“Travelling – It leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller” [Ibn Battuta]
Alhamdulilah ever since I have been a kid I have always been fascinated with travelling, civilisation and history. It was only in my late teens did I really get the opportunity to explore this more extensively.
Over the years as I have steadily grown in my faith, I have desired and inclined to learn more about Islamic history. In school, we were always taught about everyone else’s history from the British Empire, the rule of the Romans, Greek Philosophy, and other historical lessons/events apart from our own. This then gave me the impetus to go out there and seek to learn about our own history through my own lens of travelling.
Masha’Allah tabarak’Allah my Lord has blessed me and enabled me to have travelled extensively to many countries for which I am immensely grateful for. This is why I would like to share my experience in order to benefit others Insha’Allah.
Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem…
One of the first countries that I ever had the chance to visit was the beautiful and majestic land of Turkey. Turkey has so much to offer such as the Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sophia, the Bosphorus river and much more. The weather is great, the food is lovely and there is an incredible legacy that the Ottomans have left behind. I have been here many times and would happily visit again time and time over. This is a must on your bucket list! If you don’t believe me then I’m sure the Ertugrul series will surely inspire you to visit this amazing country!
2. Southern Spain (Al-Andalus)
When one thinks of Spain we don’t always realise that Islam has shaped and played a unique pivotal role in the country. Muslims ruled here for over 700+ years and lived in peace with people of all faiths. Southern Spain which includes Granada, Seville and Cordoba was known to be a positive melting pot where Muslims, Jews and Christians all lived in harmony.
I could never have envisaged that Southern Spain would be so beautiful and mesmerising. This place has everything to offer from the sunny Mediterranean weather, friendly locals, grand architecture, Cordoba to The Alhambra Palace.
The Muslim period in Spain is often described as a ‘golden age’ of learning where libraries, colleges, public baths were established and literature, poetry and architecture flourished. Both Muslims and non-Muslims made major contributions to this flowering of culture. I’d describe Spain as simply beautiful.
3. Egypt (Misr)
Ancient Egypt is one of the oldest civilisations in the world and it is synonymous with the pyramids, Al Azhar Mosque, Pharoah, mummies, Moses/Musa (upon him be peace), Salahuddin Al Ayubbi and many other notable personalities/attractions.
Nonetheless the distinct arrival of Islam in Egypt was very well timed when under the leadership of Amr Ibn Al Aas (may Allah be pleased with him) the blessed land of Misr was opened up for the believers. Egypt has ever since remained an important part of the Muslim world.
The whole of Egypt is enriched in so much history and beauty that it is just phenomenal. Crucially this land has so much to offer from exceptional history, wonderful education for kids, adults and pretty much everyone. Make sure you visit this place if you can!
Islam has been continuously present in Bosnia and Herzegovina since the early 15th century. I first had the chance to visit this remarkable country in 2012 after I heard about the devastating war it had gone through in the 1990’s.
A close friend of mine put me in touch with an organisation called MADE in Europe who had a Development Programme whereby you could go and work on agricultural activities, carry out a three day peace march trek (mars mira) and stay with a Bosnian family affected by the war.
This seemed all good to be true and so I took the opportunity. I had a fantastic time and was able to set up a fruit farm project which provided sustainable income for families.
“Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.” [Chinese proverb]
Islam came to Malaysia in the 13th century principally through Arab and Asian traders who demonstrated impeccable characteristics. Through beautiful mannerisms, excellent business ethics and good general conduct, they won the hearts and minds of the natives leading to people accepting Islam in large numbers Alhamdulillah.
Having travelled to many places in the world, I must admit that this place has to be my favourite. My wife and I thoroughly enjoyed it as the people here were so easy going and friendly. Islam is naturally practiced here and seen as a way of life. We found it to be embedded within their culture Masha’Allah.
Additionally the food is fantastic, there are mosques galore, the people are highly educated and the country is very modern. We found a right balance here and totally loved it! The multiculturalism and tolerance of people simply is second to none. The only downside is that it is around 14 hours away from the UK so good luck! Nonetheless you will love it Insha’Allah.
This place is absolutely breathtaking and quite frankly mesmerising. With crystal white sands and sheltered lagoons, the Maldives is paradise on earth. The country is a tropical nation made up of many different islands. The locals are friendly, the country is safe, there is halal food everywhere and it is not as expensive as people may think it is. Do your research and you will be able to find good deals. I can guarantee you that as my wife and I did it ourselves Alhamdulillah. This is definitely a fun and romantic place to come to. The things you can do here are endless and you will be quite thrilled. Do it if you can!
7. Morocco (Maghreb)
Islam has been in Morocco since around 670 AD when the Umayyads, under the general Uqba idn Nafi, conquered most of the Maghreb, which includes modern Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria and Libya. Following that conquest the indigenous Berber population slowly converted to Islam. Today Islam is the constitutionally established state religion.
Morocco is a gateway to Africa, and a country of dizzying diversity. Here you’ll find epic mountain ranges, ancient cities, sweeping deserts and warm hospitality. I have been here a few times and would happily come back. It is cheap and cheerful and easy to get to. Top sights include the Atlas mountains, Jemaa el-Fnaa, Koutoubia Mosque and many more. I’ve been here with my friends, my wife on another occasion and also stayed with a close Moroccan friend and his family which was a great experience. It’s one of those places where you must go to if you can Insha’Allah.
The Muslim population of India is the world’s third largest after Indonesia and Pakistan. It also has the largest Muslim-minority population. India is home to 10% of the world’s Muslim population.
By the way, did you know that a man named APJ Abdul Kalam was an Indian scientist who served as the 11th President of India from 2002 to 2007? He was a proud and practising Muslim and Islam was integral to his life. He played a pivotal role in politics and technology for his country.
In relation to my travels in India I must say that The Golden Triangle is a must do when in India. This includes Delhi, Jaipur and Agra where the magical Taj Mahal can be found. There are a plethora of incredible destinations in India so apologies for not mentioning them all as I would not be doing it justice. Moreover, this country has a lot of Islamic history which I’d recommend you to research further.
My experience in India was out of this world. We went on a elephant ride, met tigers and explored the history of India. It was truly incredible! I found India to be vastly rich in culture, it was packed full of bazaars and and there was certainly a great buzz around it. My only regret was not visiting Mumbai as we just did not have the time but my wife still laments this sadly (oh dear). Maybe next time Insha’Allah.
9. Palestine (Al Quds)
The history of Palestine represents the history of Islam from the first prophet of Islam, Adam (peace be upon him), to the last prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). We all know that Palestine is the land of prophets who were sent with the message of Islam and that Masjid Al-Aqsa is the third most holiest place in Islam.
This place has a very special place in all our hearts especially Jerusalem. It is a holy site where many of the prophets were born or died, including Prophets Ibrahim, Lut, Dawood, Suleiman, Musa and Isa (peace be upon them all).
Baitul-Maqdis was the site of Isra’ and Mi’raj of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) during the Meccan period of his message. Hence why Palestine is of great significant importance to us.
In addition, I have visited this beautiful place twice Alhamdulillah. Once with a large group and another time with my wife during the blessed month of Ramadan. It was such a spiritually uplifting experience and despite the challenges in getting there, I would highly recommend you all to go there if you can Insha’Allah. The people of the Holy Land know that we love them but we need to show our love further by visiting and meeting them.
Islam is the majority religion of The Gambia, with around 95% of the population being Muslim. This small West African nation borders Senegal, with a narrow Atlantic coastline. It’s known for its diverse ecosystems around the central Gambia River. Abundant wildlife in its Kiang West National Park and Bao Bolong Wetland Reserve includes monkeys, leopards, hippos, hyenas and rare birds. The capital, Banjul, and nearby Serrekunda offer access to beaches.
My wife (may Allah bless her) and I had a dream and vision to one day be involved with an orphanage / school project. It did not matter where it was as long as we were able to help others. Alhamdulillah with the tawfiq and decree of Allah this was made into reality Masha’Allah.
Through our contacts from Human Aid UK we were able to arrange this and off we went to The Gambia. We were drawn to this place as it had a lot of poverty and they needed our help. We had never been to this side of Africa before and were assured that this was a safe and friendly place to travel to which it was. This experience was greatly empowering and this was a unique legacy project which we will treasure forever. I would most definitely encourage you all to visit Africa if you can Insha’Allah.
11. United Arab Emirates (Dubai)
Dubai is the largest and most populous city in the United Arab Emirates. On the southeast coast of the Persian Gulf, it is the capital of the Emirate of Dubai, one of the seven emirates that make up the country. Dubai is a city and emirate known for luxury shopping, ultramodern architecture and is very family friendly.
I am more of a natural scenic person but I have to say that the Burj Khalifa, an 830m-tall tower, dominates the skyscraper-filled skyline which is really impressive. At its foot lies Dubai Fountain, with jets and lights choreographed to music. On artificial islands just offshore is Atlantis, The Palm, a resort with water and marine-animal parks.
Whereas the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is located in Abu Dhabi, the capital city of the United Arab Emirates. The largest mosque in the country, it is the key place of worship for Friday gathering and Eid prayers. Honestly speaking I know it is all subjective but Dubai is not really my cup of tea. Nonetheless it is a place to visit for the experience and it is really family friendly. I had the best breakfast ever in Dubai.
12. Saudi Arabia (Makkah & Madinah)
There is no better place to visit than the heart of Islam. The two cities of Makkah and Madinah play a prominent role in our Deen and my travels here have been captivating and just amazing. Get to know your roots in relation to your faith as it will certainly provide you with a special insight. As they say, patience is truly a virtue and once you are here, you will forget about all your troubles.
To be fair, no words can describe the feeling when you see the Haram or the Prophet’s mosque. I would strongly recommend you to partake in Umrah or Hajj as soon as you are physically and financially able to. It will be the best experience of your life! When you do go, please kindly keep my family and I in your duas.
Alhamdulilah Islam has given me a direction in life and through travelling I have been able to grow and develop as a person and Muslim. In my honest opinion I believe that our Deen encourages us to travel, learn and acquire wisdom.
“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 eyes that are blinded, but blinded are the hearts which are within the breasts.” [Qur’an 22:46]
Furthermore I have been able to engage in a wide array of adventures and journeys and for this I am deeply grateful for. We are a universal collective umbrella/body (ummah) and by travelling you really get to experience and ascertain this. I believe that I now understand evermore the importance of unity.
Travelling has allowed me to meet so many different people, do cool stuff and get to know myself. I feel energised and revitalised when I travel. Travel enables you to pause and reflect on life and get closer to your creator. You truly get to know your own character and others when you travel. It teacher you patience and steadfastness. It is most definitely empowering!
Subsequently travelling has taught me to care about the environment, it has tremendously inspired me and enabled me to connect with others on a human level. Ultimately I would say travel light, take lessons from everything and that the world is your oyster!
I can honestly say that travelling is one of the best forms of education. Simply because there’s so much to learn from it and as it allows you to fully appreciate things in it’s entirety. I hold a great passion for travelling and I wanted to pass on any knowledge/experience I have acquired through this medium Insha’Allah.
I would strongly encourage you all to travel if you have the means and ability. Travelling has enabled me to grow and develop as a person and it played a crucial role into shaping my character into who I am today. I believe that I am directly more resilient, assertive, organised and patient as a result of travelling. Travelling for sure helps you to find yourself. Whatever you do in life make sure it makes you happy. Tie your camel and trust in Allah.
Finally I would like to dedicate this article to my two good friends Moudud and Shamyead as well as my uncle Karim. Additionally I would like to give my thanks and appreciation to my Lord, my wife, my daughter Arisha and my amazing family who encouraged and inspired me to write this article.
Wassalamu’alaykum – May peace be with you all.
*Read | Learn | Reflect*