Conferences are often organized during long weekends, like the upcoming Labor Day one in September. Whether you're going to a Muslim convention or a business one, there are some things to keep in mind to ensure a comfortable trip.
1. Plan your route before leaving
This will make your trip safer and more comfortable. You should decide exactly where you will stay until you reach your destination, determine the costs and safety of the place, and what is the quickest route to go and to come back.
The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him said, "Traveling is a portion of the torment. It denies you your sleep, food, and drink. When you have accomplished your purpose, you should hurry back to your family" (in the Muwatta of Imam Malik).
Maps are available at various websites and from your local branch of the American Automobile Association (see www.aaa.com for more information).
2. Get your car checked out if you will be driving
Ask a mechanic to check your car?s fluid levels, belts, hoses and tires. Make sure you are driving with a full gas tank before you set out on your journey.
Ensure everyone is wearing a seat belt and doors are locked.
3. Avoid traveling alone
Often, Muslims assume this relates to women only, but traveling alone is not recommended for men either, especially late in the day.
Narrated Ibn 'Umar: The Prophet said, "If the people knew what I know about traveling alone, then nobody would travel alone at night." (Bukhari).
4. If you are traveling with a group, select an Ameer
Select one person to be the leader or Ameer when traveling in a group. This person helps lead the way in consultation with everyone in the groups. Choosing one person to head the group reduces confusion and leads to a smoother trip.
5. Leave on Thursday, or after Juma prayer
The Prophet used to prefer to set out (i.e. travel) on Thursdays (Bukhari).
If you are traveling and need to find the nearest mosque at which to pray Salat, including Salatul Juma, consult Sound Vision's Islamic Directory at http://www.soundvision.com/Community/Directory/
6. Read the Dua for traveling when setting out and returning
The transliteration of this Dua is:
Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar.
Subhan Allathee Sakhkhara lana Hatha wa ma kunna lahu Muqrineen
Wa inna ila rabbina la munqaliboona.
Allahumma inna nasa luka fee safarina hathal birra wat Taqwa
Wa minal amali ma tardha
Allahumma huwwin alayna safarana hatha wat wi anna buda
Allahumma antas Saahibu fis safar
Wal Khalifatu fil Ahli
Allahumma inni aouthou bika miw Wa thais safari
Wa Kabatil manthari WA soo il munqalabi fil Mali wal ahl.
The translation is:
Allah is the greatest, Allah is the greatest, Allah is the greatest, How perfect He is, The One Who has placed this (transport) at our service, and we ourselves would not have been capable of that, and to our Lord is our final destiny.
O Allah, we ask You for Birr and Taqwa in this journey of ours, and we ask You for deeds which please You.
O Allah, facilitate our journey and let us cover its distance quickly. O Allah, You are The Companion on the journey and The Successor over the family, O Allah, I take refuge with You from the difficulties of travel, from having a change of hearts and being in a bad predicament, and I take refuge in You from an ill fated outcome with wealth and family (this Dua is found in Muslim).
7. If one of the kids knows the Dua, let him or her say it out loud
If you are traveling with the family, have one of the kids recite the Dua. This can also serve as an incentive to other children in the family to do the same. Shower the Dua reciter with praise.
8. When driving somewhere in the car, don't play a Quran tape if you are not listening to it
When the Quran is read, listen to it with attention, and hold your peace; that ye may receive Mercy (Quran 7: 204).
9. If you do have kids in the car
Play the Quran tape so they can learn a couple of Surahs, provided everyone is respectfully listening. Select the 30th Juz of the Quran for this purpose, as it contains shorter, more familiar Surahs.
10. Engage the kids with a fun game during the ride
Entertain the kids with fun games during the trip. Avoid those that require small pieces that can get lost beneath the car mat or buried in a seat.
That means board games are out. But coloring and drawing are good alternatives.
One possible activity is giving the kids a map and a list of addresses from the Sound Vision Masjid directory. Give them the task of marking in crayon or marker where exactly each Masjid is found on your route.
11. Avoid consuming junk food
Traveling should not be an excuse to indulge in eating the deep fried foods and junk of fast food restaurants. In fact, before you think of stopping over at the nearest fast food joint to use the washroom and have lunch, remember this: Burger King uses the same oil in its fries that it uses in its burgers. And it's not uncommon to see beef mixed with pork in some places. See more information about meat mixing in our article 4 Reasons to Choose Zabiha over non-Zabiha meat
Prepare a menu or a list of foods you can take with you that you and your family, especially kids enjoy and which won?t spoil in a closed car for a number of hours.
Cut up vegetables like carrots and celery, for example, are healthy and kids love the crunching sounds they make. They also won?t leave a mess of crumbs or grease behind them in the rented van or the new car.
12. Stop for prayer, and pray the travel prayer
Ibn Abbas said that the Prophet used to combine Zuhr and Asr while traveling, and also used to combine Maghrib and Isha (Bukhari).
Prayer is shortened for the traveler. Take advantage of this, as you don't know what circumstances you may face while on a voyage. For instance, your flight may be leaving soon and you didn't have an opportunity to pray earlier; you're falling behind in your driving schedule and may have less time for a break at the next stop, etc.
13. Respect others when you travel
The Quran commands us to treat the "companion beside us" well. This refers to fellow travelers on a journey. We must respect their space and offer them comfort and convenience.
14. Respect others when praying in public
Doing your Salat in public can be great Dawa or a disaster, depending on how you handle it.
One thing to remember is not to block any fire exits, doorways, doors, etc. You will only be disturbing others. Try to find a place that is clean and a little secluded so people don?t step in front of or distract you and vice versa.
15. Wipe over your socks
According to a Hadith in Muslim, Muslims can wipe over their socks instead of washing their feet during Wudu. For the traveler, he or she can do this for three days and three nights.
We're mentioning this because many non-Muslims are surprised and offended to find Muslims washing their feet in the sink. When Islam has given us this ease, we should use it. While traveling by road or air, it's a good idea to respect the cultural sensitivities of our fellow travelers while fulfilling our obligations.
16. Beware of drowsy driving
Drowsy driving is a serious problem that leads to thousands of automobile crashes each year. This is a dangerous possibility during long drives out of town.
Some ways you can avoid this are:
-planning to get sufficient sleep before heading off on a long driving trip.
-limiting driving between midnight and 6 a.m.
-as soon as you become sleepy, stop driving. Instead, let a passenger drive or stop somewhere to sleep before continuing a trip.
Avoid the ten common driving errors:
- Excessive Speed
- Failure to wear seat belt
- Distraction inside the automobile (e.g. - changing a tape or compact disk, eating or drinking, using a car phone)
- Inadequate defensive driving techniques (these include things like keeping a safe distance between you and the car in front of you, being aware of blind spots during lane changes and knowing and obeying all traffic rules and regulations).
- Incorrect assumptions about other driver
- Tailgating or not leaving enough space between vehicles - even on the open road
- Not checking traffic before pulling out
- Passing without checking for traffic in the passing lane
- Not checking behind for oncoming cars when pulling away from the curb
17. When you reach your destination, read this Dua:
Transliteration: Aouthu bikalimaat illahit Tammati min sharri ma khalaq
Translation: I take refuge in Allah's perfect words from the evil that He has created.
This Dua is found in Muslim.