The believer, according to the Qur’an, must be a traveler (alsaihoon) (9:112). This is not just in the sense of one who goes on journeys: it actually means one who learns spiritual lessons through tawassum (15:75), i.e. through reflection on material experiences. Guidance to this effect is set forth in the chapter AlAn‘am (The Cattle) of the Qur’an. The translation of the relevant verse is as follows: Say, ‘Travel about the land and see what was the end of the deniers. (6:11)
A believer is one who is always in a state of contemplation. When a believer is on his travels, his mind is always in the contemplative mode. Whatever a believer sees around him turns into a spiritual experience. A true believer’s mind is like a spiritual industry. He sees everything with a divine eye and learns spiritual lessons through tawassum His traveling thus becomes an ibadat, or worship, in that it serves to remind him of God. This process is integral to the workings of the mind of a true believer—a spiritually hungry person, who is constantly trying to derive spiritual lessons from everything. Naturally, this process continues during his travels. There is a formula for this which can be summarized thus: siahat plus tawassum is equal to marefat. Siahat means traveling, tawassum means to learn a lesson and marefat means realization of God. A believer’s journeying is a kind of ibadat on the move, in the course of which his contemplation becomes more profound, and he is able to expand his spiritual experiences. When at home, he lives in a confined environment which permits him to develop his personality at the rate of say one percent, but when he travels, he can add many new dimensions to his personality, developing it at the rate of possibly one hundred percent.
For example, when you buy a return ticket from an airline, you check it to make sure that it is actually a return ticket, and that you can travel with the assurance that you will return to your home. Then you remember death. Death is also a journey. But on this journey, you have no return ticket. You will travel to an unknown region that is beyond this world, with no guarantee of returning to this world again. This is an example of tawassum. An air ticket is a worldly item, but as a matter of tawassum, through this ticket, you can be reminded of the world hereafter. A believer’s journeying is a kind of ibadat on the move, in the course of which his contemplation becomes more profound, and he is able to expand his spiritual experiences. Then, if you visit a modern city, you will find that everywhere there are activities of various kinds. Then you think of Paradise and are reminded that Paradise is also a world of activity.
In the present world, activities are material, but in Paradise, they will be of a higher spiritual and divine nature. That is the more refined and perfect state of affairs. Everything depends on the human mind. If you are a materialist, your journeys will be materialistic, but if you are a believer in God, then automatically your journeys will be divine, and full of spiritual experiences. Prepare your mind in terms of spirituality, then your travels will be elevated to a higher plane. That is, they will take place in the world of spirituality.