Advice for Intending Holiday Makers
By Shaykh Mawlānā Muhammad Saleem Dhorat hafizahullāh
(Lecturer of Sahih-ul-Bukhari at the Islamic Da`wah Academy, Leicester UK)
It is a common trend in this day and age for people to take a break for recreation, including going on holiday. Undertaking leisure activities, such as travel, are regarded as promoting general wellbeing. This concept is not inconsistent with our Dīn, as from amongst the commands of Allāh ta‘ālā is the safeguarding of one’s health, both physically and mentally. Alhamdulillāh, as with all areas of life, we find guidance in our Dīn for this aspect too, so we can make our actions a means of acquiring the pleasure of Allah ta‘ālā.
Be a Healthy Believer
Health and strength are from the blessings of Allāh ta‘ālā that help us to excel in Dīn and in this worldly life. Rasūlullāh sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam has stated:
A strong believer is better than a weak believer. (Muslim)
We can understand from this Hadīth that a believer who looks after his health and wellbeing, will be able to perform those good actions, which a believer weaker in health will not. Health is of such importance that we find in another Hadīth Rasūlullāh sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam lamenting a sahābī radhiyallāhu ‘anhu who was neglecting his health:
Verily your body has a right upon you (Al-Bukhārī)
Rasūlullāh sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam has encouraged us to give our bodies rest and relaxation, so that a person remains motivated and does not fall prey to boredom or exhaustion. This will enable one to maintain enthusiasm and energy to carry out the Commands of Allāh ta‘ālā and perform good deeds. It is related by Anas ibn Mālik radhiyallāhu ‘anhu that once Nabī sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam entered the masjid and found a rope hanging between two pillars. He sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam asked, “What is this?” The Sahābah radhiyallāhu ‘anhum replied, “It is for Zaynab. When she feels tired (whilst praying), she holds onto it.” Nabī sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam said, “No, untie it (i.e. this is incorrect). Pray as long as you feel energetic; when you become tired, you should sit down.” (Al-Bukhārī)
Like the need for a good balanced diet, sleep and exercise, a break from one’s daily routine, if spent in line with the principles of Sharī‘ah, can help to enhance a person’s health both physically and mentally. However, it is important to remember that in fulfilling this necessity, we do not take a break from our religious obligations, nor cross the boundaries laid down by the Sharī‘ah. Precautions must be undertaken to ensure that whilst engaging in any leisure activity, a person does not become heedless of the remembrance of Allāh ta‘ālā and compromise his religious and spiritual obligations, thereby causing harm to his eternal life of the hereafter.
The following advices will inshā’allāh help us achieve a balance and make our ‘time out’ fruitful in this world and the hereafter.
1. Intention and Objective
The intention for taking a break must be correct; it should not be to merely follow the prevalent culture of the day. Our every action should be to fulfil the objective of our existence and creation, the worship of Allāh ta‘ālā. Allāh ta‘ālā states:
I did not create the Jinns and the human beings except for the purpose that they should worship me. (56:51)
In light of this, if one’s objective for taking a break is to rest and refresh the body and mind, in order to return home and thereafter exert more effort to perform good deeds and fulfil the rights of the Creator and the creation, then this will be a rewarding action. Similarly, the aim to spend quality time with the family is also a worthy intention.
2. Ensure Suitability
We must ensure that the trip we are undertaking is in compliance with Sharī‘ah. Many are those who, without having undertaken research, book a holiday package. Only after arriving at their destination do they realise that they have arrived at an unsuitable place; an environment of irreligiousness, obscenity and nudity. On returning home, they are regretful and concede that the environment was such that they were unable to refrain from sin.
If one intends to travel abroad for a holiday, then it is not necessary to visit those places where everyone else is going. To avoid finding oneself in an unsuitable situation, thorough research should be undertaken on the proposed destination and to only proceed to such places wherein the disobedience of Allāh ta‘ālā is not taking place.
3. Shaytān’s Ploy
As stated earlier, during any leisure activity or holiday we should not overlook our obligations. Shaytān places into the mind this thought, ‘We have come here for rest and relaxation, there must be total freedom from every type of restriction’. Those on holiday therefore absolve themselves from tilāwah of the Glorious Qur’ān, dhikr, ma‘mūlāt etc. Only salāh remains and that too is of the lowest standard. In this respect, we should ask ourselves the following questions: Do I reduce the hours of my sleep while on holiday? Do I reduce the amount of food that I consume? When we do not reduce our sleep nor food intake, there is no excuse for reducing or altering one’s ‘ibādah.
It is therefore of paramount importance to prepare a timetable, so that one will remain punctual in all of one’s a‘māl. It should also be noted that, just as supplications made during travel are more accepted, similarly there is greater barakah in the dhikr and ‘ibādah performed while on a journey.
4. Avoid Extravagance
We should avoid unnecessary expenses and extravagance. Allāh ta‘ālā states:
Surely, squanderers are brothers of satans, and the Satan is very ungrateful to his Lord. (27:17)
As it has become common to take a break by travelling abroad, all too often people go on holiday packages that they cannot afford by taking out loans. In their desire for a luxury holiday, they become embroiled in unnecessary extravagance. It is incorrect to believe that rest and relaxation can only be achieved by travelling abroad for a holiday. Even if one cannot afford a holiday due to financial difficulty or is unable to identify a suitable destination, then what is the harm or loss? People in the past did not go on such holidays, yet arguably had greater peace and happiness in their lives in comparison to ours.
In order to safeguard one’s time and a‘māl, in particular during a holiday journey, some further beneficial guidelines should also be borne in mind:
1. Always remain engaged in the remembrance of Allāh ta‘ālā. Keep this thought in mind that my Allāh ta‘ālā is watching me with love.
2. Maintain modesty and be mindful about unlawful gazes, dressing appropriately in accordance with Sharī‘ah and injunctions relating to contact with non-mahrams.
3. Take out some time for muhāsabah (taking account of one’s past actions) daily. In particular, ponder over how much of life has passed and how much more remains.
4. Make firm resolutions for the future by thinking about what one needs to and what one intends to do from now to make amends for the past.
5. Refrain from the disobedience of Allāh ta‘ālā at all times. Stay away from places of sin and indecency and avoid unnecessary extravagance in spending.
6. Abstain from all non-Islamic practices.
Spend your time in such a way that when you return, it is with both a healthy body and a healthy soul. May Allāh ta‘ālā safeguard us all and grant us the correct tawfīq. Āmīn.