There are endless benefits of traveling for Muslim Children. I started traveling with my son when he was 3 and a half and we haven’t stopped ever since. He is now 11 and has visited 38 counties on 4 different continents. I think it’s safe to say traveling has turned into a slight addiction. Throughout our travels, I got to observe the benefits traveling has brought to my son and I wanted to share that to inspire Muslim Families to travel with their children.
I always try to plan our travels during holidays and breaks so he doesn’t miss out on school. But recently I decided to pull him out of school a few of times in order to accommodate the circumstances.
During this time, when other parents were made aware of his absence from school, I was often judged. There were people who wished me a safe trip while simultaneously furrowing their brows and raising their chins in disgust.
I completely understand that education at any age is vital. I am by no means vouching for student absenteeism. However, some of life’s best lessons are not taught inside the classroom but learned through real-world experiences. Experiences that reach the soul and not just the mind.
One valuable lesson that is taught across the board, in all schools (I would hope), is the concept of diversity, which encompasses acceptance and respect. It is understanding that each individual is unique and being able to discern the differences that make us who we are.
Students from a very young age are being read stories such as ‘The Crayon Box that Talked’ and ‘Don’t Laugh at Me’ (I know this because I’ve been a KG teacher for the last 11 years and I’ve read these books to my students every single year-I can almost read them blindfolded) to embed the importance of diversity and promote inclusion.
It is up to us parents to expose our children to the concept of diversity and explore what it looks like, what it feels like and what it means to be a part of a diverse world. In every country that my son and I visited I made sure we interacted with the locals of the land and got a sense of their lifestyle, heritage, and culture. We also made an effort to learn how to say ‘hello’, ‘thank you’ and ‘bathroom please’ in as many different languages. As foreigners, this came in handy a lot.
What better way to teach this concept than by exposing my son to different types of people so he can better understand that we are actually more alike than different?
In the Quran (49:13) God says “…we have created you from male and female, and have made you nations and tribes that you may get to know one another.”
My son once said that the best part of traveling so much is “getting to meet different nice people everywhere.” You couldn’t wipe the smile off my face for days.
Even though we constantly talk to our children about the importance of respect and being understanding of others’ traditions, cultures and differences, he made the connection that yes, we are all different but that doesn’t mean we can’t get along. Different people can be nice everywhere.
Getting to know one another emphasizes the importance of communication and social bonds. That is not simply going to happen by exclusively reading about different cultures and religions; rather it can only manifest into its greatest form when theory is put into practice.
Yes, my son might be missing out on a super cool science experiment or spelling test that he can always retake, but he is also being given the opportunity to immerse himself and build connections with others who look different, speak differently, eat differently, and worship differently.
He is learning all about diversity in diversity.
And that is one lesson he could never be taught in school.
It is a lesson that makes connecting with other children from different backgrounds easier.
It is a lesson that allows him to be more flexible and open to changes in his environment.
It is a lesson that reminds him of Allah’s beautiful creations and that He truly created us in the best of form and in all forms.
Last but not least, the memories created through travel are irreplaceable and are like none other. My son and I find ourselves repeatedly recounting our expeditions on our way to or from school or sitting around the dinner table.
We talk about:
Those were nights when the phrase “don’t let the bed bugs bite” was meant literally. However, we worked through it together and can now laugh about it. The commonality between these moments is that the strong connections and bonds created are all unforgettable, timeless, and incalculable.