Seeing Your Home in Jennah: On Seeking Divine Help


I know a story that isn’t just a story. It begins with a woman who loved something more than the glitter of this life. She was a woman who never allowed herself to be defined or limited by her painful circumstances; she carried in her such a deep faith that she was willing to die for it.  She was a queen, yet saw through the thrones and palaces of this world. She saw through her palace in this life, and looked instead to her palace in the next. But, for Asiyah, wife of Pharoah, this was not just a metaphoric glimpse of the heart. For Asiyah, her glimpse was a vision of her physical eyes.

Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He) says: “God sets forth an example for those who believe — the wife of Pharaoh who said: ‘My Lord, build for me with Thee a house in heaven, and save me from the Pharaoh and his doings, and save me from an unjust people.’”

I’ve heard the story of Asiyah countless times. And each time it strikes me. But it wasn’t until recently that her story hit me for another reason entirely. A few months ago, I was facing a difficult test. And the beauty of having righteous, angel-like souls as your company is something priceless. When you are in a difficulty, it only takes one text message, one status update on Facebook, one email to the Suhaibwebb listserve, and you have a whole army of beautiful souls praying for you. Subhan’Allah (glory be to Him).

So I made that request. I asked for the greatest gift any human being can give to another. I asked for sincere du`a’, supplication. What I received overwhelmed me. I’ll never forget that gift of Allah. I had people praying for me in qiyam (night prayer), while standing in front of the kabaa, while traveling, even while giving birth. I received so many du`a’s, yet there was one that really hit me. It was just a simple text message, but it read:  “May you be shown your Home in Jennah so that any hardship is made easy on you.” I read it and it hit. It really hit.

And then I remembered the story of Asiyah, and suddenly realized something amazing. Asiyah was undergoing the most severe torture any person could imagine. Pharoah was the greatest tyrant ever to walk the earth. He wasn’t just a ruler over her. He was her husband. And in her final moments, Pharoah began to brutally torture her. But something strange happened. Asiyah smiled. She was going through one of the most severe hardships any human being could experience, and yet she smiled.

How is that? How it is that she could be tortured and smile, and when we face a traffic jam, or someone looks at us the wrong way, we can’t handle it? How is it that Prophet Ibrahim `alayhi sallatu wa sallam (may Allah send His peace and blessings on him) was faced with one of the greatest calamities, and yet the fire felt cool for him? Why do some people who have nothing find no reason to complain, while others who have ‘everything’ find nothing but reasons to complain? How is it that sometimes we have more patience with the big challenges in life than we do with the everyday small ones?

I used to think calamites were hard because certain things are just objectively difficult to bear.  I thought there was a master list, a standard hierarchy of difficulty. The death of a loved one, for example, is always harder to bear than getting a traffic ticket. It seems obvious enough. It seems obvious.

But, it’s also wrong.

A calamity of any type is not hard to bear because the calamity itself is difficult. The measure of ease or difficulty in hardship is on a different scale—an unseen scale. Whatever I face in life will be easy or difficult, not because it is easy or difficult. The ease or difficulty is based only on the level of Divine help. Nothing, nothing is easy, unless God makes it easy on me.  Not a traffic jam. Not a paper cut. And nothing is hard if Allah makes it easy on me. Not illness, not death, not being thrown into fire, or tortured by a tyrant.

Ibn Attaillah al-Sakandari said it beautifully: “Nothing is difficult if you seek it through your Lord, and nothing is easy if you seek it through yourself”.

Ibrahim (as) was thrown into fire. God willing none of us will ever face such a trial in this life.  But there is not a person who won’t get thrown into some sort of emotional, psychological or social fires in their life. And don’t think for a moment that God cannot make those fires cool for us. Asiyah was being physically tortured, but Allah showed her a home in Jennah. So she smiled. Our physical eyes will not see jennah in this life. But, if Allah wills, the vision of our heart can be shown the home with Him, so that every difficulty is made easy. And maybe we too can smile, even in those times.

So the problem is not the trial itself. The problem is not the hunger or the cold. The problem is whether we have the provision needed when that hunger and cold come. And if we do, neither hunger nor cold will touch us.  It won’t hurt. The problem is only when the hunger comes and we don’t have food. The problem is when the snow storm hits and we have no shelter.

Indeed Allah sends the trials, whereby we may be purified, strengthened and returned to Him. But, know for sure that with that hunger, thirst and cold, Allah also sends the food, the water and the shelter. Allah sends the test, but with it He can send the sabr (patience), and even the rida (contentment) to withstand it. Yes, Allah (swt) sent Adam down to this world where he would have to struggle and face trials. But he also promised His Divine help. The Qur’an tells us: “He said: “[ Allah ] said, “Descend from Paradise – all, [your descendants] being enemies to one another. And if there should come to you guidance from Me – then whoever follows My guidance will neither go astray [in the world] nor suffer [in the Hereafter].” (20: 123)

Perhaps one of my favorite du`a’s is that of the Prophet ﷺ (peace be upon him) at Taif.  Bloody and covered with wounds, he called out to His Lord: “ I seek refuge in the light of Your Face by which all darkness is dispelled and every affair of this world and the next is set right.“

Indeed Allah does test those whom He loves and He tests in proportion to the level of faith. But so too does Allah send His Divine assistance whereby any test can be made easy and any fire can be made cool. So too can Allah send His Divine assistance whereby a single glimpse of His light and the home with Him can make us smile—even in the midst of the flames of trial.

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36 Comments

  1. Khadijah says:

    Subhan Allah! What a powerful message, it does hit home. May Allah Subhanahu wa ta’la make us all those of the insightful, repentant and ever grateful. Aameen.

  2. Ameera Allie says:

    Wonderful article mashaAllah. May Allah reward u for ur efforts with Jannah. This article touched my heart, actually I am going through a difficult time & I will remember these words, I will think about my home in jannah inshaallah & I will face these trials with a smile… May Allah Bless u always

  3. Khajija says:

    Mashallah!! Reading ur pieces always uplift my mood, faith and hope in Allah (SWT).

    May He expand ur knowledge so that u will continue to enlighten us! For us d readers, May He enable us to put the lessons learnt into good use.

    Remain Blessed

  4. Amal says:

    Assalaamu ‘alaykum warahmatullah!

    Sister, this article was SO SO SOOO beautiful maa sha Allah, tabarak Allah.

    Jazaki Allahu khairan

    it was so touching and powerful maa sha Allah
    Allahu Akbar, it came at such a right time too!!

    Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar

  5. Halimeh says:

    Simply amazing. Masha’Allah!

  6. A says:

    Subhna’Allah!!!!

  7. RaihanahMM says:

    This posting is needed and necessary for a good reminder that the things we most want is not here and now, albeit we need the here and now to get where we want to go. Jazakallahu khayr for this. May you continue to be inspired to write inspiring posts that reminds the readers of the purpose of life and living. wassalam

  8. Umm Ameen says:

    Jazaky Allahu khair for the beautiful reminder. Your article also reminds me of the duaa’ below that enables us to realize the insignificance of this life when compared to the Hereafter–which in turn makes it easier for us to be patient in times of difficulty.

    “Allaahumma aqsim lee min khashyatika maa tahoolu bihi baynee wa bayna ma‘siyatak, wa min taa‘atika maa tubalighunee bihi jannatak, wa minal-yaqeeni maa tuhawinu bihi ‘alayya masaa’ibad-dunyaa.”

    “Ô Allaah, bestow upon me a share of fear from You which will prevent me from disobeying You, and bestow upon me a share of obedience with which You will take me to Your jannah, and bestow upon me a share of certainty with which You lighten the effects of the hardships and tribulations of this dunyaa on my heart.”

    I look forward to reading more articles from you insha’Allah!

  9. fatima says:

    maashaa`allah i always wait for your article so it can heal me.

  10. Shaifa says:

    jazakallah khair for writing this for us!

  11. Sis Anis says:

    Jazakillah khayran for this wonderful article.

  12. Ali says:

    SubhanAllah. May Allah reward, bless, and protect you and your family Sister Yasmin. I really needed this.

    Masha’Allah I was getting shivers as I was reading.

    Amazingly profound. Masha’Allah Masha’Allah. May Allah reward you so much, fiddunya qabl alaakhira. Ameen!

  13. fareeni says:

    Salam,
    I love your articles and this one came at a time i needed it most. Thank you and may Allah bless you!

  14. Heba Salah says:

    It is worthy to mention that Allah starts His Book with His names Al-Rahman Al-Rahim, though from among His names are Al-Jabbar al-Munttaqim… His mercy precedes His anger.

    I love Allah

  15. Slave of Allah says:

    Mashallah sister a really beautiful and inspiring article that really nails the critical point people fail to understand. If we really understood this as muslims, we wouldn’t have things such as depression (or at least it would be very rare) in our ummah.

  16. Muslim says:

    May Allah (s.w.t) reward you for writing this article. May Allah (s.w.t) also help us remember these wise words in times of hardship as well as in times of ease. Ameen!

  17. ali says:

    Asalaamu alaikum and Jazakamullah khairan for this article. It’s a beautiful reminder. I was wondering sister if you could tell us the Holy Prophet’s ( saws) dua at taif in Arabic? It will be nice to memorise this dua.

  18. Mariam says:

    MashAllah such a powerful article. It is truly amazing May Allah reward you and your family inshAllah.

    Jazakullah Kair :)

  19. Manar says:

    Lovely mashallah and very inspiring :)
    thank you !!

  20. Rafida Shukairy says:

    Sister Yasmin, Jazaki Allah khair for your beautiful words. Insha Allah we will see our Home in Jannah and have the patience to face the challenges and hardships in this life as we wait for the ease of the Hereafter. But in the meantime, we have a need to change our lives, improve our characters, work towards the benefit of our communities, get involved in the common good, become role models to others, represent Islam among other Faiths, and be good ambassadors. My favorite Islamic speaker keeps stressing the need for Muslims to become “Khalifa on Earth” through good work and perseverance, not just good intentions and patience. The Quran is full of ayat that couple العمل الصالح or good work with Iman. In your previous articles “Take Back your Heart; Why Do People Have to Leave Each Other, The Ocean of Dunya and others” you keep stressing the need for DETACHMENT from people, loves, passions and wordly concerns, and Attachment only to Allah subhanuhu to whom Only we belong of course. This is all beautiful but unattainable, and Allah subhanuhu knows that. We are surrounded by people towards whom we have commitments, responsibilities and feelings, and it is Allah subhanuhu who put those feelings in our hearts. We have duties towards ourselves, our fellow Muslims and humanity. So this detachment, though attractive, is a mirage; and I notice it infuses a sadness and dissapointment in your beautiful words. I hope that in one of your future articles you would stress the need for “good hard work” to deserve our Home in Jannah insha Allah.
    Jazaki Allahu Khairan.

    • fez says:

      Hmm intersting…i was also thinking that you cannot empty the heart of everything or else er..it will be dead

      I think the concept is similar to the “present-absent” whereby the dunya is floating in your hands but not within your heart. To push out friends, family, parents, children, spouses from that special place in your heart you need a focus on something overwhelming, absolute, eternal and unlimited in its majesty and that is the glory of God. Once this is established THEN all other love and committments are then subserviently placed and organised in relation to and dependent on this.

      And Allah knows best

      • Rafida Shukairy says:

        Yes fez, we need to have “levels” of places in the heart: the highest for our Creator and the lower ones for His creations: nature, humanity and family. An empty heart, like an empty mind, is not capable of worshipping Allah or loving Him. Love is knowledge and knowledge is love. To love Allah is to know Him and love and understand His Creations.

    • N. says:

      Sr. Yasmin’s writings are excellent reminders mashaAllah. Necessarily, the medicine in her words will treat certain ailments, but not all of them.

      One of the greatest, curative advice I’ve received along the way is that people will always disappoint you, but Allah swt never will. (related to this that this is dunya, don’t ever expect it to be jennah). To me, this is an essential element of many of Sr. Yasmin’s articles that I’ve read, and she tackles this with much variety, depth and subtlety that makes them always refreshing and healing mashaAllah.

      That said, I have encountered the flip-side, or exaggerated version, of this as well. Detachment – as Rafida calls it – leading to either complacency in deeds as Rafida points out, or callousness against other people (which is what I’m observing more and more).

      I guess I’m wondering how to we can get beyond realizing that people are disappointing and not rely on them totally but rely on Allah swt — yet still not let this disappointment poison our relations with others. Once that poison is there, step 1 is to realize that those people are not Allah and can never be Allah so they will always fail us to some degree; however, is there a step 2 whereby we can heal completely so that we can still come to our human relationships with a certain innocence, vulnerability, open-heartedness, warmth, and true caring and compassion for the other person?

      Many, many people have retreated into a very cold, cynical view of others – disdainful and tough when others show any emotion/weakness/vulnerability, unforgiving and revengeful of even the slightest flaw or perceived insult. Internal detachment = Emotionally withholding, numb, and judgmental.

      The bottom line becomes, What’s in it for me? Or, I have mine from Allah, so you go get yours; that’s not my problem. I think this is a result of dealing only with Step 1, and basically saying it is only me and Allah and everyone else can just fend for themselves, I don’t care about them they will only hurt me and my job is to protect myself against them.

      This attitude sees others as endlessly replaceable objects/tools/rungs on the ladder of success (dunya or akhirah) and/or with whom to negotiate in a really tough way for tit-for-tat you-scratch-my-back-i’ll-scratch-yours arrangements; but not with whom to make caring, trusting, easy-going human relationships.

      It is very tempting to do this when one has been hurt by other people.

      I wonder if, sr. Yasmin, you have experienced or observed this other facet of the issue (either the complacency or callousness), and if so, would love to read your insights on it. Jazaki Allahu khairan.

      • Rafida Shukairy says:

        N. you have made such important observations: yes, it’s not just the complacency, it’s the callousness too that disrupts human relationships. Emptying the heart, or emptying the vessel of the ocean waters of Dunya, as sister Yasmin beautifully puts it, is a healing and saving approach, but it will eventually dry up the heart and make it incapable of giving or receiving even Allah’s love! In the words of the Quran “mawadda and rahma” love and mercy are intertwined, and together they create an ideal that Allah subhanuhu has instilled in the heart as part of His plan for humanity and the universe.

      • yasmin mogahed says:

        N:

        Thank you for your insightful comments. I think what you describe is very valid. But, ironically what you describe is the epitome of attachment. You write:

        “Many, many people have retreated into a very cold, cynical view of others – disdainful and tough when others show any emotion/weakness/vulnerability, unforgiving and revengeful of even the slightest flaw or perceived insult. Internal detachment = Emotionally withholding, numb, and judgmental. ”

        This is not detachment. This is exactly the opposite of the result of true detachment. As I explain to Sr. Rafida, detachment simply means that my source is Allah–not the creation. When my source is infinite I am able to give more and unselfishly to the creation. I’m not giving just to receive. All that you describe above is the exact consequence of expecting to be filled by the creation instead of Allah: disappointment, resentment, anger, etc. All that you describe above is a result of being disappointed, yes, but not yet being attached to Allah for my needs. Love from a heart that is attached to Allah is synonymous with love for the sake of Allah-the purest and most generous kind of love. I give to give–not to take. Because I’m filled by Allah (an infinite source), I can give to the creation more unselfishly and beautifully. May Allah bless us all with such full hearts. Ameen.

    • yasmin mogahed says:

      Dear Rafida,

      Thank you for your comment and thoughts. I too agree with your ‘favorite Islamic speaker’ about the need for “good work and perseverance, not just good intentions and patience.” I’m not sure how focusing on cleaning the heart negates any of that. On the contrary, the cleansing of the heart is a necessary component in this ‘hard work.’ Remember the hadith about the martyr, the scholar and the philanthropist? They all did very ‘hard work’. But because their heart was not clean (their intentions were for the people–not Allah), their ‘hard work’ amounted to nothing. In fact, they ended up in jahannam. May Allah protect us all.

      Secondly, I think perhaps you misunderstood what I mean by detachment or emptying of the heart. It does NOT mean we don’t care for or love the creation. In fact it’s the opposite. It allows me to *truly* love and care for the creation because I’m loving for and because of Allah–not for and because of what the creation can give me back. This is the true essence of unselfish love, because it’s source is infinite and it’s cause is unselfish.

      This quote of Ibn Taymiyyah, I think explains it beautifully: “The perfection of tawhid is found when there remains nothing in the heart except [the remembrance of] Allah, the servant is left loving those He loves and what He loves, hating those He hates and what He hates, showing allegiance to those He has allegiance to, showing enmity to those He shows enmity towards, ordering what He orders and prohibiting what He prohibits.”
      -Ibn Taymiyya (Ibn Qayyim, al-Madhaarij)

      Lastly, we need to do hard work, and a lot of it. Please see: http://www.suhaibwebb.com/personaldvlpt/tawakkul-hope-and-striving-three-pieces-of-a-whole/

      But we should be careful not to ever think that it is by our hard work that we ‘deserve’ our Home in Jennah. Not even the Prophet (pbuh) ‘deserved’ jennah by his deeds. It was by the mercy of Allah, azza wa jal. So we need to do both: the ibaadah of the limbs (deeds and hard work) along with the ibaadah of the heart (purification of intention, tawakkul, sabr, love for the sake of Allah, ikhlas, etc). Neither the acts of the heart nor the acts of the limbs can be abandoned. Allah consistently speaks about ‘those who believed’ (act of the heart) ‘and did good deeds’ (acts of the limbs). And we ask Allah, subhanna wa taala to accept us by His mercy–not by our deeds.

      Wa Allahu taala alam.
      Your sister,
      Yasmin

      • Rafida Shukairy says:

        Dear Yasmin,
        Thank you for your prompt response! Masha Allah, you have been blessed with the gift of beautiful words and sentiments. I have always been attracted to the power of words. When we were school kids in a far away land, our English teacher would divide up the class into 2 groups debating an issue: one for and one against. Using reason and linguistic skills, we would all end up happy winners! The readers of this page are masha Allah skillful debaters and talented writers. Alhamdulillah, we all have good intentions insha Allah, and we write this for the sake of Allah and out of Love for Him and His prophet. We are all nothing without His Mercy and Forgiveness, May Allah forgive our shortcomings and bless everything we do and say with His acceptance and guidance.

  21. Rafida Shukairy says:

    Yes fez, we need to have “levels” of places in the heart: the highest for our Creator and the lower ones for His creations: nature, humanity and family. An empty heart, like an empty mind, is not capable of worshipping Allah or loving Him. Love is knowledge and knowledge is love. To love Allah is to know Him and love and understand His Creations.

  22. Ahmed says:

    Once again Sr. Yasmin – another Imaan-lifting, moving reflection that you have provided us with. Indeed, with the world being smaller, where we can connect with our fellow Muslims all over the world, whether we know them or not, we can get reminders that they are thinking of us, sending du’a for us to the Almighty.

    Furthermore, the Qur’an and other sources give us so many reminders – Asiyah, Maryam Khadijah (May Allah be Pleased with them) among others. I am glad you found peace with the message of support you received – I too have found that power of du’a to my benefit and have received that gift from Allah (swt) though I’m assuming my academic struggles were minute compared to what you or others have had to go through in life, though I have lost my father, so even in that time, I saw that Allah Provided and Strengthened me when I really needed it.

    As always, Jazak’Allahu Khairan – your contributions never fail to uplift my spirits, Imaan and Shukr to Allah for giving us the gift of the Qur’an and Islam.

  23. azimah says:

    inspiring and enlightening. Thank you for sharing your insight, truly Allah gave you this talent to write a piece that touches my heart n many more readers.

  24. s.a. says:

    salam,
    can you give us the arabic of that dua? “ I seek refuge in the light of Your Face by which all darkness is dispelled and every affair of this world and the next is set right.“

  25. AbdelRahman Elsayed Morsey says:

    SubhanAllah it also hit me now that it was Asiya’s pure heart that Allah made to love Moosa (as) as a child and therefore take him from the river.

    It is truly amazing how Allah plans the end of a tyrant by letting the one man he was afraid to take his kingdom become adopted and raised right in his house.

    In surat al-Qasas:
    “7. And We revealed to Musa’s mother, saying: Suckle him, then when you fear for him, cast him into the river and do not fear nor grieve; surely We wi!l bring him back to you and make him one of the messengers.
    8. And Pharaoh’s family took him up that he might be an enemy and a grief for them; surely Pharaoh and Haman and their hosts were wrongdoers.
    9. And Pharaoh’s wife said: A refreshment of the eye to me and to you; do not slay him; maybe he will be useful to us, or we may take him for a son; and they did not perceive.”
    (Translation of meanings of Qur’an 28:7-9)

    • AbdelRahman Elsayed Morsey says:

      And if you read the remaining of surat al-qasas, you will realize how the patience of Musa’s mother and her trust in Allah was critical in every stage of Musa’s life.

  26. Nafiul Azim says:

    mashaAllah…..what to say about your articles….they are simply amazing and importantly greatly inspiring

  27. Rehana says:

    Yasmin, jazakhallah khair for sharing this with us. May Allah (swa) make your trials easier for you, and may He, Most Gracious, Most Merciful, make the fire cool for you. :)

  28. Muhammed Miqdad says:

    may ALLAH(swt) give his haeven to all of us…

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