Are modern halaal retreats a new growing travel trend?

2016-09-07 14:48 - Ra-ees Moerat
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Cape Town - Exciting times are ahead for the global Muslim community as a new halaal modern retreat has recently been launched.

The retreat is said to pool spirituality with personal well-being for the urban global Muslim traveller, a community that is "growing rapidly".

The Productive Muslim Retreat is a seven-day journey with the core purpose of empowering those who’ll be attending, to live a much healthier lifestyle that is spiritually inclined. Aimed at Muslim entrepreneurs, students and professionals, it allows them to take time out to re-evaluate their lives and learn life skills that are conducive to their faith-based lifestyles.

The program has been formulated jointly by HalalTrip and ProductiveMuslim, and inline with "demand from younger Muslims from across the world looking for unique travel experiences" and will include a variety of activities such as vision & productivity workshops, fitness sessions, nutrition consulting, volunteering at an orphanage and sightseeing through Sri Lanka’s historic sites and natural terrain.

The retreat is titled, Practicing and Living a Productive Muslim Lifestyle, which ultimately explains the concept behind it and is set to play out in Tangalle, Sri Lanka,  from November 19 to 25.

The founder and CEO of ProductiveMuslim, Mohammed Faris says the company expects to host a number of similar retreats over the next few years in various locations across the world. 

“The retreat provides an incredible way to escape the stresses of daily life, while practicing and living a productive Muslim lifestyle," says Faris.

Faris says that this retreat is a fine example of how sophisticated the global Muslim travel market is becoming.  

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The global Muslim travel market

In the global tourism sector, the Muslim travel market is extensively recognised as a prominent growing sector, projecting to be well worth $200 billion by 2020 according to the MasterCard-CrescentRating Global Muslim Travel Index (GMTI) 2015, which is the most comprehensive research that has been released on the sector. 

A recent study has revealed that in 2015 the estimated total Muslim visitor arrivals were 117 million representing close to 10% of the entire travel economy. This global forecast is set to grow to 168 million visitors by 2020 and 11% of the market segment. 

South Africa is also one of the five most popular non-Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) destinations in the global Muslim travel market. While SA ranked in the top 5 non-OIC destinations for the global Muslim travel market, Turkey places in the top 10 OIC countries to visit.

SEE: SA to learn from Turkey at world's biggest Halaal tourism conference 

Earlier this year, Matthew Driver, for MasterCard said that successful destinations around the world are also looking to diversify their visitor base to maintain tourist growth rates in today’s increasingly competitive travel market. 

"The fast growing Muslim travel segment is an opportunity in plain sight but in order to benefit from it, it is crucial to understand the needs and preferences of Muslim travellers and how to adapt and tailor products and services for them."

ALSO SEE: SA ranks in Top 5 destinations for Muslim travellers

A traditional Islamic retreat in South Africa

In South Africa, traditional Islamic travel retreats are typically referred to by the local Muslim community as, ‘seven days’ or ‘forty days’ referring to the actual duration of the retreat… sometimes the retreats might even be longer.

A conventional Islamic retreat in South Africa is not luxury-focused, but verge more towards spiritual empowerment.

Local mosques will serve as accommodation options and male travellers from all over the world, who participate in these retreats, are known for their backpacker ways… sleeping bags and plastic crockery and cutlery - and a miswak, which is a 100% organic toothbrush. 

Final year Islamic Studies student at The International Peace College South Africa (IPSA), Aakifah Antar says, "Although these retreats are male dominated, females are permitted to travel too, provided that they’re accompanied by their husbands on the journey. This is referred to as, ‘Mastoorah Jamaat’. 

The standard itinerary of these retreats includes:

This seven day journey will include a stay at the five-star Anantara Tangalle Beach Resort where the group will be encouraged to engage in spiritual reflection alongside jogging, cycling and visits to an orphanage. The group will also have a productivity expert, fitness instructor and nutritionist to hand throughout the duration of the retreat.

Fasting on Mondays and Thursdays

All the travellers on the retreat are required to wake-up before the crack of dawn to pray and have a shared breakfast, before venturing into fasting for the rest of the day.

The complete recitation of their holy scripture, the Quran

Chapters in the Quran are divided between the travellers daily, and the complete recitation of the Quran is collaboratively completed.

A ‘praising’ ceremony each evening

Every night, the travellers would dedicate an hour of their time to praise their God (Allah) by singing praise songs together. Locally, this term is known as ‘Dhikr’, which is a form of devotion.

A lecture, five times a day

Muslims are required to pray five times a day. After each of these prayers, a fifteen minute lecture on the religion is rendered by the group leader (Imam). 

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