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Be in Life as a Traveler

Knowing how we should love Allah, exalted is He, is where we get to the concept of attachments.

Attachments are things that I depend upon as I should only depend on Allah.

How do you know that you have an attachment to something other than Allah (SWT), or something is taking that spot that only Allah should have?

One question you can ask yourself is: What occupies my mind most? What is on my mind most of the day? What am I most consumed with?

Probably most people in this room is going to be school. Right? I mean this is true. And this is the point, as what happens is school again is legitimate. It is a legitimate cause and Insha’Allah it can be a good cause in fact, but the problem is when we turn the means into the end. Let me explain what I mean by that.

Why We Suffer

If I’m trying to get back to Orange County, Orange County is my end; it’s my goal. And then my means the way that I am using to get there is my car. So, that’s means and end. Now the problem is I don’t get anywhere when I turn my car into my end. So now I’ve switched things around and now my car becomes my goal. So, what’s going to happen is I’m getting my car and I’m not going anywhere as I turned it (my car) into the goal itself.

If we enter into education for example, is education supposed to be a means or an end? A means, right! What’s the end? The end is Allah (SWT).

The ultimate end in everything we do should be Allah. Our problem begins when we don’t realize and put other things as our end. When we put other things as our goal other than Allah that’s when we suffer, that’s when we get intp trouble. So in this case, if school is our end, what happens after I graduate?

What happens for some people after they graduate is they actually go into a sort of depression or something. What happens basically is like I’ve lived all my life for this, basically it consumed my life, almost became my goal, and now what?

It is this concept of ‘now what’. When you make something temporarily your goal, and then once you get there you fall into this drop, this disillusionment; this ‘now what’, because it was never the goal itself. It should have been the means. It should have been the vehicle, the car in this case.

If you use everything in your life as that means, as that goal, as that car to take you to Allah (SWT), then everything, assuming it’s halal and according to the Sunnah, can be blessed, and everything then can be actually an act of worship for you. Allah says in the Qur’an:

{I created the jinn and humankind only that they might worship Me} (Adh-Dhariyat 51; 56)

You know we live for a lot of purposes unfortunately, but Allah is saying that this is our actual purpose, this is the reason why He created us: is to worship Him, is to fulfill our servanthood and worship to Allah.

And so for not fulfilling that purpose we are always going to suffer, we’ll never be satisfied and we will always suffer because it’s actually like you have a certain appliance and you are not using it for what it is intended for. It’s like you can’t take a blender and expect to cook things in it. Right? It has a particular purpose. If you don’t use that tool the way that it was created to be used, it’s going to do a couple of things. One, it’s going to break. Second, it’s not going to work properly.

If the human being is not living for the purpose for which it was created, it’s going to break and it’s not going to work properly. That’s why we as human beings fall into this; we are not working properly, there is something wrong, and the human heart itself was created for only one purpose: it was only created to know and love Allah (SWT). It was not created for any other purpose.

When we use the human heart for other than that purpose, that’s why the heart breaks. That’s why the heart becomes empty, and that’s why it doesn’t work properly. You can’t take a car and fill it up… Every human being basically has this sort of hole inside of them, and that hole can only be filled with one thing: being close to Allah (SWT). There’s nothing else that can fill this hole.

But the problem with us, and this is an overall human problem, is we try to fill that hole with other things. And this is something that every person, Muslim, non-Muslim, Christian, whoever, is trying to fill this hole because every human being has it; it’s that need for something. And so people try to fill it with other different things, and every one kind of uses different things to try fill it. Some people try to fill it with their jobs, some try to fill it with money, some try to fill it with status, some try to fill it with physical pleasures, some try with alcohol or drugs: you are trying to fill it, you are trying to escape the fact that you feel that hole.

But when you try to fill it with something that was never meant to be filled with, it breaks; it doesn’t work. It’s like taking a car and saying my car is empty, and you see the gas light and you say ok, I have some orange juice in the back! You are taking orange juice and you put it in the gas tank! What is it going to do? What’s going to happen to your car?

First of all, is the car going to move? No.

Second of all, what you are going to do is that you are actually destroying the car because you are filling it with the wrong thing.

By Our Own Hands

The heart is the same way; when you fill the heart with wrong things you are actually destroying the heart and it’s not able to function properly. So, what I want to do here is give some practical steps or recipes, basically to be ultimately successful, in our path in this life and in the next. We all are on a journey. We all know we started out; we were born, everybody was born at one point, and everybody is going to die. Right!  Nobody can argue with that. These are two certainties: you were born and you are going to die. And nobody, no matter how skeptical they are, no matter what religion they believe in, can argue with those two truths.

So the point is we all are going on a journey; we are going somewhere, and we going to die one day. The Prophet, peace be upon him, actually has recommended this, advised us to remember our death; to remember that we are going to die. Because if you think about this, if you remember that you’re going to leave this place you will completely live differently. The person who thinks that they’re going to live here forever; who doesn’t remember their death is very attached to this life, and will want to maximize physical pleasure or momentary pleasure because they don’t think they are leaving. One of the examples that drives this point home is to think about the traveler.

As students, a lot of you are basically living in temporary housing; in dorms or apartments that you know you are not staying in. So let me ask you this question: how much effort do you guys put into decorating your dorm room, your apartment? How much effort do you put into getting like the most expensive furniture, the most expensive carpets? How much?

Zero, right?

So, you got my point? Why do you do that? Now, compare that to someone who feels they are very settled in their house, they think they are going to live there for the rest of their life. How does their house look different than your dorm room or your apartment? It’s like the difference between night and day. Here your furniture is very humble and you don’t care, but you wouldn’t want that for your permanent house, right!

We All Leaving!

So there’s a certain mentality when you know that you are staying somewhere temporarily. You know that you are leaving. You don’t get so attached. How many of you are super attached to your dorm room? Guys, you see that the reason is because you know ‘I’m leaving this place,’ I’m leaving it very soon,’ so I’m not going to get attached to it.

This is the mentality we should have in dunya; in this life. That’s why the Prophet, peace be upon him, said:

“Be in this life as if you are a stranger or a traveler.”

Because when you feel that way; when you feel that you are travelling and you remember death, you naturally are not attached to that place, and you will take from it what you really need, you will take what you need from your university dorm or apartment because simply you are not attached to it. When someone comes and says ‘you have to get up and move’ it’s easy for you. It’s easy for you to leave your dorm room. Does it hurt anybody? Will anybody get hurt about that?

It is easy, right?

But when someone comes and tells you that you have to leave your house, what does it feel like?


About Yasmin Mogahed

Yasmin Mogahed received her B.S. Degree 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 a youth coordinator. She also worked as a writing instructor at Cardinal Stritch University and a staff columnist for the Islam section of InFocus News. Currently she’s an instructor for  AlMaghrib Institute, a writer for the Huffington Post, an international speaker, and author, where she focuses most of her work on spiritual and personal development. Yasmin recently released her new book, Reclaim Your Heart, which is now available worldwide. Visit her website, yasminmogahed.com , where you can find a collection of her articles, poetry, and lectures. 

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