I have some friends who are perfectly happy living in Malaysia. If given the chance and the opportunity, they would not even consider travelling to a place such as Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Korea, England or the US.
In truth, I believe that every few years, it’s healthy to visit other countries, especially where the minority are Muslims.
Islam taught us that travelling is a sunnah of our beloved Prophet (PBUH). In fact, we are encouraged to travel, and to move to a new place away from our comfort zones at least once in our lives.
Travelling actually has a lot of benefits that is beneficial for our maturity, our faith, and our selves.
Travelling makes you talk to new people. In fact, get out of your comfort zone and talk to the locals. This will increase your confidence and sometimes even your strength in using a foreign language. You may be surprised with how friendly foreigners are.
You face the difficulty of finding halal food. I would argue that this is actually an advantage of travelling. When we find it hard to find halal food, we become creative and challenge ourselves. Maybe we would just eat fish, or bread. But at least we will gain new experiences and learn to be grateful for how easy it is to find halal food in Malaysia.
You get to see beautiful sights and places, creations of Allah SWT. Have you ever visited Switzerland, or New Zealand? How about the Grand Canyon or Niagara Falls in the US? Subhanallah, the sights you could see there are nothing like what can be found in Malaysia. It is during these times that we witness the beauty of our world, the beauty of Allah SWT and His creation.
We learn to take pride in our identity. For the women, wearing a hijab among non-Muslims could be quite daunting at first, especially if we are travelling alone. But then, some may ask about our hijab, or they might ask about Islam, and here we will begin to tell them about Islam and take pride in being Muslims. Rather than taking our identities for granted, we will begin to love ourselves more for being Muslim.
We need to adapt to their culture. Their washrooms normally only have toilet paper. Some countries prefer to pay with cards rather than cash. Some eat with chopsticks, rather than bare hands. This is the time for us to adapt to their culture and learn how they live their daily lives. We can even learn from their good habits and teach it to others when we return to our country.
We see the world as bigger than ourselves. Sometimes, we exaggerate and believe that our lives are so important, that we can never leave our work, or that we do not have time for family and friends. When we take time off to travel, our perspective changes. Work feels so far away. So does all our problems that we left behind. We suddenly realise that the world is so much bigger than us, and that helps us to put things into perspective: our problems are truthfully not that big at all.
We discover things that we never would have before. How many of us have felt snow in our lives? Can we imagine it? The cold, dry air. The flakes of slow on our palms, melting due to the heat of our skin. Have we ever felt someone shoving snow down our shirt? How about making snowballs and having a duel? If we never travel, these are things that we will never discover, never experience. And with such a small world, isn’t it such a waste for us not to experience life to the fullest?
We learn to be careful with our money. We leave all our money and belongings behind. We travel with a certain number of clothes, and a certain amount of money that we need to ration during the trip. If we live lavish lifestyles in Malaysia, suddenly we have the need to spend carefully. You’d be surprised with how little you can actually spend in a day when living with a budget!
We can begin to relate to the journey of Rasulullah (PBUH). As we struggle, as we come across new kinds of people and new places, we can then begin to understand and relate to the journeys of Rasulullah (PBUH) and the sahabat. Every travel story has its ups and downs. Never opt for a luxury choice when travelling. Instead, go there like a nomad, and experience a little hardship along the way.
We can help with the spread of Islam. I do not mean wave a banner or hand out flyers about Islam. Just go through your days in that foreign country as yourself, with your kind manners and adab. So many people have the wrong perception about Islam and Muslims, and it is our task to show that it is actually a beautiful religion through what we do and say to others. Who knows, maybe someone would end up falling in love by just seeing how beautifully we can wear our hijab.
There you are, ten reasons to plan your holiday in a non-Muslim country! I personally love travelling, and I love hearing stories of people who have been to other countries.
Have you ever travelled before? Do you have stories and fond memories about the trip? Come share in the comments section!
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