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Mother, Are We Traveling to Paradise?

by Farida Haji

“Traveling — it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” – Ibn Battuta

A five-hour flight from Dubai to Dar-es-Salaam turned into an enriching experience for my six-year-old. Travel is the genuine way to learn about Allah’s creations, human creations, and ourselves. When one travels with a positive purpose, it can be life-changing.

Going on a Journey

A checklist was given to me while preparing for our journey.  Toothbrush, comb, kohl pencil, pair of scissors, pocket mirror— and sweets too, my daughter insisted, as gifts for her cousins. She hugged her grandparents, kissed their hands, requested them for dua, and bid farewell.

“Pass our salaams to everybody. Do not forget to do sadaqah on your way. See you soon, InshaAllah.” We heard Grandma, her voice fading, as our taxi went further away from home.

On the flight, we followed the route on the screen in front of us. Outside the window, we saw the beautiful blue sky. We felt like superheroes when we passed through big, white clouds.

Lailat al Miraj

“Do you know Rasulullah ﷺ traveled by air many years ago?” I said.

“But there were no airplanes at that time,” she replied.

“You’re right. Let me tell you about Rasulullah’s ﷺ journey. On the 27th night of Rajab ul Asab, Allah sent Al-Buraq, a bird, with Jibril to Rasulullah ﷺ. He traveled from Masjid al Haram to Masjid Al Aqsa. He flew high, to the seven heavens.

He met prophets Adam, Isa, Yahya, Yusuf, Idris, Haroon, Musa, and Ibrahim. He ascended to Baitul Ma’mur, Allah’s house in Jannah; at the end, there was a tree, Sidrat Al-Muntaha, where no one but Rasullah ﷺ was allowed. Allah instructed Rasulullah ﷺ that his people have to offer 50 prayers daily. But Rasulullah ﷺ reduced it to five — Fajr, Zohor, Asar, Maghrib and Isyak.”

“So many things happened in one night?” she wondered.

“Indeed,” I said, “the night is called Lailat al Miraj. All this happened within minutes. However, the distance between Mecca and Jerusalem is 1239.42 km. Approximately a two-hour flight!”

“Within a night, Rasulullah ﷺ traveled and was given infinite knowledge,” I said. I opened the Quran tab in my Muslim Pro app, and read the verses of Surah Al-Isra. 

“Tell me more! Tell me more!” She wriggled in her seat. “Alright,” I sighed. Doing the dhikr of Allah was part of traveling as well, I thought to myself and continued.

Prophet Musa crosses the Red Sea

Prophet Musa was traveling to his hometown, Egypt. On the way he saw a bright light, so he walked in that direction. He found a tree burning, but it wasn’t turning to ash; it was an illuminating light brighter than the eye could take. Allah spoke to Musa there and commanded him to invite his brother to join his faith. The evil pharaoh, Fir’aun, Musa’s brother disagreed, so Musa set off on a journey guided by Allah with his followers. He traveled towards the Red Sea. It was a dead-end with the sea on one side and the raging army of Fir’aun on the other. Allah commanded Musa to strike the sea with his staff, so he did and the sea parted in two. Musa led his followers across the sea to safety.

“Are these stories real?” she wondered. I embraced her and nodded my head. They felt unreal. That is exactly what happens when you travel. You learn so many things, you would never know. But you need to look for them. You need to set out in search of knowledge and you will find miracles of Allah all around you.

Ibn Battuta, The Traveller

I shared about Ibn Batutta, a Moroccan traveler from the early 1300s. He left his home and family at the age of 21 to perform Hajj. It took 18 months to reach Mecca. He was so inspired by his experiences, that he continued traveling for the next 30 years, through Islamic worlds, nearly 40 countries if we were to plot his travels on a modern map. After covering 75,000 miles, he finally headed home.

Hajj

“Can you tell me the most important journey we need to make?” Her eyelids were drooping.

“The most important journey of a Muslim’s life is Hajj. Travel to the house of Allah. A trip we have to prepare for in advance.” Her eyelids fell over her sparkling eyes. “May Allah bless me with enough to perform Hajj once in my life,” I whispered to myself and rested my head on the seat as well.

The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said,

‏من سلك طريقًا يبتغي فيه علمًا سهل الله له طريقًا إلى الجنة، وإن الملائكة لتضع أجنحتها لطالب العلم رضا بما صنع، وإن العالم ليستغفر له من في السماوات والأرض حتى الحيتان في الماء، وفضل العالم على العابد كفضل القمر على سائر الكواكب، وإن العلماء ورثة الأنبياء وإن الأنبياء لم يورثوا دينارًا ولا درهما وإنما ورثوا العلم‏.‏ فمن أخذه أخذ بحظ وافر‏‏

“He who follows a path in quest of knowledge, Allah will make the path of Jannah easy to him. The angels lower their wings over the seeker of knowledge, being pleased with what he does. The inhabitants of the heavens and the earth and even the fish in the depth of the oceans seek forgiveness for him. The superiority of the learned man over the devout worshipper is like that of the full moon to the rest of the stars (i.e., in brightness). The learned are the heirs of the Prophets who bequeath neither dinar nor dirham but only that of knowledge; and he who acquires it, has in fact acquired an abundant portion.”

[Riyad as-Salihin 1388]

Paradise

I felt a nudge on my elbow. I woke up and saw the plane descending. Under us, there were lush gardens, vast oceans at a distance, and the magnificent sun shining in all its glory.

“Mother, are we traveling to Paradise?” she asked excitedly.

“Not yet, my love, but one day we will. However, like all journeys, we have to prepare for that as well.”

“Will we go together?” she asked.

I smiled and said, “Pray to Allah, like we are together here, we will meet each other there as well. InshaAllah.”

We are all travelers in transit. Uncertain of when we may depart. Yet our destination is the same. Dunya to akhirat.