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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  1. Engie Salama says:

    :) masha’allah Yasmin always speaking the truth like a boss!

    May Allah preserve you and increase you in all that is good- in your happiness, husband, children, and all that matters to you. May Allah purify our intentions and make us among the sincere believers, because faith is nothing without nasiha (sincerity). And ultimately, may we be people of Jannatul Firdaws, so that we can see His majestic face and bask in Allah’s glory whenever we can <3

    Ameen, and to quote myself from a couple months ago, "DAAAAAANG MASHA'ALLAH!" ;D

  2. discoverer says:

    Salaamalaikum, This post was so very much related to me.
    I am same, i get attached to people very soon. When i hear about anything bad…makes me sad, anxious, deppressed.
    this post has made me feel better n ponder.
    Please remembr me in ur duas.

  3. Sabina says:

    Assalamo Alaikum,

    MashaAllah, beautiful read. I read this when I just lost my infant son and it was truly a blessing. May Allah reward you.


  4. I loved it!!! <3 so so so true! and the MOST important lesson! Masha'allah! :) I'm going to repost this link on my blog if you don't mind!

  5. Divya says:

    very inspiring article Yasmin..keep up the good work :)

  6. Yasmeen says:

    I always read this article when I’m feeling down. Thanks so much for writing it.

  7. Gavin says:

    Thank you. The article was very helpful. Praise be to God.

  8. Lina says:

    Mash’ALLAH. Well said, it is one those timeless articles that we all need to read to remember our purpose in life, and at times of hardship. May Allah swt bless you and your family, bring you peace and have mercy on you. Ameen.

  9. Mrs. Anonym0us says:

    “whoever rejects evil and believes in God hath grasped the most trustworthy hand-hold, that never breaks.Qur’an 2: 256)”

    SUBHANALLAH!!! JazakAllah Khair for the reminder.

  10. Tee says:

    Subhanallah, this article explains beautifully the concept of complete and utter faith in Allah. Thank you so much for writing this article as it has really made me realize where the true source of my problems lie.

    JazakAllah Khair!

  11. believer says:

    Masallah your very talented….very well written!! This article was really helpful and inspiring :)

  12. Sidra says:

    This was beautiful. May Allah bless you with Jannat. You changed my vision completely =) I thank Allah for bringing people like you into this dunia to guide us from your experiences.

  13. Maryam says:

    I can completely relate to this post. I am the exact way; I get too attached to people. For the past 2 days I’ve been feeling very unstable because of a certain things that have been going on in my life and God, Allah really has his way of doing things because I just happened to stumble upon this article and all I can say is thank you. It really made me feel better.
    MashaAllah it was beautiful.

  14. RB says:

    Wow, this article depicts my exact emotions sub7anAllah. It was so uplifting though, what a beautiful read mashAllah.

  15. muslimah says:


    I think this may be one of the most beautiful, thought provoking articles I have ever read in my entire life. MashAllah. JazakiAllah khair for sharing your insights with us in such a poignant meaningful manner. You have a gift for writing and your honesty and sincerity is apparent. Please continue to share it with the world. JazakiAllah khair

  16. azimah shurfa says:

    I am rereading this to remind myself not to get too attached to worldly things as I am leaving my comfort zone and moving to a new territory and a new job… Only Allah will be stable in my life and that is a great reminder. ALHAMDULILLAH

  17. suzgrrl says:

    I found this article when I did a Google search on loss and attachments. Although raised in a different faith, I found this article very insightful and I enjoyed it very much. Loss and disappointment have been a continuing theme in my life as well. I used to think this was only always happening to me, and then I realized everyone experiences loss at some point. This really helps to bring some comfort and make sense out of it. Very inspirational.

  18. Nadia says:

    This is the most powerful article i have ever read in my entire life. It made me cry so much. It made me realize things i was unaware of. It made me shameful. It made me relived.

    Over all.. if you were a contestant for the noble prize award for sure you would have won with this article right here!

  19. Nafiul Azim says:

    mashaAllah….such a beautiful piece……alot related to me and so it was really inspiring and helpful….jazakAllah khayrun and keep up the good work,inshaAllah

  20. unknown says:

    i love every bit of this article but my favourite was
    “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”
    wow Subhanallah this describes me as i was once happy but extremely sad now because of the changes and this article helps me see the light
    mashallah good work sis i hope i dont go back and see my happiness in other people and relationships inshallah

  21. Traveller says:

    Asalam alikum WR WB,
    Masha Allah..such an amazing piece…After I prayed Salah Duhur and invoke Allah SWT for very long time. Then i sat on my bed where my laptop was on. i have no idea how i came on this website for the first time..But SubhAnAllah this article depicts my exact emotions… i can not tell you from start to end i was crying… It was really inspiring and very helpful Jazak Allah Khayrun… may Allah SWt shower you his blessing ameen insha allah keep up with the good work. May we be people of Jannatul Firdaws Ameen Yaa Rubb

  22. Ibrahim says:

    Aslam alykum! Jazakallah kher..Its great piece of Advice..and great Peace also..

  23. Jennat says:

    WOW well written. Reading this article describes most of us and you made us realize it while reading this. Something we all get used to and pulled in this dunya. May Allah guide us and forgive us.
    Jazakallah kheir

  24. inspirable..thanks for sharing this ;)

  25. Huda says:

    A beautiful and profound piece of advice…much needed in this day and age where we are all told to expect far too much or else our lives are incomplete/abnormal and so we must surely be failures at life.

    Loved it. God bless and reward you for this Yasmin xxxx

  26. SisSoul says:

    great piece of writing! A lot of Men need to read this, esp the men from the subcontinent who attach undue importance to family backgrounds, beauty and teen-aged girls, while in search for a potential spouse, they will delay marriage unless they dont find the ‘worldly perfect package’ of a hoor, custom made for their vain desires.
    No wonder so many muslimahs have reached their late twenties and 30s because these men WANT their hoors right here, right now. Says a lot about their level of eeman.

    Sorry for the rant :)

  27. Tawakalt says:

    Am so blessed to be here,am so glad to read thru dis piece of information,is a thoughtful 1,i really need it,cos am goin thru a friend disappointment,bt nw am happy and ready to rely on ALLAH alone and nt the dunya.

    jazak sis.
    Barakah lau fil.

  28. Ninja Bibi says:

    it was a nice read.

  29. Ethem says:

    What a great deep thoughts.

  30. Ameen Abdul Mutaale says:

    Remember Allah daily, remember what he has created us for and we must remember to remind each other that Allah is not far away. It is destine that we return to Him and His Glory.

    May Allah provide safety to us and to all the human race and may he provide us with faith even if it’s hard to be found.

    May Allah protect us from all evil, the total visible and absolute unseen. May Allah multiply our deeds and eradicate our bad deeds. May He bring our hearts as one as He is the Greatest, the Omnipotent, All-seeing, All –Knowing, All- Wise. He is The Eternal, The Everlasting sustainer of the worlds. May He be pleased with us all and may He give us peace and tranquility when none is expected.

    Ja zak Allah!!!!!

  31. seef says:

    What The Bleep Do We Know is a documentary from 2004 that explains a lot about this writer – that reality and our individual perceptions of reality are joined by a spiderwebb-thin string, that our identity is defined by our emotional responses, we block out most of reality except the part that we prefer to respond to, and that we can become addicted to our emotional responses which in turn perpetuates our ‘reality’. Being addicted to people is really sad – Entertainment Tonight, anyone?
    In our firm belief in the unseen, we find the strength to overcome the day-to-day distractions that keep us from understanding that reality, Allah’s reality, is far more than what we see.
    May Allah save us from this type of weakness, and help us to build our spirits into something stronger.

  32. I can relate to this article in so many ways and it’s comforting to read someone else’s powerful reflection. I’ve also listened to the lecture version on OLR at least 3 times now lol, keep writing!

  33. united says:

    great article mashallah
    please just check your reference to this:

    “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)”

    • Kearns says:

      Yes, please, the reference given seems to have nothing to do with the surrounding conclusion, I assume there was a typo, but I can’t figure out what it is supposed to be.

  34. Noor says:

    MashaAllah this is one of my favorite articles on the web! I’ve read it before, but whenever I feel down, due to broken relationships, sadness, etc. I find myself right back here. May Allah swt allow us to put our entire trust and expectations in Him alone!

  35. Peace says:

    Asalamu Alaikum,
    I was referred here by Dear Little Auntie just browsing through they’re site but I have to say that this article is so powerful. It is so eloquently written, mashAllah. Thank you for such and insightful piece.

  36. Hayat says:

    thank you…

  37. nurul says:

    masyaallah.. thanks for the article x
    just wat i needed right now x

  38. Tranquil says:

    Asalamu Alaikum

    Sis, your article was amazing, it hit the nail on the head for me. I have never thought of this, (being attached to non-material attachments)this is my problem, JKZ, for this thought provoking article. May Allah (swt)strengthen your emaan and reward you greatly inshallah.

  39. Endurance says:

    May Allah (S.W.T.) bless you for sharing your insight, experience, and understanding of what seems to be lacking in the most of us. Truly, your words are inspiring to all Muslims, for I have had my share of loving dunya immensely. A lot of people would consider this as a wake-up call, as have I. Im not saying that I will forever not feel love for this dunya, but whenever I do, I will remember your words. You are truly blessed by Allah (S.W.T.) and I hope He will continue to bless you and all of the believers.

  40. Art says:

    Down to earth Brother. You keep it real and applicable for the minds of today and yet you maintain the integrity of the Quran and Muhammad-PBUH. There are not any quick answers to our problems in life. We all have them and they can all be solved. Patience and a keen ear will bring us through every time.

  41. Sly says:

    Jazak Allah Khayr.

    Salam Aleykum. May the peace of Allah be with you . You are simply one of the Light left on earth to show others in darkness which path is the righteous way.
    I want to call you attention to the situation in Malaysia , there are many cases of racism , and it is of the highest Order there . Even A black Muslim brother is not welcome in any midst , rather Indian Gangster embark on beating mercilessly black brothers out here basically on no offend issues .
    I wish You can please do something as regards this , I dont know How , But I am sure Allah ( S.B.W) Will continue to increase your knowledge in helping the frustrated muslims in the world . Ameen

  42. shaista says:

    Jazkallah for.posting this….all i have to say is WOW. I felt like you took the words out of my heart and posted in this blog. This describes me so much and it makes perfect sense.

  43. Essnkay says:

    At this age of 58, when I look back to when I was 11-12 yrs old and i used to shed tears for my aunts after they left my house after spending vacations. I was possessive to every friend till my university years. However after my marriage, detachement from parents and then death of my husband taught (though cruelly) very useful lesons for my life. The article beautifully explains how peoples love gradually is transformed into Allah’s love. But this can not be injected , experiences alone teach us this lesson, so that we become immune to daily rejections, so called disappointments. Why because we learn to understand that The Creator is our best Mentor and ceaseless Friend, here and hereafter. Thank you for writing an indulging article.

  44. Arfeen Rahman says:

    Dear sister, you should write more often because many things you say have an impact on people who are totally astray

  45. BlackMuslim says:

    May Allah swt bless and reward this sister Immensely, she could never fully understand how this helps many muslims of ALL backgrounds no matter their gender.

  46. shoaib says:

    Masha-allah, very nice and heart touching article, may allah bless u,
    But here i want to add few lines on this article and made the reader more clear about what author actually want to convey is not to have any Expectation in this virtual world, least we expect from Others and have full hope, trust, and dependency on Allah and Allah alone, More stable, fulfil and happy we will be.
    As it is written “Don’t let your definition of success, failure, or self-worth be anything other than your position with Him (Qur’an, 49:13).”

    But this does not mean we should stop loving other people and detach from all the attachment we have with other people Beacause what our Prophet(saw) taught us with his life as an example is to love others and with love only we can attain the real faith and become a perfect muslim.

    I have read lot of hadith where our Prophet(saw) use to cry for others, make dua in late night prayers, how that can be without intense love he has for others. I have read his way of life where it was mentioned that apart from his regular prayer and giving time to his family, most of the time he used to meet and visit peoples and listen to their problem. His life is perfect example for us to follow and that he shows us to help and love others.

  47. shoaib says:

    Even our Prophet Ibrahim (as) was a perfect example, when he was going to sacrifice his only son Ismail(as), and what he choose was belief and faith for allah over his own family, even though he loved so much his family and son. That was the biggest sacrifice in whole history and till the end of world, there love of son by his father was tested. But he was having so strong belief upon allah, that allah will never ever let him down. And he was succedded in his faith and shown the world what the real faith is. My point is here is even he was having love and attachment here in this world even though he knew that this world is temperory and not real. But his faith and his belief was more stronger. That is how we have to build in ourself the real faith. There is no harm in having a attachment with other, that will make you a more better person and better muslim.

    I am writing this because i got confused and misguided,(No offence on author) after reading this article i got feeling that now onward i will stop all the attachment and love with other and that will lead me to more stronger faith and will make me near to Allah.
    Then i got sleep and suddenly in the dream it stuck me that no that is not correct, i have percieved wrongly. This is the love that will make us more near to Allah and make my soul more peaceful.

    Allah please forgive me if i have written anything wrong and guide me with right.

  48. Binty says:

    I can totally relate to this. There is only one type of attachment I want-that is attachment to our Lord,by holding onto the fundamentals of Islam and acknowledging the fact that He will never leave us.
    “Verily in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest” Subhan’Allah how Great is our Lord!
    Jazak’Allah Khair to you sister Yasmin, Li7ub Allah!

  49. Sarosh Waiz says:

    Masha Allah! Beautifully written. Thanks.

  50. usman says:

    Please check your reference as it is incorrect.

    Don’t let your definition of success, failure, or self-worth be anything other than your position with Him (Qur’an, 49:13).

    I have tried to search and I am unable to find the correct reference. JazakAllah khair to any brother/sister to help me find find the correct reference. inshaAllah


    • WebbStaff says:

      I think that the author, Sr. Yasmin, is using the ayah as a reference to her statement. This is not a translation of the ayah. She’s referring to this part of the ayah: “Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you.”

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