On the authority of Abdullah ibn ‘Umar (ra), the blessed Messenger of God ﷺ is reported as having stated, “Be in the world as a traveler or a stranger,” [Bukhari]. In this simple statement, the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ communicates the essence and summary of the journey of a human being as a traveler or wayfarer from the world of form to that which is beyond.
By learning to live and be as a traveler, as one who realizes that he or she is here but for a limited amount of time and that eternity awaits in the world beyond, not only can we experience life beyond fear, grief and suffering, but we can also better prepare our souls for the that which is eternal.
We Are Travelers
We begin our lives at birth and the journey ends for each and every one of us at the death of the physical form. Based upon this blessed tradition from the Prophet ﷺ, however, we are reminded that death is not the end, but rather the means to arriving at the true destination of the soul.
Thus, for a believer, death is not something to be feared, but rather prepared for. For one of faith, death is not something to avoid, but rather to journey towards with excellence and integrity.
The Muslim is by definition he or she who looks forward to the meeting with their Lord, and thus one who does not fear death. Thus said the blessed Messenger ﷺ, “Death is a gift for the believer,” [Tabarani].
Furthermore, the Prophet ﷺ consistently advised to “remember death,” for it is only in the acceptance of death that one becomes liberated from fear and thus able to truly live. It is but by remembering the temporality of life in the world that we prepare for that which is eternal.
Be In the World as a Traveler: Experience Peace
For most, because of the fear of death, life passes moment by moment in fear, worry and anxiety, all of which result from attachment to the world of form, known as dunya in Arabic.
Yet for the believer, particularly they who have transcended the world of illusion, Allah Almighty states, “Verily, upon the friends of God, there is no fear nor do they grieve,” [Surah Yunus, Holy Qur’an, 10:62].
Who are the friends of God? The friends of God are simply they who are close and intimately connected with God, and they who are close and deeply connected with God are they whose hearts have transcended and are not attached to the temporal world of form.
By remembering that we are travelers, and by living and being in the world as wayfarers, they who are on a sacred journey from form to transcendent light and energy, we liberate ourselves from the ceaseless suffering that invariably results from attachment to that which is ever passing away.
It can be said that all suffering is from attachment, and it is but the realization that we are travelers that enables one to let go of that which is ultimately not that important, and to embrace that which is true, real and eternally of value.
“Suffering is from attachment. Be in the world as a traveler and transcend both fear and grief.”
Be In the World as a Traveler: Awaken
Form veils essence, and a traveler in the spiritual sense is he or she who is traveling from form to spirit, from illusion to reality, from time and space to that which is eternal.
The great Imam Ali (kw) stated, “All human beings are asleep, and they awaken with death.” Thus, the journey’s end is not in fact the end, but rather it is the beginning. In death, we do not enter into eternal slumber, but in fact the exact opposite, we awaken.
To be in the world as a traveler is to move through life free of attachment, and only thus do we become capable of truly loving and truly living. To truly experience is to be awake, and so it has been reported that the noble Prophet Muhammad ﷺ stated, “Die before you die.”
To live and be in the world as a traveler is in effect to die to the illusion and vanity of the world of form and appearance, and thus to awaken to transcendent truth, light and reality.
Be In the World as a Traveler: Return to Fitrah
Allah Almighty has created all things in a state of original excellence and wholeness known as fitrah, yet as we become acclimated to what is essentially a false world, this original state of purity and innocence becomes warped, fragmented and veiled.
As fear increases in the psyche, that original state of tranquility becomes increasingly lost, and we become increasingly fragmented and fractured. Fear arises from attachment, yet by remembering to be in the world as a traveler, we free ourselves from attachment and thus from fear, and so progressively return to our fitrah, the original state of wholeness, completeness, peace and tranquility.
When a human being is again healed and whole in their fitrah, he or she is in alignment with the Universe and is thus supported by the will of the Divine in all of their affairs. Paradoxically, by letting go of the world, it is given to one. Yet one who seeks and chases after the world loses not only light in the afterlife, but fails to ever reach to peace, happiness and contentment in the world itself.
Be in the world as a traveler, return to your original state of fitrah, and journey in peace and prosperity.
To your divine and eternal success.