Travelling and exploration have long been of immense interest and value to mankind and a great source of knowledge and experience. Today as we see previously unexplored lands come into focus and vast areas of untapped resources emerge as a result of advancing technology, it inevitably leads to a desire to know more and to cross the horizons that were previously unapproached. For a common man who can financially afford such a journey, it provides an opportunity to broaden his interests and for some, to end the ennui of everyday life. Where the Muslim traveler is concerned, the matter is slightly more complex. While Islam poses no restrictions on travel, in fact it is encouraged to study and explore Allah’s SWT earth and see the bounties he has filled the earth with, it is necessary to keep a few requirements in mind that should be the priority needs for any Muslim who plans to travel. Allah SWT says in the Holy Quran to the Prophet ﷺ:
Say, [O Muhammad], “Travel through the land and observe how He began creation. Then Allah will produce the final creation. Indeed Allah, over all things, is competent.” (29:20)
Halal Travel & Muslim Travel
The question of Halal Travel and Muslim Travel tends to confuse many as the terms are often used interchangeably and interpreted differently. In most cases, Halal travel refers to the journey of a Muslim traveler who is aiming for a destination that is more or less strictly halal and sticks to the requirements of faith for example, availability of Halal food, no alcohol, masjids in abundance, no open nudity etc. Unfortunately, there are only a scant few destinations that promise a strict adherence to faith for example the Holy cities of Makkah and Madinah. While previously Muslim tourism was primarily restricted to such countries, it has now expanded immensely to include major non-Muslim countries despite global problems such as Islamophobia.
Muslim-friendly travel is a much broader term and as the name implies, involves a cordial reception of Muslims to cater to their needs for example halal restaurants in European and other non-Muslim countries or even restaurants in general that have Halal meal options available. The trend towards Muslim friendly travel has greatly increased in the last few decades and barring incidents of discriminations and racism, Muslims are mostly comfortable with the living facilities provided by countries that are not predominantly Muslim.
Understanding the Needs of the Muslim Traveler
Muslims are encouraged to explore and discover the vast earth of Allah SWT and the numerous blessings bestowed upon it but their faith goes hand in hand with this endeavor. For countries with a Muslim minority, it is important to understand the needs of a Muslim traveler so that they can be accommodated by the tourism industry.
Islam lays considerable stress upon eating food that is Halal (lawful) and Muslim travellers are in need of eateries that acknowledge this requirement and make an effort to serve them meals that are in accordance with the rules of the Shariah. It is common knowledge that Muslims do not eat pork and can only eat meat that has been sanctioned the Islamic way.
Ablution and prayer are another significant aspect of a Believer and there should not be an excuse for slackening on either of these. Muslims need to purify themselves for prayer and hence ablution is essential before they pray. While Masjids (mosques) are a definite plus, any space that allows Muslims to worship comfortably would suffice.
Other needs that also stand foremost for a Muslim traveler include some level of gender segregation in places such as gyms and swimming pools and other similar recreational places. Muslims are not allowed to consume alcohol so this is something that should be considered while serving Muslims.
Challenges and Solutions
The scope of Muslim travel has increased over the years to include more countries that have Muslims in minority. While Islamophobic elements still pose a potential threat to any Muslims who are travelling to non-Muslim destinations along with racist and discriminatory attacks, it is true that today’s World is fast becoming more Muslim friendly and incorporating Islamic ideas to encourage Muslim travellers.
- Ablution and Purity
While prayers are an integral part of a believer, it is the matter of the ablution that is often a challenge because Muslims are required to achieve a certain level of purity before they can pray. Often the bathrooms restrict some actions that are required for Wudu (ablution). The lack of what is commonly known as the Muslim Shower in non-Muslim countries have often bothered Muslim travellers. The ABDEEZ portable bidet has the potential to effectively solve the question of achieving purity, being a handy device for freshness-on-the-go.
- The Question of Prayer
The question of prayers and prayer timings is noteworthy when it comes to countries where the Azaan is not sounded at the time of the prayer. While the masjids are increasingly popping up around the globe, there are many cities and countries where the lack of one might create problems for Muslims. In such cases, prayers can be said at the residence or any space that is not impure. It might be difficult to be sure about the latter but the problem can be readily solved through carrying the ABDEEZ Portable Prayer Mat which is compact and very easy to carry and ensures you have a clean and pure place to worship on. The issue of prayer timings can be easily handled now through apps that present the timings of all prayers at the current location.
- The Search for Halal Food
While the eateries in non-Muslim countries have bothered Muslims in the past by not being well equipped to cater to their religious needs, there has been a dramatic increase in restaurants and fast-food places that offer a strict Halal menu and non-alcoholic drinks. While the search for them might turn tedious and time-consuming, many apps and tourism-promoting websites make things easier by recommending the nearest outlet that fulfills your requirement through your location.
As the world steadily moves towards being a ‘Global Village’ and the digital age creating awareness far and wide, the Muslim Tourism is seen getting stronger as more Muslims are now interested in exploring the world beyond the boundaries of the Muslim world and hence gearing towards a healthy approach with broadening horizons and ultimately getting a stronger hold onto their own faith.
Explore the world as a modern Muslim traveler, embracing the opportunity to broaden horizons while staying true to Islamic principles. Understand the needs of Muslim travelers, from halal food and prayer accommodations to gender segregation, and the challenges they face in non-Muslim countries. Discover solutions like portable bidets and prayer mats that enhance travel experiences for Muslim tourists, as the world becomes more Muslim-friendly and welcoming.
Girl, A. M. T. (2023, February 23). The difference between Halal Travel & Muslim Friendly Travel. MuslimTravelGirl. https://muslimtravelgirl.com/the-difference-between-halal-travel-muslim-friendly-travel/
Kamarudin, Lina & Ismail, Hairul. (2016). Muslim Tourism: The Tendency of Islamic Traveling Attributes from Malaysia Perspective.