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Prophet Muhammad — 63: Facing the difficulties of travel

Published: 25/03/2011 10:31:00 PM GMT
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By SHEIKH MUHAMMAD AL-GHAZALI

Published: Feb 25, 2011 03:25 Updated: Feb 25, 2011 03:25

Travel has become second nature to many people all over the world. In the past, travel was very hard, presenting the traveller with great difficulties. Human efforts have been exerted in a variety of ways to reduce these difficulties, but the fact remains that travel involves difficulties of different types, including parting from family and loved ones, changing one’s habits, the need to adjust to the prevailing customs at the destination, as well as not knowing what to expect there.


 The Prophet (peace be upon him) traveled several times in his youth and early adulthood, when he attended to his future wife’s business, and then later after he became God’s messenger. He accurately describes the feelings and wishes of a traveler, recognizing his need of a helpful friend. Therefore, he establishes a splendid relation between the traveler and God, based on fine supplication. He says: “Whoever embarks on travel should say to those he is leaving behind: “I trust you to God who is always faithful to His trust.” He explains this in another Hadith in which he is quoted as saying: “When God is entrusted with something, He takes care of it.” What this means is that when you embark on travel, you should remember that there is the One who is never away when you are away. That is, God Almighty. When you appeal to God to protect your family and children, entrusting them to His care, you will, on your return, find them well taken care of in your absence.

Travel often leaves us without many masks we acquire as we go about life. It also takes away our usual support that we grow to rely upon. Therefore, when we travel we are more keenly aware of what we find and what we miss. The Prophet’s prayer and supplication is particularly suitable to these conditions. A man said to the Prophet: “I am going on a trip. Could you please give me something to help me? He said: ‘May God help you with being God-fearing.’ The man said: ‘And something more?’ The Prophet said: ‘And may He forgive you your sins.’ The man said: ‘And more than that?’ The Prophet said: ‘And may He facilitate what is good for you wherever you happen to be.’” 

Abu Hurayrah reports that a man said to the Prophet: “Messenger of God, I am going on a trip. What do you recommend me to do?” The Prophet said: “I urge you to remain God-fearing and to always seek what is honorable.” When the man departed, the Prophet prayed: “My Lord, let his far destination be close, and make his travel easy.”

With smoother roads and comfortable means of transport, travel has become much easier. A trip that could take months in the past is covered today in a matter of hours. Yet despite all the comfort of modern travel, travel involves risks and dangers, whether by land, sea or air. Although these risks have been significantly reduced, the fact that they have not been totally eradicated makes all travelers exposed to them to a certain degree. We always hear of dangers faced by travelers. Hence, to claim that one does not need God’s protection is sheer madness. Road accidents continue to be one of the worst dangers that plague human life. Hence, the Prophet directed his companions who embark on a journey to seek God’s protection and pray for His care. Abdullah ibn Umar used to say to anyone embarking on a trip: “Get closer to me so that I bid you farewell like the Prophet used to do.” He would then say to him: “I entrust to God your faith, honesty and the outcome of your actions.”

Ibn Umar said: “When the Prophet bid farewell to anyone embarking on a trip, he would hold his hand and would not let go of it until that person lets go of the Prophet’s hand.” This is a gesture of a strong feeling toward his companions. The Prophet would not leave the man’s hand, so as not to give him any impression to hasten his departure. He would pray for him that God will preserve his faith, help him discharge his commitments and make the ultimate result of his actions a good outcome. This is the best prayer. Anyone can make a mistake. This prayer helps him to rise after a slip and to mend what is wrong so that the ultimate outcome of his action is good. ¬




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