Travel is a source of inspiration and deep insights. You meet new people and encounter different social circles. You get to see other parts of Allah’s creation. You also get to see new dimensions of human ingenuity and experience the rich history of other parts of the world.
When you stand at the foot of a great mountain, you get a sense of how small you are in the grand scale of things. When you stand next to an immense old Roman column in Lebanon or Morocco, or by the pyramids in Egypt, you get a sense of the immensity of history and the passage of time.
Travellers get the chance to shed formality and pretense in dealing with people. They can eat what they want and dress how they like, without worrying about how it impacts on people’s opinion. The can walk down the roads and alleyways, contemplating Allah’s creation as they like, glorifying Him for the wonders that they see.
They are among people who do not know them. Since travellers are just anonymous people, they can interact with the locals without any pretension. This can be a liberating but also humbling experience, especially for those who enjoyed a degree of fame or prestige back home. No one comes up to shake their hands, stop to speak with them, or even give them a second glance.
One such person entered a library and saw someone coming up to him as if he wanted to greet him. The man was used to receiving such attention back home, so he prepared himself for the encounter. He stood up straighter and turned squarely into the path of the approaching man. He was shocked when the person said to him: “Could you please move over. You’re in my way.”
Travellers are sometimes scolded and criticised because they do not know the local customs and cause offense.
No matter how much prestige they enjoy back home, travellers might find themselves asked by a lorry driver to help him push his stalled vehicle.
Travel writing is a special art, especially when it conveys inspired feelings, noble sentiments, and a renewed awareness of things. The location could be a public park or the view from a balcony or a crowded train, but the writer feels compelled to record the experience and human encounters of that particular place at that precise time.
Dr Salman Al Auda