One who far encompasses the whole of their civilization. Here is how a Bedouin woman cites evidence for the existence of Allah using phrases and expressions that betray her culture: a sky lined with constellations of stars, a land abounding in wide roads, a sea raging with tumultuous waves, footsteps that indicate the presence of man and pasture that indicates the presence of beasts. Does this all not prove the existence of the Subtle, the All Cognizant? As He says which translates as: “Verily, It is Allah who causes the seed-grain and the fruit-stone to split and sprout. He brings forth the living from the dead, and the dead from the living. Such is Allah, then how are you deluded away from the truth. (He) Cleaver of the daybreak. He has appointed the night for resting, and the sun and the moon for reckoning. Such is the measuring of the All-Mighty, the All-Knowing” (Al-An’am: 95-96).


O People, some of us may claim that this talk deals with The Oneness of Allah, which was never a cause of disagreement even among the disbelievers at the time of the Prophet,(Salla Allahu Alaihi Wa Sallam). They may ask if this talk concerns them. The answer is yes, as associating partners with Allah is common both in the old and the present time. In Bukhari and Muslim, the Prophet said: “Do you know what your Lord has said? They said: “Allah and his messenger knows best” He said: “In the morning some of My slaves remain as true believers and some became nonbelievers; whoever said: “We have received rain by Allah’s Bounty and Mercy, is a true believer and has disbelieved in the stars; but whoever said that it has rained because of the stars had no belief in Me but believes in the stars”.


Is this Hadith not primarily concerned with The Oneness of Allah? The answer is yes, it most definitely is. Nonetheless, the Prophet, (Salla Allahu Alaihi Wa Sallamhas warned against lapsing into disbelief. Some people in our present time have actually slipped into disbelief, intentionally or unintentionally. They resorted to sorcerers and conjurers. People like Musailamah, the liar and Ibn Sayad who claim to be able to foretell the future through divination, soothsaying, augury and claiming to receive inspiration from the devils that eavesdrop at the gates of heaven, Devils then report back to them what they have heard mixing it with a hundred lies. What adds fuel to the fire is that soothsayers are quite popular in different parts of the world, especially in relating to the important aspect of The Oneness of Allah, namely knowledge of the Unseen which only Allah has the key to, and which no prophet or angel has access to, save what Allah inspires them with.


Among the manifestation of the distorted belief in regard to The Oneness of Allah is what the whole world listens to every day, whether on radio or television, concerning the explanation of natural phenomenon, such as: earthquakes, floods, wind, volcanoes, etc., Such explanation are always pure scientific explanations that are entirely divorced from Allah’s will and that are mainly derived from ancient Greek philosophies that were originally atheist, which are admired by some Muslims who are delighted with the West.


The situation grows worse with newspapers in different countries dedicating a section to what is called “the zodiac signs” This has indeed enlarged the crack that befell the understanding of The Oneness of Allah and has reinforced Muslims beliefs in dry material causes. Some people in the dark exclaim in moments of joy: “Fortunately” and in moments of distress: “unfortunately…” They attempt to find out the future through their signs, ‘look for happiness with the Libra, and keep away from the Scorpio’. This is how superstition flourishes and likes of Musailamah the liar and Ibn Sayad are brought back to life. We seek Allah’s assistance. Shaikh Ibn Taimiyah may Allah bless his souls, mentions that when `Ali Ibn Abu Taalib, (may Allah be pleased with him) set off to fight the Khawarij, a soothsayer advised him: O Amir of the faithful, do not go as the moon is under Scorpio. If you do, you will be defeated. `Ali, (may Allah be pleased with him) said: We will set off, placing our trust in Allah, depending on Him in order to belie you. He did leave, was victorious, and managed to kill the majority of the Khawarij.


This is similar to what lying soothsayers did with Caliph Al-Mu`tasim when he attempted to conquer the Romans upon a woman’s crying for help. They advised him not to invade the people of Amureaya before figs and grapes were ripe. However, he did not listen to them and set out. Therefore, Allah proved soothsayers wrong and made Muslims, who were 90,000 dauntless lions, victorious before ‘figs and grapes were ripe’.


Therefore, a Muslim is commanded to be optimistic and is forbidden to regard anything as an evil portent. This was mentioned by the Prophet (Salla Allahu Alaihi Wa Sallam),when he said: “Always be optimistic. If you see what you hate, say, O Allah, only You are capable of bringing good and only You are capable of dispelling evil. There is no might nor power save in You” (Abu Dawood).


Further, Ahmad says, the Prophet (Salla Allahu Alaihi Wa Sallamsaid: “Whoever in dissuaded from what he intended to do on account of what he hold to be an evil portent has lapsed into atheism”.


Servants of Allah, see how people have tumbled into the bottomless abyss of shirk (association). See how its fetters have enthralled their souls. Thus, they are doomed to endless pain and intolerable suffering, of which there is no escape except with Allah’s assistance. Whoever Allah guides to the truth is granted prosperity. May Allah guide you and I through the Glorious Qur’an. May we benefit from its invaluable verses. Pray for Allah’s Forgiveness, The Pardoner of sins, The Most Merciful.



Fellow Muslims, fear Allah and remember that Islam devoted great attention to the issue of traveling. It has set for it particular rules, commands, prohibitions, etiquettes… etc., which a traveler should never lose sight of. Islam also asserts the necessity of reviving abandoned traveling traditions (Sunnah), such as the traveler telling people who see him off: I entrust you to Allah Who protects what is in His trust. Besides, there are also the supplications of mounting the means of travel, - saying, “Allah is the Greatest” when going up an elevation and - saying, “Exalted be Allah” when going down a valley. Moreover, a traveler should make the falling of the night supplication during a journey, “O land belonging to your God and mine, - Allah, I seek refuge in Him from your evil, the evil of what is in you, the evil of all that was committed on you and the evil of the beasts that tread on you. And I seek refuge in Allah from the lion, the snake and the scorpion, from the residents of the town and parents and their progeny” When a traveler dismounts his beast, he is to say: “I seek the protection of Allah’s perfect Words (the Glorious Qur’an) against any evil that may arise from His creation”.


Al- Qurtubi, may Allah bless his soul, said: “This is an authentic Hadith, which I know to be true by experience. Ever since I heard it, I would recite it and nothing ever harmed me. When I forgot to, a scorpion stung me. I reflected for a while and then realized that I had forgotten to recites those words.


Abu Hurrairah (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that when Allah’s Messenger (Salla Allahu Alaihi Wa Sallamset out on a journey in the morning, he used to say: “Let the one who hears our praising Allah (for) His goodly trial to us, testify to our praising and gratitude of our Lord. Our Lord! Accompany us, guard us, and bestow upon us Thy grace. I am a seeker of refuge in Allah from the Fire” (Muslim).


There are many other Hadiths which we have no time to mention, however, it is important to note that the Prophet’s advice to Muslims to abide by rules of traveling that include mentioning Allah and celebrating His praises means that a traveling caravan is in a constant state of ‘prayer’. This only brings us to realize that glorifying Allah, mentioning and praising Him, reassures hearts. Hence, a traveler hardly feels the time and is spared the boredom of the trip. May Allah’s peace and blessings be upon Muhammad.

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