Allah (Glory be to Him) says: "And Who has created all the pairs and has appointed for you ships and cattle on which you ride: * In order that you may mount on their backs, and then may remember the Favor of your Lord when you mount thereon, and say: Glory to Him Who has subjected this to us, and we could have never had it (by our efforts). * And verily, to Our Lord we indeed are to return!" [Surat Az-Zukhruf: 12 - 14].
Allah (Glory be to Him) told the people that the means of transport such as ships, cattle, and other modern means of transport which Allah subjugated for man are divided into several categories: Some walk on the ground, some fly in air, and some swim in seas. Using these means of transport whether machines or animals are given to people as favors, so how could the people who use them forget the One who provided them with all these blessings?! The Prophet's guidance concerning riding animals and in travels was the best and the most perfect. How could not it be while he was the most perfect of all people and his obedience was the most perfect.
In the following we shall review some of his guidance:
It was reported in Sunan At-Tirmidhy, Abu Dawud, and others on the authority of Ali ibn Rabi`ah who said: "Ali ibn Rabi`ah said: I was present with Ali while a beast was brought to him to ride. When he put his foot in the stirrup, he said: In the name of Allah. Then when he sat on its back, he said: Praise be to Allah. He then said: Glory be to Him Who has made this subservient to us, for we had not the strength, and to our Lord do we return. He then said: "Praise be to Allah (thrice); Allah is Most Great (thrice): Glory be to You, I have wronged myself, so forgive me, for only You forgive sins. He then laughed. He was asked: What did you laugh at? He replied: I saw the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) do as I have done, and laughed after that. I asked: O Messenger of Allah, what are you laughing at? He replied: Your Lord, Most High, is pleased with His servant when he says: Forgive me my sins. He knows that no one forgives sins except Him." [Sunan Abu Dawud No. 2652 and Sunan At-Tirmidhy No. 3446, and Al Albany (may Allah bestow mercy on his soul) graded it as authentic in Sahih At-Tirmidhy No. 2742].
A Muslim should ponder over this Hadith to realize the perfect favors of Allah, His Pardon, and Benevolence while He does not need the repentance of His Servants.
It was part of the Prophet's guidance when he rode an animal for travel to ask Allah to grant him goodness and piety during his travel and to facilitate righteous actions which please Him, to make travel easy for him, and to protect him from bad consequences in himself, money, or family.
It was reported in Sahih Muslim from the Hadith of `Abdullah ibn `Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) that whenever the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) mounted his camel for setting out on a journey, he would recite: "Allahu Akbar (Allah is the Greatest),'' thrice. Then he (peace be upon him) would supplicate: "Subhanal-Ladhi Sakh-Khara Lana Hadha, Wa Ma Kunna Lahu Muqrinin, Wa Inna Ila Rabbina Lamunqalibun. Allahumma Inna Nas'aluka Fi Safarina Hadha Al Birra Wat-Taqwa, Wa Minal-`Amali Ma Tarda. Allahumma Hawwin `Alayna Safarana Hadha, Watwi `Anna Bu`Dahu. Allahumma Antas-Sahibu Fis-Safari, Wal-Khalifatu Fil-Ahli. Allahumma Inni A`Udhu Bika Min Wa`Ta'is-Safari, Wa Ka'abatil-Manzhari, Wa Su'il-Munqalabi Fil-Mali Wal-Ahli Wal-Waladi [Far removed from imperfection is the One Who has made this subservient to us, for we have no power to subjugate it, and certainly to our Lord shall we return. O Allah, we ask You during this journey of ours for righteousness, piety and such deeds as are pleasing to You. O Allah, make easy for us this journey of ours and make the distance short for us. O Allah, You are our Companion during the journey and the Guardian of the family and the property in our absence. O Allah, I seek refuge in You from the hardships of travelling, unhappiness connected with ghastly scenes and evil turns in property and family)." When he returned, he recited this supplication making addition of these words: "Ayibuna, Ta'ibuna, `Abiduna, li-Rabbina Hamidun (We are those who return; those who repent; those who worship and those who praise our Lord)." [Sahih Muslim No. 1342].
As for the Prophet's saying: "Allahumma inna Nas'aluka fi Safarina Hadha Al Birra wat-Taqwa," Al Birr is obedience and piety and abandoning sins and evil deeds; this is the meaning if Al Birr was mentioned with At-Taqwa, but if each one of them was mentioned individually, each one gives the meaning of the other.
As for the Prophet's saying: "Allahumma Hawwin `Alayna Safarana Hadha, Watwi `Anna bu`dahu," make it easy for us and make its distance short.
As for the Prophet's saying: "Allahumma Antas-Sahibu Fis-Safari," You are my companion during my journey, so protect and help me; and when Allah is with you, what should you be afraid of?
As for the Prophet's saying: "wal-Khalifatu fil-ahli," the guardian over my family [i.e., I depend on You in protecting my family during my journey].
As for the Prophet's saying: "Allahumma inni A`udhu Bika min Wa`ta'is-safari," from its hardships and troubles.
As for the Prophet's saying: "wa ka'abatil-Manzhari," bad conditions or frustration due to sadness and pain.
As for the Prophet's saying: "Wa Su'il-Munqalabi," returning without fulfilling the purpose or with grief in himself, his money, or his family.
As for the Prophet's saying: "When he returned, he recited this supplication making addition of these words: "Ayibuna, Ta'ibuna, `Abiduna, li-Rabbina Hamidun," it is part of the Sunnah to say this phrase when a person returns back or at approaching his town because of the Hadith that was reported by Al Bukhari and Muslim in their Book of authentic Hadiths on the authority of Anas (may Allah be pleased with him) who said: "When the Prophet (peace be upon him) approached Medina, he said: Ayibuna, Ta'ibuna, `Abiduna, li-Rabbina Hamidun. He kept repeating them until he entered Medina." [Sahih Al Bukhari, No. 3085 and Sahih Muslim No. 1345].
As for the Prophet's saying: "Ayibuna," we are retuning safely with goodness.
As for the Prophet's saying: "Ta'ibuna," repenting to our Lord of our sins and negligence.
As for the Prophet's saying: "Li-Rabbina Hamiduna," praising Him for His Great Blessings, Favors, and for making our journey easy.
It is part of the Sunnah to pronounce Takbir when you rise a high place and to pronounce Tasbih [saying: Subhana Allah (Glory be to Allah)] when you go down either lower places, valleys or whatever.