In Islamic culture, journey for human beings is a way of getting knowledge of the realities of existence and it is a window to the essence of human life. Man can flourish the aspects of his existence by enjoying the benefits of journey and he can reveal the facts by pushing away the dark veil surrounding him.
In religious texts, a lot of positive effects for journey and travelling have been stated which are divided into three sections: individual, social, and spiritual- mental.
First: Individual effects
In some verses of the Holy Quran the word "Journey" is used along with the word "Observation".
قُلْ سِیرُوا فِی الأَرْضِ ثُمَّ انْظُرُوا کَیْفَ کَانَ عَاقِبَةُ الْمُکَذِّبِینَ؛
“Say: Travel through the earth and see what was the end of those who rejected the truth”
In this verse and similar ones "Observation" means "intellection", "thinking", "examination" and "survey". They are used for considering something very carefully. Since the Holy Quran is a book of guidance, it is natural that the act of thinking should be for the path of sublime goals of this Divine Book.
Therefore, the main aim of thinking and rational advising of such verses is "edification and credit ". The author of Majma'l Bayan explains "observation" in this manner:
“Observation is the demand for perception by the means of visual, thinking and reasoning and the meaning in this verse is to observe with your eyes and think with your hearts.”
The Universe is the whole mirror of the Creator of existence. Travelling and staring at the masterfulness of existence of Creator makes heart aware and enables the person’s mental faculties for pondering.
Observing with hesitation and contrivance take away the sleep from human eyes and makes his mind alert, his eyes clear-sighted and his ears receptive.
قُلْ سِیرُوا فِی الأَرْضِ فَانْظُرُوا کَیْفَ بَدَأَ الْخَلْقَ ثُمَّ اللهُ یُنْشِئُ النَّشْأَةَ الآخِرَةَ إِنَّ اللهَ عَلَى کُلِّ شَیْءٍ قَدِیرٌ؛
“Say: "Travel through the earth and see how Allah did originate creation; so will "Allah produce a later creation: for Allah has power over all things.”
The works of the past people have remained in different parts of the earth which are vivid and illustrative documents of history which can be utilized more than recorded history.
The ruins of the Palaces of tyrants , wonderful monuments of Pyramids, the Tower of Babel , Kasra Palace , and the civilization of Saba people which are all silent meanwhile have thousands of tongues to talk:
Leaning and gaining experience
Journey has great influence on the formation of scientific, social and religious characters of scholars. Thus, scientific journeys draw special attention of religious leaders.
The Holy Prophet of Islam (P.B.u.H.) stated that:
“God has revealed to me that anyone who travels in the path of knowledge and cognition, I am paving his path to heaven”
According to the Infallible Imams’ advices, searching for knowledge is much more valuable than reading Quran and keeping vigil on Qadr nights.
Last divine Messenger said to Abuzar :
“Attending in a science session and paying attention to scientific debates is 12 thousand times superior than presence at the Prophet's wars or reciting the entire Quran”
Recommendation of divine Saints for gaining knowledge has caused much of the scientific heritage to be the souvenir of exhausting and difficult journeys of scientists. Enthusiasm to knowledge motivates the human and famous scientific centers as well as important persons in different cities to absorb enthusiastic people in science. Many educated religious and scientific scholars were those who sought to learn through journey. History testifies that many narrative books are the output of Islamic scientists. Jaber Ibn Abdullah al-Ansari bought a camel and during one month he travelled to Levant by the way of the hot plains of the Arabian Peninsula in order to ask a scientific question from Abdullah bin Anees.!
Avicenna had written most of his famous books during travelling to Isfahan. Sheikh Sadoq had also put down parts of his scientific works on his journey.
A significant part of human cognition is the outcome of his observation. Increasing knowledge and perception through sightseeing are achieved by travelling on the earth, seeing the mines and digging the mountains. On the other hand, many of man's belongings are the products of other's experiences in different times and places.
The growth of intellectual aspect and talent development
One of the impressive effects of journey in the field of individual is intellectual growth and prosperity as well as training the thoughts and strengthening rational aspect of humans.
Allah the Almighty says:
أَفَلَمْ یَسِیرُوا فِی الأَرْضِ فَتَکُونَ لَهُمْ قُلُوبٌ یَعْقِلُونَ بِهَا أَوْ آذَانٌ یَسْمَعُونَ بِهَا فَإِنَّهَا لا تَعْمَى الأَبْصَارُ وَلَکِنْ تَعْمَى الْقُلُوبُ الَّتِی فِی الصُّدُورِ
“Do they not travel through the land, so that their hearts [and minds] may thus learn wisdom and their ears may thus learn to hear? Truly it is not their eyes that are blind, but their hearts which are in their breasts”
In this honorable verse, God has known journey and observation a means of thought and wisdom which lead mankind to higher knowledge and insight.
According to this Quran statement, travelling is the millstone element and foundation of growth as well as development of human life in different cultural, political and economic aspects.
It is obvious that a closed society with lack of awareness about other nations has no proper growth in any fields and will be deprived of other intellectual experiences and scientific achievements.
Going to nature, looking at plants and meadow, gazing at clear running water and breathing in clean air, all have a significant impact on reducing mental stresses and prevent man from getting mental disease. The souvenir of travelling in peace and pleasure leads to physical health for humans.
Holy Prophet of Islam said:
سَافِرُوا تَصِحُّوا وَ تَغْنَمُوا؛
“Do travel in order to get health and gain wealth”
The same tradition is also narrated by Imam Sadeq (A.S.) who has recommended journeys for getting physical health. In Islamic traditions, one of the most important aspects of pilgrimage to Hajj and Umrah, is emphasized as physical health. The Sublime God has promised mankind if man goes on pilgrimage to Allah's House intentionally and will be in the path of Hajj and Umrah, surely he will have a healthy body.
Imam Sajad (A.S.) said:
حُجُّوا وَ اعْتَمِرُوا تَصِحَّ أَبْدَانُکُم
“Do pilgrimage of Hajj and Umrah in order to get healthy bodies”
Perhaps two reasons have been stated for good health. First, one should go on foot during the Hajj pilgrimage and we know that walking is one the best exercises. On the other hand, if human spirit and soul goes toward purity, body will obey the spirit and will recover its health.
In other words, spirit and body are inseparable and it is an interwoven existence which has mutual influence and interaction.
Whenever the body is healthy, spirit can establish better spiritual relationship and if the human soul is deeply connected to heaven, it will affect directly on human body and health.
A remarkable point is that when someone repeats his pilgrimage, Allah will never affect him with "fever". In other words, he won't suffer from high fever.
Elimination of economic problems
Beside the positive effects of journey on mental and spiritual health, it has also profitable economic effects and brings wealth. The Sublime God commands people scatter on the earth and take up trade and commerce in order to prosper with Divine favor.
فَإِذَا قُضِیَتِ الصَّلاةُ فَانْتَشِرُوا فِی الأَرْضِ وَابْتَغُوا مِنْ فَضْلِ اللهِ وَاذْکُرُوا اللهَ کَثِیراً لَعَلَّکُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ
“And when the Prayer is finished, then may ye disperse through the land, and seek of the Bounty of Allah: and celebrate the Praises of Allah often [and without stint]: that ye may prosper”
Economy of countries is based on commerce and trade is travelling from one country to another. Imam Sadeq (A.S.) narrated from his noble ancestor that the Holy Prophet of Islam stated that:
سَافِرُوا تَصِحُّوا وَ تُرْزَقُوا
“Do travel on land in order to be healthy and get wealth”
Most traditions explained such a purpose. Imam Ali (A.S.) while encouraging people to trade told them: "We heard from God's Prophet that daily bread is in 10 portions, nine of which is in business and only one portion is in other things"
An important part of works and philosophy of Hajj and Umrah is negation of poverty and increasing prosperity. In such traditions, many effects have been stated for this spiritual journey such as: increasing sustenance and livelihood, gaining adequate money for women and children expenditure, increase of property, negation of poverty and being rich and getting wealth. All of them show the great importance and impact of the Hajj pilgrimage in providing material needs of humans.
The Holy Prophet of Islam stated:
حُجُّوا لَنْ تَفْتَقِرُوا
“Go on Hajj pilgrimage so that you shall never be poor”
In other traditions, the Messenger stated that:
“Hajj and Umrah eliminate poverty as a furnace cleanses the rust from iron”