Yasmin Mogahed holds a very special place in my heart, as I’m sure she does for thousands of Muslims around the world. If you’ve ever attended her lectures or listened to her talks on onelegacyradio.com, you will be familiar with how humble, gracious and affecting her words can be.
Her recently published book, Reclaim Your Heart, is no less inspiring.
Reclaim your Heart is a collection of Yasmin’s best work, some of which you may already have come across on her website, in addition to new material. The back reads: “This book was written to awaken the heart and provide a new perspective on love, loss, happiness and pain”. Yasmin doesn’t claim to write about purification of the heart, but this is essentially what she is discussing in Reclaim Your Heart. I have made my way (unsuccessfully) through many books about purification of the heart in the past – many were long and complicated, difficult to digest, informative but severely lacking in inspiration. Reclaim your Heart, on the other hand, is barely 150 pages and has inspired more understanding and emotion in me than all of the other books put together.
As the title suggests, Reclaim Your Heart is about freeing yourself from the shackles of the dunya and developing an understanding of true liberation. The main point that Yasmin makes is that the purpose of human life is worship Allah (swt) alone and that every experience of this world is intended to achieve just one thing: to bring each human soul back to Allah. The most important point that Yasmin makes is that there is a place in each person’s heart that was created by Allah and is only meant to be filled with Allah, and as long as we continue to fill that hole with love for anything or anyone other than Him, we will always feel empty and dissatisfied. By depending on the dunya to achieve true happiness, we are expecting to find perfection in that which is not perfect, and, by doing so, we enslave ourselves to that which is temporary and inconstant.
Having secured in the mind of the reader that dependence of any kind should only be on Allah (swt), Yasmin then tackles the subjects of attachments, love, hardships, strengthening one’s relationship with Allah, empowering oneself as a woman and humbling the ego. Her insight into hardships is possibly the most affecting of the all the subjects she discusses: Yasmin reminds the reader that hardships are tests of faith sent from Allah, wake-up calls that are intended to humble and bring us back to our Creator:
This lesson in humility purifies the human soul so much that so that Allah (swt) comforts the believers in the Qur’an, assuring them that any pain they encounter is intended to elevate and honor them…it is that battle to purify the self which is the essence of the upward path to God. It begins with self-sacrifice, and is paved by the sweat of struggle.
Yasmin believes that every transformation begins with a fall, and that with every hardship comes ease, so long as we call upon Allah SWT for help.
Discussing the subject of love, Yasmin explains that, although our love for Allah must transcend everything else, this does not mean we shouldn’t love or love any less, but our definition of love and the way we should love others is important in our relationship with Allah:
Real love, as Allah intended it, is not a sickness or an addiction. It is affection and mercy… True or pure love should never contradict or compete with one’s love for Allah. It should strengthen it.
It is these ideas that make up the majority of subjects that Yasmin discusses. It is by no means repetitive, but the constant reminders really get to the root causes of an enslaved and discontented heart. What makes Yasmin’s work so successful is its simplicity: she is able to write about a very complex subject in such a clear and concise way that is both affecting and profound. Her use of examples from Qur’an and Hadith and her interpretations of them are also simple yet enlightening. What I like most about this book, and indeed all of Yasmin’s work, is that she often recounts experiences from her journey towards reclaiming her own heart to reassure the reader that this struggle is a trial that befalls every human being, and that she too has trudged this difficult path. This is truly the most humbling and inspiring aspect of Yasmin’s work.
The strongest point that Yasmin makes is that that we are more in control of our life than we believe ourselves to be, and it is up to us to take control of and reclaim authority over our hearts.
Yasmin aims to shift and refocus the reader’s vision of life through her writing and I can wholeheartedly say that Reclaim Your Heart gave me a whole new perspective on the purpose of life. I don’t believe that anyone who reads this book could not benefit from its wisdom.
Originally published in SISTERS magazine, November 2012