“Before you can fill any vessel, you must first empty it. The heart is a vessel. It must be emptied before it can be filled. One can never fill the heart with God, so long as that vessel is full of other than Him.”
“The process of first emptying the heart can be found in the beginning half of the shahada (declaration of faith). Notice that the declaration of faith begins with a critical negation, a crucial emptying. Before we hope to reach true tawheed (true monotheism), before we can assert our belief in the one Lord, we first assert: ‘la illaha’ (there is no illah). An illah is an object of worship. But it is imperative to understand that an illah is not just something we pray to. An illah is what we revolve our life around, what we obey and what is of utmost importance to us –above all else.”
“It is something that we live for, and cannot live without.”
“So every person –atheist, agnostic, Muslim, Christian, Jew– has an illah. Everyone worships something. For most people, that object of worship is something from this worldly life, dunya. Some people worship wealth, some worship status, some worship fame, some worship their own intellect. Some people worship other people. And many worship their selves, their own desires and whims.”
“These objects of worship are things to which we become attached. However an object of attachment is not just something that we love. It is something that we need, in the deepest sense of the word. It is something that if lost, causes absolute devastation. If there is anything, or anyone, other than God that we could never give up, then we have a false attachment. If there is anything, or anyone, that losing would absolutely break us, we have a false attachment.”
“False attachments are things that we fear losing almost to a pathological extent. It is something that if we even sense is drifting away, we will desperately pursue. We chase it because losing an object of attachment causes complete devastation, and the severity of that devastation is proportional to the degree of the attachment.”
“These attachments can be to money, our belongings, other people, an idea, physical pleasure, a drug, status symbols, our careers, our image, how others view us, our physical appearance or beauty, the way we dress or appear to others, our degrees, our job titles, our sense of control, or our own intelligence and rationality. But until we can break these false attachments, we cannot empty the vessel of our heart. And if we do not, we cannot truly fill it with Allah.”
“This struggle to free one’s heart from all false attachments, the struggle to empty the vessel of the heart, is the greatest struggle of earthly life. That struggle is the essence of tawheed (true monotheism). And so you will see that, if examined deeply, all five pillars of Islam are essentially about and enable detachment.”
“Shahada (declaration of faith). The declaration of faith is the verbal profession of the very detachment we seek to achieve: that the only object of our worship, ultimate devotion, love, fears, and hope is God. And God alone. To succeed at freeing oneself from all other attachments, except the attachment to the Creator, is the true manifestation of tawheed.”
“Salah (5 daily prayers). Five times a day we must pull away from the dunya to focus on our Creator and ultimate purpose. Five times a day, we detach ourselves from whatever we are doing of worldly life, and turn to God. Prayer could have been prescribed only once a day or week or all five prayers could have been done at one time each day, but it is not. The prayers are spread throughout the day. If one keeps to their prayers at their specified times, there is no opportunity to get attached. As soon as we begin to become engrossed in whatever dunya matter we’re involved in (the job we’re doing, the show we’re watching, the test we’re studying for, the person we can’t get off our mind), we are forced to detach from it and turn our focus to the only true object of attachment.”
“Siyam (fasting). Fasting is all about detachment. It is the detachment from food, drink, sexual intimacy, vain speech. By restraining our physical self, we ennoble, purify, and exalt our spiritual self. Through fasting we are forced to detach ourselves from our physical needs, desires, and pleasures.”
“Zakat (charity). Zakat is about detaching ourselves from our money and giving it to the sake of God. By giving it away, we are forced to break our attachment to wealth.”
“Hajj (pilgrimage). Hajj is one of the most comprehensive and profound acts of detachment. A pilgrim leaves behind everything in his life. He gives up his family, his home, his warm bed, his comfortable shoes and brand name clothes, all in exchange for sleeping on the ground or in a crowded tent and wearing only two simple pieces of cloth.”
“Realize that God, in His infinite wisdom and mercy, does not just ask us to be detached from the dunya—He tells us exactly how. It is through that detachment that we can empty the vessel of our heart in preparation for that which nourishes it and gives it life. By emptying our heart, we prepare it for its true nourishment.”
—Yasmin Mogahed, Reclaim Your Heart
I have learned many life lessons since I arrived in London three months ago. So many meaningful lessons. But this is the most profound and the most fundamental lesson I’ve ever got.
It feels like I’ve been conducting a study for such a long time, and thought that I’ve been doing it right. But at times I found the results inaccurate. And what I always did was giving another shot, more and more (I am a typical kind of person who doesn’t give up easily for the things I really want). However, eventually I realized that adding more samples didn’t change anything. No matter how much I increased the sample size, the results were still distorted. I got extremely exhausted, and deeply frustrated.
Until one day, something made me realize that there was a problem with the study design. Confounding.
It hit me very hard that it’s been contaminated all this time without me being aware at all. It hit me very hard that the culprit was something that never ever crossed my mind. It hit me very hard that I’ve made a big mistake since the very beginning.
It hit me very hard that what I think is absolutely right, is not.
As the principal (and the only) investigator of the study, I felt terribly pathetic. The thing is, I’ve been doing it wholeheartedly. There was such an indescribable pain inside myself for having given my all, yet doing it wrong. Well, doing my best doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m doing it right.
However, I feel relieved at the same time. God is telling me that ‘I don’t give up easily’ is applicable only for the right things. He’s telling me that ‘I stop when I’m done’ is receivable only for what is worth my time, money, and effort.
He’s telling me that He’s removing things that may divert my way to Him to protect me.🙂
London, December 14th 2015, 01.34 a.m