‘Be in this world as if you were a stranger or a traveller among a path’ (Bukhari).
This opening chapter of Islamic spiritual guidance bring closer to home a need for conscious and meaningful life attitude. A state of traveller could be characterised my minimalism and adventure seeking. However, all tourist would admit to the educational nature of their activities and for some it might bring therapeutic or even spiritual benefits. The unconscious life style had been proven to bring side effects such as stress, depression, feeling of being overwhelmed , worried or burned out. This is on the whole a life script of women who travelled with me so far. It feels somehow, like they lost their spiritual identity by attaching themselves to people and roles they are performing. Taking a brake did not meant to them an easy escape, but rather a chance to reflect and self-centre.
Prophetic personal tradition was to extract himself ﷺ from the society and retreat in mind, soul and heart. His ﷺ favourite place would be in the environment of seclusion of nature , he ﷺ use to stay over in his favourite place – cave Hira. The prophetic lifestyle before revelations was foremost based on travelling and trading across the desert of Arabia and beyond. Travelling is inscribed in Muslim community’s DNA. The Qabba was the main source of industry of Mekka, what meant that early Muslims were traveling there for business but also for a religious acts of worship –pilgrimages. It could be therefore argued, that in order to complete the Islamic creed of faith one should at least travel once in the lifetime, and become a fully-fledged tourist – a Haji on his/hers journey to Mekka. Religious tourism, from a secular point of view, is described as travelling with the primary motive of experiencing religious aims of getting closer to God and from the psychology point of view – as a therapeutic tool.
It is not possible to explore sacred places on daily basis, but leaving city for a while is. Getting outdoors and into nature has proven in research to have strong correlations with mental wellbeing. Having time outdoors away from everyday life and reconnecting with nature, animals and plants can give people a different perspective and improve mindset, outlook on life, emotional resilience and possibly influence healthier behavioural choices. It is hardly surprising to see those scientific results, as majority of us experienced the consequence of relaxation first hand. However other research suggests strongly that contact with nature, int the form of gardening, walking groups, climbing, camping, canoeing works best for people struggling with substance misuse and low self esteem.
Other than mental wellbeing, we are also entrusted with responsibility for our spiritual development. If we were to consider travelling for therapeutic tool, then the end product of travelling for a Muslim should result in a new found and complete submission to God through seeing the beauty and bounty of His creation, re-evaluating his glorious 99 Names, grasping the smallness of man and reinforcing the greatness of God. Travelling can also serve as a Taskiya – a polishing exercise for one’s spiritual Heart, as it imposes on the traveller an additional element of patience, perseverance and appreciation for ones possessions in worldly life.
“Travel through the earth and see how Allah did originate creation; so will Allah produce a later creation: for Allah has power over all things.” (Ankabut: 20).