Travelling to far away places and countries you've never set foot in is one of the most daunting and yet fulfilling experiences you'll ever have. Learning about local cultures, traditions and lifestyles certainly complete your travel experience, but then there are those moments when you get asked questions you've never been asked before about being Muslim as you travel from place to place.
Questions that make you go:
Don't worry: we've all been there before. It's one of the reasons why travelling as a Muslim can be challenging but definitely worth it.
And though it might feel a little awkward to receive and try to answer those questions, it's easier to take it as an opportunity to share our beautiful religion with those who may not have even met a Muslim before ?
After all, that's what makes cultural and religious exchanges so beautiful when you travel. But if you're still feeling a little stuck, we've got your back! ?
1. You don't drink? Then how do you let loose?
If you've ever tried backpacking before, chances are, you've stayed at a backpacker's hostel before and made friends with people from all over the world. For lots of people, though, drinking is a huge part of having fun while travelling, so they might have asked you this question at some point.
Simple! ? Like this:
Credit: @belsamd on Instagram
Good company is really all you need to have oodles and oodles of fun, especially when you're travelling with friends ? The excitement and exhilaration of seeing things you've always wanted to see and doing things you've always wanted to do through travelling are more than enough to get your adrenaline pumping!
2. Why do you wear a hijab? Isn't it hot?
Travelling to places that have seasons during the peak of summer is likely to be an experience you'll never forget, even if you've lived all your life in a tropical climate.
So when you get asked if it's hot under your hijab, hold the urge to say "Duh!?", even if that's the most obvious response ?
Credit: @tasnimhaqz on InstagramAnswer
: Yes it is (especially if it's summer), but the hijab is a symbol of detachment from this world, which also happens to be another reason why Muslims should travel!
Ultimately, beauty isn't only skin-deep, and a Muslimah's self-worth and confidence stem from within her. It does get hot, of course, but the freedom it grants from being subjected to worldly standards of beauty is truly addictive ?
3. What if you don't have anywhere to pray?
While travelling, comfort isn't always a given: things will go wrong, back-up plans will be needed, and you learn to go along with the flow! ? Lots of Muslim-friendly destinations offer mosques, musollahs
or prayer spaces for you to drop in to complete your prayers (see our website for all the best ones!
), but sometimes it's hard to come by.
In those situations, you might have been asked this question by curious non-Muslim (or even Muslim) friends.
Credit: @placesyoullpray on InstagramAnswer:
It's not a big deal if there aren't any mosques or prayer spaces within miles, because the truth is that you can pray anywhere as long as it's clean ?
The earth is a mosque for you. - Prophet Muhammad ﷺ
Whether you find yourself on a gorgeous sandy beach or at the peak of a breathtakingly beautiful mountain, the entire earth itself is a gigantic prayer space for you.
In fact, you might even find that praying outdoors fills you with a kind of tranquillity that's hard to come by, precisely because it allows you to connect with God whilst connecting with the world He made for you ?
4. Aren't you scared for your safety when you travel as a Muslim?
Because of how Muslims are often portrayed in the media, it might seem to most people that the world is an extremely daunting place for Muslims all over--and understandably so.
Even as a Muslim, you might ask yourself this question from time to time, especially when you're thinking of travelling to certain destinations where incidences of Islamophobia keep making headlines.
Credit: @chivexp on InstagramAnswer:
Travelling is a chance both to educate yourself and the people you meet while you travel. Sometimes, it can be scary, but the truth is that more often than not, if you've shown them warmth, hospitality and open-mindedness, people will respond positively to you even if they were hostile and prejudiced against you at first.
Fundamentally, no matter which part of the world we're from, we're all human beings, and it's that heart-to-heart connection that moves each one of us and breaks down barriers ❤️
You'd be surprised at the amount of kindness and love you'll receive from strangers in foreign lands sometimes, and it definitely makes travelling all the more worthwhile!
P.S. Fear should never stop you from doing anything, so if you still need convincing, read this open letter to Muslims who are afraid to travel!
5. In Ramadan: but you can drink water, right?
If you travel during Ramadan, you'll probably come across this question a lot from your new friends overseas. Ah, such innocence and pure-heartedness.
Credit: @CGTN on FacebookAnswer:
Nope, we can't, at least not until sunset! But that's the point ? Deprivation from such a basic need like hunger and water humbles you and allows you to reflect upon how thankful you've truly been to have even the tiniest blessings you often take for granted on a day to day basis.
6. You're a Muslim? You don't look like it...
This is probably THE most awkward question you could come across while travelling. It might be really frustrating and exasperating to be asked this, so pause and take a deep breath if you need to before answering!
Credit: @suhuromar on InstagramCredit: @simplyf.s on InstagramAnswer:
There is no cookie cutter mould from which Muslims are made. Just like everyone else, we come in all kinds of shapes, colours, sizes, and personalities! What defines a Muslim is simply the softness of your heart and the beliefs you hold dear to you ?
At the end of the day, each and every one of us is a traveller on a lifelong journey towards the same destination, and that's what unites all of us under the same banner at the end of the day.
No matter what your destination, just be sure to make every journey a journey within. If you travel within, you’ll travel the whole wide world and beyond.
- Shams of Tabriz
So the next time you encounter these questions when you travel (be it from other people or from that tiny voice at the back of your mind), you're fully equipped to give the best answer you could possibly give. You're welcome! ?