Travel Writing

October 2019, Lonely Planet

From sublime deserts of mystery and mystique to the stunning Red Sea coast, where virgin coral reefs await the intrepid diver, Saudi Arabia is home to breathtaking natural wonders. Here are six of the best.

Lonely Planet, Aug-Sept 2019

Hajj Diaries 1: The Invitation, Hajj Diaries 2: Arriving in Saudi, Hajj Diaries 3: The Hajj Proper, Hajj Diaries 4: The Day of Reckoning, Hajj Diaries 5: The Devil Within, Hajj Diaries 6: The Return

In this unique series of posts documenting his attendance to the Hajj in 2019, Lonely Planet writer Tharik Hussain documents his experience from the initial invitation and his feelings about it, to the experience of the Hajj itself and how he finds returning home to the UK afterwards. Click the links above for a unique insight into one of the most famous pilgrimages in the world that unites Muslims of every ethnic group, social status and culture in Makkah annually.

Lonely Planet, July 2019

Last month, Britain's first ever Muslim Heritage trails were launched in Woking, Surrey, by the chairman of Historic England, Sir Laurie Magnus.

 

Trail #1: The Woking Trail takes visitors to the Shah Jahan Mosque, The Woking Muslim War Cemetery (Peace Gardens) and the 'Muhammadan Cemetery' - Britain's first Muslim cemetery. Trail #2: The Muslim Cemetery Walk takes visitors on a walk through Britain's oldest Muslim cemetery visiting 46 graves of some of the most influential Muslims in British history.

 

I created these trails, and this is why you should visit them.

Going Places Magazine, July 2019

Britain has a little-known but long and rich Islamic history; here are the places to glimpse it.

There’s only one place to start a tour of British antiquity, at London’s British Museum, home of the The Albukhary Foundation Gallery Of The Islamic World, where items from across the Muslim world are on display, including a 13th-century Persian astrolabe like the one invented by Muslim geographer Al Idrisi, and the original zamzam (holy water from Mecca) flask of Victorian explorer Sir Richard Burton, a non-Muslim Brit who performed the Hajj.

Colours Magazine, July 2019

Perfectly balancing old and new, Muscat is the embodiment of the Sultanate of Oman's reawakening. 

As temperatures soar and schools close their doors for the summer, Muscat, the capital city of Oman is looking ahead to a lengthy break where one date stands out more than any other: July 23rd, Renaissance Day....

Colours Magazine, June 2019

Cool, trendy and cosmopolitan, Jeddah is a city that moves to its own rhythm, and nowhere is this most apparent than along its famous Red Sea coastline.

A well-toned young man wearing a Harvard university T-shirt jogs past young children as they play on brightly coloured slides and climbing frames. The long grass of the freshly landscaped gardens sway in the sea breeze...

Lonely Planet, May 2019

When medieval Lithuania was a Grand Duchy, it faced an aggressive threat from Christians in the west. Those who came to the pagan country's aid were Muslims from the east, and their descendants have resided here ever since.

The ‘David’-like physiology and ‘Nike’ wings were Greco-Roman, but his turban, beard and ‘semitic’ face, were unmistakably of the East. He sat majestically with one arm under his chin and his right foot atop a distilling retort.

“Those figures represent the building blocks of Western civilization. There’s Spain, England, the Middle Ages, even Islam is there for its contribution to science. Look, ‘Islam’ is written under the turbaned man.”

Lonely Planet, Dec 2018

With more than five centuries of Ottoman history and a Muslim-majority population, modern Bosnia and Hercegovina brims with Islamic heritage. This land of Grand Viziers, magnificent imperial mosques and delicious Muslim cuisine is the perfect place to get a deeper understanding of the history and influence of Islamic culture in Europe.

Arab News, July 2018

“Listen!” Mahdi Hanini, our guide, has both hands outstretched as the faint cry of “God is Great” quickly increases in proximity and volume, enveloping Amman — the capital city of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. 

Arab News, 13 June 2018

Both Tunisia and Iran are based in the vibrant 800-year-old Russian capital, renowned for its golden domes and stunning orthodox architecture. It is home to the famous Russian ballet and a wealth of art, culture and iconic scenery, including the breathtaking Red Square.

Colours Magazine, June 2018

Medina is different to Makkah. It always has been. "They say even if you drop money here, no one will pick it up. They will just leave it so you can come back and find it exactly where you dropped it," says Saeed Anwar, smiling as we sit together staring up at the geometric patterns that adorn the white 'palm tree' pillars in the courtyard of the Prophet's Mosque...  

Going Places Magazine, June 2018

Eid-al-Fitr the three-day festival marking the end of the Muslim month of Ramadan, is the most eagerly anticipated date on the Muslim calendar. It brings to close a month of abstinence and pious observation, and begins a period of indulgence when Muslims eat special foods, give generously and adorn the nicest clothes...  

Arab News, 16 May 2018

Forever ‘Saigon’ to many, Ho Chi Minh City (HCM) — named after the revolutionary socialist leader who united North and South Vietnam — curiously ‘feels’ like Vietnam’s capital city, but it isn’t. That would be Hanoi in the ‘socialist’ north...

My Salaam, 2 April 2018

In 2015, two horrific terror attacks made Tunisia a no-go for travellers, but three years later, tourists are beginning to rediscover what made it such a popular halal travel destination. Two major international tour operators, Thomas Cook and TUI, have already started bringing holidaymakers, and according to the Tunisian Ministry of Tourism, the number of travellers from Europe has increased by 20 percent and from OIC and neighbouring Muslim countries by 31 percent.

My Salaam, 27 Feb 2018

Travel trends come and go like the passing of the seasons, but some occasionally offer the wanderer a truly special experience. Here, we’ve picked five travel trends that will speak to the heart and soul of every Muslim traveller.

My Salaam, Feb 20, 2018

It was during this month in 1870 that the Alhambra, the palace complex in Granada, Spain, officially became a national monument. Today, it is the country’s premiere tourist site, attracting thousands of visitors daily and topping lists for Spain on both TripAdvisor and the country’s official tourism board.

My Salaam, Feb 13, 2018

After the gloom of January, the month of romance is once again upon us. Couples around the world will be hitting the old, familiar haunts of Rome and Paris. We selected some destinations for every type of romantic getaway, and all of them are Muslim-friendly. So what kind are you looking for?

Arab News, 7 January, 2018

If you close your eyes and listen carefully at sunset in Siem Reap’s old town, between the rhythmic chants and tinkling bells emanating from the local Buddhist temples, you will hear the faint, melodious sound of the Muslim call to prayer ...

My Salaam, Dec 25, 2017

The thought of European winter festivities normally conjures up images of excessive drinking and partying, which can put many Muslim travellers off. But winter in Europe is much more than that. There are amazing hidden experiences awaiting those who know where to look.

My Salaam, Nov 29, 2017

The travel giant Lonely Planet has announced that its top travel city for 2018 is the quintessentially Andalusian city of Seville, home of the flamenco, bull fighting, tapas, and over 500 hundred years of Muslim history. So here are our top five Muslim heritage sites you simply have to visit in the stunning Spanish city once known as “Ishbiliya”.

My Salaam, Nov 21, 2017

After the Louvre, Abu Dhabi finally opened its doors to the cool tune of $650 million, here are five other museums every Muslim travellers has to visit.

My Salaam, Oct 26, 2017

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Tuesday told the world that he plans to return the country to a “moderate Islam open to the world”. Right now, it is tough to get tourist visas for the conservative kingdom, but if the Crown Prince gets his way, tourists will be in for a real treat in one of the world’s most ancient nations.

My Salaam, Oct 24, 2017

The oldest surviving mosque in America recently celebrated its 110th anniversary, and almost no one in the US or anywhere else knows anything about it. The history of Muslims in the US has barely been explored, but a visit to the country’s earliest mosques is a wonderful way to remedy this.

Arab News, 21 October, 2017

“Only a few years ago there was no such thing as Thai-Islamic art and now a piece of it sits inside the royal palace,” beams Ismail Ywaiyavata, the 39-year-old vice chairman of the Institute of Islamic Art Thailand. I am sat in a modest-sized room inside the Tuan Suwanasana Chularjmontri Foundation in the Bang Rak district of Bangkok.

My Salaam, 19 October, 2017

On Thursday, October 26, Thailand will finally cremate their beloved late King Rama IX, Bhumibol Adulyadej, at the Royal Crematorium, Sanam Luang, Bangkok. What many people don’t know is how Muslim-friendly the Buddhist ruler was during his reign. 

Arab News, 12 Sept, 2017

The Kingdom of Bahrain is a tiny nation with a big history. This is a country that was once ruled by a 12-year-old and a place where, in antiquity, the social elite spoke Greek and practised Olympian sports. Bahrain was where traders used to come from far and wide in search of the world’s finest pearls, however, despite this rich and fascinating history, Bahrain has become something of a touristic backwater in recent times...

My Salaam, 22 August, 2017

Eid is once again upon us, and most of us are looking forward to the warm, familiar rituals of praying together, visiting family and eating good food. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t shake things up a little. We’ve put together four experiences to make Eid more memorable this year, and each one comes with an amazing place to perform that all-important Eid prayer.

My Salaam, 08 August, 2017

With Islam’s holiest of holy pilgrimages on the horizon, My Salaam asked experienced hajis and hajahs what the secrets to a happy pilgrimage are. Here’s what they told us.

Colours Magazine, July 2017

The alleged resting place of mankind’s mother, Eve, Jeddah is an exciting, multicultural, modern city with a beating ancient heart fuelled by the sons of the many nations she spawned ... As temperatures hot enough to fry an egg on a car bonnet begin to dissipate with the orange setting sun, the air is slowly filled by the symphony of a hundred muezzins calling the faithful to prayer. Shutters of local shops come down, street traders cover their wares and head for the nearest mosque, joined by millions of ajnabi - foreigners - old and new, that keep modern Jeddah moving ...

My Salaam, 19 July, 2017

Last Thursday, Montenegro celebrated its National Day, a celebration of the moment the tiny Eastern European country was first recognised as an independent state back in 1878. Before that, it had been part of the Muslim Ottoman empire for almost 400 years. Evidence of that rule is most evident in the capital city of Podgorica, which was conquered by the Turks in 1474.

My Salaam, 25 June, 2017

Paris, the city of luuuurve, romance and light is home to a huge Muslim community and probably the most beautiful Islamic building in western Europe. This means Muslim festivals can be a pretty special experience here, so if you find yourself in the capital of France this Eid, here’s our guide on where to pray, drink and eat and what to see and do.

Arab News, 23 June, 2017

“Look! It’s Dino Merlin,” whispered the man beside me. A well-groomed man in his early 50s wanders into the courtyard of Sarajevo’s Gazi Husrev-beg Mosque. He is wearing stylish sunglasses and regatta-chic clothes. He seats himself on a large stone block near the mosque’s veranda. Nobody bats an eyelid. People are too busy listening to the Qur’anic recitation echoing through the space...

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