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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344 Comments

  1. mashaallah, well said! thumbs up.

  2. arlery says:

    Wow! MashAllah this was such an AMAZING article! It had me hooked from the first word and by the end of this, I started feeling peace like I haven’t felt in quite a long time. Jazak Allah Khairah, for writing such an enlightening piece that will stay with me long after I’m done reading it.

  3. syed rehan says:

    MASHAALLAH !! Superb Reading….

  4. Bazigha says:

    Worth reading again and again

  5. Rahmah says:

    jazakallahu khyran, may Allah reward you in the best way possible.great piece of work

  6. Khadijah says:

    Subhana Allah. I was just feeling so let-down and broken about my relationship. Then I came to this article! Allahu akbar, it brought tears to my eyes! I pray that Allah will help me to let go of this dunya, and to trust Him and Him only. I make dua for the writer of the article, and all the muslims ameen.
    Jazakala kayr.

  7. farzana says:

    MASHA-ALLAH.very beautiful article.i lost my mum in ramzan of 2010.i was shattered for 6 months.later i realised that only ALLAH is permanent and rest all is temporary….so attaching to temporary things gave me temporary happiness….but attaching myself to ALLAH(SWT) gave me permanent happiness…..my heart is stable in ALLAH’S remembrance….and the sole purpose of my life is to please ALLAH(SWT) through my ibadat and good actions.

  8. Jag says:

    thank you for this wonderful article

  9. Kabir says:

    Thank you for this wonderful article.

  10. zahara rahman says:

    aswk jazzak Allah khair

  11. Shi says:

    This has really touched my heart you know. I feel so broken right now as a Moslem woman, my marriage to my husband has gone and now I am alone. I am a mess, most days I cry. Allah is all I have and my lovely daughter. I have lost everything and am trying to cope. No self confidence, and struggling through each day with my loneliness.

    • Lamees Tayyib says:

      “Allahumma la sahla illa ma ja’altahu sahlan wa anta idh shi-tta taj’alul huzna sahlan.” = “O God, there is no ease except that which you have made easy and you, if you so desired, could make sadness easy.”

      I hope that your situation improves soon, ukhtee.

  12. Shi says:

    Please can somebody say something to help me. Please.

    • Imraah says:

      Dont worry.. Put your trust in Allah.. He will take care of every problem you face.. Assalamu alaikum sister.

    • Malik says:

      Shi, I pray that you will find the strengh to keep on moving forward. Don’t despair… Sheitan makes us despair. May God bless you and your daughter. I am going through hard times myself, and I know how it feels having to be a strong parent, doing what we need to do for our kids but being heartbroken and exhausted inside, and we try to cover it up and be strong in front of the children. I pray that soon your tears of sadness will be replaced by tears of joy.

    • abdul azeem says:

      Shi,

      I am touched by your story.

      I would kindly recommend that you start dhikr in your spare time. You can call upon certain Names of God, such as “Ya Halim”(O Benevolent One) or “Ya Latif (O Kind, Subtle One),” or just repeat the first part of the shahada (la ilaha illa Allah – “there is no deity [real object of worship, devotion, love] except God.”

      When you invoke or do the dhikr, in your heart feel that God is your only refuge, that there is there no place to go but to Him. Keep doing this, feel the light in your heart grow, feel this light envelop your being, and you will find sweetness and solace in it.

      Know that sometimes suffering is the only way God can draw us to Him with the fullness of our beings. This is why Ibn Ata Allah said that “the arrival of tribulations are the feasts of rejoicing for those who aspire to God,” because those who aspire to God know that they draw clower to Him in hardship than in ease. This is also why Rumi says that we should infact seek pain, because pain draws the Mercy and intimacy of God.

      Suffering, as the shaikh noted, is one of the greatest gifts of God. Feel the sweetness of your intimacy with Him in your tears, and know that in your patience there are unimaginable rewards, for “verily God is with the patient (inna Allah ma’a al-sabirin)”

  13. Nur says:

    Salam Sis Shi, this is a test for u my dear. Have sabr, insya’allah Allah will lighten for you your burden. For in this life is all but a test for all of mankind.. There’s rahma in each test that Allah has given us….. May u overcome this challenge with patience and may ur daughter be your strength to move on from this difficult plight..

    • Shi says:

      Asaalam Alaikum
      Thank you so much for your kind words.

      • JK says:

        Shi, you wrote so long ago but I only read it now and I felt sad because of your pain. I’m in a similar situation (husband left; I’m alone with little daughter now), so I can really empathize. It’s very hard. I hope you have support and are doing better now. If you want to post back here I will answer you. Bless you. ❤❤❤

  14. Yasin says:

    Really inspiring…always come here when I am feeling down.

  15. alvin says:

    thank you for everything. now I know where to put my hopes and whom to seek. thank you very much.

  16. Malik says:

    wow I needed to read this beautiful article… I am like that too, I am not very materialistic but I put too much of my happiness in my attachments to moments, to people… what you say is so true… I need to try to work on it, because I carry to much sadness with me.

  17. Basheer says:

    This is wonderful..I give thankz to almighty allah for this article and the writer bcos it really tourches my heart…alliamudullilahi

  18. Rashadabd says:

    Well done, alhamdulilah. You are talented and blessed, please continue to serve the people with the gifts that Allah has clearly given to you. Masha-Allah….

  19. kamal` says:

    we have to luv each other cos we should do to others what we like them to do to us.
    also cos to attain perfect iman u have to love each other, by giving salam alot
    also, it makes the ummah stronger like a family

  20. paraffin says:

    Story of my life. I cried.. Havent been crying for a long long time. Only Allah knows how much I thank you for this amazing writing.

  21. choklit says:

    great article! i go thru the exact same thing in my life. i wish Allah makes us all very happy and very soon, insha-Allah.

  22. Zohra says:

    Very well written! we all go through this in our daily lives. May Allah swt make it easy on all of us and guide us to the straight path. =)

  23. Maryam Hajar says:

    Jazak Allah khair for this article. I feel as if it was written about and for me, and therefore it speaks to the human condition we all experience: loss. Recently my mother, who was my ‘twig’, passed away and I am having a hard time dealing with the loss. I too expect too much from relationships and when they let me down, i am so upset and sad for days; feeling abandoned. But, as you point out so eloquently and directly, when we suffer the loss of ppl in our lives, we are looking in the wrong place for our security and in trying to create Jannah on earth. May Allah swt bless you for this message and holy reminder. Wassalam

  24. Kinza says:

    This article was GREAT mA! The words and ideas just clicked.

  25. Sharain Gardezi says:

    Wow, story of my life…this is sooo true! Thank you so much for writing this! Now I should change for the better

  26. Love, Love, Love this!! I too had the harsh reality of divorcing myself from this dunya after a rude awakening and now I’m in love with God.He’s my support system, provider, my world and the results I’m producing Mashallah!

  27. Rana says:

    Mashallah, Such a beautiful story,definitely inspiring and it makes us reflect on our own lives and how we have been tested. Not only is everything you say 100% true, but it is written beautifully. I always remind myself that everything happens for a reason and it is God’s will when it comes to one’s happiness or pain. May Allah (swt) continue to guide us on the right path. Alhamdillah!

  28. Katie says:

    I AM THE SAME WAY…. ALHAMDULILLAH…. THIS WAS BEAUTIFUL AND IT IS TIME TO REMOVE THAT VEIL FROM MY EYES.

    MAY ALLAH BLESS YOU.

  29. Manal says:

    Assalamu Alaikum,

    This article truly hit something inside me when I read it. I realised what you were saying related to my own thoughts so well and I hope Allah (SWT) grants you the blessings for sharing this, Ameen!

  30. Ruzzana says:

    Can’t get enough of this article. Simply awesome. Thanks :)

  31. Zohra says:

    I could read this for days. Well said. Well written!

  32. Mehreen Omer says:

    The very fact that so many people have commented on this post testifies the extent to which this problem is prevalent in our ummah. We all have experienced it one way or the other. Certainly the solution to everything – literally everything – boils down to this one thing; do we love the dunya over the akhira?

    SubhanAllah!! Awesome post sis Yasmin!!

  33. Noor says:

    WOW! Thanks for sharing this epiphany with us. I’ve always felt the same way you have but I’ve never really been able to fully express myself. I plan to work on this goal of detaching from dunya but i can tell that it’s much easier said than done. Inshallah it will work though.

  34. Dalia says:

    This is me, at times I cry so much, because I’m suffering but I need to make my relationship stronger with Allah alone and pray he makes things better for me.

  35. Ashaari says:

    MashAllah, very good advice. Thank you very much for that

  36. Shabir says:

    Its an excellent post. No doubts the only relationship forever is with ALLAH.

  37. Fatmah says:

    I was in so much unrest and felt heartbroken , and let down. I started searching for something that will soothe my soul and “This article is it” . After shedding tears I found answers to my questions. What an eye opener !

    May Allah Subhana Wa Taa’la shower His blessings on the writer of this article Ameen.

  38. Tamkeen Pirzada says:

    While reading this article ,it felt as if I am reading about myself or the author has written it on me. It describes me & my feeling so accurately that by the end of the read I was in tears. Thank u so very much for making me realize so many things.
    Loves reading it thoroughly. may ALLAH help us all.

  39. nora says:

    Mashaa’Allah amazing that so many people felt like the article addressed some problems they experience in life. Sometimes the love of dunya is not necessarily directed to materials and wealth, people also love each other too much. The best love, purest love and first love must be with Allah our creator. Allah is worthy of our love and praise. May Allah forgive all the believing men and women. amin

  40. Nora says:

    Jazzak Allahu Khairan, and I mean this from the bottom of my heart. Your article has been able to grasp the billion streams of information in my mind trying to figure out why I am so attached to people and everything that is really not worth it.
    And how come they just keep on letting me down, over and over. Trying to put things in perspective isn’t easy on your own. But you just said it so perfect. And subhannAllah at a moment where I’m in a very big struggle in my life. So again jazzakAllah ou khairan.

  41. sohaib says:

    such a superb article. JazakAllah.

  42. Aruj says:

    Jazak Allah brother for writing this article. this is something that I’ve been looking for, for the last couple of days.
    remember us in your prayers.

  43. People leave each other because they realise that person is not the suitable one for them. Earlier relationships may be based on physical attraction but that can’t last long once they realise each is very different. It takes two hands to clap. I prefer to think that we come to this world alone and we leave alone. And maybe,Allah knows best. Whether you can find a replacement or face life alone,it’s ok.

  44. ritu says:

    This article has touched my soul.
    like u i have been subject to unhappiness caused by dependency. after reading this i have a strong feeling things will change or good.
    may the almighty bless u for sharing this with us and changing my life. :)

  45. “Allah put a yearning in us that can only be fulfilled by what is eternal and perfect.” Subhanallah profound! This statement sums up why so many human beings have lost themselves trying to fill their never ending voids through external means, even marriage. We are simply chasing what is innate in us, perfection, eternity, and unconditional love something this dunya cannot offer us. I love this article so much and I pray it helps free many burdened souls! Amin. Thank you.

  46. Dini Mariska says:

    Assalamu alaikum, Masha Allah, what a great article and reminder for all of us. Thank you very much. Wassalamu alaikum.

  47. learning quran online says:

    Salam, it is a nice post with the spiritual feelings. JazakAllah for this post.

  48. Amna siddiqui says:

    Thankyou.

  49. Sabreen Obaid says:

    This article raise my spirit up :)

    thanks alot.

  50. Magnificent article ! May ALLAH bless you ! :)

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