Is It Safe To Travel To The Muslim World?

When is it safe to travel to the Muslim world and where can I go are common questions. News of the Muslim world give the illusion that most Muslim countries are spiraling out of control with frenzied conflicts and/or the possibility of terrorist attacks. One commentator lists at least 20 different conflicts in which Muslims are involved which is a high number.

But there is a greater truth: the Muslim world is more than just 20 countries engulfed in conflict. What we call the “Muslim world” spans all five continents and includes sixty percent of Asia and twenty percent of the Middle East, which means there are plenty of places to see that are welcoming to foreigners and relatively safe.

Granted, some places are safer than others.

I would not visit Iraq, Iran, Libya, Syria, Somalia, and Afghanistan. The people I personally know who travel to these dangerous places are journalists, U.S. contractors, human rights activists, and government officials. If you are not in that group, then my advice–as well as warnings from the U.S. State Department–suggest keeping them off your bucket list.

Turkey is the one exception.

The U.S. government will advise you to reconsider your travel to this imperial country with its ancient relics from the Ottoman Empire under a hazy blue sky. Personally, Turkey is breathtakingly beautiful and its people memorable. I’ve given lectures on the coastal city of Antalya and loved shopping for local goods in what is called “The Bird Island” or Kusadasai and of course, the dreamy capital city of Istanbul is a must see for its rich Islamic art, history, and civilization. 

Click here to watch a great video by Rick Steves on why visitors should see the grand Blue Mosque in Istanbul. 

This is an exciting time to see the Muslim world. Fellow travelers know that there is no better way to learn about Muslim culture & civilization, art, history, faith, and its people than right now. 

Recently, I went to Malaysia’s capital city, Kuala Lumpur, and then boarded a small plane to see the island of Langkawi. Kuala Lumpur or KL is one of the most tolerant cities that welcomes everyone–Muslims, Jews, Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, agnostics, etc. The city’s hyper-tolerant policy is a true treasure which is why if you have the time and budget, be sure to go to Malaysia first. (Note: Malaysia is not a perfect Muslim country and while most people are friendly and kind, there are orthodox groups who propagate a more conservative Islam.)

Langkawi is known as the Jewel of Kedah, which is an archipelago consisting of more than 100 other islands. Nature lovers will fall in love with the smaller islands and the lush plant life as well as animals, such as the monkeys, exotic birds, and marine life.

 

What I loved most about Langkawi is the low-key lifestyle, which is expected on an island, and the beauty of the mosques–the sound of the call to prayer reminded me that it’s possible to live in a Muslim place where believers practice their faith openly and with love for everyone. 

Another Muslim destination that I recommend is the peaceful Gulf country of Oman.

You can read more about Oman and other great adventures in a short guide I created for anyone who has asked me about where to travel in the Muslim world.

Click here for a free ebook. In Journey to the Muslim World, you will find top destinations, cultural information and travel tips.

Enjoy your free gift.