[Updated 2 October 2019]
If you did not know already, HHWT believes that travel is a powerful force for peace. We hope that through travelling, barriers - especially between Muslims and non-Muslims - can be broken down. It is this mission that we hold dear to us till now? As we celebrate our third birthday, we did a small shout-out to our community of #hhwttravellers
and asked you to share your travel stories! We're so grateful for your support and how you too believe in our mission and vision for a better world☺️
Here are some of the inspiring stories we've received:
1. Mazuin Eliani, Malaysia
I was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer in 2005. I was going through all the grief stages but with family support and seeing my 2 boys who are still so small, I needed to gather myself and fight! Once I finished my chemotherapy, the doctors said that the cancer had spread and my liver was enlarged. There was nothing they could do and I only had around 9 months to live.
But at the same time, I found out that I was pregnant! A doctor told me that if Allah gave me the baby, there must be a reason. The oncologist wanted me to abort as it was too close to my chemo sessions. But I surrendered my fate to Allah (tawakkal) - either I have the baby in 9 months or I will die with him. And Allah did give him for a reason. He is my companion now. We love to explore. We made memories that will be with him throughout his life even if I were gone. THAT is the most precious thing I can leave with him, because travelling makes you closer and lets you create unforgettable memories.
2. Sayyidatul Afifah, Singapore
I’ve been to 23 countries, travelling solo to a few of these places including Iceland, Jordan and China. People kept telling me not to waste money travelling, but I tell them that they shouldn’t waste time not travelling.
The experiences I have gained so far: getting ripped off in Beijing, lost my way in Iceland because public transportation wasn’t friendly, went on a bus trip with other foreigners to Petra in Jordan, hitchhiked to the Dead Sea, climbed the Great Wall with strangers, eating Pho Noodles by the roadside in Vietnam, trying balut at the night market in the Philippines, and so much more. Travelling changed the way I look at things. It brought me closer to Allah. It taught me to solve problems and moulded me into who I am today.
These experiences would not have been achieved if I had not put on my backpack and travelled. And I have no regrets for all the money I’ve spent on traveling ❤️
3. Fitra Ramadhan, Dubai
I am a migrant worker residing in Dubai. I’m entitled to annual leave and most of the opportunities I’ve received were during my round trip travelling to and from my country. The experiences I treasure most are related to the warmth of the people who I was lucky enough to receive help from. Travel has changed my faith in humanity for the better, as it showed me that we share a lot in common despite our differences in backgrounds. I also value more of my freedom, to do the things I like to do responsibly, despite my limitations.
When I was in Istanbul, I was lost and needed to return to the airport as my stopover time was running out. I will never forget the help I received from a man who was quite old. He was kind and did not hesitate to guide me to take the train and show me the direction. This was back in July 2016, not long after Istanbul was shocked by some bombings including at the airport.
Another stopover I had was in Hong Kong early this September. I tried desperately in a short period of time to visit the Ammar Mosque which I came to know from HHWT. I found it, did the Isya prayer in congregation, but was not lucky enough to eat in the canteen as it was already closed after the prayer.
As I reside in Dubai, I had the chance to experience pilgrimage to the holy cities by land. It was an exhausting yet truly rewarding experience. I fell sick when I returned but I believe it’s part of the journey to behold the greatness of the Almighty and meet fellow pilgrims like these two in my picture - Musa from Benin and Abdel from Ghana.
4. Mega Anjar
Travelling is one of the best ways to know yourself. It made me realize who I am.
When I travelled to Kiluan Bay in an open trip group, I learnt how I was not the centre of the world. Each person is the centre of their lives. But when we’re together, that concept does not exist. I climbed the mountain at 3am for sunrise. It was dark so I did not see how high the journey up was. Going down, I realized how steep the track was. If I knew that prior to going up, I would have probably stopped climbing. But it was worth it, because I witnessed the beautiful sunrise.
It was then that I realized how life is about challenging ourselves. It all depends on us – whether we choose to take the first step or whether we’re too busy considering all the possibilities that might happen in front and miss that step.
Travelling to Japan made me discover the other ‘me’. The ‘me’ that I could not find in my house, in my office or even in my circle of friends. I found the ‘me’ who was brave. Brave enough to speak my thoughts about my religion because that was the first time I ever dared to speak up about Islam when our religion was made a scapegoat in every issue.
While travelling alone in Japan, I was truly grateful to Allah for being born a Muslim. There’s so much I need to learn about myself to be a better person. And that just means I need to travel more!
5. Chika Sidauruk, Indonesia
Travelling made me appreciate the blessings of being born into this Deen – the blessing of iman.
When I visited Tokyo, I was amazed at how kind the Japanese are. How you could simply ask the nearest authorities for help if you lost your belongings. And there was a 90% chance of it coming back to you, if you searched.
Good manners aside, I still see the elderly in Japan working hard to make a living. Everything is priced high and the rate of suicide among them is high too. It made me realize how we should not live solely for this worldly life – our aim is the afterworld. We know the purpose of our creation. And it’s not to spend your time on this earth breathing, living and working with an empty soul, just aimlessly looking for meaning.
6. Mardiana Ismail
I had always enjoyed local road trips when my kids were younger. But one day, we decided to travel by flight for the first time to Bangkok as there was a huge discount due to the Red Shirt protest in 2009. It was then that I realised how I wanted to travel the world someday.
Travelling, I feel would bring me even closer to the Creator. Travelling to another part of the world, thousands of kilometres away, made me realise how huge the earth is but still we share the same one sun and one moon regardless who and where we are. This reminds me of the popular quote that “We are actually nothing but a share of this earth”.
Viewing it from any part of the world, exploring different corners and fields, different timings and temperatures - all in one planet is just amazing. And that trip to Bangkok really changed my mind about traveling and how we should not be too concerned about money because the experience and spiritual feelings we have is far more valuable.
I want to see His creations while He permits, and with this intention, Allah has provided me enough sustenance to travel. We learn to appreciate the beauty of nature, culture, people and their languages. Alhamdulillah, we have been to some parts of Asia, Down Under, Middle East and Europe. Hoping to cover the rest of the continents too, slowly but surely. In syaa Allah. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank HHWT for generously providing good itineraries because all my trips were from you guys!
7. Muhammad Rafiq
2 weeks before my climb up Mount Rinjani, I was hospitalised for 5 days with severe gastroenteritis. Climbing a tough mountain when I haven't physically recovered turned out to be the most tiring, toughest thing I've ever done (never climbed a mountain prior). But catching the mesmerising sunrise at the peak at 6am taught me that God was there with me every step of the way, and He was protecting me through the pain and fatigue.
Travelling through one of the poorest continents in the world has taught me more about people than any other experiences I had in my life. While I listened to people complain about small things as if they were the end of the world, I consider ourselves to be so incredibly lucky to be born here. I came back home with a new perspective that life is about people and experiences, not things. I have never in my life seen so many people with so little, be so happy to be alive.