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Is It Time To Ditch The Concept Of ‘Halal Holidays’?

Here are 5 reasons on why it might be time to broaden our horizons!

Here are 5 reasons on why it might be time to broaden our horizons!

Traveling the world and going on holiday are two very different things for many of us – traveling includes a rougher, local, and many times more authentic experience abroad while a holiday can include images of resorts, comfortable tours, and relaxing somewhere safe and easy.

Whatever way works best for you when seeing the world, it’s safe to say that while they may differ in experience and memories they still do wonders to our mind and soul: we’re able to feel like we’ve reset, experienced something new, and freshen up our outlook on life.

He Who has, made for you the earth like a carpet spread out; has enabled you to go about therein by roads (and channels)…”

Quran 20:53

And for many of us Muslims, the concept of going on ‘halal holidays’ or specifically choosing a ‘halal’ destination is a massive part of how we make our decision when it comes to where we end up going.

There are so many travel companies, tour guides, airline packages, hotel and resort deals, and websites/blogs that cater towards the idea of a ‘halal holiday’ being the best option out there for us. And I understand why – the allure of easily accessible halal food, prayer spaces, and familiar “salamu alaykums” can be very comforting and appealing.

But hear me out – are we not getting too comfortable, and possibly even too close-minded, when we limit ourselves to only traveling to ‘halal’ destinations? Isn’t the whole point of traveling or seeing the world to experience something new, something rewarding, and something humbling?

Do they then not travel through the Earth, so that their minds gain wisdom and their ears thus learn to hear?”

Quran 22:46

Perhaps we’ve gotten a little too comfortable with the idea that we can only survive on holiday as long as it’s ‘Muslim-friendly’ – why can’t we explore countries and regions that may not have that label? Aren’t we in fact missing out on so much this beautiful world has to offer when we only look towards what’ll be easy when finding dinner abroad?

Here are 5 reasons why it may be time to ditch the concept of limiting ourselves to a ‘halal holiday’ – and why we should start looking beyond what we think are safe and comfortable borders for a more authentic and rewarding experience across the world.

1. The world is a lot bigger and more beautiful than a few selected ‘safe’ countries to travel to

The number of ‘halal destinations’ on many of the common tour companies, websites, and resort packages is oftentimes limited and repetitive – which makes it all the more important to realize that the world has so much more to offer than a promised halal dinner in a comfortable resort.

The village of Ushguli in Georgia, said to be the highest inhabited village in Europe

Istanbul might be comfortable – but why not look at Georgia, a country with an incredible heritage, culture, and people nestled among the awestriking Caucasus Mountains? A resort along the Moroccan coast may feel safe and easy – but why not travel to Namibia, with its dramatic coastline and incredible natural parks?

The number of incredible places to visit far outnumbers the ‘halal destination’ packages offered – and it may just be time to finally realize the potential of looking beyond our small list of halal holiday destinations.

2. There are many Muslim communities and regions with Islamic heritage outside of typical ‘halal destinations’

What many of us fail to realize is that there are so many more Muslims spread out across this beautiful world than we recognize – and by only looking at Muslim-majority countries for places to travel, we lose out on a humbling and inspiring travel experience where we can meet Muslims from around the world.

The Banya Bashi Mosque in Sofia, Bulgaria

Take Bulgaria for instance – did you know that 1 in 10 Bulgarians identify as Muslim? And in the capital, Sofia, there is a massive and beautifully decorated mosque that dates from the 1500s? Did you also know that in the Philippines, almost 8% of the population is Muslim? Islam is said to have first arrived in the Philippines around the 14th century, mainly from traders coming from the Persian Gulf and India.

While traveling to countries with small communities of Muslims or only a distant Islamic heritage may make it a little more daunting (or fun, depending on your outlook!) when it comes to finding a meal or a prayer space, it shouldn’t mean that we completely ignore these incredible regions to travel to.

3. We can still engage and embed ourselves in a culture or country that isn’t Muslim while managing to keep it halal

Oftentimes we are told that we will only struggle and starve if we travel to a ‘non-Muslim’ country for a holiday – we have images of Muslim tourists only eating salads or at the one lonely Pakistani restaurant in the city that may deter us from looking beyond the given ‘halal destinations’.

But why does this have to be the case? By limiting ourselves to a given list of ‘safe’ countries to visit we are also limiting our outlook and understanding of the world – and we may even be keeping ourselves more close-minded than we realize.

A Muslim tourist at the Osaka Museum of Housing and Living in Japan – who knew hijab and kimono looked so well together!

For example, traveling to a country like Japan shouldn’t be daunting just because it isn’t given the label of being ‘halal’ – you’ll be surprised at the number of safe places to eat, and even mosques that have been built. It just takes a little more research and a little more bravery – something that is a normal part of traveling abroad anyways.

4. Oftentimes a place off the beaten track will be a lot more fun and rewarding to travel to

When we limit ourselves to destinations catered towards Muslim-friendly resorts and packages (and while there may be benefits of course), there will almost always be the downfall of being trapped in an overtly touristy experience with no real authentic feel of the land and region you’ve traveled to.

For example instead of going to Dubai, where while the food may all be halal but the extortionate prices and mobs of tourists may ruin your experience, why not look towards countries that are often left off of ‘halal destination’ lists?

Women from the village of Uzi, Zambia

Take the small island of Zanzibar off the coast of East Africa for example – 98% of the population is Muslim, and with a fascinating history and culture this island is not only technically still a ‘halal’ destination, but because it’s not as popular as places like Dubai it’ll most likely be a far more rewarding experience to truly explore our beautifully diverse world.

5. We can learn more about our world, peoples, and faith by exploring all this earth has to offer

Finally, while anywhere you travel to or have a holiday in will offer unique experiences, it may be worthwhile to go a little outside your comfort zone or to explore a few more places outside of the typical ‘halal holiday’ packages to really truly explore and appreciate the world we live in.

There may even be an argument that you’ll learn more about your faith and your endurance as a Muslim while traveling through a sparsely populated village in Romania than in Dubai Mall, or while exploring the awestriking beautiful nature of Zambia than at a comfortable resort in Antalya – there is so much to experience and learn from the world that has been given to us, and it may just mean ditching the halal holiday package deals.

At the end of the day, the choice is yours – and wherever your travels may take you, may you be humbled, inspired, and most importantly, may you fall more in love with the Creator who created it all.

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