Narrated Mujahid: 'Abdullah bin 'Umar said, "Allah's Apostle took hold of my shoulder and said, 'Be in this world as if you were a stranger or a traveler." The sub-narrator added: Ibn 'Umar used to say, "If you survive till the evening, do not expect to be alive in the morning, and if you survive till the morning, do not expect to be alive in the evening, and take from your health for your sickness, and (take) from your life for your death."

The fifth pillar of Islam, the Hajj, is basically asking us to travel, in whatever means possible to get there, with the exception to those living in Mecca itself.

The connotation of traveling in the modern era is different from ancient times. Flights, trains and buses are available everywhere in the world. To get to places like Amsterdam, Paris, Rio involves a few mouse clicks here and there and walla, you're well on your way there. Now, you could get to Mecca by flights. Life made easy. It's the age of the instant noodles.

From the notes of those who traveled to Mecca in the past, for example Ibn Batutta, he had to endure 16 months on the road to get to Mecca from Morocco. Got married along the way, and at one junction of his journey, faced with 3 options, he took the road less traveled and had to trackback as there was a riot in one of the towns along the journey.

Far from being a spiritual journey to worship God in Mecca, it was a pilgrimage of physical and emotional function. He had to leave his parents, friends and home without any guarantee of coming back. And of course, his journey was never air conditioned, only the stream of merciless heat accompanying him.

Allah made an allegory of life as a journey in a few verses of the Qur'an.

10:23-24 He it is Who enables you to travel through land and sea, till when you are in the ships, and they sail with them with a favourable wind, and they are glad therein, then comes a stormy wind and the waves come to them from all sides, and they think that they are encircled therein. Then they invoke Allah, making their Faith pure for Him Alone, (saying): "If You (Allah) deliver us from this, we shall truly be of the grateful. But when He delivers them, behold! they rebel (disobey Allah) in the earth wrongfully. O mankind! Your rebellion (disobedience to Allah) is only against your ownselves, - a brief enjoyment of this worldly life, then (in the end) unto Us is your return, and We shall inform you of that which you used to do.

There's a lot to learn from the life of a traveler, their strategies and planning and all that.

No, i am not asking you to cycle to Mecca later on in your life. Or live a life full of sufferings and troubles.

You could apply their conscious in your everyday life. How a traveler listens to the advice of those who have been there, dos and donts. How a traveler thinks of their stay as being temporary (how life itself, is temporary) and to maximize time and not waste it. So on and so forth. You could look at it from any angle you like.

But there are times along the journey that you will bump into problems. In the case of Ibn Battuta, a riot in his journey. But he never hesitated to return and try another route to get to Mecca. We ourselves might have taken the wrong road or decisions in our everyday life, but fret not, it's just how things go.

Hajj itself, is for me, not merely about the rituals performed there, but the sacrifices and troubles along the way also matters. Maybe our journey to Mecca is made easy these days, but the idea that those who had traveled centuries ago to quench their spiritual thirsts should be emulated in our daily lives. Imam Al-Ghazali stated that this is the journey towards Allah, in his book Ihya Ulum al-Din.

'The heart needs these helpers (physical and spiritual insights) because of its need for a vehicle, and for provision for that journey for which it was created, the journey to Allah, and for passing through its stages until He is met face to face.'

No wonder we always ask for a straight path everytime we recite al-Fatihah. For there are times, we might stray of the correct path. And so therefore, i hope you got the idea of what being a traveler is all about.

PS : Selamat Hari Raya Haji to all. Have been under the weather for these past 2 weeks. Hope everything will get better.