The current narrative around Muslim travel is overly centred on showing Muslims how to take care of their physical needs (eating, packing, lodging, dressing, shopping) while travelling. Obviously, this is extremely useful information as it makes travel more accessible and comfortable for Muslim travellers. But I can not shake the feeling that we are overlooking some significant etiquettes of travel that a Halal traveller should be aware of.
Travel for Muslims should encompass more than just Hajj, halal food, and flexing your latest outfit choices to your Instagram followers. It should also be about travelling purposefully to fulfil your spiritual needs and educating yourself about the world and its many wonders and perils.
We are aware that we cannot exhaust the full list in this article, but let’s attempt to highlight some of the often overlooked etiquettes (Abads) of Halal travel.
Go With the Flow
It might be obvious, but nevertheless, it is important to seek Allah’s blessing in your upcoming journey. Recite the following prayer (Dua) for protection whiles on your journey:
“Bismillāh, tawakkaltu ‘ala Allāh, wa lā ḥaula wa lā quwwata illā billāh”
(In the name of Allah, I seek help from Allah, there is no strength nor means but with Allah) (Tirmidhi, Abu Dawud)
Additionally, before leaving your home, you are also encouraged to perform 2 raka’ah of Sunnah Musafir followed by a prayer (Dua) in your own language.
“Allahumma inni ataqorrabu bihinna ilaika fakh lifni fi ahli wa maali”
(O Allah! Verily I am near myself to you with this 2 rakaat of prayers. Replace it thus by watching over my family and my property)
Secondly, ask for forgiveness from those you might inconvenience with your journeys such as your parents, spouse, children or friends.
Finally, make sure that you never leave your home unannounced and bid your loved one’s farewell as no one knows when you will see them again.
It never hurts to read up on the location(s) of your journey. This will allow you to maximise your enjoyment in your travel and ensure that you will not miss important places or events. For your preparation at least consider the following:
- Read about the history of the location(s) on your journey
- Get familiarise with the local customs so that you do not have a culture shock
- What languages are spoken
- What is currency is traded
- The nearest hospital in case of an unfortunate accident
- If you will need a wall adapter or not
- The location of Halal restaurants if you are travel to a non-Muslim country
- Prayer times at your destination
Hint: Do not leave your home without being in a state of ablution. There are many merits to always being in a state of ablution, but on a more practical note, it would make it easier for you to re-perform ablution during your journey.
Fulfil Your Responsibilities
Before embarking on your journey, ensure that all you are responsible for is taken care of until the day you return from your journey. For most of us this can take the form of one of the following or even all:
- Make sure that all your work is completed before you leave and that you have someone taking over your responsibilities at work in your absence.
- All your bills are paid on time
- For the students among us, homework, projects or any other assignments have been completed. Take it from me, you do not want to think about homework on your journey, there are more than enough other things to think about.
- It goes without saying but if you are a parent or a caretaker of any kind make sure that those individuals that are under your care are looked after and provided for in your absence.
To summarise, travel should never be used as an excuse to escape from your responsibilities. As individuals we are part of many communities (Work, Religious, Family), often our reputation and that of our community stands or falls by the burdens we carry and place on others.
When travelling, try to be modest in all aspects of travel. Try not to go overboard with extravagant preparation for your travel by buying clothing or accessories outside your means or unnecessary. As most seasoned travellers will tell you to try travelling light, that extra bottle of shampoo you want to pack just in case the hotel does not have it, is most likely not needed.
Furthermore, make sure that you behave and dress modestly. It is not only out of respect for the place and people that you visit, but it is to maintain our personal duty to Allah. Keep in mind to appreciate the diversity in Allah’s creation and do not dismiss or look down upon it because you are lucky to have been born in a more affluent part of the world.
Most importantly, whether you like it or not as a Halal traveller you are an ambassador of not only our wonderful community but Allah.
If you go out there into the world, be mindful and respectful of the local costumes and cultures. It might be that you do not agree with how people conduct themselves according to your beliefs and norms but keep in mind that you are a guest in their home and respecting their way of life should be a priority. Never forget that there is beauty in the diversity in Allah’s creations.
Furthermore, be open to new experiences. The best way to learn and to shatter your own ignorance is to experience the world and not judge its beauty.
Venerate the Environment
As long as Elon Musk has not made life possible on Mars we all have one planet and she is an absolute beauty. We have to do everything in our power to protect her even in times when we are exploring her numerous wonders. There are many Quranic verses and Prophetic sayings that emphasize our responsibility to take care of our planet. Allah has made us stewards and guardians of this magnetic part of the universe. Therefore we must travel through it gently and with reverence, limiting waste and overconsumption, and minimizing our environmental footprint to the best of our abilities.
This God-given responsibility of protecting our planet extends to the environment and the animals that share the planet with us. Do not participate in practices that perpetuate and profit from animal cruelty when you travel. Let’s be examples, let’s be Halal Nomades and not egotistical, travellers.
In a hadith narrated by Abu Sa’id Khudri in Sahih Muslim, the Messenger of Allah said:
“The world is sweet and green (alluring) and verily Allah is going to install you as vicegerent in it in order to see how you act.”
Appoint a Leader
When travelling in groups it is advisable to appoint a leader from within the group. Having a leader will avoid any distract from consensus decision-making. Abu Sa’id Al-Khudri and Abu Hurairah reported the Prophet as saying:
“When three persons set out on a journey, they should appoint one of them as their leader.” (Abu Dawud)
Gifts and Souvenirs
A final note on Adab: whenever possible and within your means, try to buy some gifts or souvenirs for your family members, close friends or colleagues who have to take over your responsibilities in your absence. It can represent a warm gesture of goodwill, appreciation and respect for them.
The Prophet said: “Exchange gifts, as that will lead to increasing your love for one another.” (Bukhari)
If we have missed any that should be part of the list let us know we will surely consider updating the article.