While there are several articles online written for female travelers in general, there aren’t as many articles targeted to female Muslim travellers specifically. Going on adventure, to me, is to simply spend time surrounded by His creations and/or simply doing things that typical tourists choose not to do. It does not have to entirely be in the outdoors (although it is frequently linked together), going on adventure is to simply, take that risk and drop every fear, and let yourself experience something so unfamiliar, you can feel your pulse racing, at least just a little bit.
If you are a Muslimah seeking inspiration to go on an adventure but find yourself still contemplating every time you try to book that flight (or end up settling for the typical touristy stuff) then you’ve come to the right place. Here are 5 reasons why you should take the plunge and go on that adventure you’ve always dreamt of!
1. Being on an adventure can restore your faith
As a Muslimah, I believe that living modestly is a commandment from God and I choose to express that by covering my aurah when in the company of men outside of my immediate family. Because of this, I might be treated a little differently when in a country that isn’t as aware of the existence of the hijab, or in a country that is filled with Islamaphobic people. I got so used to being treated differently with my hijab on (even in Singapore) that every time I travel, I started anticipating the awkward stares too. “People will always be judgmental”, I thought.
There was once while I was in the middle of a forest in Gopeng, slowly trying to get a grip of myself after a fall and trying to wash off a bunch of leech bites, when a group of strangers on the same path actually stopped from their descent and lent my group of friends a helping hand. He was very cool and friendly, and even stayed for a bit with us while we had lunch. Instead of avoiding or treating us differently, they were curious on why I had to cover myself and they were curious of our religion. They had so many genuine questions and I was more than willing to share my religion with them. I was curious and asked one of them, why he wasn’t like any of the other foreigners I have met, and he shared this quote with me- “If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion, and avoid the people- you might as well stay at home” – James A. Michener.
When you go on an adventure, you meet people who aren’t as judgmental or stereotypical as you perceive because they have experienced and seen things that others have not. People who travel appreciate nature, adventure and culture, appreciate humanity. Regardless. Being on an adventure will also make you realize how accommodating being a Muslim actually is. Take for example, you can take your ablution and also perform your prayers anywhere that is reasonably clean. God is never unreasonable, as long as you put in the effort, your solat is accepted.
2. Being on an adventure pushes you to not take things for granted
Let’s take for example, cooking on a daily basis. Many ladies take this for granted and sometimes resort to buying instead of cooking because a) the kitchen is too small or b) you claim that you are too busy to cook. However, when you’re out in the jungle on an adventure, you don’t really have that much choice but somehow or rather, learn how to cook, right?
There was once while camping, we had lost all connections and the only rations we had were biscuits. We had to roast a chicken for lunch and the only material I had was a jack-knife and some cooking twine. That was all. It was either we find a way to cook the meat or resort to eating biscuits til we reach base camp for dinner.
Obviously, nobody wanted to starve – so we started making fire from scratch and roasted that raw chicken. We didn’t starve in the end, Alhamdulillah. When you’re on an adventure trip, there may be moments where you have to expect the unexpected and right at that moment is where you’ll be (somehow) forced to appreciate everything that you already have. Being on an adventure pushes you to not take things for granted- not just on food but everything else.
3. Being around nature improves your mental health
Spending time around nature can result in a positive impact to your cognitive performance. To put it simply, being in nature actually helps improve mental health, and I’m not even kidding.
Credit: fatinazizi on Instagram
The best part is that it doesn’t only help with cognitive performance, it helps strengthen your mental health emotionally too! Being in nature improves your mood, makes you more optimistic and more. Try it to believe it.
4. Without realizing it, you’re actually working out!
Being covered up doesn’t necessarily mean flabby arms and love handles. If you’re anything like me, you hate running and love eating all the things you shouldn’t binge on like cupcakes, ice-cream and Old Chang Kee. But hey, just because we can’t flaunt our curves doesn’t mean we shouldn’t keep ourselves fit and healthy. Being in the outdoors helps with that. When you’re out there having an adventure, most times, you’ll be going up and down terrains instead of walking on flat concrete ground. Sometimes, without noticing.
So the next time you’re setting a date with your significant other or a friend that you haven’t met for awhile, try setting a date at Macritchie Nature Trail instead of Manhattan Fish Market and trust me, it will be worth the trip. You’ll be talking non stop and by the end of the trek, you’ll be sweating all over with more than hundreds calories burnt without even realizing!
5. You get to see His creations, untouched
I read somewhere that while outdoors, we should make it a habit to look around. The skies, the plants, the ocean, the mountains the transition between day and night. They are all created in a state of perfection. All of these signs are a great proof that Allah is the One and Only. I made it a habit since then, and I have always looked around in awe ever since.
I get asked about my career choice frequently and I’ll always answer with the same reason: When you’re in a concrete jungle, almost everything that you see is man-made. However, when you’re in a stripped down jungle or at the top of a mountain, almost everything that you see is untouched – and that is the closest I can be with my Creator (other than during prayer) because how I look at the area now, that’s exactly how He created it to be. Untouched and perfect just the way it should be.
Being on an adventure lets you see His Creations, untouched, and it can even make the familiar seem unfamiliar to us once we come back home. I have caught myself staring at His creations in awe, more times than I can remember. Mountain ranges, lakes, deserts, exotic sunsets or sometimes even just animals or humanity going about its daily existence. Throughout the Quran, there are verses asking us to reflect on what has been created on Earth and in the Heavens. What better way to do that than through adventure traveling?
…and there you have it, five reasons why being a Muslimah shouldn’t stop you from going on adventure. In fact, being a Muslimah is the very reason why you should actually take that step and enjoy the outdoor world. Enough of the touristy activities for once. Adventure traveling can raise your sights, reignite your relationship with Him and therefore, make you a more productive Muslimah. Break all the stereotypes and take that trip you can’t stop fantasizing about.
Adventure awaits, so get out there.