I have lived in the same city for the last two decades. I have seen just about everything there is to offer in this city. Yes, I may not know every last thing about the city, but I am most familiar with it. I’ve seen changes over the year, but nothing to the extent in which it would cause me to stay. I’ve always wondered what it would be like to travel. To see things I have never seen before. To listen to a language that is unfamiliar to my ear. To see clothes that I have never worn. To smell spices in the homes of native-residents.
Sometimes we get very accustomed to our own homes. And we take for granted the things we do have. Recently, I read a blog that discussed a man’s various travels in Africa. He went to Senegal and Gambia. In reading the blog, I realized just how special it was for him to experience different cultures other than his own. He found himself missing these two places, especially Gambia. In his posts he would post up videos and pictures detailing various events he would go to within the country. And he would give background context to the culture of the people. It was very much moving. And in some way it was a spiritual experience for him. He realized how much his life had changed in visiting these places. They weren’t the richest of places, but what he found were people rich in culture, tradition, and love. In being an American, he saw the differences in how lives are being lived. He recognized the superficiality of Western-culture in comparison to this other way of life that was full of meaning.
It made me think. Why have I not traveled? What is holding me back? In many aspects, it’s like trying to cross a bridge. We have to make that first move. We have to get over any doubts and uncertainties and just take the leap. Last night, I was looking up places to go in the future and possibly after graduation. I looked up a few places in Africa and wanted to visit a few places. I want to visit: Ghana, Morroco, Tanzania, Zambia, and South Africa. In many ways, I would be in the place in which I came from originally prior to slavery in America. I would be exposing myself to various cultures and traditions that my ancestors were apart of. Yes, it is likely that my ancestors came from West Africa. So, Ghana is definitely a country in West Africa. I don’t have all the answers to life, but I think I need to personally travel. I need to see the world. I need to get away from this monotonous life that I am seeing myself fall into. I am constantly back and forth from school and home. I may find myself at an event or at the mosque, but it seems very superficial in many ways. The television, magazines, parties, school and etc is all about status. People are all about status. This whole society is really materialistic. I am guilty of being apart of this sad reality. I am always glued to my cell-phone and the internet, but why is that? There are some parts of the world in which there isn’t internet or internet is something you rarely get on. It just seems that lives have been changed. For the good or the bad? Well, that’s something only you can answer. I can’t speak for everyone. I would just like to get out of doing what I have always done. The last few years have been routine for me. And this monotonous lifestyle is deemed to me as being dull.
However, I have decided that I should make hajj before traveling since this would be an obligation upon me when I become eligible. And hajj has always been a goal of mines. If I make hajj then I know I would have lived life. There’s nothing more beautiful to me than being able to make hajj atleast once in my life. I know this is something that only a few people get to experience, but I am really wanting to make hajj next year, inshALLAH (God Willing). This is just one of the best things a Muslim can do and as a Muslim, I am just dying to go. Yes, It would be fulfilling an obligation that I have as a Muslim but it would expose me to a place other than my own. In watching a video on hajj today, I listened to two hajjis talking about their choice in not getting a luxury-package. And they said that this choice was really a good one because it allowed them to focus on the true meaning of hajj. It took them away from the things that distracted them in life and it made them get back into focus about life and their purpose. Furthermore, it created a new reality for them. It showed them that the world was very much temporary and at the end of the day there is a bigger purpose.
So, after hearing this. I knew I had to do something.I had to travel. I had to get away and just go somewhere. I had to make a journey. I had to cross that bridge. I was no long a slave to the place in which I live. I have to learn about myself. I have to learn about the world. We sometimes get so used to things and how we live that we don’t really care about others. We ignore things because it’s not happening directly to us or because it’s not in front of us. However, I am wanting to change this. I love people and apart of loving someone is knowing about that individual. You can’t truly love someone if you’re ignorant about them. So, as a Muslim and as a person I have an obligation to better understand the world so in turn I can understand my duty in making the world a better place. The prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) changed the world. He would even go to the festivities of the pagan Arabs to give daawah- to convey Islam. He had to go to where the people were at. He didn’t just stay in his home. He went to the people. So, this is something I have to do. I have to stop living in a bubble. It’s time for me to learn about this world. To take a journey to somewhere.
And in this, I must agree that “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”
― Augustine of Hippo