Mar 7, 2012

Islam and the Purpose of Travel

By Nida Rashid


The religion of Islam is a complete religion. It is a way of life. No aspect of life has been ignored. Some things may seem trivial, but our religion covers everything big and small.

For some, travelling may be a major part of their lives, while for others; it could be very uncommon, done only for Hajj. Whatever the case, it is important to know what our Lord says about travelling. Of course, there are rules and guidelines when it comes to travelling, but this article is not about those rules. We want to know what Allah says about travelling and for what purposes we can travel.

If one analyzes the passages of the Quran that talk about the traveler, one will realize that it is not something done just for fun. Usually there is an important purpose for the journey. It is not likely that a person will get on a plane, and not know where their destination is, or why they are going. Travelling is regarded as tiresome and inconvenient, and that is why Allah has made a few mandatory acts in Islam such as the prayer or fasting, easier for us when we are on a journey.

For example, the main act of worship in Islam is the Salaah. Allah says in Surah Nisa, And when you travel throughout the land, there is no blame upon you for shortening the prayer… (Surah An-Nisa 4:101) 

Of course, in the time of the prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam, one journey could take several months. Travelling in the dessert, on camels, carrying one’s own luggage, was not an easy task. Although today travelling has become much easier, Allah has given us this timeless ease that we can implement today.

The Purpose of Travelling:
The Quran and sunnah mention 5 noble reasons a Muslim should travel for.

1. To perform acts of worship: Hajj and Umrah.
And complete the Hajj and 'umrah for Allah. (Surah Al-Baqara 2:96)

2. To seek knowledge. It has been an Islamic tradition for scholars to go out and seek knowledge. Some early scholars travelled miles just to attain one hadith of the prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam.

3. To learn lessons and be reminded of Allah.

“Say (O Muhammad): Travel in the land and see what was the end of those who rejected truth” (Surah Al- An'am 6:11)

There are people who study ruins of nations that Allah has punished to be reminded and reflect upon their own lives. Allah says many times that people before us were physically stronger, rich, and apparently had happy lives, but were destroyed by Allah for their disobedience. It is Allah’s mercy on us that we are punished for every single time we do a sin, but rather we have a chance to repent. We should not forget that indeed Allah is able to do all things.

4. To spread the message of Islam.
During the prophet’s sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam time, he sent out messengers to different countries to invite others to Islam. The seerah of the prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam tells us that he sent invitations to the emperor of Rome, and the king of Abyssinia. Delivering these messages meant a person had to travel many miles. Today, Muslims exist in almost all parts of the world. From the center of the earth, the ripples of Islam have touched the entire earth, due to the efforts of travelers. Such a beautiful religion, that gives a person purpose and contentment should definitely be spread, and travelling for this reason is definitely encouraged in Islam.

5. To appreciate the beauty of Allah’s creation. Subhan Allah, when one looks and observes the world around, one realizes the perfection it has all been created with. Ever ponder on the flowing river, a falling leaf, or a simple ant that can carry ten times its own weight. There are thousands of living organisms that are part of the ecosystem, each playing an important role. How can one reject the existence of a God when the world around us is proof of a Perfect Lord? To take a step back, and reflect on the creation of Allah definitely increases one’s eemaan, and benefits them to be stronger in their acts of worship.

“Say: Travel in the land and see how (Allah) originated the creation, and then Allah will bring forth the creation of the Hereafter (i.e. resurrection after death). Verily, Allah is Able to do all things” (Surah Ankaboot 29:30)

Every action in a Muslim’s life should have a purpose. Ask yourself before any action if Allah is pleased with it. When it comes to travelling, there are many trips people taken that waste money, time, and effort. Keep in mind that if the travelling is done for the sake of Allah, then it is never a waste. Even visiting family can be turned into an act of worship. Let Allah’s religion, be the main intention behind all your actions.

Travel and tourism (siyaahah) in Islam – rulings and types – Shaikh Saleh al Munnajid

I'd love to hear your views on this topic. Please post in the comments section below! :)


Assalam aleikum, you've spoken the truth and Allah knows best. This has been a good reminder for me. Thank you, may Allah reward you abundantly. Tahiya

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