Travelling Etiquette of a Muslim
Today, the need for travel is an overwhelming one; be it for the purpose of education, business or recreation. You would probably hear a plane flying over your house every hour or see a bus filled with people blazing down the highway every now and then. Thanks to the advancements in technology the world of today has indeed become a global village where every country every continent is interconnected. Distance which was traveled in years can now easily be covered in hours.
Certainly the world of travel has evolved; however Islam has clear instructions that surpass time and mechanical modernism. The guidelines laid down by Islam are simple, not only do they ensure Allah’s blessings throughout the journey but also take into account those that the traveling Muslim leaves without. Islam recognizes that travel no matter the reason, is a daunting challenge filled with hardships, danger and risk; our Prophet (SAW) suggested tips that make the entire episode of the journey a blessed, safe and rewarding one.
Before embarking on the journey, the Muslim traveler should clear all debts that might be owed to other people. This debt may be in the form of a loan from family or friends and even the bank. Besides clearing off the debt, the traveler must also ensure that there are enough funds for the family to last them while the traveler is away. The Holy Prophet (SAW) also recommended one should never travel alone unless the traveller is unable to find company. He said:
“One passenger is one devil, two passengers are two devils, but three passengers make a caravan.”
Whenever a Muslim is leaving the house s/he should recite a prayer to invoke Allah’s blessings and protection. The episode of travel has its own dangers and risk; Allah’s blessings and safeguard is the only true defense against satan and his working. Imam Tirmidhi and Abu Dawood narrated a Hadith by Anas (RA) that the Holy Prophet said:
“If you recite; Bismillāhi tawakkaltu ‘ala Allāh wa lā ḥaula wa lā quwwata illā billāhi ‘l-’aliyyi ‘l-’aẓīm (In the name of Allah, I seek help from Allah, no strength or means but with Allah); while leaving the house, then you will be told; You are protected and saved. The Satan will leave you”
Once a traveller is blessed with company, they should appoint one individual as the leader of the group. This is perhaps so that there could be one individual who is responsible for the entire group. Looking at the science of psychology we can better understand the purpose behind this recommendation; once a group as an appointed leader, the group’s decision making is much stronger in case of an emergency should one arise. This leader of the group is helpful in making those decisions and keeping the group together; an absence of this leader results in every individual of the group making their own decisions this may result in panic and disharmony among the group. The Prophet once said:
“When three people set out on a journey they should appoint one of them as a leader”
Informing the family about the time of arriving back home is the fourth in the list of traveling etiquettes for Muslims. This is so that the family is aware about the estimated time the entire journey would take; besides this, the traveller is also highly recommended not to return after sundown. Prophet Muhammad (SAW) said:
“If one of you is absent from home for a long time, he should not come back to his family by night”
Saying farewell to the family, friends and companions is another travelling etiquette for a Muslim traveller. This way the traveller can receive the blessings of Allah through the prayers of the family and friends. Prophet (SAW) said:
“If one of you intends to set out on a journey, let him say goodbye to his brothers, for Allah will make in their prayers a blessing for him”
It is also considered a traveling etiquette to return home as soon as possible; the Holy Prophet recommended:
“Travel is a piece of anguish as it deprives each traveler (of you) of the facilities of eating, drinking and sleeping. Therefore, when one of you has completed the purpose of his journey he should return home quickly.”
Once the journey is complete by His grace and it is time to enter the house, there are some particular etiquette followed by the Holy Prophet (SAW) that Allah prefers his followers adopt. When entering or leaving the house, the Prophet (SAW) never used to push the door violently or slam it shut, he did not let the door close by itself. Such simple actions stand in contrast to the gracefulness of Islam. Close the door quietly and humbly with your hand; the Prophet has suggested to all of us:
“Gentleness adorns every act; its absence will tarnish it”
While entering the home, the following prayer should be recited to thank Allah for His grace and His blessings; because it is in fact only Him who protects and keeps us all from harm:
Bismillahi walajna, wa bismillah kharajna, wa ‘ala rabbana tawakkalna
“In the name of Allah we enter and in the name of Allah we leave, and upon our Lord we place our trust.”
Another Hadith narrated by Imam Muslim that, Jaber bin Abdullah (RA) related that he heard the Prophet (SAW) saying:
“If you enter your house and pray to Allah when entering and before your meals, the Shaytan will say (to his group): No sleep and no food. If you entered it without praying to Allah, Shaytan will say to his group: You secured your sleep and dinner”
This world is full of trials and hardships and it is true the only reason for us being here is a test; a test of our love and devotion to Allah. Islam teaches us about equilibrium; it is all about maintaining a fine balance between this world and the one that is to come. Small steps that we take towards Allah can result in much more than we would like to think, a few minutes spent for Allah can bring about pleasures of this world that might not come about even after years of struggle.
Richard Edwards has been blessed with a mind that is always open for knowledge and a soul that seems to have the sole purpose of enlightening others. A HR expert by profession with four years of experience in the field of Human Resources and a Masters degree in Business Administration, Richard was exposed to various facets of the human life; through his passionate creative writing he intends to broadcast his learning so that others may benefit from it.