Event Review: “Coming to Allah with a sound heart” with Yasmin Mogahed
Who: Yasmin Mogahed
When: Saturday, 19th November 2011
By: Project Spirituality[/box_dark]
“The Day whereon neither wealth nor sons will avail, But only he (will prosper) that brings to Allah a sound heart.”
Surah as-Shuara 88-89
Sister Yasmin Mogahed started the webinar with this verse in the Qur’an as she laid down what the webinar will entail:
- Meaning of qalb saleem (sound heart)
- How to achieve a sound heart
A Sound Heart
A sound heart is one that is free from any partner in our love, in our fear, in our hope & dependency, and all other things that should only be to Allah. She went on to spend a considerable amount of time explaining how Allah warns us against calling upon anything as an “Ilah” other than Him, or it will be a cause of torment for us.
Sister Yasmin then explain the meaning of the term ‘Ilah’ using “Four Basic Quranic Terms” by Syed Abul-Ala Maududi which is as follows:
The root of this word consists of the three letters, alif, lam, and ha and the connotations of various derivations, as one finds in lexicons are as follows:
• Achieved peace and mental calm by seeking refuge with someone or establishing relations with him.
• Became frightened of some impending mishap or disaster, and someone gave him the necessary shelter.
• Turned to another eagerly, due to the intensity of his feelings for him.
• The lost offspring of the she-camel rushed to snuggle up to its mother on finding it. Became hidden, or concealed. Also, got elevated.
• Adored, offered worship to.[/box_light]
Any time that we make something other than Allah as our ultimate refuge/shelter, it will be a source of pain for us. Nothing other than Allah can have that position in our lives. All of creation pushes us to Allah in different ways. In a most eloquent manner characteristic of Sister Yasmin Mogahed, she gives various examples as to how this is true. For example, she says that in beauty, we are pushed towards Allah. When we see His Creation such as the sun, moon, stars or clouds, it is a pointer to His Greatness and Beauty and we are led to revel in His Glory.
However, if we are too enamoured by the beauty and we try to possess it and get closer to it, it will hurt us. If we get too close to the sun, we will burn. And through this hurt, we are actually being redirected to the Ultimate Source: Allah. In the same way, the more that you try to get close to people, to depend on other people, we learn through experience/disappointment/pain that these are not the ends. What you seek is still beyond. Our final destination is beyond these things. We do love and appreciate and see beauty in creation, but they themselves are not the end in itself, they’re all only on the path to Allah SWT.
We read Surah al-Fatiha many times each day and in this Surah we say, “Iyyaka nastaeen” which translates to “You alone we ask for help”.
Only through Allah can we get help. Sister Yasmin mentions how when a storm hits, people will rush to find shelter. But when it’s sunny, no one looks for one.
Therefore, sometimes Allah might send difficult times to us. A natural response to the difficulty is to look for shelter. And we look for this in a lot of things. Sister Yasmin explains how we are knocking on 50 different doors and they are all wrong. We may seek help in people, in status, or our wealth. We turn to different things to get security, and we keep getting the wrong answer. We go from door to door, from person to person, from one false shelter to another, until finally we’ve tried all the different doors and we finally go to the door of Allah SWT.
Allah SWT could just leave us, but in His Mercy, He sends the storm AND he closes all doors. He makes every door closed so that we may turn to Him and find ultimate comfort in Him.
The Heart’s Attachments
Sister Yasmin also spoke on length about the heart having too many attachments and not being solely for Allah.
She used the story of Nabi Ibrahim AS having to slaughter his son to illustrate this point. If there was anything that Nabi Ibrahim AS loved and filled his heart, it would be his son. He loved him like nothing else he had ever loved. And then came the commandment from Allah to slaughter his beloved son. In his willingness to slaughter his son, Nabi Ibrahim was in reality cutting off any other type of attachment other than Allah. At that time, Allah allowed him to keep his son but in that choice, in that sacrifice that he’s willing to make, his heart was freed from all attachments.
She also mentioned the instance when Prophet Muhammad (S) passed on. The people of Madinah lost their bearings when they heard the news, some refused to believe it was true. And yet, the man who love the Prophet (S) the most, the one closest to him was Sayyidina Abu Bakr RA. And he said, “If you worshipped Muhammad, then know that he is dead, but those of you who worshipped Allah, let them know that He is Alive, and will never die.”
Despite his great love for the Prophet (S), he knew that at the end of the day, only Allah is Ever-Living.
In the same way, no matter how much we love or depend on a person, we need to understand that they are just a human being, whether they be our spouses, our children, our parents or close friends.
To find out what our hearts are attached to, Sister Yasmin exhorted us to ask the following questions and to answer truthfully:
- What are the things in our lives drives us most?
- What do I think about most?
- What do I care/worry about most?
- What is the greatest pain for me?
- What do I cry about?
- What do I think about while I’m praying?
These points in the direction of what our hearts are attached to. It can be a school/person/status/career. If these things live in the heart then what happens when I am tested? These things that call me to another direction, which one do I choose?
For example, my heart is full of love of beauty, of wanting a certain image in front of society. So when I have this in my heart then Allah gives the commandment for modesty and hijab, then it is a contradiction to what is in my heart. Now if your heart is full of that, you will choose other than hijab. Because your heart is not filled with Allah. The same goes with any of His commandments, if our hearts are full with other than Allah, His commandments will be a contradiction to what we love and we will find it difficult to obey.
Sister Yasmin Mogahed ended with the following 3 reminders:
- Be careful not to get lost and focused on other than Allah. Sometimes we focus too much on deeds, and not Allah. When we focus on the deed itself, a couple of things may happen. If we’re doing good deeds,it can lead us to arrogance: being pleased with the deed and depending on the deed.
This is dangerous because it makes us arrogant and look down on others, and over-estimate ourselves. Deed itself becomes very big to us. But in reality if we were to compare the deed to the greatness of Allah and what Allah deserves, its nothing; even if we worship every minute of our lives. Instead of thinking Allah is great, we think we are great.
- If the deed is bad, this is when we lose hope. I am looking at my bad deeds and I become consumed by my bad deeds instead of looking at Allah’s mercy. Overwhelmed by my mighty bad deeds then they may look huge in our eyes. And they may be huge. But if all of the sins of mankind were to be gathered together, will they be greater than the Mercy of Allah? Never.
- Be careful what we allow into our hearts. Be careful what you really love. The Prophet (S) said, “You will be with whom you love”. Be careful who you love. You’ll follow who you love. At the time of death, the tongue cannot speak except what the heart commands. Whatever is in the heart will come out. If your heart was full of dunya, creation, status, wealth, it is that that will speak at the time of death. Jealousy, hatred, grudges. But if the heart was full of the love of Allah, that is what will speak. If your heart only carried “La ilaha illallah”, then and only then your tongue will be given the permission to utter ‘La ilaha illallah’.
This webinar was organised by Project Spirituality. You can click on the link to find out more about what they do.
[box_light]Yasmin Mogahed received her B.S. in Psychology and her Masters in Journalism and Mass Communications from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. After completing her graduate work, she taught Islamic Studies and served as the Sisters Youth Director for the Islamic Society of Milwaukee. Her writings are regularly printed or seen on various publications and websites including MuslimMatters, IslamOnline.net and InFocus News, amongst others.[/box_light]