Why do people have to leave each other?


Why Do People Have to Leave Each Other? Part I Part II

When I was 17 years old, I had a dream. I dreamt that I was sitting inside a masjid and a little girl walked up to ask me a question. She asked me: “Why do people have to leave each other?” The question was a personal one, but it seemed clear to me why the question was chosen for me.

I was one to get attached.

Ever since I was a child, this temperament was clear. While other children in preschool could easily recover once their parents left, I could not. My tears, once set in motion, did not stop easily. As I grew up, I learned to become attached to everything around me. From the time I was in first grade, I needed a best friend. As I got older, any fall-out with a friend shattered me. I couldn’t let go of anything. People, places, events, photographs, moments—even outcomes became objects of strong attachment. If things didn’t work out the way I wanted or imagined they should, I was devastated. And disappointment for me wasn’t an ordinary emotion. It was catastrophic. Once let down, I never fully recovered. I could never forget, and the break never mended. Like a glass vase that you place on the edge of a table, once broken, the pieces never quite fit again.

But the problem wasn’t with the vase. Or even that the vases kept breaking. The problem was that I kept putting them on the edge of tables. Through my attachments, I was dependent on my relationships to fulfill my needs. I allowed those relationships to define my happiness or my sadness, my fulfillment or my emptiness, my security, and even my self-worth. And so, like the vase placed where it will inevitably fall, through those dependencies I set myself up for disappointment. I set myself up to be broken. And that’s exactly what I found: one disappointment, one break after another.

But the people who broke me were not to blame any more than gravity can be blamed for breaking the vase. We can’t blame the laws of physics when a twig snaps because we leaned on it for support. The twig was never created to carry us.

Our weight was only meant to be carried by God. We are told in the Quran: “…whoever rejects evil and believes in God hath grasped the most trustworthy hand-hold, that never breaks. And God hears and knows all things.” (Qur’an 2: 256)

There is a crucial lesson in this verse: that there is only one handhold that never breaks. There is only one place where we can lay our dependencies. There is only one relationship that should define our self-worth and only one source from which to seek our ultimate happiness, fulfillment, and security. That place is God.

But this world is all about seeking those things everywhere else. Some of us seek it in our careers, some seek it in wealth, some in status. Some, like me, seek it in our relationships. In her book, Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert describes her own quest for happiness. She describes moving in and out of relationships, and even traveling the globe in search of this fulfillment. She seeks that fulfillment—unsuccessfully—in her relationships, in meditation, even in food.

And that’s exactly where I spent much of my own life: seeking a way to fill my inner void. So it was no wonder that the little girl in my dream asked me this question. It was a question about loss, about disappointment. It was a question about being let down. A question about seeking something and coming back empty handed. It was about what happens when you try to dig in concrete with your bare hands: not only do you come back with nothing—you break your fingers in the process. And I learned this not by reading it, not by hearing it from a wise sage. I learned it by trying it again, and again, and again.

And so, the little girl’s question was essentially my own question…being asked to myself.

Ultimately, the question was about the nature of the dunya as a place of fleeting moments and temporary attachments. As a place where people are with you today, and leave or die tomorrow. But this reality hurts our very being because it goes against our nature. We, as humans, are made to seek, love, and strive for what is perfect and what is permanent. We are made to seek what’s eternal. We seek this because we were not made for this life. Our first and true home was Paradise: a land that is both perfect and eternal. So the yearning for that type of life is a part of our being. The problem is that we try to find that here. And so we create ageless creams and cosmetic surgery in a desperate attempt to hold on—in an attempt to mold this world into what it is not, and will never be.

And that’s why if we live in dunya with our hearts, it breaks us. That’s why this dunya hurts. It is because the definition of dunya, as something temporary and imperfect, goes against everything we are made to yearn for. Allah put a yearning in us that can only be fulfilled by what is eternal and perfect. By trying to find fulfillment in what is fleeting, we are running after a hologram…a mirage. We are digging into concrete with our bare hands. Seeking to turn what is by its very nature temporary into something eternal is like trying to extract from fire, water.  You just get burned. Only when we stop putting our hopes in dunya, only when we stop trying to make the dunya into what it is not—and was never meant to be (jannah)—will this life finally stop breaking our hearts.

We must also realize that nothing happens without a purpose. Nothing. Not even broken hearts. Not even pain. That broken heart and that pain are lessons and signs for us. They are warnings that something is wrong. They are warnings that we need to make a change. Just like the pain of being burned is what warns us to remove our hand from the fire, emotional pain warns us that we need to make an internal change. That we need to detach. Pain is a form of forced detachment. Like the loved one who hurts you again and again and again, the more dunya hurts us, the more we inevitably detach from it. The more we inevitably stop loving it.

And pain is a pointer to our attachments. That which makes us cry, that which causes us most pain is where our false attachments lie. And it is those things which we are attached to as we should only be attached to Allah which become barriers on our path to God. But the pain itself is what makes the false attachment evident. The pain creates a condition in our life that we seek to change, and if there is anything about our condition that we don’t like, there is a divine formula to change it. God says: “Verily never will God change the condition of a people until they change what is within themselves.” (Qur’an, 13:11)

After years of falling into the same pattern of disappointments and heartbreak, I finally began to realize something profound. I had always thought that love of dunya meant being attached to material things. And I was not attached to material things. I was attached to people. I was attached to moments. I was attached to emotions. So I thought that the love of dunya just did not apply to me. What I didn’t realize was that people, moments, emotions are all a part of dunya. What I didn’t realize is that all the pain I had experienced in life was due to one thing, and one thing only: love of dunya.

As soon as I began to have that realization, a veil was lifted from my eyes. I started to see what my problem was. I was expecting this life to be what it is not, and was never meant to be: perfect. And being the idealist that I am, I was struggling with every cell in my body to make it so. It had to be perfect. And I would not stop until it was. I gave my blood, sweat, and tears to this endeavor: making the dunya into jannah. This meant expecting people around me to be perfect. Expecting my relationships to be perfect. Expecting so much from those around me and from this life. Expectations. Expectations. Expectations. And if there is one recipe for unhappiness it is that: expectations. But herein lay my fatal mistake. My mistake was not in having expectations; as humans, we should never lose hope. The problem was in *where* I was placing those expectations and that hope. At the end of the day, my hope and expectations were not being placed in God. My hope and expectations were in people, relationships, means. Ultimately, my hope was in this dunya rather than Allah.

And so I came to realize a very deep Truth. An ayah began to cross my mind. It was an ayah I had heard before, but for the first time I realized that it was actually describing me:  “Those who rest not their hope on their meeting with Us, but are pleased and satisfied with the life of the present, and those who heed not Our Signs.” (Qur’an, 10:7)

By thinking that I can have everything here, my hope was not in my meeting with God. My hope was in dunya. But what does it mean to place your hope in dunya? How can this be avoided? It means when you have friends, don’t expect your friends to fill your emptiness. When you get married, don’t expect your spouse to fulfill your every need. When you’re an activist, don’t put your hope in the results. When you’re in trouble don’t depend on yourself. Don’t depend on people. Depend on God.

Seek the help of people—but realize that it is not the people (or even your own self) that can save you. Only Allah can do these things. The people are only tools, a means used by God. But they are not the source of help, aid, or salvation of any kind. Only God is. The people cannot even create the wing of a fly (22:73).  And so, even while you interact with people externally, turn your heart towards God. Face Him alone, as Prophet Ibrahim (as) said so beautifully: “For me, I have set my face, firmly and truly, towards Him Who created the heavens and the earth, and never shall I give partners to Allah.” (Qur’an, 6:79)

But how does Prophet Ibrahim (as) describe his journey to that point? He studies the moon, the sun and the stars and realizes that they are not perfect. They set.

They let us down.

So Prophet Ibrahim (as) was thereby led to face Allah alone. Like him, we need to put our full hope, trust, and dependency on God. And God alone. And if we do that, we will learn what it means to finally find peace and stability of heart. Only then will the roller coaster that once defined our lives finally come to an end. That is because if our inner state is dependent on something that is by definition inconstant, that inner state will also be inconstant. If our inner state is dependent on something changing and temporary, that inner state will be in a constant state of instability, agitation, and unrest. This means that one moment we’re happy, but as soon as that which our happiness depended upon changes, our happiness also changes. And we become sad. We remain always swinging from one extreme to another and not realizing why.

We experience this emotional roller coaster because we can never find stability and lasting peace until our attachment and dependency is on what is stable and lasting. How can we hope to find constancy if what we hold on to is inconstant and perishing? In the statement of Abu Bakr is a deep illustration of this truth. After the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ died, the people went into shock and could not handle the news. But although no one loved the Prophet ﷺ like Abu Bakr, Abu Bakr understood well the only place where one’s dependency should lie. He said: “If you worshipped Muhammad, know that Muhammad is dead. But if you worshipped Allah, know that Allah never dies.”

To attain that state, don’t let your source of fulfillment be anything other than your relationship with God. Don’t let your definition of success, failure, or self-worth be anything other than your position with Him (Qur’an, 49:13). And if you do this, you become unbreakable, because your handhold is unbreakable. You become unconquerable, because your supporter can never be conquered. And you will never become empty, because your source of fulfillment is unending and never diminishes.

Looking back at the dream I had when I was 17, I wonder if that little girl was me. I wonder this because the answer I gave her was a lesson I would need to spend the next painful years of my life learning. My answer to her question of why people have to leave each other was: “because this life isn’t perfect; for if it was, what would the next be called?”

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349 Comments

  1. Rofi says:

    This has nailed it! MASHALLAH!

    I have felt every word in this article. It will touch many hearts no doubt!

  2. Lub1004 says:

    Thanks so so so much for this article. It indeed is about my life topic … How often have I wondered about the same questions, and after so much pain finally got to the same conclusion, alhamdulillah, but also again and again I’m struggling with that challenge. Your words are exactly to the point. Thanks so much for your inspiring words, this is really something that helps the members of the ummah a lot. Jazak Allahu khayr. May you be blessed by His grace and care, ameen.

  3. duscrapiron says:

    SubhanAllah I am left speechless. May Allah swt guide us all, ameen.

  4. Maeeda says:

    mashaAllah. too many gems in one article. May Allah reward you immensely. Ameen

  5. salih says:

    Assalamu Alaikum Sr Yasmin, I truly love this article and the insightful messages that you’ve delivered. The best part in this article is the message of relying on the Creator rather than the creations. Please correct me if I’m wrong, it seems as if you’re trying to escape the pain of this dunya. In my opinion, it’s impossible. The tears, pain, and happiness are the elements of life. This is part of being human. Even the Prophet(SAW) has to go through such pain and disappointments in his lifetime. We must acknowledge and recognize Qadr(destiny)as part of Allah’s will. In my opinion, we should make the best of what we have to obey Allah and benefit us in this life and the hereafter. With this in mind, I think that we should work our best to achieve the best of this world and work for success in the hereafter.

  6. fa says:

    Peace be upon Allahs rasul salallahu alaihi wasallam.

    Well written mashaAllah. also, when seeking God we must also hope for the intercession of the beloved prophet (s) on the day of judgement, and to be shaded when no other shade will be given on that day.

    wasalaamu alaikum warahmatullah.

  7. Um Mariam says:

    MashaaAllah,great article.Beautifully written.JAK.

  8. Abdullahi says:

    Thanks for this piec! Its very nice and important. Its has many lessons 2be learn! May Allah reward you wit aljana firdaus. Ameen

  9. Nahla says:

    “و من يتوكل على الله فهوحسبه ”
    Jazaki Allah khayran ! :)

  10. abid says:

    Mashallah, this is one of the best articles i have ever read on the issue. It is so simple and true that you cannot but nod your head in agreement to every word. May Allah bless you and the whole team.Keep it up.

  11. Isabella says:

    Mashallah This article is so beautiful and so powerful. I am going through tough times in my life right now and I can’t tell you how much inspiration and safeguard this article has given me. I must always remember that whatever happens, happens for a reason whether we like to think that way or not. God knows what is best for us and we need to find the strength and faith within us to believe that it is the right path, no matter how much pain we feel.

  12. Rukeya All-Kajee says:

    Masha Allah, well penned… It is absolutely true… your advise nourishes, enhances & aids… May Allah reward you profoundly in Both Worlds… I am divorced & endorse your sentiments with absolute empathy to a large extend… I survived an abusive marriage by perpetually questioning myself as to my purpose in the marriage, especially as a muslimah & mother… by turning to Allah & depending on Him alone, which strengthened me to such magnitude… that disappointment & hurt was felt more at my ex-spouse’s intellect & his non-profitable choices (for the Aakhirah) as far as his Imaan was concerned… I thank Allah ta’Ala for His infinite Mercy & Grace that He allowed me through His permission to achieve & choose wisely, which was & still is, through His Grace instilled in my heart for all circumstance…. “When Allah guides, no one can misguide… & when any one is misguided, through their choice, no one can guide…” Something to this effect, my Dearest Sister in Islam, you can correct me on this Ayyat of the Noble Quraan & which Surah precisely… But this Ayyat is what keeps me going, repetitively in my mind with constant Muraahabah (reflecting) on questioning my Intentions all the time… May we all be perpetually protected, guided & forgiven in every aspect of our lives, with ultimate success in Both Worlds…. Allahuma Ameen…

  13. OH MY GOD..I SHOULD HAVE READ THIS 15 YEARS AGO….. MY LIFE WOULD HAVE BBEN COMPLETELY DEIFFERENT…. HEY HOLD ON A SECOND…. MY GOD CAN STILL MAKE IT BETTTER… THANK U EVER SO MUCH FOR WRITING SUCH A POWERFUL ARTICLE… GOD BLESS U ALWAYS. SHARAHBEEL

  14. Abdul Haseeb says:

    Thanks for sharing this article.This article is so good that i dont have words to pen down here.May allah reward you for sharing this article.
    Jazakallah hu khair

  15. missputeri says:

    Subhanallah, Alhamdulillah. At first, for many many years I can be easily hurt, sad, angry with everything happened in my life in relation with my husband, my son, my friends, my family. But after years of learning to understand Qur’an slowly I can accept all those things and believe that God knows everything happened in our life. He never let us be alone. He watches us, cares us and loves us. Alhamdullillah ya Rab.

  16. Sister from CA says:

    Thank you so much for writing this piece. Wallahi I was crying the entire time reading it, I felt as if the letter was written to me. I pray that Allah can put these lessons into our hearts

  17. Regina rose says:

    I learned alot from this article.you are a great writer.

  18. Umm Hamza says:

    AsSsaalaamu’ a’alaykum waRahmatullahi waBaraakatuh.

    Jazaaki Allah Khyran ukhti, subhanALLAH this article is awesome.
    May Allah (Subhanhu wa ta’ala) rewards you. I felt the same way about this dunya, but wallahi this article really show me the truth. I really can’t describe for you how much this article help me, it like it written for me, it brought tears to my eyes. May be everyone around you try to make you hurt, but being with Allah (azza wa ijjal) you never going to be hurt, but you will be happy.Nothing better than being with Allah and put all your trust on him. Ya Allah how grateful we should for being a Muslim. Allah Akbar!!!

    Really it an awesome article.

    Baraaka Allah Feeki and I really don’t know how much I can thank you. Wa Allah el Must3an!

  19. Shazia says:

    A very deep thought. It is something we all experience in some way or the other. But if we hold fast to the rope of Allah, nothing can shatter us!

  20. Moahsin says:

    Jazaaka’Allah.. Beautiful and moving article.

  21. Hira says:

    I just came across your blog and read this article! You made me realize that we should ALWAYS ALWAYS lean towards to Allah (swt) for everything in life. If you think about it, when the world is not on your side, you can always count on Allah (swt) to be there! This is a very well written article! JazakAllah!

  22. Veronica says:

    Salam alaikum,

    Thank you sister for the beautiful reminder. May Allah keep you amongst those who always seek to be close to Him. May Allah continue to give you the gift of writing and calling others back to Islam.

  23. Sagal says:

    Salaam

    Awesome article. Great writer. MashaAllah TabarakAllah

  24. Amer Muhyieddeen says:

    May Allah bless you for this heart-warming article…

  25. mehvish says:

    Amazingggggggggggggg and so true, mashALLAH!!!

  26. Heba says:

    Thanks a million, for such an inspiring article. I 100% agree with you, but I keep forgetting and need a constant reminder of how small we are with all our miseries, and how big is God with all his greatness. May your peace of mind never be stained with Life’s misfortunes, and may God make you a lighthouse to those around you.
    Greetings from Egypt :)

  27. hm says:

    MashaAllah this was a beautiful piece. It’s something that I have always felt but just never knew why or how to express it. This makes me realize the wisdom behind not taking pictures- it only keeps you more attached to moments.

  28. Mardiana says:

    Assalamualaikum ,thank you so much for this article. The messages that you’ve delivered was fantastic. The tears, pain, and happiness are some of the elements of life as a human. Jazak Allahu khayr. May you be blessed by His grace and care, ameen.

  29. Tareq A Samra says:

    Thank you! That essay really was awesome. Too bad I have no way to thank the author! I hope she won something for that essay.
    But that author is trying a little too hard to fill her empty-void with religion. She is reaching the extreme where it is starting to sound as if “if its good; then it MUST be a sin”. I believe that is not true! And if a depressed person were to hear it, they would only be repelled by religion. Humans are part of this world, and are not perfect. We are expected to enjoy some good things; and we are expected to enjoy some bad things. There is no reason to think about it too hard. God wants to make worship easy for his creation.
    You are trying to hide from the pain in life, by means of devotion. Life is supposed to be happy and romantic. In romance there is happiness in our life.
    That romance is very harshly skimmed off with sentences like:
    “The people are only tools, a means used by God. ”
    I understand, that God is the provider and we only re-place his provisions from one spot to another.

    This essay for a young confused maturing Muslim may have some negative effects if not accompanied by an adult to discuss it with.

    • Yasmin Mogahed says:

      Tareq:

      Thank you for your comments; they help deepen the discussion. You say it is starting to sound as though “if its good; then it MUST be a sin”. In fact it is the complete opposite. The path of dependence on nothing but God is actually the *only* way to achieve true happiness and peace of heart. This does not negate romance or the comfort of companionship. The crucial point is that these are gifts that we enjoy, through and because of God..

      God tells us in the Quran:

      “Those who believe, and whose hearts find satisfaction in the remembrance of God. For without doubt in the remembrance of God do hearts find satisfaction.” (13:28)

      “And whoever turns away from My remembrance – indeed, he will have a depressed life, and We will gather him on the Day of Resurrection blind.” (20:124)

      So I disagree with you. I think if “a depressed person were to hear it”, they would be drawn to–not repelled from–the only source of stable peace and true happiness.

      Two of my favorite quotes of Ibn ul Qayyim (ra)elucidate this point:

      “To love Allah, to know Him intimately, to remember Him constantly, to find peace and rest in Him, to make Him alone the [ultimate] object of love, fear, hope and trust; to base one’s act on His control of His servants’ cares, aspirations and will- such is this world’s Heaven, and such is a Blessing with which no other Blessing can compare. It is by this that the hearts of those who love God are gladdened and that the gnostics find life. As their hearts are gladdened by Allah, so others are gladdened by them. For whoever finds his source of gladness in God, gladdens all hearts; whoever does not, finds nothing in this world but restlessness.”
      – Ibn ul Qayyim al-Jawziyya

      “Truly in the heart there is a void that cannot be removed except with the company of Allah. And in it there is a sadness that cannot be removed except with the happiness of knowing Allah and being true to Him. And in it there is an emptiness that cannot be filled except with love for Him and by turning to Him and always remembering Him. And if a person were given all of the world and what is in it, it would not fill this emptiness.”
      – Ibn ul Qayyim al-Jawziyya

      • shahnazriyaz says:

        I agree with you sis,and @Tareq, remember Allah says in surah 51:56 And I did not create the Jinns and the human/mankind except to worship Me.This is the Purpose of our creation..

  30. shahz says:

    I thought of these ayat when reading this article:

    24:39-40
    But those who disbelieved – their deeds are like a mirage in a lowland which a thirsty one thinks is water until, when he comes to it, he finds it is nothing but finds Allah before Him, and He will pay him in full his due; and Allah is swift in account.

    Or [they are] like darknesses within an unfathomable sea which is covered by waves, upon which are waves, over which are clouds – darknesses, some of them upon others. When one puts out his hand [therein], he can hardly see it. And he to whom Allah has not granted light – for him there is no light.

  31. Kassim says:

    This article has touched me deeply. Now I can finally move on.

  32. Naina says:

    so well written and SO TRUE. i’ve shared this post with all my friends. i think EVERYONE should read this once. seriously.

  33. Am says:

    what a amazing article. May Allah reward you greatly for sharing.

  34. Fatima says:

    It’s hard to keep myself interested in reading such things but honestly I LOVED reading this. The moment I read the title on Facebook I was pulled into it and I felt like I had to read the complete story. I’m so happy I did. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t touch me or the fact that I hadn’t thought some of the same things but I have and you’re right as generations come people worry more about this dunya rather than jannah and it’s sad. I wish more people would read this and understand that our true love, worship and attachment is strictly for Allah swt. God bless you sister!

  35. shahnaz muhammad says:

    JazakALLAH &shukran for a great reminder.We must hold on fast to the rope of ALLAH at all times &strive to make us worthy of hos love Ameen.May ALLAH protect you

  36. Mouna says:

    Bismillah;

    This was one of those moments, when you are shown a glimpse of the wisdom of Allah(SWT), you article was exactly what I needed in my life at this moment. I was looking for a nice quote to cheer me up and I came across your article, Not what I was looking for, but EXACTLY what I needed.May Allah(SWT) reward you, in this life and in the next.

    your sister,

  37. Youmna says:

    wow simply a big fat wow besmellah msa bgd to7faaaaaaa n totally explains how i feel… very meaningful and descripitive :)

  38. meanz says:

    truely inspiring!!

  39. Muhammad Raza says:

    By Allah! This is the best article I have ever read… it was as if I was reading my life. Subhana’Allah! May Allah reward you. Ameen.

  40. SohaibS says:

    Salaam – I just wanted to add a note of appreciation to those already expressed, because this was really something special (masha’Allah).

  41. Zarine says:

    It took you a quite amount of time to learn this lesson and we are the lucky ones as you have helped us avoid all the hurt, pain and anguish that comes from placing faith and attachment to others..I experience what you have been saying, the letdowns etc..but I didnt think there was anything wrong with my attachment, i assumed it was the people, they just weren’t the right people or the circumstances weren’t right..now I see where the fault lies. Jazakallah for this really good article.

  42. wahida says:

    Salaams! This piece has done more than answer the questions I had!! I’ve lost a lot of time pondering on things like ‘why aren’t we friends anymore?’ or ‘whose fault was it?’ and ‘what went wrong?’, when really you can’t blame anyone for the way life is.. Inshaa-Allah, may we find that inner peace we’re all seeking and live a life that pleases Allah (swt)!! Jazakallah for sharing this beautiful piece of work!!

  43. Fatima says:

    this is a very nice well written article…we all should always remember that “life isn’t perfect”. Insha Allah I’ll share this with as many people as I can.

    you are a great writer :) Wish you all the best.

    Fatima from Maldives

  44. Ibn Asadullah says:

    JazakiAllahu khairan ukhti, ameen!

    Your articles are so touchy, involving & motivating subhanAllah. Keep writing.

    :D

  45. Anon says:

    Goosebumps.

  46. R99 says:

    mashAllah! This article pretty much describes my life. Jazkallah for a great reminder! inshAllah, may Allah save us from getting caught up in this dunya, and make us more preoccupied in reaching Jannah, our only true home.

  47. imran says:

    like a lightning. everything struck my heart and shocked my mind with its electricity. allahuakbar!

  48. WG says:

    I can’t believe I stumbled across this. You have helped me revive what I had lost 5 years ago, my true love for Allah.

    JzkiAllahkhayr, iA I pray we all meet in Jannah, our real home.

  49. Munazza says:

    Alhumdulillah It was almost as if you were writing my story..I just didnt have the realization..but you did..Jazakallah Khayraa sister..Allah sent this link to me when I needed it the most..I am floored! May Allah reward you for each word of yours..I love you for the sake of Allah..see you in jannah inshallah:)

  50. RZ says:

    MashAllah Sister, this is a very beautiful article. May Allah reward you.

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