Unplanned trips can sometimes turn out to be the best travel memories. My trip to Qatar was one such experience. It was February 2020 and just before the entire world went into a state of complete lockdown due to the on-set of covid, we happened to plan a family trip. My husband had to travel to the country for business and I planned to accompany him as a last-minute decision.
‘We are going to sit in a plane?’ asked my children, who were more excited than any of us. I was trying to be careful with my packing. While traveling with kids, I feel anxious to carry every possible necessity – lots of diapers, milk preparing essentials, drawing books, colour pencils and the list just goes on. I kept thinking how I was going to make the most of this trip, while managing two children – an untiring 4-year-old and a one-year-old baby. How was it going to be a good trip if my husband was busy working while I had to spend the entire day in a hotel room. I wasn’t sure if accompanying him was a good idea.
Fortunately for me, the trip was destined to be a good one. As I was lifting my luggage from the conveyor belt at the Qatar airport, I saw some similar faces smiling at me. ‘What are you doing here!’ I blurted in shock. I couldn’t process the information for a moment and had to shake myself to believe that my family members were standing infront of me, greeting me and smiling at me. My husband had invited them with an intention to surprise me.
‘The next few days are going to be a blast,’ I thought to myself. This made me believe that traveling can be molded into more than just a leisure activity. What if we travel with an intention to witness Allah’s abundant mercy and how he has shaped this earth to meet our requirements. With this mindset, traveling becomes a means of enhancing our gratitude towards Allah’s countless blessings.
Traveling is a way of connecting with people and places that Allah has designed with His infinite power and knowledge. Spending time to observe the beauty of nature is without doubt one of the most relaxing way of connecting to Allah (swt). Though traveling is preferred to be done physically, I also believe that virtual travel (by watching travel videos) is also a great way to increase our knowledge about Allah’s majestic creations.
Discussing our itinerary for this trip, my mother, and I discussed the several blessings that traveling highlights. It gives us a glance into how a person will feel when they enter ‘jannah’ and how with every moment the experience will get better and more pleasurable.
‘(there will be) therein all that the ones inner-selves could desire, all that the eyes could delight in, and you will abide therein forever.’ (Surah Az-Zukhruf, Verse 71)
The next three days were one of the most special ones for me. Everything we experienced, whether it was the hotel we stayed at or the family meals we enjoyed, the joy doubled because of being in the company of loved ones.
‘Those who patiently persevere, seeking the countenance of their Lord; Establish regular prayers; spend, out of (the gifts) We have bestowed for their sustenance, secretly and openly; and turn off evil with good: for such there is the final attainment of the (eternal) home, gardens of perpetual bliss: they shall enter there, as well as the righteous among their fathers, their spouses, and their offspring: and angels shall enter unto them from every gate (with the salutation): “Peace unto you for that ye persevered in patience! Now how excellent is the final home!” (Surah Ar-Ra`d, Verse 22-24)
Just as we started getting used to the amenities of our temporary abode, yet another surprise was sent our way. We got a special guest pass to one of the country’s most luxurious island, Banana Island. This was our first visit to an island, specially one meant for a memorable get away.
We swam, feasted and watched the sunset. ‘Haven’t we witnessed sunsets together several times? Then why did this feel different?’ I thought to myself. A new place with the same people also feels refreshing and exciting. This too reminded me of ‘jannah’ and how it will be moreenjoyable than what I was experiencing at that time. I couldn’t imagine anything beyond what I was feeling then.
‘No soul knows what is kept hidden for them of delights of the eyes, as a reward for what they used to do.’ (Surah As-Sajdah, Verse 17)
On my flight back to Kuwait, I was reflecting on the essence of this trip. The return for unshakeable faith and patience practiced in this world is immeasurable. Allah (swt) gives all of us some wonderful memories to motivate us to keep striving for ‘jannah’. He also expects us to increase in our patience upon experiencing the good that this world has to provide. He expects us to understand that if the reward is as great as ‘jannah’ one needs to refrain from complaining about the trials and tribulations they are going through. Within few days of learning this valuable lesson, we found ourselves facing the biggest pandemic crisis this world had ever seen and knew that the time to endure it patiently had begun.
‘Did you think that you would enter Heaven, without Allah testing those of you who fought hard (In His Cause) and remained steadfast?’ (Surah Al-Imran, Verse 142)