Taking Off

April 5, 2017

Photography and Words Murtaza D. 


Rasulullah SAW instructed the faithful to travel, adding that travel has many benefits. Building on Rasulullah’s SAW statement, Moulana Ali RA illustrated and explained five benefits of traveling.

Travel will:

  1. Relieve one from grievances and sorrows
  2. Expand one’s livelihood
  3. Increase one’s knowledge and wisdom
  4. Develop one’s social-behaviour
  5. Expand one’s pool of friends

Travel can be classified into two categories: meta-physical and physical.

If you are stuck in traffic after a stressful day and you close your eyes for a moment and imagine yourself looking at the scattered clouds hovering over your sailboat which is effortlessly cruising through the calm sea of the Zanzibar’s portion of the Arabian Ocean, you have traveled across the globe meta-physically. But, today, I’m not going to bore you with meta-physical travel as I have already touched on it in my previous article on “Living the Battle of Karbala“.

Today I wish to talk about the 5 benefits of physical travel.



Physical travel – the one where you need a passport, some cash, a backpack and, preferably, a camera.

  1. Relief from grievances and sorrows

When you travel for travel, not an emergency, you leave behind your life, in anticipation of new ones. You look forward to something new, something exciting, something unplanned, or something you may have always wanted, something you spent nights reading about or watching videos about, you probably even day dreamed about it at work. A word of warning when you do travel for some dreamy destination. You may have to deal with crushed dreams.

Travel takes you away from your current grievances and sorrows as your travel destinations are detached from your primary life and void of such emotional relevance.

In pre-jet times, it took months to reach a point sufficiently far away to deem emotionally detached.

The slow pace did provide its pleasures as one could marvel at the beauty of and ponder the meaning of life when one could observe life passing by slowly while sitting on a camel through the deserts. The destination is but an excuse. The destination, once touched upon, provides its own take on an alien culture.

It may be difficult to imagine travel without Google. In this age, one would be lost without it. Then again, is not the whole point of travel to get lost? Travel for work would be best with google of course since the purpose of such travel would be a focus. This travel has its own benefits but you will have to remove point one from the list of benefits.

These days, the short travel time in the cramped economy seat of a jetliner makes you yearn the destination as you fidget for an ideal sleeping posture and endure the various aches creeping into your spine, neck and knees. In the highway in the sky, lost are the wonders of the world between where you start and where you land.

I am very fortunate to say that for me the anticipated destination was Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. And the reasons are obvious. Believe me, after a year of preparing for something, you really look forward to it. So, when flight # ET 827 banked towards the left and showed a bird’s eye view of Dar es Salaam, it made me smile. I felt that gush of excitement and anxiety. The excitement of seeing Moulana TUS and the anxiety of how that is going to happen.




  1. Earning livelihood

I’ll keep this one concise. I’m a freelance photographer and hobbyist. Every destination has something to offer, photography or otherwise. I’m sure everyone stumbles upon another who is in a similar line of work while travelling. Unless of course you’re lost in your own world between two headphones and a Mobile Phone. We visited a world class barrel maker, who, rhetorically speaking, blew our minds! My grandfather used to tell my father, and my father used to tell me, “for being successful in business, always keep your eyes, ears and nose open”. Ironic isn’t it? Music only spares us of our noses. And the poor nose, unfortunately, can’t lead a person beyond pizzas, burgers and coffee.




  1. Gaining knowledge and wisdom

When talking about Istanbul, The Blue Mosque, Taksim Square, Grand Bazaar and Bosphorous are some of the landmarks one always hears about. Istanbul is a magnificent city swamped with tourists from all around the world. We took the liberty of flying to Konya. Konya is a city north of Istanbul. It is crammed with museums, monuments and history. On top of all, the founder of the whirling dervishes lies under a green tomb – Mevlana Rumi. You can find out all about Rumi from infinite books, articles, publications and paintings. What we learned from our travel to Konya is what follows.

A must-see in Konya is the Tomb of Vali Aatish Baaz. Aatish Baaz was Rumi’s personal chef. He was ordered to cook for every guest hosted by Rumi. One night, unexpected guests arrived at the palace.




The night was dark, winter had come and Aatish Baaz did not have enough firewood to light a fire. Out of fear, respect and frustration, he thought it better to use his body as a source of fuel, rather than to decline cooking the meal. He sprinkled some gasoline on his clothes and legs and lit himself on fire. The food was served. He returned to his chamber, without informing anybody and called it a day. The next day, Aatish Baaz got up and walked to his kitchen, only to realise that his legs were completely unharmed. From that day onwards, never again did he use wood to light a fire.

Aatish Baaz – The one who lights a fire



  1. Developing social-behaviours

Mother Teresa said

“We shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do”.

Even though the world we live in today has evolved from smiles to smileys, the power of a simple smile is truly unbelievable. One of the most beautiful traits I learnt from the “blacks” of Africa was their smile. We had enough of racism in 2016 and I would like to highlight that the blacks have the most attractive smiles. A common African is muscular, tall, strong and agile. When he stands, he stands erect. He can kill a lion with his bare hands. This is an African from without. From within, he is the most humble human being you will ever come across. He will help you, serve you, and treat you like his own. Even if you are of a different race. Above all, he will do everything with a smile on his face.


  1. Making friends

Does clicking the “Add Friend” or “Request Friend” button make real friends? An optimist would chalk it up to helplessness. Greeting another with, “it’s nice to e-meet you” has become a social norm.

It’s not that simple though.

They say a handshake can tell be a tell-all about a person. A real handshake – two physical hands clasping each other. A profile page can only tell you what somebody wants you to know. I can swear that Whatsapp is responsible for 95% of squabbles between my wife and me. It only takes a typo to turn nice into mice. Not to forget Lisaan al-Dawat’s best friend – autocorrect! If autocorrect was a person, he would be public enemy No. 1 one amongst Mumineen.

When you travel, you have the opportunity to make dozens friends. But do we really know how to make friends? Or has the face-less luxury of texting made us forget the nuances of a face-to-face conversation?

A couple of weeks ago I traveled to a place (I would rather keep the name of the city undisclosed) which has an abundance of Mumineen. Belonging from a town where only 25 Mumineen reside, it naturally makes me feel excited to see someone in a Topi or Rida in public. But it stings when a smile or friendly gesture goes unreciprocated. Sometimes even ignored.

Summing it up, traveling is definitely an excuse for me to make new friends, learn new words from a different language, capture some good photos and at the end of the day, grow!

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  • Reply fizza lokhandwala April 5, 2017 at 5:12 pm

    Beautifully written, worth reading

  • Reply Maria Hamid April 6, 2017 at 10:30 am

    One of the best write ups i have read so far…worth reading…amazingly written…!!

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