Unbelievably Amazing –
Sr. Yasmin Mogahed
By Mina Kazmi
There was something very intriguing about this lady which compelled me to stay glued to an hour lecture she delivered on the topic, keeping the heart alive. The epitome of goodness, US-based Ustadha Yasmin Mogahed knows exactly what to say that stirs you inside out. She’s an independent media consultant, a writer for the Huffinton Post and an author for Suhaibwebb.com where she devotes her work mainly on spiritual and personal development. The thought-provocative issues she conjures up have moved the youth of today. Her emphasis is massively laid in the dimension of empowerment of women speech. Fresh and affable Yasmin is out there to decipher the absolute truth. Her written publications include a book chapter on the portrayal of Islam post-911, which have appeared in print and online publications worldwide. She is certainly a phenomenal orator who can persuade you with logical justifications on religion. What provokes me the most to follow her views religiously is she practices what she preaches. Tune in to Serenity, her new show on One Legacy Radio, Wednesdays at 3:30 pm (PST), where she discusses questions on faith, spirituality and relationships from an Islamic spiritual lens.
- Considering the prevailing conditions of the world, where religion has been dragged down to the last levels of priorities, what do you think the aftermath of it will be?
As human beings, we are created with a particular nature (fitrah). That fitrah is to recognize the oneness of God and to actualize this truth in our lives. Therefore, there is no calamity, no loss, and no thing that will cause more pain than putting something equal to or above God in our lives or hearts. Shirk on any level breaks the human spirit like no worldly tragedy could. By making the soul love, revere, or submit to something as it should only God, we are contorting the soul into a position that it, by its very nature, was never meant to be in. As a result, people will become more desperate to fill the inner emptiness and pain of putting aside their own human nature. To a large degree, I think that is why people become addicted to Bollywood/Hollywood, drugs or alcohol, and materialistic things like technology, nice clothes, houses, and cars. We are all just trying to fill the emptiness of deprioritizing God in our lives and hearts.
- Globally, Muslims are personified as terrorists, which have caused damage to the integrity of Islam. What are the core reasons which have contributed in this sudden outburst of conclusion?
Political grievances have been masked as religious ones. The anger of the people has nothing to do with Islam. It is political anger for political reasons. For example, anger towards theUnited Stateshas nothing to do with religion. It has to do with unjust and oppressive foreign policy.Europeshares the same religious make up as theUnited States, but the anger is not directed towards European nations who do not share similar foreign policy.
- Due to massive advancements in technology in terms of mobile phones, internet etc, youth have been greatly affected. What impact these developments have caused in a Muslim Society?
Technology is like a knife. It can be used for much good. Or it can be used for much evil. Some Muslims have found a way to use technology to bring them closer to God and the rest of the Ummah. But many have, sadly, used technology for the opposite. But it is not too late. Technology can be what we make of it. It is just a tool: a tool for good, or a tool for so much bad. It is our choice.
- In one of your articles you have entitled Dunya (world) as an ocean. How do you relate them together?
This worldly life, the dunya, is just like the ocean. And our hearts are the ships. We can use the ocean for our needs and as a means to get to our final destination. But the ocean is only that: a means. It is a means for seeking food of the sea. It is a means of travel. It is a means of seeking a higher purpose. But it is something which we only pass through, but never think to remain in. Imagine what would happen if the ocean became our end – rather than just a means. Eventually we would drown. As long as the ocean’s water remains outside the ship, the ship will continue to float and be in control. But what happens as soon as the water creeps into the ship? What happens when the dunya is not just water outside of our hearts, when the dunya is no longer just a means? What happens when the dunya enters our heart? That is when the boat sinks. That is when the heart is taken hostage and becomes a slave. And that is when the dunya – which was once under our control – begins to control us. When the ocean’s water enters and overtakes a ship, that ship is no longer in control. The boat then becomes at the mercy of the ocean. If you allow dunya to own your heart, like the ocean that owns the boat, it will take over. You will sink down to the depths of the sea.
- One of your profound articles emphasized on the pitfalls one has to confront on the path to God. In your opinion what are the pitfalls the youth of today are confronting in the path of reaching out to strengthen their bond with their Lord?
I think the two greatest pitfalls are: Hopelessness and arrogance. They are both opposite extremes, but result in the same outcome: Stopping on the path to God.
Hopelessness: When we slip or make a mistake or lose motivation, we tend to fall into hopelessness and give up the path. This is a trap. Iman always goes up and down. Nothing can stay stable except Allah. So when we hit a low, we should never give up, but keep going. We need to put our hope and expectations in Allah—not in ourselves and our own efforts.
Arrogance: Sometimes when people begin on the path to Allah, they start to become arrogant or self-righteous and look down on others. This is very dangerous for many reasons. First, any ability we have to worship Allah is not from ourselves; it is a gift from Allah. We must be grateful for it—not arrogant, thinking it is from ourselves and our efforts. If we are not grateful, it can be taken away. Secondly, arrogance is dangerous because it makes the person think they are already good enough, so they stop striving more towards Allah on this path.
- How important it is to draw a line between means and ends in life?
It is crucial to understand that only Allah is our End. And everything else is just a means to get to Him. Everything else in this dunya is just a path. When we mix up our means and our ends, we fall into a lot of problems. One of those problems is that we get very attached to things in this dunya (like money, status, beauty) and are willing to sacrifice, even Allah’s pleasure, to have those things. We start to use Allah as the means (a tool) to get our end (dunya). This is why we make duaa for things and become very angry when our duaa is not answered. We have forgotten that we are here to serve Allah. Allah is not here to serve us.
- Today the chaos that we observe, the purposeless lives we encounter, the uncertainty in the society we get to see and lives out of proportions, what is the hidden solution that can transform this world into a peaceful place to reside?
Allah tells us in the Quran, “Verily never will Allah change the condition of a people until they change it themselves (with their own souls).” (13:11)
Our lives will never transform, until we transform what is inside ourselves. We can never have peace in our lives, until we find peace within ourselves. And Allah is Al-Salam, the only Source of peace. It is only in the remembrance and nearness to Allah that the hearts find peace and satisfaction. And only when the hearts are at peace, can our lives also be at peace. We need to come back to the Source. We need to come back to Allah.
- What is the concept of reverting back to your Lord in the context of Islam?
We are all running towards something. We all need to stop and ask ourselves what *we* are running towards. Is it wealth or status? Is it fashion? Is it ‘love’? Is it marriage? Is it another person? Is it dunya? After we stop, we need to turn around. Turn and face the right direction, towards what is Real and lasting, the Source of all other things, the Home, the starting point and the ending point. And then, we need to start running again. This time in the right direction. This is tawbah. This is success.
- Any messages you intend to give out to the readers that can help them shape their lives in a better way?
Allah (swt) says, “I have only created Jinns and men, that they may serve Me.” (51:56). There is no other purpose of our existence except to know, love and worship God. This is the one and only reason why we were created. And this is the most essential realization, as it defines everything else we do or believe. This realization defines all things around us, and transforms everything we experience in life.
Imagine you were told a hurricane was coming and it would destroy anyone who didn’t take shelter. What would happen? Those who believed would take shelter and provision before it hit. Those who didn’t believe would go on with their lives, as if nothing was coming. But could someone *really* believe it, and yet do nothing to prepare or save themselves? Could someone *really* believe it and yet continue to live their lives, as if nothing was coming? Could someone really know a storm was about to hit and let themselves be destroyed? Brothers and sisters, there are no surprises. You and I are told with certainty, death is coming. With certainty, a Day of Accountability is coming. But what have we prepared? Do we *really* believe?
Many of us think we can live our lives however we want, and then at the time of death just say ‘la illaha illah Allah’. But at the time of death, the tongue cannot speak—except what the heart commands. Whatever is in the heart will come out. If that heart was full of only love of dunya, that will speak. If the heart was full of love of status, love of wealth, love of the creation over the Creator, it is that which will speak. If the heart was full of grudges, jealousy, hatred, that will speak. But if it was full of the love of Allah, that will speak. If in your life, your heart carried only ‘la illaha illa Allah’…that truly there is no refuge, no shelter, no deity worthy of worship but Him’—then, only then, will the tongue be given permission to say:
“la illaha illah Allah, Muhammad rasool Allah”