A traveller in this world is one who craves the sunlight and the meaning behind every ray. One who questions the maker behind land and ocean mass. One who yearns to know the artist behind each teardrop and meandering stream. One who finds himself or herself constantly in awe both at the flight of birds and the buoyancy of aeroplanes. One who understands a traveler need not be forging physically but spiritually in every sense of the word.
As a Muslim or rather a being in this world, I find myself always in nearness to this enigma of life. Life is a mystery that you wouldn’t want to solve, not that you can fathom even a modicum of it anyway. But this inevitability of a search, this grasping on to each whisper of curiosity, know that you are always a seeker first.
The seeker goes about with a quivering heart, restless at the thoughts of mortality and eventually envelopes himself in calmness of unknowing. A seeking heart is never still, it flutters, it wanders and wonders.
To travel is to come to terms with this consciousness of the spirit and the soul. To travel is to luck in on the epiphanies of the heart and mind. To travel is to awaken the ever elusive spirit that probes meanings to life and its existential purpose. A spirit that feeds on doubt and thrives on discovery, a soul whose duty is to seek clarity.
A traveler in the world has eyes peeled open for images of God in faces and spaces, whilst embarking on a journey to be closer to him. The beauty that greets you every morning, the layers of air, the shades of purple across the sunsets across the world, lakes and dried basin. You see a quiet whiff of God in the eyes of a beggar, the passing winter fog against the train screen, the wails of a mother at the airport.
A traveler will discover in his journey that departures prove to be the most essential of reminders for him or herself. That like the inevitable goodbyes and parting of ways, this is the most resounding echo of life. Our Beloved, peace be upon him, once said in a hadith: “Be in this life as if you are a stranger or a traveler.” A traveler will be illuminated with the knowledge in the temporal nature of this life. of this impermanence; we are not living, we are leaving. We are always in transit. We are shadows, we are strangers to attachment. We are nomads on the move, with only the slightest suggestion of a destination, but we keep moving anyway until the destination finds us instead. Mevlana Rumi speaks profusely of this void. I see this void as a home; an empty room in your heart where only light roams free waiting to meet his maker. A space where that outward travelling helps to cultivate such wholeness and peace within. And only when you arrive at this epiphany, you understand all you need to about this journey. That this journey happens all inside you.
And in this journey, you carry everyone you have met with you. I believe many forget that when you explore the world, it also means you are putting yourself out there for the world to explore you. You are carving light out of yourself, exemplifying the Beloved in his manners and adab and try to break preordained stereotypes, one smile and act of kindness at a time. You will begin to encounter and delve into depths of emotional territories.
Our wounds, our hopes, what keeps us shivering at night, and what makes us sigh in daytime, you start connecting the dots. You soon understand that we are all one and the same. The same dust across that desert, the same sand in someone’s eye, the same flower that is going to die.
“The Seeker goes about with a quivering heart, restless at the thought of mortality and eventually envelopes himself in the calmness of unknowing.”
Every time I take on this journey, Ar-Rashid, The Guide, presents the intermingling of chance under his design in both the sublime and subtleties. Like how in fall 2012 when a dog bit me in a dark alleyway in Varanasi, it made me changed for the better. How I found solace in a cathedral turned mosque in Amsterdam, that when you travel you take home with you. It exists right in your heart and at the many of his houses of worship across continents. At the dawn of 2015, when I embarked on a spiritual sojourn in Iran and Turkey, I witnessed beauty at every spill of light and at every “Alhamdulillah, we are brothers” a Shiite Muslim uttered to me upon my declaring of being a Sunni. How the unparalleled warmth of a Bondowoso family blankets you even till today. See, the chances of paradigm altering events happening is less if you don’t go seek it. Go on, the world is waiting to be noticed; he, to be known.
This article has been edited for the online platform.