I have just returned from the most amazing holiday in Tunisia.
My husband and I traveled to the Yasmine Hammamet area of Tunisia.
Although the area was commercialized to some extend for tourism, I still found that it kept many of its traditional roots of Islam.
On our arrival at the hotel, we went to the reception to book in, fortunately I speak fluent French Alhamdulilah, so this was very helpful in terms of navigating our way around and asking for any advice we needed whilst on holiday.
I found straight away that the staff were incredibly intrigued by my husband and I, my husband is of Pakistani origin and in comparison I look very white! They couldn’t accept that I was from England, they would say “yes but originally you are Algerian.”
This was rather funny for my husband and I as they couldn’t quite comprehend that I had chosen Islam as my religion. However after much persuasion that I wasn’t Algerian they finally understood!
Before going on holiday I bought a burkini (Islamic swimming costume) which consists of trousers with a dress over the top with an attached hood to cover my head, somewhat like a scuba diving wet suit but much thinner.
I was very anxious about asking the staff if it was ok for me to swim in the pool wearing my costume. So after hovering around reception for a while I eventually asked them, their response shocked me:
“Of course madam”
“You are here on your holiday as a Muslim please enjoy yourself”.
The relief was absolutely immense! To me a holiday isn’t a holiday without the pool, so to hear that I was welcomed and encouraged to swim in the hotel pool was such great news.
Enjoying My Holidays
After unpacking, we went downstairs to the pool, I was so scared of what people would say or the looks I would get, but I kept telling myself it’s ok, I have paid for this holiday just as much as the other guests and I have just as much right as them to use the pool.
My husband was also very supportive alhamdulilah encouraging me to let go of my inhibitions and to enjoy myself on our holiday. At the end of the day I am remaining covered for Allah and I shouldn’t be embarrassed by that!
Whilst I was getting into the pool, I cannot lie a few non Muslim guests were glancing in my direction and whispering amongst themselves but as my husband said they will see you a couple of times then get used to it. In all honesty he was right, after day 2 of the holiday nobody even blinked an eye in my direction. More importantly other sisters that were holidaying there felt encouraged and also started to come into the pool with their special costumes on.
That evening we went out of the hotel and I was completely amazed; every shop we walked past had burkinis in the window in every color and style you could imagine, Mashallah they were so pretty and easily available for Muslims. Incredibly they were so much cheaper than the UK too, but as is everything in Tunisia.
That evening we went for dinner in the hotel as we had booked an all inclusive package.
I was slightly apprehensive about the food being halal as I had heard some horror stories from friends who had gone and the hotel served pork etc… I did notice that some salads and breakfast meals looked like they had bacon in them. So I immediately asked the chef in French so he could understand me properly:
“Is all the food halal, and is this real pork?”
He replied with certainty that the all food was halal and the pork was made out of turkey breast. He was a Muslim brother so I took his word on it.
However, my husband was a little apprehensive so we asked 2 other members of staff from different departments within the hotel and they all said the same that the food was halal and the pork was turkey.
Alhamdulilah, we could enjoy all of the food in our hotel now that we knew that it was halal. In all honesty I couldn’t have been more relieved, although I absolutely love fish, my husband however is less keen, so having to listen to him complain about eating fish all week could have just tipped me over the edge, so alhamdulilah for that!
As the holiday progressed we soon realized that Yasmine Hammamet wasn’t only a place for non Muslim travelers but in fact Muslim brothers and sister traveled from far and wide to holiday here and I felt comforted to know that we were surrounded by people from the Ummah!
Time for Camel Excursion
Whilst in the hotel we booked many excursions to get the full experience in Tunisia. The funniest by far was the camel excursion. On purchasing the trip we were told you have time with the camels and all your food and drink is included in the price.
We were taken by mini bus to a very remote village, we mounted the camels and started walking through small trails and big open plains which were similar to a desert.
Then after about an hour or so we arrived at this house in the middle of nowhere where we were gestured inside by our guide who only spoke Arabic, not one of my strongest points.
Eventually after sitting down, his grandma emerged with a pancake to share between four people with a glass of coke each! She then gestured us into her home and gave us some of her traditional Arabic Tunisian clothes and we had to dress up to have our pictures with the camels, who might I add were named Shakira, Fatima and Halima.
After having our picture taken we were led to her back garden where my husband was grabbed abruptly by her grandson and forced to dance which absolutely tickled me and made my holiday.
To finish the trip we went outside to get back on the camels to base camp and they had walked off and got tired of waiting for us! Although this trip wasn’t what we expected it was fun, it was traditional and it made us laugh!
Fun on Pirate Ship
We also went on an excursion that was advertised to see the dolphins.
However after boarding the pirate ship it was just a massive party boat with dancing, music and magic shows. Although the magic shows were good and entertaining, my husband and I and other Muslim couples on the boat felt slightly awkward and out of place as it wasn’t really our kind of thing and I would be fair to say we had been misled by what activities would be happening on the pirate ship.
Quad Biking Adventure
Our final excursion was quad biking, this was absolutely amazing.
We were given our own quad and had to follow the tour guide through mountains, desert landscapes and dirt tracks. I would recommend this excursion for any Muslim couple traveling to Tunisia. You have the opportunity to see some of the greatest views of all time to see what Allah has created for us.
Our evenings consisted in visiting the local medina where we able to do all sorts of shopping. I found that the men in the market place were very respectful to Muslim women and couples always offering Salam.
Again this did surprise me as I had been told some horror stories about learning, inappropriate behavior from some men whilst traveling overseas.
Overall the whole holiday experience was amazing and an ideal location for Muslim couples, the cafés and restaurants outside of hotel often did not sell alcohol which is a great halal environment to relax in and have food.
The country is a very beautiful place with such warm welcoming people alhamdulilah and it is somewhere we would definitely return insha’Allah.
(From Discovering Islam’s archive.)