Traveling and its Etiquettes in Islam

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Saira Riaz

The summer season is back again. It is a blessed season during which people harvest what they have sowed and those who have worked hard get the fruits of their efforts.

Weddings, celebrations, shopping, and travel increase during this season, and in many cases these activities are accompanied with many evil practices and sins which people commit due to their ignorance of the Islamic rulings or their weakness in faith.

We think that all is haram (forbidden) in Islam and we cannot do anything “fun.” We feel as if we are tied up by the chains of Shariah (Islamic Law). The fact is that Islam does not disallow “fun.” Our deen (religion) has permitted rest and relaxation within defined limits.

As a matter of fact, when a companion of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) by the name of Handhalah Ibn ‘Aamir (رضى الله عنه), came to the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) complaining that the strength and level of his imaan (faith) decreased when he returned home and played with his wife and children (as opposed to the time when he was with the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم)). The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) replied to this by saying: “A time for this and a time for that” (Bukhari & Muslim). This means an hour for worship increases ones imaan, and an hour for living one’s life within the limits and boundaries of Islam also increases a person’s faith. Subhan’Allah.

Ibn ‘Abdul-Barr (رضى الله عنه), narrated that ‘Ali Ibn Abu Taalib (رضى الله عنه), said: “Relax your hearts and find some means of entertainment for them, because they become apathetic just as bodies get tired.

When a Muslim sets out to do something, he must plan with caution, put his trust on Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) and follow the etiquettes for traveling.

This is an important topic, for which there is a great need.

Our aim here is to refer to this etiquette in brief.

1 – When a person wants to travel, it is mustahabb (liked) for him to consult those whose religious commitment, experience and knowledge he trusts about travelling at that time. The one who is consulted must be sincere in offering advice and avoid being influenced by whims and desires.

The sahīh ahādīth indicate that the people used to consult the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) with regard to their affairs.

2 – Once he has decided to travel, the Sunnah is to seek Allah (سبحانه و تعالى)’s guidance by praying istikhārah. So he should pray two rak’ahs of non-obligatory prayer, and then recite the dua’ of istikhārah.

3 – If he has decided to travel for Hajj or jihad or any other purpose, he should start by repenting from all sins and makrūh (disliked) actions; he should put right any wrongs he has done towards people; he should pay off debts and return anything that has been entrusted to him; he should ensure that his funds are from halal earnings.

4 – He should seek to please his parents and those whom he is obliged to honor and obey.

5 – It is mustahabb for him to seek a companion who desires good and hates evil, so that if he forgets, he can remind him, if he remembers, he can help him, and if he happens to be a man of knowledge, he should stick with him.

6 – It is mustahabb for him to bid farewell to his family, neighbours, friends and all his loved ones. He should bid them farewell and he should say to each of them:

أَسْتَوْدِعُ اللَّهَ دِينَكَ وَأَمَانَتَكَ وَخَوَاتِيمَ عَمَلِكَ

‘I place your religion, your faithfulness and the ends of your deeds in the trust of Allah.’ (Ahmad,Ibn Majah)

The one who is staying behind should say to the traveller:

زَوَّدَكَ اللَّهُ التَّقْوَى وَغَفَرَ لَكَ ذَنْبَكَ وَيَسَّرَ لَكَ الْخَيْرَ حَيْثُ كُنْتَ

‘May Allah bless you with taqwa and forgive you your sins and make goodness easy for you wherever you are.’ (Ahmad,Ibn Majah)

7 – It is Sunnah to say the following du’aa’ when leaving the house:

بسم الله تَوَكَّلْتُ عَلَى اللَّهِ وَلَا حَوْلَ وَلَا قُوَّةَ إِلَّا بِاللَّهِ

Bismillaah, tawakkaltu ‘ala Allah, wa laa hawla wa laa quwwata illa Billaah.

“In the name of Allah, I put my trust in Allah and there is no power and no strength except with Allah.” (An-Nasai)

اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَعُوذُ بِكَ أَنْ أَضِلَّ أَوْ أُضَّلَّ أَوْ أَظْلِمَ أَوْ أُظْلَمَ أَوْ أَجْهَلَ أَوْ يُجْهَلَ عَلَىَّ

 Allaahumma inni a’oodhu bika min an adilla aw udalla aw azilla aw uzalla aw azlima aw uzlama aw ajhala aw yujhal ‘alayya

“O Allah, I seek refuge with You lest I should stray or be led astray, or slip or be tripped, or do wrong or be wronged, or behave foolishly or be treated foolishly.”
(Abu-Dawud,Ibn Majah)

8 -The Sunnah when leaving one’s house and wanting to get up on one’s ride (be it a horse, a car, an airplane etc.) is to say “Bismillah”. Then say:

اَلْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ الَّذِي سَخَّرَ لَنَا هَذَا وَمَا كُنَّا لَهُ مُقْرِنِينَ وَإِنَّا إِلَى رَبِّنَا لَمُنْقَلِبُونَ

“….How perfect He is, The One Who has place this (transport) at our service, and we ourselves would not have been capable of that, and to our Rabb is our final destination.”
[Al-Qur’an:Az-Zukhruf (The ornaments of gold):13-14]

9 – Then say Alhamdulillaah (praise be to Allah) three times and Allah o Akbar (Allah is most Great) three times, then say:

سُبْحَانَكَ إِنِّي ظَلَمْتُ نَفْسِي فَاغْفِرْ لِي فَإِنَّهُ لَا يَغْفِرُ الذُّنوُبَ إِلَّا أَنْتَ

“Glory be to You, verily I have wronged myself, so forgive me, for surely no one can forgive sins except You.”

10 – And after that say:

اللَّهُمَّ إِنَّا نَسْأَلُكَ فِي سَفَرِنَا هَذَا الْبِرَّ وَالتَّقْوَى وَمِنَ الْعَمَلِ مَا تَرْضَى اللَّهُمَّ هَوِّنْ عَلَيْنَا سَفَرَنَا هَذَا وَاطْوِ لَنَا بُعْدَهُ اللَّهُمَّ أَنْتَ الصَّاحِبُ فِي السَّفَرِ وَالْخَلِيفَةُ فِي الْأَهْلِ اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنْ وَعْثَاءِ السَّفَرِ وَكَآبَةِ الْمَنْظَرِ وَسُوءِ الْمُنْقَلَبِ فِي الْمَالِ وَالْأَهْلِ وَأَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنَ الْحُورِ بَعْدَ الْكُورِ وَدَعْوَةِ الْمَظْلُومِ

“O Allah, we ask You for righteousness and piety in this journey of ours, and we ask You for deeds which please You. O Allah, facilitate our journey and let us cover its distance quickly. O Allah, You are the Companion on the journey and the Successor (the One Who guards them in a person’s absence) over the family. O Allah, I seek refuge with You from the  difficulties of travel, from having a change of heart and from being in a bad predicament, and I seek refuge with You from an ill-fated outcome (with regard to wealth and family).” (Muslim)

11 – It is mustahabb to travel with a group of people, because the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said: “If the people knew what I know about being alone, no one would ever travel alone at night.” (Bukhari).

12 – It is mustahabb for the group to appoint the best and wisest among them as their ameer (leader) and to obey him.

The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said: “When three people set out on a journey, let them appoint one of their number as their leader.” (Abu Dawood–Hassan).

13 Adopt a kind and good attitude, and avoid arguing or pushing, backbiting, crankiness or bad manners.

14 – It is mustahabb for the traveler to say takbeer (Allaahu Akbar) when going up a rise in the land and to say tasbeeh (Subhaan’Allah) when going down into valleys.

15 – If you see a village or town that you want to enter, it is mustahabb to say:

اللَّهُمَّ إِنَّى أسْأَلُكَ خَيْرَها وَخَيْرَ أَهْلِهَا وَخَيْرَ مَا فِيهَا وَأعُوذُ بِكَ مِنْ شَرِّهَا وَشَرِّ أَهْلِهَا وَشَرِّ مَا فِيهَا

“O Allah, I ask You for its goodness, the goodness of its people and the goodness of what is in it, and I seek refuge with You from its evil, the evil of its people and the evil of what is in it.” (Al-Hakim) 

16- It is mustahabb to make du’aa’ most of the time when traveling, because one’s du’aa‘ will be answered as per the hadith of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم):

“There are three prayers that are not rejected: the prayer of a parent for his child, the prayer of the fasting person and the prayer of the traveler.”
(Al-Bayhaqi; Saheeh al-Jaami’)

17 – Try to remain in a state of purity and to pray on time. Allah  (سبحانه و تعالى) has made it easy for you by allowing tayammum and joining and shortening of prayers.

18 – The Sunnah when stopping in a place is to say:

أَعُوذُ بِكَلِمَاتِ اللَّهِ التَّامَّاتِ مِنْ شَرِّ مَا خَلَقَ

“I seek refuge in the totality of words of Allah from the evil of creation”

The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said: “Whoever makes a stop then says: ‘A’oodhu bi kalimaat Allaah il-taammati min sharri ma khalaq (I seek refuge in the perfect words of Allaah from the evil of that which He has created),’ nothing will harm him until he moves on from that place.” (Muslim).

19 – It is mustahabb for a traveling group to camp close to one another and not to be scattered or separated unnecessarily, because of the hadith:

“When the people stopped in a place, they would scatter in the mountain passes and valleys. The Messenger (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said: “Your scattering in these mountain passes and valleys is something from the Shaytaan.” After that, they never stopped in any place without being close together.” (Abu Dawood–Hassan).

20 – The Sunnah for the traveler is that when he has done what he set out to do, he should hasten to return to his family, because the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said: “Travel is a kind of torment, which keeps one of you from his food and drink. When one of you has finished what he set out to do, let him hasten back to his family.” (Bukhari)

21 – The Sunnah is to say when returning from a journey:

لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا اللَّهُ وَحْدَهُ لَا شَرِيكَ لَهُ لَهُ الْمُلْكُ وَلَهُ الْحَمْدُ وَهُوَ عَلَى كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٍ آيِبُونَ تَائِبُونَ عَابِدُونَ سَاجِدُونَ لِرَبِّنَا حَامِدُونَ صَدقَ اللَّهُ وَعْدَهُ وَنَصَرَ عَبْدَهُ وَهَزَمَ الْأَحْزَابَ وَحْدَهُ

“When he (صلى الله عليه وسلم) came back from a campaign or from Hajj and ‘Umrah, he would say takbeer on every high ground three times, then he would say:

Laa ilaaha ill-Allaah wahdahu laa shareeka lah, lahu’l-mulk wa lahu’l-hamd wa huwa ‘ala kulli shay’in qadeer. Aayiboona taa’iboona ‘aabidoona, saajidoona li rabbina haamidoon. Sadaqa Allaahu wa’dah wa nasara ‘abdah wa hazama al-ahzaaba wahdah’.

(There is no god but Allah alone, with no partner or associate. His is the Dominion, to Him be all praise, and He is Able to do all things. Returning, repenting, worshipping, prostrating to our Lord and praising Him. Allaah fulfilled His promise, granted victory to His slave and defeated the confederates Alone). (Bukhari and Muslim).

22 – The Sunnah when returning home is to start by going to the masjid that is nearest one’s home first, and praying two rak’ahs with the intention of offering Salaat al-Qudoom (the prayer of arrival) and then go home.

“When he (Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم) came back from a journey, would start by going to the mosque where he would pray two rak’ahs and then sit down.” (Bukhari & Muslim).

23 – It is mustahabb to make food for the returning traveler, whether it is made by the traveler himself or by someone else for him.

“When he (صلى الله عليه وسلم) came back to Madinah from a journey, he would slaughter a camel or a cow.” (Bukhari).

24 – Women cannot travel alone unnecessarily without a mahram whether that is a long or a short distance.

The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said: “It is not permissible for a woman who believes in Allah and the Last Day to travel for the distance of one day and one night except with a mahram.” (Bukhari and Muslim).

Such supplications change our ordinary activity into worship through mere intention. Travelling when done in order to enable one to carry on with good work, become a good deed itself and is rewarded.

Islam has commanded us to undertake a long journeys and distant travels. Covering of the distances of east and west is considered as an approved act. But it should not be for mere amusement and pleasure seeking. Our travel should be for deriving benefits and for acquiring knowledge. It should not be for passing away time or for sport but for research and fact finding and discovery, and for learning a lesson from histories of the dead and the living.

Abu Haamid Al-Ghazaali (يَرحَمُهُ اَلله) mentioned some types of vacationing by saying: “Continuous vacationing and entertainment destroy the heart. Some people wish for nothing except to boast and have a fine reputation, which leads them to resemble the people of great disobedience in the way they talk, their habits, the way they perform some acts of worship and their manners. They think highly of themselves and think they are doing well. How foolish is the one who cannot differentiate between being healthy and a having a wound which is swollen; such people are despised by Allah, because Allah hates unutilised youth, and the only thing which led such people to this type of vacationing is unutilised youth”.

Ibn Al-Jawzi, (يَرحَمُهُ اَلله), said: “If traveling through the land is not for the purpose of seeking knowledge or propagating Islam, then it is prohibited.”

Imam Ahmad, (يَرحَمُهُ اَلله), said: “Traveling (for entertainment) is not recommended in Islam nor was it the practice of the Prophets and the righteous, because it distracts the heart” and when he was asked once about amusement, he, (يَرحَمُهُ اَلله) replied: “No, rather, amusement is attained by frequently going to the mosque.”

O Slaves of Allah (سبحانه و تعالى)! Fear Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) regarding your vacations and take a serious stance towards finding the proper way of utilising and preserving your time. For the Muslim time is life itself. It’s a valuable commodity which is on lease from Allah (سبحانه و تعالى).

The Muslim awareness of time is increased when he habitually supplicates in the manner taught to him by Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم).

In order to realise the importance of this issue, we must know that everybody will have to answer five questions, which were mentioned by the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم). Abu Barzah, (رضى الله عنه) narrated that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said: “No person’s feet will be able to move on the Day of Resurrection until he is asked about five things: how he spent his life; how he utilised his youth; how he earned his wealth and how he spent it; and what he did with his knowledge” (Tirmidhi)

About Quran Reflections

Al-Huda's branch at Khayaban-e-Sehar is one of the few Quran courses being regularly conducted in Karachi, Pakistan, where the mode of instruction and examination is English. The students and teachers have decided to upload their reflections on the Quran and class notes on this blog, in order to be available to a global audience for the latter's benefit and inspiration.
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