The subject of being "Responsible" reminds me of a Hadith that states: "All of you are guardians and are responsible for your subjects. The ruler is a guardian of his subjects, the man is a guardian of his family, the woman is a guardian and is responsible for her husband's house and his offspring, and so all of you are guardians and are responsible for your subjects." (Bukhari & Muslim)
This Hadith sets a notion that all of us will be responsible for our actions and the things that are in our control. All of our actions will be accounted for hence it is important for us as Muslims to always do the right things. The act of traveling is highly encouraged in Islam thus it takes a responsible traveler to uphold the true essence of embarking on a journey. Here are some ways for us to be a responsible traveler!
Islam sets the utmost importance in setting our intentions right before we set out on any act. This can be seen through the Hadith of Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. that says "The deeds are considered by the intentions, and a person will get the reward according to his intention." (Bukhari) A simple everyday act of eating if intended for the sake of Allah s.w.t will be considered as worship to Allah.
Similar applies to the act of traveling. You should set a greater purpose for traveling. It is permissible for us to travel for leisure and holiday. On top of that, you should take this opportunity to appreciate the greatness of His creations through exploring, observing, visiting, learning and studying. This is enjoined in the Al-Quran as stated in Surah Al-Haj verse 46, "So have they not traveled through the earth and have hearts by which to reason and ears by which to hear?" Set the intentions right and you will be rewarded for your travel, In syaa Allah.
Before traveling, do read up and research on the culture of the respective countries that you will be visiting. Prior reading allows you to be mentally prepared and adjust to the surroundings better. It is important to respect differences of cultures and accept diversity. Learn the basic language like saying "Hello" and "Thank you" so that you can still engage in conversations. Have the courtesy to ask before taking pictures and avoid using any inappropriate language or body language to show any uneasiness. Do everything respectfully and you will be respected as a guest.
Whether you are a working adult or a student, ensure that all pending tasks are duly done. For every task that you have been assigned to is an Amanah and it is expected of you to do it to the best of your ability. If your absence is going to affect others (eg: your colleague, family members) then do advice them accordingly. This is a basic courtesy that you can offer others while you are absent. If you are leaving behind a family for long, do put in check that their needs are taken care of. This way you too can enjoy your holiday when you have ticked off all checklist!
Wherever you are, do not forget that you have the obligations to the Almighty to fulfill. Prayers should not be left behind in the name of travel. In fact, there are concessions (Rukhsah) in prayers that you can perform during travel. You may choose to combine Zohor and Asar prayers, and Maghrib and Isyak prayers together. You can also shorten the 4 Rakaah prayers to 2 Rakaah. Hence, there must be enough effort to ensure that your prayer timings are taken care of during the journey. Research on the places that allow you to perform the prayer. Search for nearby Masjid, Musolla, amenities that can be used if available. May He ease your journey!
Tempted to throw your rubbish by the roadside when there is no rubbish bin to be found? Think twice. Do your part in keeping the country clean and refrain from doing any more pollution to nature. Keep a small rubbish bag in your backpack so that you can keep them first and throw out later when you see a nearby rubbish chute. Minimize the usage of plastic bottles, cups or cutlery. Bring your water bottle and reusable cutlery when eating out. It is also part of the ethics as a Muslim to keep oneself clean and also the environment as cleanliness is part of our Iman.
Going on that elephant ride? Wish to take a photo with the tiger? Think again if the act brings more harm than good. Ensure that the wildlife park that you are visiting is registered with proper governmental authorities. Avoid activities that cause danger to wildlife and nature. As the prophet Muhammad s.a.w. has mentioned: "There should be neither harming nor reciprocating harm".
Local businesses are critical to the economies of a country. Support them by purchasing and eating locally. Supporting them also would mean that you are directly injecting revenue into the economy and also providing the locals with job opportunities. Do not underestimate the small action that you take because you never know which lives could impact from this very small act. Didn't Islam encourage us to help each other as long as it is a righteous deed?
As mentioned earlier, we need to travel responsibly as it is part of our ethics as Muslims to take full responsibility for our actions and things that are in our control.
Apart from that, we must also realize that Allah s.w.t has created the mankind to be the vicegerent (Khalifah) on this Earth as mentioned in the Quran "And (mention, O Muhammad), when your Lord said to the angels, "Indeed, I will make upon the earth a successive authority." (2:30)
Hence it is important to understand the role of human mankind is to maintain the law and order among all living and non-living things. May He ease our journeys; both the travel and trying to be a responsible traveler! Amin!