In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful; blessings and peace be upon Prophet Muhammad s.a.w.
The Declining Day (Al-'Asr)
1. By the declining day, 2. Lo! Man is in a state of loss, 3. Save those who believe and do good works, and exhort one another to truth and exhort one another to endurance.
It’s a long school holiday again at the end of the year. Well, before going for your dream journey including the spiritual journey of 'umra' why not do some simple research including studying tips from our daily reading materials.
An article by Reuters Life entitled ‘Take your manners with you on holiday’ published in the Sun recently captured my heart. The article noted on what we should do and avoid starting from our behaviour in the cramped conditions of airplanes.
When on the planes it noted these following tips: -
* Do not intrude on to your fellow passenger’s territory. Keep elbows firmly tucked in; ease your chair gently into a reclining position to avoid a sudden invasion of the limited legroom of the passenger behind.
From the writer’s (LanH’s) experience, I have noticed some passengers; not only in planes but buses, lacking this. They just push their seats to the maximum without even looking at the passengers behind what more say sorry or make an apology to them. In buses some of them turn on the air conditioning system to full blast without acknowledging some passengers would be already 'shivering’!
* Friendly conversation with your neighbours can be enjoyable, but know when to quieten down. (Well in planes, normally passengers adhere to this trait but in buses – I mean in Malaysia – I have witnessed some passengers speaking loudly and making noises throughout the whole journey, say from Kuala Lumpur to Melaka which is a two-hour journey. Then there are people who talk loudly over their phones; the whole bus would hear their voices).
* Drink in moderation. Boisterous behaviour will alienate (and irritate) your fellow passengers. Help the elderly (or those of diminutive stature) to stow (or remove) luggage in the overhead compartments.
During an Emirates flight from Manchester to Dubai a few years ago where the plane was only half full, the writer noticed a young ‘Mat Saleh’ who was sitting alone in an empty row of about five seats, who drank heavily and then collapsed and slept on all the seats. The plane crew members just left the young man alone.
* Be patient when it comes to disembarking and remember to thank the crew member for their service.
It is normal to see some passengers who do not have the patience to walk out of the plane. When the red light went off, they would rush to remove their belongings from the plane’s overhead compartment and wait on the walkway and not in their seats.
The articles also recommended other tips such as: -
* Abiding by foreign customs while travelling is essential, so read that boring tip at the beginning of the guide book about customs and etiquette in your chosen destination.
* Keep your eyes peeled for how those around you are behaving and follow their example. Avoid the arrogance of imaging that everyone in your travel speaks English – or should do.
* Be aware of any major faux in advance, for example showing the soles of your feet in Thailand or eating with your left hand when among Muslims..
* Research the etiquette you’ll need on a daily basis, particularly in regard to money – for example haggling and tipping.
* The beach is a public area where we strip down to the equivalent of our underwear…...(ooh, this is too much for me to continue writing from this Mat Saleh's point of views).
Well readers, I end up here writing about the tips from a Western view point and move on to check on Islamic writers’ views about holidaying. I searched for tips in magazines such as Anis (published by Galeri Ilmu Sdn Bhd) and books (such as Panduan Musafir, A Guide to Travellers) and come up with these few ideas.
* Our intention for a holiday must be correct – we do it only to please Allah the Almighty (SWT). We must clear our minds from worldly pleasures such as showing off our wealth and abilities.
* Making preparations mentally and physically; the same preparations we undertake before our 'umra' journey. A journey must be well prepared and with purpose – not just for the sake of holidaying and going out of our way aimlessly.
* Always pray to Allah SWT that He would protect us from involving in sinful activities and save us from His wrath.
* Begin our journey by saying our 'du'a and doing our ‘solat’ (prayers). Fulfill our daily obligations such as ‘solat’ five times (during our journey that satisfies special requirements we are allowed to combine and shorten some of our solat).
* It is also advisable during our journey we carry on doing our recommended prayers and saying our ‘zikrullah’ (remembrace Allah SWT by reciting words in praise of Him).
* Bring along our Qur’an and a few good books including our du’a (prayers) book so that we could fill our time reading them while travelling on long journeys such as in planes, trains and buses.
Muslims should know that Allah SWT through the Qur’an encourages them to travel; the last ‘ibadah’ in ‘Rukun Islam’ that is performing one’s hajj signals that a Muslim must leave his home to make the journey to Makkah.
In the Qur’an, Allah mentions: “Say (unto them, O Muhammad): Travel in the land and see the nature of the sequel for the guilty!” (Al-Naml or the Ant 27: 69)
Allah also mentions: “Say (unto the disbelievers): Travel in the land, and see the nature of the consequence for the rejecters.” (Al-An’am or Cattle verse 11)
In Surah Al-Ankabut (29:20) He mentions: Say: "Go about the earth and see how He created for the first time, and then Allah will recreate life." Surely, Allah has power over everything. *
If we follow His true path, from our journeys we would be able to strengthen our ‘iman’ (faith), increase our knowledge and experience, we would be able to make friends and Allah SWT ‘insya-Allah’ (God willing) will provide for all our needs.
Even though Muslims can visit any locations except places where sins activities are held, places of worship of other religions and places that were cursed by Allah SWT (they are discouraged from doing so), the Prophet s.a.w. in a hadith said: “Do not prepare yourself for a journey except to three ‘masjids’, i.e. Al-Masjid-AI-Haram, the Masjid of Aqsa (Jerusalem) and my Masjid."
Well, from now on why not prepare ourselves that one day we would be able to pray in the Haram Masjid doing 'umra' (minor hajj) or better still hajj itself. We would also be able to pray in the Prophet’s Masjid and visit his grave along with two of his best companions – Abu Bakr and Umar al-Khattab in the masjid.
And as for visiting the Al-Aqsa Masjid, let us Muslims throughout the world be united to free the lands of the Palestinians from the hands of Zionist regime. Let us make du’a (pray) that this third holiest masjid in Islam would be freed soon!