Tourism and Islam
THE UMRAH TRIP
The Ramadan eve annual Umrah trip is the latest fad to catch the eyes of the Muslim elites. Thanks to the advancement of modern travel and easy availability of foreign exchange, the traffic to the Holy Land has increased manifold since the dawn of the 90’s. Notwithstanding the steep increase in airfares and hotel accommodation, some people have made such trips an annual ritual. The elite suburbs are agog with talk of who made how many umrahs.
Undoubtedly, visiting the house of Allah and performing the minor haj are excellent acts of virtue. No sane person can deny their virtues. But after performing these acts of worship once, if there are other more urgent requirements in the Muslim community, they should enjoy priority. One can soothe one’s conscience by saying how much of reward one is achieving by performing Umrah after Umrah, but if sincerity is absent, our acts of worship will be bereft of all reward. We must not shirk from drawing attention towards false notions of religiosity that inspire some Muslims to perform pilgrimages time and again.
Repentance and seeking forgiveness are indeed the hallmark of a concerned Muslim. If genuinely sought, Allah’s blessings are not denied even to the worst sinner. Sultan Salahuddin, Allamah Iqbal, Tippu Sultan, Aurangzeb and several other luminaries of Islamic history did not perform even the obligatory haj despite a burning desire for it. Their pre-occupations with administration, expansion or the conquest of Baitul Maqdis in the case of Salahuddin did not permit them to carry out the Fardh act, let alone making it a ritual.
Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) is reported to have warned his companions of a time in future when the Muslim elite would come to the Holy Places as part of a pastime, people of average means would visit for the purpose of trade, while the poor would utilize the opportunity for begging. The statement carries tacit discouragement for turning visits to holy places into a periodic ritual. If indeed this is the case, all of us must express concern at the fulfilment of this prophecy. Let not our instincts of deriving pleasure be camouflaged by such religious zeal that is without sanction from Islam. Having concern for our Muslim brothers and sisters in all parts of the world in the form of financial assistance and da’wah to revive the flagging Iman will carry inﬁnitely superior rewards and are exceptionally greater priorities.
Madrasah Arabia Islamic – Azaadville – South Africa
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While in general we are in agreement with the view expressed by Madrasah Arabia Islamia of Azaadville, and which view we shall, Insha-Allah, be emphasizing in the ensuing pages, there is a need to comment on their statement:
“Sultan Salahuddin, Allamah Iqbal, Tippu Sultan, Aurangzeb and several other luminaries of Islamic history did not perform even the obligatory haj despite a burning desire for it. Their pre-occupations with administration, expansion or the conquest of Baitul Maqdis in the case of Salahuddin did not permit them to carry out the Fardh act, let alone making it a ritual.”
The subject under discussion is Tourism and Islam. Its permissibility or impermissibility is governed by Shar’i dalaa-il, not by the actions of luminaries whose deeds do not constitute such dalaa-il. The luminaries listed above, with the exclusion of Iqbal, were undoubtedly noble Islamic personalities. But their actions do not constitute daleel in the Shariah. In their opinion, due to their commitments, etc., Hajj was not Fardh on them, hence they did not undertake the sacred journey to Makkah Mukarramah.