Every day, as I watch the news and interact with my friends and neighbors, I realize how divided we, at large, have become. We seem to have developed our own world views with shallow understandings of the issues at hand and rush to antagonize those who disagree with us.
A recent faith column by the Rev. Randall Monk, “Offense is no defense for beliefs,” pointed to the lack of civility that I believe has emerged because of this judgmental attitude largely based on shallow knowledge and deep ignorance.
As I reflect on this, a quote I once read popped up in my mind. It is attributed to St. Augustine of Hippo: “The world is a book and those who do not travel, read only one page.” I cannot agree more with this statement.
When I look back in my own faith tradition, I am amazed at how “bigly” travel is encouraged. Muslims believe that the Holy Quran is the speech of Allah (the Arabic name for God Almighty) and in it, He encourages and challenges humanity to travel and see his signs scattered around the world at least 27 times.
The Judeo-Christian tradition is not much different on this subject. It is well-known and accepted in all three traditions that Abraham, Moses, and Jesus (peace be upon them all) all traveled far and wide, teaching and LEARNING. A common word used to refer to Jesus is the Messiah. It is mentioned in the Quran. The Angel Gabriel informed Mary that she will have a child from virgin birth and he will be called “al-Maseeh Eisa” translated as Jesus the Messiah. One of the meanings of Maseeh in the Arabic language is the one who wipes. It described the Prophet Jesus (peace be on him) in two ways, one who wipes on peoples’ heads to show compassion and heal them by Allah’s permission, and the one who wiped over a large part of the earth by traveling through many towns and cities.
I believe strongly that traveling to parts unknown will be quite beneficial in battling the rampant alienation and antagonization of the “others” and expand our horizons beyond our own world view. I have personally met many veterans who were deployed to places they thought were full of uncivilized barbarians who do not think of anything except killing others. However, after meeting with those people, eating their food, and experiencing their cultures, they came back with a much-altered attitude and expressed their appreciation of those cultures to me.
The Muslim scholar Ibn Battuta, arguably the most famous traveler in the history of humanity, eloquently said: “Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.”
So, my dear readers, in the age of AirBnB.com and Outdoorsy.com, let’s not be the ones who only read one page of the book.
Jawad Rasul is the new imam of the Islamic Society of Augusta. Reach him at (706) 210-5030 or www.isaugusta.com.