The Qur’an lays great emphasis on learning—through greater experience, more profound study, and keener observation. In the chapter Al-Hajj (The Pilgrimage) of the Qur’an, one of the verses elaborates this point: Have these people not traveled through the land to make their hearts understand and let their ears hear; the truth is that it is not the eyes that are blind but the hearts that are in the bosoms that are blinded. (22:46)
Travel, which is quite in accordance with the Qur’anic scheme of things, is a great source of diverse experience. However, the Qur’an does not favor travel for entertainment but rather advises the undertaking of journeys in order to acquire knowledge and experience. Indeed, travel facilitates the study of history and an understanding of nature. In the real world, travel of this kind is highly appreciable as part of the Qur’anic way of life. This does not mean that you have to travel especially for this purpose. It simply means that you have to travel keeping the spiritual and intellectual benefits of journeying in mind. Man has always been in the habit of traveling for different purposes. Moving from place to place is a part of life. But the Qur’an insists that when you must, travel with this mind.
Whether your journey is for business or for other purposes, you have to develop that kind of eye that can see things in the light of experience and which can learn lessons from observation. Tawassum means to elicit spiritual lessons from material experiences. And Qur’anic travel is that which is based on the concept of tawassum. For example, when you purchase a ticket from an airline office, you notice that it records your itinerary from one destination to another. Just by seeing this on your ticket, you think that someday you will be given another ticket that will be for a quite different destination, that is, from the world of man to the world of God. When you travel you have so many experiences—some good and some bad, some pleasant and some unpleasant. But there is a common aspect to all of these experiences and that is the spiritual lessons they have to offer. So, extract that kind of spiritual lesson from all your experiences, both negative and positive. If you develop this kind of habit, travel will certainly be a spiritual journey.
Travel is a great source of universal wisdom. It is a realistic means of broadening your horizons, for, after every journey, you will have learned additional lessons and will return with increased knowledge. The mode of travel may be different—car, bus, railroad, airplane, or ship. But no journey is devoid of spiritual experience. So do not concern yourself with modes of travel. Always prove to be a spiritual observer, even if you are on a journey on foot. In that way, you can learn lessons perhaps even more effectively than on a journey by airplane.
Language should be no barrier to learning from experience. Your mother tongue may be different from that of the areas through which you pass, but you can continue to learn valuable lessons, for natural scenes or historical monuments have no special language: they speak in the language of common sense. So in all situations, you can establish contact with them and learn lessons from them.