By Abu Thamim Choudhury
I recently had the pleasure of taking part in a cycle tour across Egypt and Jordan, from which I took away plenty of memorable moments: Visiting Tahrir Square shortly after the fall of Hosni Mubarak, being invited for dinner and a nights rest with a Bedouin family, sleeping at the top of Mount Sinai, standing on the Gulf of Aqaba, visiting the ruins pre-Islamic civilisations of Petra, reliving the strategic importance of Kerak Castle to Salahuddin (RH), sleeping by the Dead Sea contemplating the time of the Prophet Lut (AS), and visiting the once military district of Damascus during the Umayyad period of Amman, showing scars of a conflicted past with Roman ruins.
What I had visited were some of the most significant places in the history of the region, and it was made all the more rewarding as I travelled between them on my trusty steel bicycle whilst being fuelled by nothing more than dates, naan bread, crisps and water.
However there is one particular aspect of my journey which remains the sweetest moment, more so than any building or mountain that I had seen. It actually occurred on a number of occasions, but they are moments that I savoured at every opportunity.
In the middle of the untouched desert, nothing for miles in every direction with my tent twenty yards behind me, whilst the faint crackling of our camp fire could be heard as it cooks our evening meal; beans, tinned meat and bread. The area lit up by the glorious moonlight, like a pendant in the night sky. I stood there in prayer as a traveller in the middle of the night. Absorbing the meaning of every word I recited, my Imaan was sky high. I sat there, probably the only person to have stepped on that very spot pondering. It was a very humbling and beautiful experience, to sit in a place where I should be worried about how I will make it to the next day in the searing desert heat.
Whilst I sat there carrying out my post-salaah dhikr, a number of ahadith and ayat from the Qur’an crossed my mind. They really illustrated the magnitude of the path that we as Muslims have embarked on. One that I recall is when the Messenger (SAW) said, “The universe compared to Allah’s Kursi is like a ring in a desert. And Allah’s Kursi compared to His Arsh is like a ring in a desert” (Ibn Hibban, Ibn Abi Hatim).
We marvel at how big the universe is, and how insignificant we are within the universe. We find It difficult to comprehend how large the universe is and there are continuous debates within the scientific community as to how large the universe is, and if it is or is not expanding.
The prophet Muhammad (SAW) has put this into context for us, and we learn a number of things from this hadith:
- We are insignificant – a statement that shoots directly at any pride we have in our hearts, and immediately humbles us upon contemplation upon it.
- Allah is not in need of us. We are in need of Allah’s mercy for our success.
- No amount of praise will bring justice to the glory of Allah. This brings forward extra meaning to the ayah, ‘’If the ocean became ink for writing the words of my Lord, surely the ocean would be exhausted before the word of my Lord come to an end, even if We were to add another ocean to it’’ (Qur’an 18:109).
- It gives us the confidence to defend and propagate our faith, knowing that the religion we follow and the one we worship is greater than anything else.
It is also during this trip I contemplated heavily on another of the Prophet (SAW)’s sayings: “Be in this world as though you were a stranger or a traveller” (Bukhari).
I was living day to day, carrying my life in a bag, not worrying about anything but getting to my final destination – realising that our final destination will be the hereafter, and therefore not allowing ourselves to be attached to the worldly affairs that will delay or prevent Paradise.
Using my own trip as an analogy, I realised that not only is it important just to get to the destination safely, we also cannot be complacent in our deen. Therefore, we should strive to be amongst the first to enter Jannah. If we are complacent, we may risk missing our journey to Jannah completely.
Allah has made our path to Jannah easy, even providing us a guide through His beloved Muhammad (SAW). The onus is on us to remain steadfast through our struggles, stay on the road, not to turn off, and to race one another to meet our Lord as our final reward
In all truth, Allah has been merciful to us from the very beginning. The Qur’an and the Sunnah have given us the clear direction and purpose that we need.
During my trip, I would have been lost without my map and compass. Similarly, the Qur’an is our map, and Prophet Muhammad (SAW) is our compass. Without their mercy, we are lost souls without purpose. It is purpose that has defined this Ummah, and therefore we must strive to be a part of it’s success.
“And I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me. I do not want from them any provision, nor do I want them to feed Me” (Qur’an 51:56-57).
It is amazing what you contemplate on when you are travelling.