September 9, 2015
I’m now leaving the western hemisphere behind. Thank God I’ve made it this far. But there’s still many kilometers, hours, and many days to go before I can consider if my journey was a success. On a side note, I’m on a giant 10-seat-row plane. The captain began his flight with a “Bismillah”, while the supplication of the traveler played on the screen. The flight attendants all wear blue caps with hijab.
There’s even a prayer space at the back! I’ve always had to pray sitting in my chair. This was the first time I could pray properly at 10,000 feet. It was like praying on a swaying bridge, as our bodies rocked to and fro with the rumbles and swayings of the plane. Also, the dinner menu sounds more edible than regular plane fare… Also there’s no one sitting beside me, so that’s a mega bonus.
The Saudia airplane was the largest airplane I’d ever been in, and also the most hospitable. Everyone was given a blanket, pillow, eye cover and earplugs, and frequent meals on our 12 hour flight. We were fortunate enough to be in an underbooked flight, and so everyone got a full row to themselves. I think everyone at some point lifted up the arm rests and laid across the seats to sleep.
In addition to our comforts, though, there was also an immediate sense of Islamic identity. The plane had the words, “God Bless You” written on the outside, both in Arabic and English. Meals were halal. No alcohol was served. There was the prayer space in the back. The in-flight TV had both the latest movies as well as Quran recitation and Islamic lectures. We were given the latest print of the Saudi Gazette, both in English and Arabic. The flight began with a broadcast of the supplication of the traveler, which goes as such:
“Praise be to the One Who put this under our disposal, and we shall not associate anything with Him. O Allah! In our travel we ask You for piety and the deeds You like. O Allah! Make this journey easy and shorten its distance. O Allah! You are the companion of our travel, and the guardian of our family, wealth and children. Oh Allah! We ask you to shield us from the hardship of travel, the unkempt appearance and a bad end befalling our wealth and children.”
Almost immediately I felt as though I was stepping into another world, even though we were still in the very familiar Toronto airport. The supplication we said as we prepared to leave helped me to have some closure. The section of the prayer that calls God “the guardian of our family, wealth and children” is particularly heartening to me. After all, Prophet Muhammad (p) said, “When Allah is entrusted with something, He looks after it.”