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By: Yasmin Mogahed

Every created thing yearns to fulfill its purpose. The eyes yearn to see. The ear
s yearn to hear. The stomach yearns to eat. The heart yearns to love. And inside
every one of us is a created thing. It is a gigantic mass. It is a mass of affe
ction, loyalty, and devotion. And it was created with a purpose. It was created
to be given. But it was made to be given in a very specific way, to a very speci
fic place. What we chose to door not dowith this heavy mass, determines our state
in this life and the next.
The drive to give ourselves to something compels us, and acts as a very powerful
force. There is a sort of desperation to love, to share, to connect. It is a de
speration to contribute, to invest, to affect. The drive is so strong; but we of
ten dont even understand it. We often cant comprehend the nature of this inner mas
s, and we dont know what to do with it.
So, some of us hold on to it. To try to hold on to what was made to be given, is
like holding a ticking bomb inside our chest. It finally explodes within us, cr
eating a black hole of emptiness. This is how we implode.
And then there are some of us who do give it. But, ya Latif, we give it in the w
rong way and to the wrong hands. We try to give it, all of itevery drop of it to o
ur careers. We try to give it to the love of our lives. We try to give it to this
world. To give the entirely of this mass to something other than its Creator caus
es unparalleled torment and inner damage.
Allah tells us in the Quran:
Had there been within the heavens and earth gods besides God, they both would hav
e been ruined. So exalted is Allah , Lord of the Throne, above what they describ
e. (21:22)
In this verse, God tells us what would have happened had there been more than on
e object of worship in the heavens and the earth: corruption and ruin. If the he
avens and the earth, in all their majesty, would have been ruined by taking more
than one object of worship, what of the fragile human heart?
What happens to a heart that takes more than one object of ultimate love, fear,
hope, and devotion? What happens to the one who gives this inner mass to other t
han its Creator? What happens to the one who allows other than Allah to be soaked
into the deepest recesses of the heart?
To understand the result of this intrusion, imagine the heart like a sponge. Whe
n something of the dunya is presented to it, the heart can either accept or reje
ct it. If the heart is protected and rejects what is presented, the heart will r
emain safe. But if the heart is unprotected and accepts it, like a sponge in a c
ontainer of ink, the heart will absorb. And it can absorb all the way to the cor
e (lubb). Once this process takes place, removing that which has been absorbed b
ecomes extremely difficult. And painful. Like cleaning out a sponge, removing wh
at has been absorbed into the core of the heart requires agonizing and consisten
t squeezing.
The Prophet (pbuh) said: Fitan (trials) will be presented to hearts, as a reed ma
t is interwoven: stick by stick. Any heart which absorbs these trials will have
a black mark put in it. However, any heart that rejects them will have a white m
ark put in it. The result is that hearts will be of two kinds: one white like a
white stone, which will not be harmed by trials as long as the heavens and earth
endure; and the other dark and rusty, like an over-turned vessel; not able to r
ecognize the good, nor reject evil, but rather being absorbed with its desires. [
Commenting on this hadith, Ibn ul Qayyim (RA) explains that the fitan (trials) t
hat are presented to the heart are of 2 types: shahwat (desires) and shubuhat (d
oubt). He says, The first causes intentions and desires to be corrupted, whilst t
he second causes knowledge and beliefs to be corrupted. [Ighaathatul-Luhfaan, p.4
When the fitan of desires and doubt are accepted and absorbed into the heart, th
ere are 2 dangerous consequences that follow:
First, that heart will no longer be able to recognize good and evil, as they rea
lly are. If the heart is fully soaked in darkness, it may even see good as evil,
and evil as good. Suddenly, the haram (forbidden) looks beautiful and the halal
(permissible) looks ugly. This is the consequence of a deeply diseased heart. A
nd that disease comes about by allowing the heart to absorb the fitan (of desire
s or doubt).
Second, that heart will judge and be led by whims and desiresrather than by the g
uidance of Allah. Instead of being a slave to Allah, such a person will become a
slave to his own desires. Slavery to anything other than Allah is the most pain
ful sort of oppression.
Even after the Children of Israel were saved from Pharoahs captivation, they were
still imprisoned. They were imprisoned by the objects of worship that had enter
ed their hearts. The worship of the calfthe calf itselfwas absorbed into their hea
rts. Allah says:
And [recall] when We took your covenant and raised over you the mount, [saying], T
ake what We have given you with determination and listen. They said [instead], We
hear and disobey. And their hearts absorbed [the worship of] the calf because of
their disbelief. Say, How wretched is that which your faith enjoins upon you, if
you should be believers. (2:93)
Because of their misguided worship, the calf was absorbed into their hearts. Tod
ay, we may not worship a calf or allow that love to enter our hearts; but most o
f us worship other forms of the calf. We worship money, power, status and other
people. And those very same objects of ultimate love, fear, hope and devotion al
so get absorbed into our hearts. As a result, our hearts become corrupted and ru
ined, as Allah warned in the Quran (21:22).
The Prophet (pbuh) has also warned us of what happens when the heart becomes cor
rupted. He says: Beware, in the body there is a flesh; if it is sound, the whole
body is sound, and if it is corrupt, the whole body is corrupt. And behold, it i
s the heart. (Bukhari & Muslim)
How, then, can we prevent this corruption and ruin of the heart, and thereby the
corruption and ruin of the entire body? The first way is through protection.
One important Islamic principal is that protection is better than cure. For exam
ple, Allah does not tell us not to commit zina (unlawful sex), He says Do not com
e close to zina. The Quran says:
And do not approach unlawful sexual intercourse. Indeed, it is ever an immorality
and is evil as a way. (17:32)
Allah does not just prohibit zina, but prohibits all that could lead to it and p
uts up many barriers to even coming close: lowering the gaze, modesty in dress a
nd behavior, avoiding seclusion with the opposite gender, etc.
In protecting the heart, Allah has also given us a prescription. The remembrance
of Allah (thikr) provides layers of protection around the heart. Prayer provide
s a layer. Quran provides a layer. Athkar (supplications of remembrance) through
out the day provides a layer. The more we remember Allah, the more our heart is
protected. Thikr provides guards outside the heart that kill anything which thre
atens the tawheed or health of the heart, before it enters.
If, however, the heart does become infected, it must be cured. To rid the heart
of what it has absorbed, you must subject it to the cleansing process. This proc
ess can be painful at first (like getting the ink out of the sponge), but with c
onsistency and patience, any heart can be remade and brought back from the death
Allah says,
Has the time not come for those who have believed that their hearts should become
humbly submissive at the remembrance of Allah and what has come down of the tru
th? And let them not be like those who were given the Scripture before, and a lo
ng period passed over them, so their hearts hardened; and many of them are defia
ntly disobedient. (57:16)
Know that Allah gives life to the earth after its lifelessness. We have made clea
r to you the signs; perhaps you will understand. (57:17)
Just as Allah can give life to the dead land, so too can Allah give life to the
dead hearts. So if you have absorbed something of the dunya into the sponge of y
our heart, there is always hope.
One of the most common types of ink that gets absorbed into the heart is other peo
ple. It may be a person who entered your heart, but you cannot marry. Or it may
be a person you did marry, but who entered a place in the heart reserved for All
ah (swt). Removing this person from the heart is a lot like treating a drug addi
If its a person you cant be with, like a drug, you need to cut yourself off from t
hat person completely. Cut off all communication and reminderseven if that means
blocking numbers, emails, and Facebook profiles.
This is your detox.
Second, you need to replace that object of worship with something better. Increa
se in your thikr (remembrance of Allah) and get closer to Allah. If you arent pra
ying your daily prayers, fix that. Pray all, and pray on time. Pray qiyam in the
last third of the night (just before fajr). Make duaa (supplication), tawbah (r
epentance), cry, plead to Allah to cure you and heal you.
This is your treatment.
Once the treatment has taken effect, your heart will be restored, by the permiss
ion of Allah. Once the heart is restored, it can come back to balance and its cre
ated purpose: to know and love its Creator more than anything else. Such a heart
will regain the ability to give again to the creation, but this time in a health
y, selfless, and less dependent way. The heart will be able to give for the sake
of the One it loves mostnot for the sake of the self (nafs). Once this treatment
has taken effect, you will be able again to give that inner mass of complete lo
ve, devotion, and loyalty to the place it was created to live. Remember that the
mass that is not given is a ticking inner bomb. But, the mass that is given to
the wrong place is also a ticking inner bomb.
Give. But give rightly. Absorb. But only what rightly lives and belongs in that
sacred land inside your chest. Once this balance is regained, your heart will be
able to see, love, give, and take in the right way. Your heart is your true eye
. Your heart is the master of the body. Its purpose is far too noble to go unreal
ized. Its palace is far too precious to go unguarded.
Guard it. And guard it wellbecause every created thing yearns to fulfill its purpo

The Essence of Islam: Are We Missing the Point?
Posted by on Oct 25, 2010 in Community (Ummah), Islamic Character, Personal Deve
lopment, Reflections | 16 Comments
DELETEETo some, a Monet is only a collection of dots. To others, it is a perfect
masterpiece. To some, Islam is nothing but a code of rules and regulations. But
, to those who understand, it is a perfect vision of life.
As Muslims, we often focus so much on Islams dos and donts that we miss the bigger
picture. Islam came to perfect our manners, and yet we are willing to scream an
d shout to win an argument about moon sighting or zabiha meat. Islam came to inc
rease us in humility and yet while we wear our beards and hijabs, we look down o
n others.
Islam came to establish a community of believers, but while we decorate our masj
ids with gold and silver, our prayer rows remain empty. Islam came to teach us a
bout God, and despite wearing His words on our necklaces and decorating our hous
es with them, when those verses are recited to us, our hearts remain unmoved and
our lives unchanged.
And Islam came to make us one brotherhood, yet we divide ourselves and alienate
one another over issues like moon sighting and voting.
This is not to say, of course, that the dos and donts in Islam are not important.
They are crucial. The problem is that we have forgotten what they stand for. Fo
r example, the wearing of Islamic dress should never be minimized. But we have f
orgotten that that hijab and that beard are only symbols of our greater devotion
to God. For us to wear that hijab and that beard while it has no bearing on our
character means we have missed the point.
If we spend thousands of dollars decorating our masjids but then use that masjid
only to display status and win arguments, we have lost its intended purpose. An
d if we have memorized every haram and halal ingredient of facial soap, but we o
wn businesses that are based on interest and sell alcohol, have we not made a mo
ckery of Allahs deen?
That deen is what transforms humanity from the lowest of the low to the represen
tatives of God on earth. The Quran tells us: Behold, thy Lord said to the angels: I
will create a vicegerent on earth (Quran, 2:30)
As a representative of God on earth, we are given a very great responsibility. I
t is a trust so heavy that even the mountains rejected it. Allah tells us in the
Quran: We did indeed offer the trust to the Heavens and the Earth and the mountai
ns; but they refused to undertake it, being afraid thereof: but man undertook it
; he was indeed unjust and foolish. (Quran, 33:72)
As believers, we should never lose sight of this responsibility. It is the fulfi
llment of that mission that transforms us from asfala safileen - the lowest of the
low (Quran, 95:5), into khaira ummatin ukhrijat linnaas the best of people arisen
for mankind. (Quran, 3:110)
But how can we be that best of people? Allah describes how in His book: Ye are the
best of peoples, risen up for mankind, commanding what is right, forbidding what
is evil, and believing in Allah (Quran, 3:110).
The essence of that struggle is to believe, to fight for Truth and to strive aga
inst evil. And as soon as we give up that noble struggle, we will become among t
hose people who Allah describes in surat Al-Asr as being in an utter state of lo
ss. Allah also describes the ones who will be saved from that state: Except such
as have faith, and do righteous deeds, and (join together) in the mutual teachin
g of truth, and of patience and constancy. (Quran, 103:3)
And, so, if we continue to abandon this greater mission and purpose, we will hav
e transformed the perfect vision of existence into nothing more than a collectio
n of dots.
Originally published by InFocus
The Lesson Taught by a Rose
Posted by on Mar 15, 2010 in Islamic Character, Islamic Studies, Overcoming Hard
ships, Reflections, Spiritual Purification | 12 Comments
Roses have long been been my favorite flower. Im always struck by how perfect the
y arefor a moment. But in that moment, and even more so the moments that follow,
roses have taught me an invaluable lesson. And I dont mean a lesson in botany or
I mean a lesson in life.
What happens to the roses perfectly defined petals even days after it blooms? Wha
t becomes of the brilliant red that makes a rose breathtakingly beautiful? Those
petals wither. That brilliant red turns brown. And the rose that was once so fu
ll of beauty and life turns into dried up scraps that crumble at the slightest t
ouch. And no matter how hard we try, no matter how many times we change its wate
r or give it food, we cannot keep a rose from withering.
This process, so profound if reflected upon, does not happen without a purpose.
Allah tells us in the Quran exactly what life lesson we can learn from a rose. He
Know that the life of this world is but amusement and diversion and adornment and
boasting to one another and competition in increase of wealth and children like
the example of a rain whose [resulting] plant growth pleases the tillers; then
it dries and you see it turned yellow; then it becomes [scattered] debris. And i
n the Hereafter is severe punishment and forgiveness from Allah and approval. An
d what is the worldly life except the enjoyment of delusion. (57:20)
So the withering of that rose is intended as a sign for us. It is intended to te
ach us one of the most important, and yet most difficult, realities of this life
: that nothing lasts. Everything will pass awayexcept Allah.
We see beautiful movie stars all over our television screen. We walk past them o
n magazine covers. We idolize their beautiful faces and perfect figures. But wha
t happens to those beautiful faces after 10, 20, 30 years? They wrinkle, they fa
de, they die. What happens to the most genius mind 50 years after he or she has
made a ground-breaking discovery? Perhaps they lay quietly in a nursing home try
ing to remember their own name.
But is reflecting on these realities intended to depress us, forcing us into a c
omfortable heedlessness instead? No. These realities are designed as a sign and
a guidance for us. With the withering of the rose, and with each fallen petal, A
llah is reminding us that everything here is passing away. He is reminding us th
at nothing in this word will remain, except for Allah. These realities are desig
ned not to sadden us, but to wake us up and remind us that our ultimate attachme
nts should never be to these fleeting things. In the Quran, Allah reminds us of t
his reality numerous times. He says, Everything will be destroyed except His Face
In another verse, He says:
Everyone upon it [the earth] will perish, and there will remain the Face of your
Lord, Owner of Majesty and Honor. (55:26-27)
These are deeply profound statements intended to shake us to the very core. And
there is a surah in the Quran, consisting of only three short verses, that sums u
p the depth of this reality so beautifully. Surat Al-`Asr (Quranic chapter 103) b
egins with Allah making an oath by al-`asr (time). Following that oath, Allah us
es the word inna (verily) and la (indeed), both of which put special emphasis. The u
se of the oath along with the double emphasis all shows how heavy the statement
which follows is: Indeed mankind is in a state of loss. (103:2)
But the question is: What is mankind losing? It is the loss of what? Everything.
Loss of time, loss of the people and things we love, loss of health, loss of be
auty, loss of fruitless striving. And these things once lost, are lost foreverexc
ept for one select group of people: Those who have faith, and do good works, and
counsel one another to follow the truth, and counsel one another to be steadfast
. (Quran, 103:3)
For them, nothing is lost.
So it is only by our faith and our actions that we can take anything away from t
his withering life. Only by escaping the false dependencies, letting go of our f
leeting attachments, and holding on to Allah, can we return with water from the
mirage of oceans. Only Allah is lasting. Therefore, only what is done for Him la
sts. Only what is loved through Him, returns to us in the End. Everything else,
we are in a constant and active state of losing. Everything else is only that wi
thering petal which we fall in love with today, but which crumbles tomorrow.
Originally published by InFocus
The Search for Love
Posted by on Feb 12, 2014 in Featured, Personal Development, Relationships, Spir
ituality, With the Divine | 14 Comments
The Search for Love
I spent my life running after the creation. I have always been what you might ca
ll needy. I needed friends, I needed people. All the time. And I couldnt handle let
But at the heart of what makes us run after the creation, is simply love. The ne
ed to give and receive love. This need has been put in us by the Creator. And ev
ery need created by God, has been created for a purpose. The need to give and re
ceive love was created as a driver. A driver that pushes us back to God. You see
, we began with God, and God wants us to come back to Him in this lifeeven before
we come back to Him in the next. So He puts inside us, drivers intended to brin
g us back. Intended to bring us back Home.
But our problem is we get lost along the way.
We cant deny the drive; but we get lost because we seek to fulfill it in the wron
g way. We look to fulfill that need in the wrong place. The driver was created b
y God to take us to Him. But instead, that driver takes us towards the creation.
And thats where we get lost.
Why do we run after other people? Why do we run after money? Why do we run after
status, or power? We run after these things because we want love and respect. A
nd we believe that by attaining these things, we will succeed at getting both lo
ve and respect.
But there is a fascinating formula that governs this world. And it is very, very
simple. Unfortunately, we almost always get this formula wrong. Yes, we all ha
ve that same driver inside us, but the human being is hasty. We prefer the immed
iate over the delayed, the seen over the unseen, the physical over the spiritual
. We run first to what we can see and feel and touch. We run first to what we *t
hink* is closer. We do this because while the human being is needy and dependent
, the human being is also impatient and weak. We go for what seems closest, easi
est, quickest.
So we go towards the creation.
See, we think that the more we run after this world (dunya)the more we run after
the love of people, and wealth and beauty and statusthe more we will have of it.
We think that the more intensely we want something, the more likely we are to ge
t it. And when we dont get it, we become angryso angryat God Himself. As though the
*intensity* of my wanting, somehow makes me entitled to having.
But the more we drown in this false equation, the more we fail at reaching our g
oal, and the more we miss the truebut simpleequation of love and life. That equati
on is clear: The more intensely we want the creation itself, the less likely we
are to attain it. If it is love you need, and you seek it from the creation, you
will never *truly* get it. Or get enough. Anything of the creation sought for i
ts own sake will evade you.
And will never fill you.
Even happiness itself: The more you run after it, the more it evades you. But if
you run to God instead, happiness will run after you. If you run to God instead
, the love of people will run after you. If you run to God instead, success will
run after you. True success in this life, and the next. If you run to God inste
ad, provision will run after you. This, brothers and sisters, is the secret form
ula for which tyrants have burned down cities, and kings have searched the worldb
ut never found.
This is the secret. The only formula you need to know.
In a profound hadith (Prophetic teaching), a man came to the Prophet (pbuh) and
said: O Messenger of God, direct me to an act, which if I do, God will love me an
d people will love me. He said: Detach yourself from the world, and God will love
you. Detach yourself from what is with the people, and the people will love you.
[Ibn Majah]
Ironically, the less we chase after the approval and love of the people, the mor
e we gain it. The less needy we are of others, the more people are drawn to us a
nd seek our company. This hadith teaches us a profound Truth. Only by breaking o
ut of the orbit of the creation, can we succeed with both Godand people.
To run to God is a movement of the heart. To run to God is to strive with everyt
hing He has given you. Running to God is movement. If you are passive, you are n
ot moving. You are falling. Movement to God, running to God, is to face your hea
rt towards Him in every motion of life. It is to face every goal, every intentio
n, every End towards Him. He becomes the object of your striving. The means of y
our striving. The ultimate End of your striving. But you keep striving. You keep
working to be the best mother you can. The best father. The best neighbor, the
best student, daughter, son, employee.
This is the legacy of all our Prophets, peace be upon them all. Their bodies wer
e in dunya. Striving. The Prophet (pbuh) was the best leader, the best father, t
he best husband, the best friend. His body was working hard in dunya. For a whil
e. But his heart was always with Allah. His heart was already in Akhira (Hereaft
er), even while his body was still herefor a time. His heart was already Home. Hi
s heart saw through the illusions of this life. His limbs worked hard. So hard.
He bled, and cried, and strived. His body stood until his feet cracked. His body
was abused in Taif. His body lost sleep, and felt hunger, and thirst, and fever,
and pain. And loss.
But his heart faced only Allah.
And with Allah there is no hunger, thirst, pain, or loss. His body had to strive
in different directions; he was a father, a leader, a friend, a husband. But wh
ile his body had to strive in all those places, his heart faced only One. Only o
ne direction.
His heart faced only God.
As Ibrahim (AS) said so beautifully:
Indeed, I have turned my face toward He who created the heavens and the earth, in
clining toward truth, and I am not of those who associate others with Allah. (6:7
Ibrahim (AS) focused the face of his heart only on Allah. Completely. Haneefan.
Completely. You will find that to only partially face your heart to God is to su
ffer. And that suffering is in proportion to the degree of partial submission.
Allah tells us in the Quran:
O you who have believed, enter into submission completely [whole-heartedly] and d
o not follow the footsteps of Satan. Indeed, he is to you a clear enemy. (2:208)
There is pain in just partial submission. There is a pain in not entering into p
eace and securitythe *only* peace and securitycompletely. With ones *whole* heart.
There is pain in half a sajdah (prostration). There is a pain in putting your he
art (even partially) in anyone elses hands. And that pain continues until you tur
n your entire heart *only* in one direction. Until you turn your entire heart *o
nly* towards Him. He becomes the only true aim of your striving.
As we say at least 17 times every single day: You alone do we worship and You alo
ne do we seek for help. (1:5). Allah is the only true End, and the only true mean
s to that End. No one gets to Allah without Allah. La hawla wa la quwat illa bil
lah: There is no change and no strength, except by God.
The one who turns his heart completely to God in this way, reaches true freedom.
And that person can no longer be harmed by the creation. The fire couldnt burn P
rophet Ibrahim (AS). The fires of the creation cannot harm the one whos heart faces
only God. The financial, physical, emotional, social, and psychological fires c
annot harm the one whos heart is *only* with God. Externally, the person might lo
ok harmed, but in Reality, such a person is never harmed. The haqiqah of the sit
uation is not harm, but good, as we know from the words of our beloved Prophet (
Strange is the case of a believer, there is good for him in everythingand this is
only for the believer. If a blessing reaches him, he is grateful to God, which i
s good for him, and if an adversity reaches him, he is patient which is good for
him. [Muslim]
And this is *only* for the believer. This is only for the one whos heart is turne
d completely and *only* in one direction. Remember, Allah says:
O you who have believed, enter into Islam [submission and peacefulness] completel
y [whole-heartedly] and do not follow the footsteps of Satan. Indeed, he is to y
ou a clear enemy. (2:208)
Enter into peace and security completely. Complete security is only for those wh
o enter *completely*. But remember the heart is not a still entity. The heart is
by definition that which turns (hence the Arabic word for heart qalb comes from t
he root which means to turn). The heart by definition is that which turns. So our
object in life is to keep bringing the heart back to focus, back to center, back
to God. And we consistently seek Gods help, as the Prophet (pbuh) used to suppli
cate most of all: Oh turner of hearts, set our hearts firm on Your deen (way).
This constant reorientation is tawbah. Return. Again and again and again. Until
we meet Him. Only the one who gives up this fight, fails. Only the one whodue to
complacency or despairgives up the fight of constantly bringing the heart back to
focus, fails in this life and the next.
We all want love. From God, and from the creation. We are all running towards so
mething. Ironically, the more we run after the creation, the more the creation r
uns away from us! As soon as we stop running after the creation, and reorient, a
s soon as we start running towards God, the creation runs after us. Its a simple,
simple formula:
Run towards the creation, you lose God and the creation. Run towards God, you ga
in God *and* the creation.
Allah is Al Wadud (The Source of Love). Therefore, love comes from Godnot people.
As one author, Charles F. Haanel, put it: To acquire love fill yourself up with i
t until you become a magnet.
When you fill yourself with the Source of love (Al Wadud), you become a magnet f
or love. Allah teaches us this in the beautiful hadith Qudsi:
If Allah has loved a servant [of His], He calls Gabriel (on whom be peace) an
d says: I love So-and-so, therefore love him. He (the Prophet pbuh) said: So Gabriel
loves him. Then he (Gabriel) calls out in heaven, saying: Allah loves So-and-so,
therefore love him. And the inhabitants of heaven love him. He (the Prophet pbuh)
said: Then acceptance is established for him on earth. (Muslim Bukhari, Malik, &
Were all running. But so few of us are running in the right direction. We have th
e same goal. But to get there, we need to stop. And examine if we are running to
wards the Sourceor just a reflection.
Irvine 11: Waiting for Victory
Posted by on Sep 21, 2011 in Belief & Worship, Featured, International Affairs,
Overcoming Hardships, Personal Development, Qur'an, Spirituality, With the Divin
e | 3 Comments
Irvine 11: Waiting for Victory
We can hardly get them off our minds. The whole world is watching today. And eve
ryone is wondering, what will happen to the brave men who spoke truth to power in
Irvine? What will go down in history about the students who gave a voice to the
voiceless, and took a bullet in the process? They stood for justice. And God is
always with those who stand for justice.

So now as the case winds down and we wait anxiously for the jurys verdict, the qu
estion on many of our minds is mata nasr Allah? Whenwhere is the help of God? Will
God give them victory? Will they win? Does God not say:

O you who believe! if you help (the cause of) Allah, He will help you and make fi
rm your feet. (47:7)
The world is watching and praying that God will show us His victory in the verdi
ct. But theres something much more subtle and profound about the true meaning of
Gods victory. On the very first day in court, I stood in line with the other supp
orters waiting for permission to enter. While I stood, I watched as the men came
down the hall towards the courtroom. As they did, something struck me. They wal
ked with so much dignity and strength. Their resolve is what inspired me. And th
ats where it hit. Gods victory had already come! Their unshaken faith, their abili
ty to remain firm in the face of this trial, IS the victory. Their resolve IS th
e nasr (help of God).
Allah said, O you who believe! if you help (the cause of) Allah, He will help you
and make firm your feet. (47:7)
Make firm your feet. Make them firm. That is His nasr. Consider the people of th
e ditch. They were tested so severely in their faith. But in the end, they were
still thrown into the ditch. Did that mean the nasr of Allah never came? Did the
nasr of Allah not come for Ibn Taymiyyah (RA) when he was imprisoned? No. The n
asr was his ability to stand in the face of trial and say: What can my enemies do
to me? My paradise is in my heart, it is with me wherever I go. To imprison me
is to provide me with seclusion. To send me into exile is to send me away in the
Path of God. And to kill me is to make me a martyr.
The nasr of Allah came in the paradise of his heart. For these heroes of our pas
t, the nasr came in the ability to stand firm and never give up faitheven if it m
eant jail or being thrown into the fire of a ditch. The nasr of Allah came when
the baby spoke and told his mother to be firm. That was the nasr. Their istiqama
h (firmness) was the nasr. For truly isteqama is only from Allah, and is His gre
atest gift. The victory for these heroes was in the heart. In the faith. In the
refusal to let anyone break them or shake their resolve. The victory for todays 1
1 heroes is that this trial will build in their hearts a stronger faith, a stron
ger reliance on the only Trustee (Al-Wakeel). And truly that would be the greate
st victory over our enemies: that all the attempts to shake or break our resolve
would only strengthen it.

The Dream of Life
Posted by on Nov 23, 2010 in Belief & Worship, Overcoming Hardships, Reflections
, Spiritual Purification | 14 Comments
It was only a dream. For a moment, it overtakes me. Yet the suffering I feel in
my nightmare is only an illusion. Temporary. Like the blink of an eye. But, why
do I dream? Why do I have to feel that loss, fear, and sadness in my sleep?
On a greater scale, its a question that has been asked throughout time. And for m
any people, the answer to that question has determined their path toor away fromfa
ith. Faith in God, faith in lifes purpose, faith in a higher order or a final de
stination has often all rested upon how this singular question has been answered
. And so, to ask this question is to ask about life, in the most ultimate way.
Why do we suffer? Why do bad things happen to good people? How could there be a God
if innocent children starve and criminals run free? How can there be an all-lovi
ng, all-powerful deity who would allow such misfortunes to happen?
And if God is indeed Just and Good, shouldnt only good things happen to good peop
le and only bad things happen to bad people?
Well, the answer is: yes. Absolutely. Only good things do happen to good people.
And only bad things happen to bad people. Why? Because God IS the Most Just and
the Most Loving. And He has no deficiency in His knowledge or understanding.
The problem is that we do have deficiencies in knowledge and understanding.
See, to understand the statement only good things happen to good people and only
bad things happen to bad people, we must first define good and bad. And although the
re are as many definitions of good and bad as there are people, a comprehensive
understanding exists. For example, most people would agree that to succeed in ac
hieving my desired purpose or goal in a particular matter would be good. While on
the other hand, failing to achieve my intended purpose or aim would be bad. If m
y aim is to gain weight because I am dangerously underweight, becoming heavier w
ould be good. If, on the other hand, my aim is to lose weight because I am harmf
ully overweight, becoming heavier would be bad. The same event could be good or
bad, depending on my intended purpose. So good in my eyes rests on the achievement
of my personal aim. And ultimate Good rests on the achievement of my ultimate aim
But what is my aim?
That brings us to the fundamental question of purpose as it relates to the great
er Reality of existence. There are essentially two distinct worldviews when it c
omes to purpose in life. The first worldview holds that this life is the Reality
, the final destination and ultimate goal of our endeavors. The second worldview
holds that this life is only a bridge, a means that stands as nothing more than
a glimpse in the context of Gods infinite Reality.
For those in the first group, this life is everything. It is the End to which al
l actions strive. For those in the second group, this life tends towards zero. W
hy? Because, in comparison to infinity, even the largest number becomes zero. No
thing. Like a fleeting dream.
These distinct worldviews directly affect the question of purpose. See, if one b
elieves that this life is the Reality, the final destination, the goal of all en
deavors, the purpose of life would be to maximize pleasure and gain in this life
. In that paradigm, bad things ARE in fact happening to good people every single se
cond. Within that paradigm, people reach the conclusion that there is no justice
and therefore either there is no God or God is not Just (wa athu billah, I seek
refuge in God). Its like a person who concludes that there must be no God becaus
e they had a bad dream. But why dont we give the experiences of our dreams much w
eight? After all, some dreams are horrifying to live throughand very often do hap
pen to good people. In our dreams, do we not experience extreme terror or bliss?
Yes. But why doesnt it matter?
Because put in context of our real life, it is nothing.
In the second world view (the Islamic paradigm) the purpose of creation is *not*
maximizing pleasure and gain in a life that is nothing more than a dream. In th
at world view, lifes purpose is defined by God who tells us: I have not created ji
nn and humans (for any purpose) except to worship me, (Quran, 51:56).
It is important to note the special construction of this statement. It begins wi
th a negation: I have not created jinn and humans (for any purpose) []. First Alla
h subhanahu wa taala (exalted is He) negates ALL other purposes before He states
the one and only, singular purpose: except to worship Me. This means that as a be
liever I know that there is no other purpose of my existence except to know, lov
e and get closer to God. This is the one and only reason why I was created. And
this is the most essential realization, as it defines everything else I do or be
lieve. It defines all things around me, and everything I experience in life.
So returning to the meaning of good and bad, we find that anything that brings us cl
oser to our ultimate purpose is Good and anything that takes us away from our ul
timate purpose is Bad, in an ultimate sense. In a relative sense, for those whos
e goal is this material world, worldly things define their good and bad. For them, t
hings like gaining wealth, status, fame, or property is necessarily good. Losing
wealth, status, fame, or property is necessarily bad. So in that paradigm, when an
innocent person loses every material possession they own, this is a bad thing hap
pening to a good person. But that is the illusion that comes as a result of a flaw
ed worldview. When the lens itself is distorted, so too is the image seen throug
h it.
For those of the second worldview, anything that brings us closer to our purpose
of nearness to Gods love is good; and anything that takes us away from that purp
ose is bad. Therefore, winning a billion dollars may be the greatest calamity ev
er to happen to me if it takes me away from Godmy ultimate purpose. On the other
hand, losing my job, all my wealth, and even falling ill, may in fact be the gre
atest blessing ever given to me if it brings me closer to Godmy ultimate purpose.
This is the Reality that is spoken about in the Quran when Allah (swt) says:
It may happen that you hate a thing which is good for you, and it may happen that
you love a thing which is bad for you. Allah knows, you know not, (2:216).
As a believer, my criterion is no longer gain or loss in a material sense. My cr
iterion is something higher. What I have or do not have in a worldly sense is on
ly relevant in as much as it brings me closer or farther from my Aim: God. This
dunya (life) becomes nothing more than that dream that I experience for a moment
and then awaken from. Whether that dream was good or bad for me, depends only o
n my state once I awaken.
And so on the ultimate scale there is perfect justice. God only gives good (near
ness to Him) to good people, and bad (distance from Him) to bad people. The grea
test good is nearness to God, in this life and the next. And it is only good peopl
e who are blessed with this. That is why the Prophet ? has said: Strange is the c
ase of a believer, there is good for him in everythingand this is only for the be
liever. If a blessing reaches him, he is grateful to God, which is good for him,
and if an adversity reaches him, he is patient which is good for him, (Muslim).
As this hadith (record of the sayings or actions of the Prophet ?) explains, whe
ther something is good or bad is not defined by how it appears externally. Goodne
ss, as explained by this hadith, is defined by the good internal state that it pr
oduces: patience and gratitudeboth manifestations of peace with and nearness to G
On the other hand, the greatest calamity is distance from Godin this life and the
next. And it is only bad people who are punished with this. What such distanced peo
ple have, or do not have of wealth or status or property or fame is only an illu
sionno more real or important than having, or not having, these things in the gre
atest dream, or the worst nightmare.
Of these illusions Allah (swt) says: Nor strain your eyes in longing for the thin
gs We have given for enjoyment to parties of them, the splendor of the life of t
his world, through which We test them: but the provision of thy Lord is better a
nd more enduring, (Quran, 20:131).
The enduring life is the one that begins once we awaken from this world. And it
is in that awakening that we realize
It was only a dream.
About a personal struggle I had as a teen
Posted by on Jun 18, 2013 in Featured, Journal, Overcoming Hardships, Personal D
evelopment, Yasmin's Online Journal | 7 Comments
About a personal struggle I had as a teen
Picking up the Wrong Ball
By: Yasmin Mogahed

Everyone has problems. At least thats what my 7th grade teacher told us. He asked
us to imagine rolling up all our problems into a ball and throwing that ball on
a pile filled with the problems of all other people. He then argued to us that-
given a choice-each and every one of us would choose our own ball over all other
Although I was too young then to understand his metaphor fully, I knew that ever
yone had problems. And I was no different.
Growing up, depression became a natural part of my life. Throughout middle schoo
l and into high school, I suffered from a low-grade, but persistent gloom. Somet
imes it stayed in the background, other times it took center stage. But always i
t performed.
One day during my sophomore year of high school I started to gasp. I wasnt sure w
hy, but I felt that my lungs just wouldnt fill with air. It continued that whole
day, and into the next. When for weeks I couldnt get the gasping to stop, I final
ly saw a doctor. She checked my lungs and my breathing and finally told me flatl
y, I think youre depressed.
The gasping stayed with me that whole year. No matter what I did I couldnt escape
itor the depression that caused it. More than anything I just wanted to live a n
ormal life. Any color was better than gray. And any ball was better than sadness
I would have given anything to pick up another ball.
In the summer before senior year, thats exactly what I did. I stumbled, for the
first time, across a different ballone that someone else had thrown into the pile
That year, I stumbled across fear.
During the semester, my 11th grade advanced biology teacher nominated me for the
National Youth Leadership Forum on Medicine. I was able to attendwith the help o
f my sister who used her internship money to pay the hefty tuition.
I was as sure, at that time, about becoming a doctor as I was that this conferen
ce was a good idea. I discovered later, of course, that I was deathly wrong abou
t both. Medicine wasnt for me and the conference didnt turn out to be such a great
idea. In fact, had I known at that time what would happen after the conference,
I may have encouraged my sister to instead buy stockor maybe I wouldve just prete
nded to take my pulse.
It shouldve been nothing more than a passing comment. But it wasnt. You see, the m
ind is a delicate place, and retains a balance so fragile, its best left untouche
d. On that summer day in June, I disturbed that balance and didnt even know what
Id done.
During a session about how wonderful it is to be a doctor of osteopathic medicin
e, we were asked to take our pulse. I had trouble counting mine, so the medical
student helped me.
Its over 100, the student said. She looked worried. Thats a little high for a resting
It was just a simple commentsimple enough to haunt me for the rest of that year.
When I got home I rushed to take my pulse. It was still high. I began to panic.
I wondered what was wrong. What would happen to my heart if it continued this wa
y? How could I expect it to keep going at this rate? Im killing myself slowly, I th
ought. And theres nothing I can do.
My mind kept going. Would it wear? Would it tire? Would it stop? With each distu
rbing thought, my pulse got higher. Louder. Stronger.
I had to lie down.
But nothing helped. I remembered the relaxation techniques my high school counse
lor had taught. I breathed in. Then out. In again. There was no escape.
That nightand each night that yearI went to sleep with my heart pounding. In the m
ornings I enjoyed a brief moment of freedom. But before I could begin to functio
n, my unconscious mind caught up, and hit me like a freight train. Again I was p
While other thoughts came and went, this single worry became a permanent residen
t of my mind. It was like a bad song lyric, or a dull ringing in the ears. No ma
tter what I did, it was with me.
I decided that I would do everything I could to get my resting pulseif one still ex
istedback to normal. I signed up to take a breathing class to help me relax. When
I walked in, I was the only person under 75 who wasnt on a breathing machine and
suffered from emphysema.
I realized quickly that, like many problems, the more I tried to solve it, the w
orse it got. Ironically, it was my own consciousness of the problem that created
itthen wouldnt let it die.
So I decided to focus on not focusing on my pulse at all. I opened a book of cal
culus, desperate for something to absorb my obsession. There, I found integrals.
And it workedat least at first. But somewhere in the midst of solving for x, Id r
emember my heart. And the horror returned.
I was only 17. And somehow I had become a prisoner of my own making. This irrati
onal, all-consuming dread had overtaken me so suddenly and yet so completely. Un
til now I still wonder how.
Maybe it was my temperament. Maybe just my genes. Or maybe it was simply a lesso
n I had to learn. We all struggle with something. But, that summer I picked up s
omeone elses ball. And I realized-Id choose sadness any day.