Thursday, July 23, 2009

Spiritual Travels!


I planned a trip to Europe last year, and then, much to the disappointment of some of my religious friends, I went on and planned another this year. And I have no qualms about not regretting either. I was told both times that I should either go for umrah  (Muslim pilgrimage) instead or perform it on my way back. While the reasons why that hasn’t happened are very personal, I do feel inclined to share with friends and family that traveling isn’t just fun, it is very, very spiritual too, apologetic as that may sound!

The rail tracks clamped to the Swiss landscape are just about heaven-sent. Every route they take, every inch they cover, a marvel of nature unveils itself. From the teal rivers running through quaint towns, to the still waters of turquoise lakes stretching twenty-odd miles among the lush of freshly bathed greenery, one cannot help but say, “Oh God!” Spiritual.

A train-ride from Venice to Vienna is just as much fodder for the spirit, with its winding paths, opening horizons to waterfalls, green beds of grass, densely and lovingly populated by small lakes and mellow cattle. Spiritual.

Paris is a world famous city; not for its landscape or natural beauty, but for the aesthetics of its people. The wide boulevards, the manicured lawns, the fashion statements are all mixed up for a classy combo. But then, you discover how threatened the country feels in the face of religious symbolism, and in a second, you’re willing to forego dreams of settling in a city that has so much to offer because your religious sensitivities will not be respected. The Versailles tells tales of uber-luxury that one cannot even find in modern-day Buckingham, and you instantly understand why the French Revolution happened. You shun such disparity. You rise above it all. Spiritual.

Rome is the historic city of the world. A magnum-opus in itself.  The Roman Forum, the Colosseo, the Palatine Hills are all thronged by people; few tourists throng other European cities like they do, Rome: for its cathedrals, its piazzas (and pizzas!), and most of all, its ruins. Often, the book of God tells us to take heed from ruins spread across land, and Rome – not to take away from the marvel that it is – serves as a very apt reminder. Spiritual.

Cordoba. A mosque built by the Umayyads, on the site of a church, once again, converted into a Roman Catholic Cathedral. Food for thought. Spiritual.

Time to plan my next adventure…! I’m thinking Mecca!

16 comments:

Sumit said...

Hi there! I just chanced upon your blog, and thought you write pretty well. The pics of Paris and the Alps are awesomely nice though your description of them in words is far more enriching and fluid.

Saadia said...

True, the pictures are great, but of course, they take away some of the charm! And thank you for your compliments.

R. Ramesh said...

awesome pix, wonderful narration..nice 2 c back in action my dear friend...ya..do go Makkah..many of my friends from here have been for haj and umrah..in fact, some even travelled by bus from sharjah to saudi..and pray for good sense to prevail among entire humanity.wht say?

Id it is said...

Amazing Saadia,
You made such a quick and lasting connection of how spirituality within is evoked and enriched by diverse exposures from the outside and your rational processing of those experiences; like you did.

Spirituality is not a stagnant phenomenon I guess it grows as one sensitizes himself to the predicament of the world that surrounds.

Thanks for this 'aaha!" moment!

Onkar said...

The pictures are so lively. The narration left me craving for more.

Saadia said...

Ramesh, amen!

Id, spirituality abounds all if, as you say, we are able to 'sensitize' ourselves. For me, personally, spirituality is about God, which can simply not be denied.

Onkar, I am thinking about sharing some more photographs here. Trying to figure out how. :-)

Abdul Sami said...

i do totally agree!!!

also the fact that our dear 'saudi' govt does not issue transit/tourism visas... and try to treat as shitty as possible bcz they know u r tehre for a purpose u want!

but for sombody who travels around a lot.. i can totally associate with what u said!

btw.. did u come to england in the end? had fun? where'd u go?

slmnhq said...

You should have said, "Learning is a form of worship and travel is immersive learning".

Saadia said...

Well said!

Saadia said...

Sami, England was always on the itinerary. We mainly covered London - remember I mentioned the cruise and the guide's comments about Tate Modern? - and some surrounding places/attractions (Windsor, Thorpe Park, Oxford...). We also took a train to Glasgow from London, and came back from Edinburgh by bus. I remember reading Luton and Milton Keynes on the motorway just before entering London, and I remember mentioning you to my husband. :-) Aside from the UK, we had Switzerland and France on the itinerary this time around.

Abdul Sami said...

oh yea so you did!

you know i hav not been to scotland ever...

and i work in oxfordshire but i hav not really VISITED oxford.. yani been tehre but not really roamed!

need to !!!

we always seem to miss out teh things closest to us!

Muhammad khabbab said...

beautiful pics

theBollywoodFan said...

Salaam Saadia, hope you're well. I meant to comment on this a lot earlier. We've had a cool discussion on spirituality before, one in which we agreed, so I really enjoyed this post! It really is about perspective, right?

Okay then, I hope you have something Ramadan-related soon (read food-related! LOL...I meant food for the soul, really.)

Cheers.

Keats The Sunshine Girl said...

Lovely snippets of sprituality. Thanks!

Momekh said...

No one ever found God through dictation, I think. Rock on.
And God bless you and good luck :)

ME said...

Nice Ride............