As Salamu Alaykum!
God, the most glorified, the most High, says in the Holy Qur’an:
“So have they not travelled through the earth, and have hearts by which to reason, and ears by which to hear? For indeed, it is not the eyes that are blinded, but blinded are the hearts which are within the breast.” [22:46]
As I begin to make preparations for a journey a certain amount of excitement and nervousness always builds up. I love to travel, and if I had the means and opportunity would love to travel more extensively than I have been able to as of yet. There is something about travelling that puts my heart and mind at ease. For me travelling is a journey to myself, a roadmap in essence, I get to know myself better, as well as those who I travel with. As Umar (ra.) once asked a man who wanted to vouch for another, whether he really knew him, including asking whether he had travelled with him saying:
“For travelling and being away from home reveals a man’s true essence”
Ramadan landed this year on the 18th of June, I find that I share the feelings that I have for travelling with Ramadan approaching. I am thrilled every year for it to arrive, but I feel kinda nervous too. The shayateen are chained up in this month, the sins I commit during this month is mostly all me and my nafs. This month is the opportunity to change our lives around, to come closer to God, leave bad habits and make new good ones, to improve ourselves in all aspects of our lives. Ramadan is like a training camp for the rest of the year. The Prophet (saw.) used to do more in Ramadan than in the other months of the year.
Aisha (ra.) narrated:
“The Messenger of Allah (saw.) used to strive more in worship during Ramadan than he strove in any other time of the year…” [Muslim]
The reward of worship in this month of the Quran and of fasting is multifold, as Az-Zuhri said concerning Tasbih in Ramadan: “A tasbih in Ramadan is better than a thousand Tasbihah in other than it” [At-Tirmidhi]
There are ahadith saying that if one fasts during Ramadan and in another one prays during the night (in Qiyam) out of sincerity hoping for reward from Allah, will have their sins forgiven. Ramadan is a wonderful time, but also one of hardship and strive, we are giving up food and drink and are to try to be as productive as we are outside of Ramadan if not more so, as well as the long Taraweeh prayer and especially now when the days are long and the nights so short, it can be difficult to keep a good countenance throughout the month.
Similarly travelling is full of hardships,
“When the Prophet (saw.) travelled, he would seek refuge with Allah from the hardships of travel, and the sorrows of return, from loss after plenty, from the supplication of the one who has been wronged, and from seeing some calamity befall.” [Sahih Bukhari]
In another hadith travel is described as Jihad.
“Travel for my people is Jihad in the Cause of Allah, glory be to Him.” [Abu Dawud]
No wonder Umar (ra.) said that the true essence of a person would shine through when you are travelling with them. It puts you through stress situations, sometimes you lose food and sleep and especially during the time of the Prophet (saw.), he said in a report narrated by Abu Huraira (ra.):
“Travelling is a kind of torture, as it prevents one from sleeping and eating! So when one has finished his job, he should return quickly to his family.”
What helps overcoming these hardships is being clear of the goals and intentions of your travelling and your fasting. In first line we should remember that we do everything for the sake of Allah. Even when travelling for leisure, you could make your intention to relax and rejuvenate yourself, so you can toil harder once done with your vacation. Fasting and the long Qiyam are for the sake of Allah and that is something we should constantly remind ourselves of. We’re not doing it because it is expected of us by our family or community but because we want to please Allah and gain nearness to Him with it.
It helps to remember your goals and intentions when things get particularly hard. It also helps to keep yourself focused. If you are travelling for work solely, and you need to do this or that but get distracted by the sights, refocusing on your goals and making plans of how exactly you can achieve your goal help in keeping you productive. If your goal is to read the whole Quran in Ramadan, constantly reminding yourself of it and preparing yourself and planning ahead of time helps in making that Goal a reality.
PS: We’re over ten days into Ramadan now, Ramadan Mubarak! I have had the idea for this post for a while now, but essentially procrastinated too much. I wanted to upload this now, even though we are so far into the month already, because if I didn’t, I don’t know when I would be posting next, as I would continue to just procrastinate. So with the fear of this post not making any sense at all, I’ll send it off into the world anyway.
PPS: In this post I wanted to compare Ramadan with travelling, there are ahadith mentioning both and I often feel the same emotions when they come about, of course there is no real comparison to Ramadan but there are some similarities. I’m praying that I’ll be able to travel a bit during next Ramadan and get to experience it in different settings inshaAllah.
May Allah make this Ramadan a productive one for all of us, and accept all of our worship! Amin.