Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Fi Kulli Haraka Baraka

There is an Arabic saying "fi kulli haraka baraka" which means there is blessing in action (travel). The Quran urges the listener to travel in the earth. It states that those that leave their homes are better than the sedentary. The Sahaba (RA) travelled widely so much so that today their graves are found thousands of kilometers from their places of birth - sometimes in different continents! This was in a time when modes of travel were not very advanced nor routes were safe. Hajj and jihad both involves travel. In Islamic tradition, we know that the supplication of travellers are more likely to be accepted. So what is this mysterious blessing in travel?

When one leaves ones home, one is practising tawakul (dependence) on Allah (SWT). One is exposing oneself to the unknown, to discomfort; disrupting one's normal routine one is so used to; perhaps suspending one's regular income; perhaps leaving one's family and friends to accept the company of strangers. In such a situation, the traveler has no recourse but to rely solely on Allah (SWT) and hence becomes closer to Him.

A traveler is constantly learning. He is in a different land and a different culture. He hears a different language and experiences different customs. His mind is constantly at work, trying to better understand the social mores, the different nuances in language, the new way of life and setting of his host country. He is practically learning sociology, anthropology, psychology, history, etc when he interacts with his hosts. This learning - according to the Quran - is the reason for the creation of different tribes and nations among mankind. When he visits different historic places and listens to the folk tales of the new country, he is learning. He is learning how the course of history has formed the unique national psyche and seeking out what special lessons he can learn from them to incorporate in this own personality. Thus he learns the proper way to recite the Quran from Egyptian quraa', business acumen from the Lebanese, how to always smile from the Philipinos, brotherhood from the Sudanese, hospitality from the Emiratis, love of native language from Bangladeshis, love from the homeland from Palestinians, resourcefulness from Pakistanis, humbleness from Malays, work ethic from Chinese, research from Jewish professors, active lifestyle from Australians, being on time from Finns, acceptance from Canadians, frankness from Americans, etc.

The best way to experience native cultures is to live among them. Avoid staying in five star hotels and shopping in malls which are almost the same throughout the world. Rather head for the villages, camp in the countryside, travel in railways and public buses and interact with the locals. Real learning takes time and ideally can be achieved in 4-5 years stints in different places. Try to regularly pray in the masajid of your host country to study the social strata of the Muslim society there. Learn from the local scholars. I believe one should try and join the Jamaatul Tabligh wa Dawa at least one in a lifetime for just the experience it provides. Countries with large multicultural populations like the Arabian Gulf States, Singapore and Canadian cities provide an opportunity to learn from a large diversity of nationalities.

The best travel is to the House of Allah (SWT) as you are constantly in the act of worshipping Him. In your midst are millions others from the whole world who are doing the same.

Scientific research now proves that those that have learnt more than one language can avoid mental diseases like Alzheimer's as language is the basis of the thought process. Every language provides a unique perspective of the reality of this world, so the more languages you pick up in your travels, the closer in context to the Ultimate Reality of Life you actually become. The best language for a Muslim to learn is that of the Quran and Sunnah. By learning it you can start to share the perspective of life the Prophet (SWAS) and the Sahaba (RA) had. No translation can ever provide you with that kind of context. Some scholars say that the language of Jannah will be Arabic. Allah (SWT) know best.

A sedentary lifestyle retards thought and can extinguish emaan if we are not careful. Indeed there is blessing in traveling. Fi kulli haraka baraka!

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