People leave each other. But do they return?

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

Leaving is hard. Losing is harder. So a few weeks ago I asked the question, ‘why do people have to leave each other?’ The answer took me into some of my life’s deepest realizations and struggles. But it has also led me to wonder: After people leave, do they ever return? After something we love is taken from us, does it ever come back? Is loss permanent—or just a means for a higher purpose? Is loss the End itself, or a temporary cure for our heart’s ailments?

There’s something amazing about this life. The very same worldly attribute that causes us pain is also what gives us relief: Nothing here lasts. What does that mean? It means that the breathtakingly beautiful rose in my vase will wither tomorrow. It means that my youth will neglect me. But it also means that the sadness I feel today will change tomorrow. My pain will die. My laughter won’t last forever—but neither will my tears. We say this life isn’t perfect. And it isn’t. It isn’t perfectly good. But, it also isn’t perfectly bad, either.

Allah (glorified is He) tells us in a very profound ayah (verse): “Verily with hardship comes ease.” (Qur’an, 94:5). Growing up I think I understood this ayah wrongly. I used to think it meant: after hardship comes ease. In other words, I thought life was made up of good times and bad times. After the bad times, come the good times. I thought this as if life was either all good or all bad. But that is not what the ayah is saying. The ayah is saying WITH hardship comes ease. The ease is at the same time as the hardship. This means that nothing in this life is ever all bad (or all good). In every bad situation we’re in, there is always something to be grateful for. With hardship, Allah also gives us the strength and patience to bear it.

If we study the difficult times in our lives, we will see that they were also filled with much good. The question is – which do we chose to focus on? I think the trap we fall into is rooted in this false belief that this life can be perfect—perfectly good or perfectly bad. But that’s not the nature of dunya (this life). That’s the nature of the hereafter. The hereafter is saved for the perfection of things. Jannah (paradise) is perfectly and completely good. There is no bad in it. And Jahannam (hell – may Allah protect us) is perfectly and completely bad. There is no good in it.

By not truly understanding this reality, I myself would become consumed by the momentary circumstances of my life (whether good or bad). I experienced each situation in its’ full intensity—as if it was ultimate or would never end. The way I was feeling at the moment transformed the whole world and everything in it. If I was happy in that moment, past and present, near and far, the entire universe was good for that moment. As if perfection could exist here. And the same happened with bad things. A negative state consumed everything. It became the whole world, past and present, the entire universe was bad for that moment. Because it became my entire universe, I could see nothing outside of it. Nothing else existed for that moment. If you wronged me today, it was because you no longer cared about me—not because this was one moment of a string of infinite moments which happened to be tinted that way, or because you and I and this life just aren’t perfect. What I was experiencing or feelings at that instant replaced context, because it replaced my entire vision of the world.

I think in our experiential nature, some of us may be especially susceptible to this. Perhaps that is the reason we can fall prey to the “I’ve never seen good from you” phenomenon which the Prophet ﷺ (peace be upon him) referred to in his hadith. Perhaps some of us say or feel this way because at that moment, experientially we really haven’t seen good, because our feeling at that instant replaces, defines and becomes everything. Past and present becomes rolled up into one experiential moment.

But, the true realization that nothing is complete in this life transforms our experience of it. We suddenly stop being consumed by moments. In the understanding that nothing is limitless here, that nothing here is kamil (perfect, complete), Allah enables us to step outside of moments and see them for what they are: not universes, not Reality, past and present, just that—a single moment in a string of infinite moments…and that they too shall pass.

When I cry or lose or bruise, so long as I am still alive, nothing is ultimate. So long as there is still a tomorrow, a next moment, there is hope, there is change, there is redemption. What is lost, is not lost forever.

So in answering the question of whether what is lost comes back, I study the most beautiful examples.  Did Yusuf return to his father? Did Musa return to his mother? Did Hajar return to Ibrahim? Did health, wealth and children return to Ayoub? From these stories we learn a powerful and beautiful lesson: what is taken by Allah is never lost. In fact, it is only what is with Allah that remains. Everything else vanishes. Allah (swt) says, “What is with you must vanish: what is with Allah will endure. And We will certainly bestow, on those who patiently persevere, their reward according to the best of their actions.” (Quran 16:96)

So, all that is with Allah, is never lost. In fact the Prophet ﷺ has said: “You will never give up a thing for the sake of Allah (swt), but that Allah will replace it for you with something that is better for you than it.” (Ahmad) Did not Allah take the husband of Umm Salimah, only to replace him with the Prophet ﷺ?

Sometimes Allah takes in order to give. But, it’s crucial to understand that His giving is not always in the form we think we want. He knows best what is best. Allah says: “… But it is possible that you dislike a thing which is good for you, and that you love a thing which is bad for you. But Allah knows, and you know not.” (Quran 2:216)

But if something is going to be returned in one form or another, why is it taken at all? Subhan’Allah. It is in the process of ‘losing’ that we are given.

Allah gives us gifts. But then we often become dependent on those gifts, instead of Him. When He gives us money, we depend on the money—not Him. When He gives us people, we depend on people—not Him. When He gives us status or power, we depend on, and become distracted by these things. When Allah gives us health, we become deceived. We think we will never die.

Allah gives us gifts, but then we come to love them as we should only love Him. We take those gifts and inject them into our hearts, until they take over. Soon we cannot live without them. Every waking moment is spent in contemplation of them, in submission and worship to them. The mind and the heart that was created by Allah, for Allah, becomes the property of someone or something else. And then the fear comes. The fear of loss begins to cripple us. The gift—that should have remained in our hands—takes over our heart, so the fear of losing it consumes us. Soon, what was once a gift becomes a weapon of torture and a prison of our own making. How can we be freed of this? At times, in His infinite mercy, Allah frees us…by taking it away.

As a result of it being taken, we turn to Allah wholeheartedly. In that desperation and need, we ask, we beg, we pray. Through the loss, we reach a level of sincerity and humility and dependence on Him which we would otherwise not reach—had it not been taken from us. Through the loss, our hearts turn entirely to face Him.

What happens when you first give a child a toy or the new video game he’s always wanted? He becomes consumed by it. Soon he wants to do nothing else. He sees nothing else. He doesn’t want to do his work or even eat. He’s hypnotized to his own detriment. So what do you do, as a loving parent? Do you leave him to drown in his addiction and complete loss of focus and balance? No.

You take it away.

Then, once the child has regained focus of his priorities, regained sanity and balance, once things are put in their proper place in his heart and mind and life, what happens? You give the gift back. Or perhaps something better. But this time, the gift is no longer in his heart. It is in its proper place. It is in his hand.

Yet in that process of taking, the most important thing happened. The losing and regaining of the gift is inconsequential. The taking of your heedlessness, your dependence and focus on other than Him, and the replacing it with remembrance, dependence and focus only on Him was the real gift. Allah withholds to give.

And so sometimes, the ‘something better’ is the greatest gift: nearnesss to Him. Allah took the daughter of Malik Ibn Dinar in order to save him. He took his daughter, but replaced her with protection from the hell-fire and salvation from a painful life of sin and distance from Him. Through the loss of his daughter, Malik ibn Dinar was blessed with a life spent in nearness to Allah. And even that which was taken (his daughter) would remain with Malik ibn Dinar forever in Jannah.

Ibn ul Qayyim (may Allah be pleased with him) speaks about this phenomenon in his book, Madarij Al Salikin. He says: “The divine decree related to the believer is always a bounty, even if it is in the form of withholding (something that is desired); and it is a blessing, even if it appears to be a trial and an affliction that has befallen him; it is in reality a cure, even though it appears to be a disease!”

So to the question, ‘once something is lost, does it return?’ the answer is yes. It returns. Sometimes here, sometime there, sometimes in a different, better form. But the greatest gift lies beneath the taking and the returning. Allah tells us: “Say, ‘In the bounty of Allah and in His mercy – in that let them rejoice; it is better than what they hoard.’” (Quran, 10:58)

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  1. Umm Anas says:

    assalaamu alaikum wa rahmatUllahi wa barakatuh,

    this was very moving.
    Jazakillahu khairan.

    may Allah benefit us with this knowledge and bless you in yours Yasmin! Ameen.

  2. Mohammed says:

    Asalaamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakaatu

    Leaves me to reflect that an article resonates when tears threaten…

  3. A.B says:

    This is a phenomenal article. Jazakillah Sr.Yasmin, you really did instill that deep understanding of this much cited aya and the whole experience of loss. BarakaAllahu Feeki.

  4. fatma douar says:

    Very interesting article ….so true :“What is with you must vanish: what is with Allah will endure. And We will certainly bestow, on those who patiently persevere, their reward according to the best of their actions.” (Quran 16:96)

  5. Muslima. says:

    subhan Allah,yes the reminder about prophet yousaf, ayyub and musa( may Allah be pleased with them)is a beautiful reminder.JazakAllah khair.

  6. Waffa says:

    JazakAllah sister Yasmin times a million! I love all your articles, so deeply intelligent. Please write a book!

  7. Jason says:

    SubhanAllah…this is the most compelling most intense article I have ever read…i connected with it unlike any other article in my life…. Jazak Allah Kheir…May God reward you in this life and the hearafter….

  8. mouzma says:

    Sooo beautifully written! I absolutely LOVE both parts! keep ‘em coming! May Allah bless you! :)

  9. Ibn Asadullah says:

    subhanAllah agreed 100%
    in fact, the dunya is not extremely good and that’s why it’s not jannah also it’s not extremely bad hence it’s not nar either.

  10. mouzma says:

    I agree with the above person! one of the most moving articles I’ve ever read! subhanallah!

  11. Fatima says:

    subhanAllah I have felt loss as a freeing experience. once we hit rock bottom, there is no place to go but up! :)

  12. Jinan Bastaki says:

    Ya Allah- SO TRUE. Thank you Yasmin.

  13. Mashel Hamsah says:

    MasyaAllah, this brings honest tears to my eyes. Allah SWT has certainly bless you the innate ability to relate & resonate to the layman’s tousled minds/hearts.

    Your meaningful articles have truly helped me realise the essence of overcoming hardships. JazakAllah khayr Yasmin, am making a special dua for you.

  14. Shaina says:

    Sister Yasmin,

    Wonderful and very thought provoking article. Jazak Akllah Khair Thanks a bunch for this…

  15. Mashallah, another very insightful piece.

  16. Farida says:

    amazing basira mash’Allah, may God bless you and keep you

  17. Moccona says:

    MashaAllah, one of the most insightful pieces I’ve ever read. With all sincerity, you have helped me begin to transform my heart and mind, and alhumdulillah for that.

    I hope you do write that book of yours inshaAllah.

    JazakAllah kheir Yasmine :)

  18. Abdul-Rahman III says:

    I have been struggling and striving for 7 years in order to achieve one main objective, last week i finally achieved it and was extremely happy and overjoyed. However due to internal family problems i had to refuse it and ended up rejecting it and now i will have to wait at least another 4 years to get it back again which is very upsetting as i may be unable. I have been depressed over my loss this last few days and i will be for a long time to come. I am forced to accept patience as the article describes yet it is very hard and difficult to let go a lost dream, a dream which has crashed and expect to wait for something else to replace it.

    “Emptiness is a black hole which is found not far away in some distance part of the galaxy but close within the human heart when it has experienced an intimate loss.”

  19. Dawn says:

    Wow, Mashallah on this beautiful article. I got choked up a bit. May Allah Bless you. Please write more. Your articles are very inspiring and uplifting.

  20. Stranded says:

    mashallah, definitely sharing every where.

  21. Sis Anis says:

    Subhanallah, i cried reading this. May Allah free us from the attachment and love for this dunya.

  22. genu says:

    An eye opener.
    May this help us to think positive when having hard time

  23. maro says:

    I love this article ….thankyou.

  24. Rabab says:

    Subhan Allah. I read this article at a time where I felt like “I will miss this school.” But now I realise that Allah is taking it away from me: He is taking away from me the place where I truly loved Islam, where I learned about it something new everyday. But I don’t want to use to term “miss it,” because I am now grateful for coming here and learning so much about Islam. May Allah protect us all, and grant us Jannat-al-Ferdous. Ameen.
    Jazak Allah khairan for this amazing article.

  25. Fez says:

    “because our feeling at that instant replaces, defines and becomes everything. Past and present becomes rolled up into one experiential moment.”

    In an nutshell this is why televised sport is so addictive.

    And so dangerous.

  26. nadia says:


    Fantastically written article – mustread for anyone who has experienced loss and is trying to understand why!

  27. Asm Rafiq says:

    Brilliant article mA.

  28. Muslema says:

    Allah (swt) mentions in Surat Al-Baqarah that He grants wisdom to whomever He wills, and whomever is given wisdom is given great khair. (2:269)

    May Allah (swt) preserve and increase you in wisdom and khair, and allow your pen (er laptop) to be fluid with benefit for all :)

  29. Yousaf says:

    MashaAllahu la quwwata illa billah.

    041.030 إِنَّ الَّذِينَ قَالُوا رَبُّنَا اللَّهُ ثُمَّ اسْتَقَامُوا تَتَنَزَّلُ عَلَيْهِمُ الْمَلائِكَةُ أَلا تَخَافُوا وَلا تَحْزَنُوا وَأَبْشِرُوا بِالْجَنَّةِ الَّتِي كُنْتُمْ تُوعَدُونَ

    041.030 In the case of those who say, “Our Lord is Allah”, and, further, stand straight and steadfast, the angels descend on them (from time to time): “Fear ye not!” (they suggest), “Nor grieve! but receive the Glad Tidings of the Garden (of Bliss), the which ye were promised!

    All boils down to having istiqamah (steadfast) on our claim, “Allah is our Rabb”. My Benefactor, Creator, Sustainer- My Master! He knows all, He’s All-Wise and He has power over everything so whatever happens to me is from Him so how dare I complain? Like the mo’min from the people of Fir’aun said, “I hand over my affair to Allah” He is the Best Disposer of affairs. The path to bliss subhanAllah! No fear no grief!

  30. Sheen says:

    Beautiful! It just touched my heart. May Allah reward you sister. Ameen. :)

  31. Aman Ullah cheema says:

    Whosoever has written this ALLAH(SWT) bless him.

  32. Shannon says:

    MashAllah. So true and poignant. Jazak Allah Khair!

  33. Precious says:

    I love this article. Your references to Prophet Yusuf, Musa, etc, was touching. Last year I gave someone up for the sake of Allah SWT. Afterwards, in my most dire and darkest moments, I turned to these stories in the Quran as a means of keeping myself afloat, especially the one about Musa and how Allah SWT assured his mother that he would be returned to her: indeed, God’s promise was true. While I am uncertain if the person I gave up will be returned to me (I doubt it, but I pray for it nonetheless), I keep hoping that Allah SWT will give me someone better in his place Insha’Allah. Only time will tell if it is in this life or the next, but I have to remember that God’s promise is true. In the meantime, i keep hanging on to the rope of Allah, and wait for His peace and love to heal me (Insha’Allah).

    Really, a wonderful article.

  34. Bairo says:

    Alhamdulilah, thank you soo much for this article may Allah continue to bless you to give us more of this articles.
    Thanks be to Allah.

  35. Sagal says:

    SubhaanaAllah. This superb article should be read by every muslim. May Allah reward you and your family sister Yasmin. You have a way to connect with your audience. Keep them coming inshaAllah.

  36. Narges says:

    So lovely mashallah! Such a delicate point. I loved the child-parent analogy. Allah bless you!

  37. Ramat ziyada says:

    Jazak Allahu khyran brothers and sisters

  38. Hana says:

    Thank you for sharing these reflections with us, they really made my perspectives on things. You don’t know how grateful I am, this brought me peace :)

  39. Israa says:

    JazakAllah khairun katheeran Sister Yasmin.

    I can truly understand the depth of the article, and am strongly moved by it. Having gone through a relationship with one of Allah’s most humble person. Yet seeing it crash in front of my very eyes, on account of worldly reasons. I cannot fix things anymore or make it work, no matter what I have been trying. This is what Allah wanted me to see.

    This beautiful article is a timely reminder. I cannot thank you enough, May Allah bless you

  40. Alia says:

    Jazak Allah kheir sister Yasmin!
    wonderful article, “in witholding, Allah gives”
    I love that concept.
    Alf shokran for always writing such helpful articles!

  41. Mrs. Iqbal says:

    Thank you for this beautiful reminder and realization. May Allah SWT always keep us in his shelter and amongst momins.

  42. muslimahhk says:

    The taking of your heedlessness, your dependence and focus on other than Him, and the replacing it with remembrance, dependence and focus only on Him was the real gift.

    indeed very true

  43. Engie Salama says:

    Allahu akbar <3 :)

  44. Diana says:

    The part that touched my heart was, “Did Yusuf return to his father? Did Musa return to his mother? Did Hajar return to Ibrahim? Did health, wealth and children return to Ayoub? From these stories we learn a powerful and beautiful lesson: what is taken by Allah is never lost.” Beautiful! Subhan Allah. It also reminded me of verses 83-90 in Surah Al-Anbiya` … subhan Allah!

  45. hira says:

    This article is so beautifully written! May Allah (swt) bless you!

  46. Nini says:

    MashAllah, sister. Great article. Made my morning,really! This is what Allah wanted me to see, I am blessed to learn all this to help calm the inside self of mine for the better. I am starting to see why what I cherished so much in the past did not actually make it to my future. Because Allah wants something better for me and i pray that inshAllah the best happens for me. Thank You Allah for making me find this article.
    And jazaks to you sister for publishing it.

  47. Rebecca says:

    MeshAllah sister. Thank you so much for sharing both articles. You were able to somehow put into words what is only felt by the heart. I came to the same realizations as you. And it was by being confronted with loss and pain and from the longing to find that which was eternal that I was brought to Islam, alhamdulilah! So through this ‘loss’ Allah brought me the greatest gift of all, the blessing of our Deen.

  48. Ambreen says:

    Thanks…both parts are very touching and leave me with hope.
    May God bless you

  49. sam says:

    Assalamu Alaikum

    You’re really a good writer Yasmin. I love what you said, “And so sometimes, the ‘something better’ is the greatest gift: nearnesss to Him.” Indeed. I’ve lost my daughter and loved one within a year, just last year. It was too painful to bear that up until now it wouldn’t subside. But what really is important with what happened to me is I became closer to Allah. I turned my focus to HIM. And i did find my peace in HIM. And I’m still continuing praying for my faith in Allah to be greater than all the things in this world.

    I hope you continue writing such inspiring stories for all the muslims to see, read and reflect. May Allah continue to guide and bless you and your family. Eid Mubarak!

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