Reclaim Your Heart by Yasmin Mogahed is a motivational read that helps build iman in any Muslim and is an example of dawah done right. She interchangeably uses the words ‘God’ and ‘Allah’, appealing to all people of faith and making the book accessible to any faithful mindset.
In this short review of Reclaim Your Heart we’ll explore how the author gives the right balance of personal examples and invocation of reader accountability and reflects on verses of Quran and hadith and stories of the Prophets, peace be upon them, to enhance her views in relatable ways for Muslims and non-Muslims alike.
This would make a great gift for any person of faith or even someone without faith but with an open mind. Its strongest theme focuses on our attachment to worldly things and how this affects our heart and our iman. It teaches us how to identify and deal with our attachments, and constantly reminds us of the rewards of doing so.
Some of the other themes explored are the value of women, labelling Muslims, and the relationship between men and women.
For this review I’ve pulled out some of my favourite excerpts to give a glimpse into the content of the book and to share key learning points for how the author teaches you to Reclaim Your Heart.
The critical lessons learned from Reclaim Your Heart by Yasmin Mogahed centre around the importance of detaching from dunya.
This doesn’t mean things in this word can’t be important to us or that they can’t be loved. It means first being able to recognise unhealthy attachments and how they are detrimental to every part of our lives. What is attachment? Why is it bad? Yasmin answers these questions through the two excerpts below
Excerpt: That which makes us cry, that which causes us the 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.
Excerpt: Try not to confuse attachment with love. Attachment is about fear and dependency, and has more to do with love of self than love of another. Love without attachment is the purest love because it isn’t about what others can give you because you’re empty. It is about what you can give others because you’re already full.
To understand further why attachment is bad, we need to put things into perspective. The book reminds us not to mix up our means and our ends.
Our end should always be to please Allah and to get closer to Him. What we view as our end result should not be worldly things. Our means are all the ways we can seek His pleasure; through obedience; through living every aspect of our lives in the way that our Lord and His Messenger, may Allah bestow peace and blessings upon him, have taught us.
The biggest mistake we make is when our end goals become worldly and we attempt to use Allah as the means, through du’a. To understand this means to know our final end is nothing of this world; our end should be Jannah and everything in our path to get there is a means.
Excerpt: Like everything in this dunya, marriage is only a means-a means to reach Allah. So if we pray for it and we don’t get it, perhaps Allah has chosen another means for us-perhaps through hardship, the purification it may cause and the sabr it builds, to bring us to that end: Allah…
(Excerpt continued) Instead of seeing it like this, however, I think the problem is we are seeing things as just the opposite. The dunya (that great job, certain type of spouse, having a child, school, career, etc.) is our end and *Allah* is the means that we use to get there. We use that means, through making du’a, to achieve our end…
Excerpt: “By those (angels) who gently take out (the souls of the believers)…” (Qur’an 79:2) The believing soul slips easily out of the body, It’s ‘prison sentence’ is over and now it’s going Home. It doesn’t hold on like the disbelieving soul that thought it was already at the best it can get.
(Excerpt continued) And so I could not imagine a more perfect analogy than the one used by our beloved Prophet, sallallahu alayhi wa sallam. Indeed this life is a prison for the believer and a paradise for the disbeliever. We will all be called back by the very same caller. The question is, will we live our life so that when that call comes we hold on to the bars of the prison?
Yasmin teaches us to acknowledge our struggles as a means in themselves. It is through struggle that we grow and any struggle we endure is from Divine wisdom. To be truly submissive to God’s will is to be satisfied with every experience we have; to accept the easy times and all of the hardships.
We have to find a balance between being accepting of Allah’s will and proactively striving for things, whilst not becoming attached to worldly matters.
Excerpt: We need to look at those who came before us, to study their struggles, and their triumphs. And we need to recognise that growth never comes without pain, and success is only a product of struggle. That struggle almost always includes with-standing and overcoming the harms inflicted by others.
Excerpt: So often we find that the darkest times in our lives are followed by the most precious. Often, it is the moment when everything looks broken that something least expected lifts us and carries us through.
Excerpt: Many people confuse tawakkul with resignation and the secession of striving. But by no means does tawakkul mean one ceases to struggle…
(Excerpt continued) Tawakkul is not an act of the limbs-it is an act of the heart. And so while the limbs are striving hard, the heart is completely reliant on Allah. This means whatever the outcome of the limbs’ striving, the heart will be completely satisfied, knowing that it is the flawless decision of Allah.
The Problem With Gratification
The ability to connect with countless people across the world and interact in so many different ways does have many benefits and enhances our lives in multiple ways. There are lots of downfalls though. So much can be said about the problems with instant gratification and the effects of social media particularly among young people and with adults alike.
The biggest problem is when we get wrapped up in gratification from creation to determine our success and our mood. We become forgetful that our success only lies in the pleasure of the Creator, and not in the pleasure of people.
Excerpt: Soon, I enter the orbit of the creation. Inside that orbit, my definitions, my pain, my happiness, my self-worth, my success and my failure is determined by the creation. When I live in that orbit, I rise and fall with the creation. When people are happy with me, I’m up. When they’re not, I fall. Where I stand is defined by people. I’m like a prisoner because I have given up the keys to my happiness, sadness, fulfilment, and disappointment to the people to hold.
The Problem With Feminism
While exploring the worth of women from a societal and Islamic perspective, Yasmin Mogahed includes a short but very strong message about about Western feminism and its flaws. I don’t feel much more comment is needed, so i’ll just leave you with the excerpt below.
Excerpt: The master who has defined a woman’s worth, has taken many forms throughout time. One of the most prevalent standards made for women, has been the standard of men. But we do so often forget is that God has honoured the woman by giving her value in relation to Himself-not in relation to men. Yet as western feminism erased God from the scene, there was no standard left-but men. As a result the western feminist was forced to find her value in relation to a man. And in so doing she accepted a faulty assumption. She had accepted that a man is the standard, and thus a woman can never be a full human being until she becomes just like a man: the standard.
The book completes with a collection of poetry. The section of one poem below is particularly inspiring and comforting.
If you enjoyed reading about the book, you’ll find much more benefit in reading the book itself!
Excerpt: This is dunya. Dunya. Not a place of ease. Only glitter.
The place where you have to feel cold and hungry.
The place where you have to worry and feel scared.
The place where it gets cold.
So cold, sometimes.
The place where you have to leave the people you love.
Where you can’t get attached, because even if you do, it doesn’t make it stay, it just makes it hurt when it doesn’t.
The place where happiness and sadness are only players, waiting for their next line in a play…
Competing for their place on stage.
The place where gravity makes you fall and frailty makes you bleed.
The place where sadness exists, because it must.
And tears fall to remind you of a place they don’t.
Where they just don’t.
And isn’t that just it? Isn’t jennah that place after all?
That place that Allah describes over and over in 2 ways?
On them shall be no fear…nor shall they grieve.