By S. Arshad, New Age Islam
27 September 2021
The Holy Quran Promotes Tourism Not Only for Religious Purposes but Also for Research and Appreciation of God’s Mastery and Artistry
1. Quran advises its readers to travel extensively through the earth to enrich knowledge.
2. The Quran advises Muslims to visit historical places to learn from the fate of sinner communities.
3. The Quran also promotes tourism to places of natural beauty for mental and spiritual refreshment.
Man has always travelled through the earth. Since primitive times, man has had to travel for various purposes; for livelihood, for rehabilitation, in the aftermath of natural disasters and in the aftermath of war. In the Quran, God says that in the beginning, He had provided men with all they needed to live happily within short distance so that they did not have to travel long distances to find livelihood. But the people of Saba prayed God that they wanted to travel long distances. So God dispersed them and made them travel long distances in search of food, shelter and for other social and political needs and compulsions. Surah Saba says:
And We placed between them and the cities which We had blessed1 [many] visible cities. And We determined between them the [distances of] journey, 2 [saying], "Travel between them by night or by day in safety. “But [insolently] they said, "Our Lord, lengthen the distance between our journeys," and wronged themselves, so We made them narrations1 and dispersed them in total dispersion. Indeed in that are signs for everyone patient and grateful. (Saba: 18-19)
According to the Quran many communities and individuals travel for various reasons. The followers of Prophet Nuh travel aboard a giant ship from India to modern day Turkey to save themselves from the Flood. Prophet Moses a.h. travelled along his community to flee Pharaoh across the river.
Prophet Moses a.s. travelled a long distance to meet Hadhrat Khizir a.s. at God’s instruction.
Therefore, travelling has been a part of individual and collective life of communities.
But in modern times, traveling for gaining knowledge and for exploring the earth has assumed great importance. This mode of travelling is called tourism. People travel to historical places or religious places for gaining knowledge or spiritual solace. Researchers also travel across cities and towns to gain knowledge in their concerned field.
Since travelling promotes learning and knowledge and contributes to the spread of knowledge, the holy Quran also promotes travel or tourism. But since Quran has a reformist approach towards everything, it promotes tourism as a means of enriching human intellect and got spiritual enlightenment. It advises its readers to travel through the earth and see the relics of bygone nations, of the remains of the kings of the pasts and the remains of their kingdoms. The Quran also asks Muslims to study their history and learn lessons from them. It advises Muslims or the readers at large to study the fate of the bygone nations and learn lessons from their wrongdoings so that they do not repeat the same mistakes. The Quran says:
Have they not travelled through the earth and observed how was the end of those before them? (Ar Rum: 9)
Have the deniers not travelled through the land to see what was the end of those ˺ before them? (Yusuf: 109)
Have they not travelled through the land and observed how was the end of those before them? (Al Mumin: 82)
Similar situations came to pass before you, so travel throughout the land and see the fate of the deniers. (Al: Imran: 137)
In all the above-quoted verses, the Quran encourages tourism to historical places like the remains of the kingdoms and of the bygone nations that were destroyed for their wrongdoings like dishonesty, corruption, sexual perversion, transgression etc.
However, the Quran does not advice Muslims to travel through the earth only for gaining historical wisdom. It also advises Muslims to travel through the earth to observe nature’s wealth, the flora and fauna, the gigantic mountains and beautiful rivers and appreciate God’s mastery and artistry. The Quran says:
Say, ˹O Prophet, ˺ “Travel throughout the land and see how He originated the creation, then Allah will bring it into being one more time. (Al Ankabut: 20)
Therefore, according to the Quran tourism is not only a means to gain spiritual enlightenment through travel to historical places like Egypt, Babylon, Syria, India, China but also a source of knowledge and spiritual and mental refreshment through travel to beautiful places of natural wealth like Kashmir, Switzerland and other similar places of historical importance and natural beauty.
Great sufis of the past followed this Quranic advice (Seeru fil ardh) and travelled extensively through the earth and enriched their knowledge and attained spiritual insight. Therefore, Quran promotes tourism not only for religious purposes but also for research purpose and also for appreciation of natural beauty and of God’s mastery and artistry.
S. Arshad is a columnist with NewAgeIslam.com.
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