For the Love of the Gift


We all love gifts. We love the blessings that beautify our lives. We love our children, our spouses, our parents, our friends. We love our youth and we love our health. We love our homes, our cars, our money, our beauty. But what happens when a gift becomes more than just a gift? What happens when a want becomes a need, a favor becomes a dependency? What happens when a gift is no longer only that?

What is a gift? A gift is something that did not come from us. A gift is given—and can be taken. We are not the original owners of a gift. A gift is also not necessary for our survival. It comes and goes. We want and love to receive gifts—but they are not necessary to our existence. We don’t depend on them. We don’t live to receive them and do not die if we don’t. They are not our air or our food. But we love them. Who does not love a gift? Who does not love to receive many gifts? And we ask Al Kareem (The Most Generous) to never deprive us of His gifts. Yet, a gift is still not where we place our dependencies, nor do we die without them.

Remember that there are two places to hold something: in the hand or in the heart. Where do we hold a gift? A gift is not held in the heart. It is held in the hand. So when the gift is taken, the loss creates pain to the hand—but not to the heart. And anyone who has lived long enough in this life knows that the pain of the hand is not like the pain of the heart. The pain of the heart is to lose an object of attachment, addiction, dependency. That pain is like no other pain. It’s not normal pain. And that pain is how we will know we just lost an object of attachment—a gift that was held in the wrong place.

The pain of the hand is also pain—but different.  So different. The pain of the hand is to lose, but not something we are dependent upon. When a gift is taken out of the hand—or never given at all—we will feel the normal human pain of loss. We will grieve. We will cry. But the pain is only in the hand; our heart remains whole and beating. This is because the heart is only for God.

And God alone.

If we examine the things in our lives that cause us most pain or fear, we can start to pinpoint which gifts have been stored in the wrong place. If not being able to get married, be with the person we want, have a child, find a job, look a certain way, get a degree, or reach a certain status has consumed us, we need to make a change. We need to shift where the gift is being stored; we need to move the gift out of our heart and back to our hand where it belongs.

We can love these things. It’s human to love. And it’s human to want the gifts we love. But our problem begins when we put the gift in our heart, and God in our hand. Ironically, we believe that we can live without God—but if we were to lose a gift, we crumble and can’t go on.

As a result, we can easily put God aside, but our heart cannot live without the gift. In fact, we can even put God aside for the sake of the gift. So it becomes easy for us to delay or miss a prayer, but just don’t deprive me of my work meeting, my movie, my outing, my shopping, my class, my party, my basketball game. It’s easy to take interest bearing loans or sell alcohol, just don’t deprive me of my profit margin and prestigious career. Just don’t deprive me of my brand new car, and over-the-top home. It’s easy to have a haram relationship or date, but just don’t deprive me of the one I ‘love’. It’s easy to take off, or not wear hijab—just don’t deprive me of my beauty, my looks, my marriage proposals, my image in front of people. It’s easy to put aside the modesty that God says is beautiful, but don’t deprive me of my skinny jeans—because society told me that’s beauty.

This happens because the gift is in our heart, while Allah is in our hand. And what is in the hand can be put aside easily. What is in the heart, we cannot live without—and would sacrifice anything to have. But sooner or later we need to ask ourselves what it is that we really worship: The gift or the Giver? The beauty or the Source and Definition of Beauty? The provision or the Provider?

The creation or the Creator?

The tragedy of our choice is that we chain our necks with attachments, and then ask why we choke. We put aside our Real air, and then wonder why we can’t breathe. We give up our only food, and then complain when we’re dying of starvation.  After all, we stick the knife in our chest and then cry because it hurts. So much. But what we have done, we have done to ourselves.

Allah says:



“And whatever affliction befalls you, it is on account of what your hands have wrought, and (yet) He pardons most (of your faults).” (42:30)


Yes. What we have done, we have done to ourselves. But look how the ayah ends: “He pardons most.” The word used here is “ya’foo’ from God’s attribute Al-A’foo.  This denotes not just forgiving or pardoning, but completely erasing! So no matter how many times we stick that knife in our own chest, God can heal us—as if the stab had never occurred! Al Jabbar (the One who mends) can mend it.

If you seek Him.

But how foolish is the one who exchanges air for a necklace? He is the one who says, “Give me the necklace, and then you can take away my air after that. Suffocate me, but just make sure I’m wearing the necklace when I die.” And the irony of it all is that it is the necklace itself that suffocates us. It is our own objects of attachment—the things we love more than God— that kill us.

Our problem began because we saw the gift as the air, instead of just that: a gift. So in our blindness, we became dependent on the gift, and put aside the Real air. As a result when the gift was taken back, or never given at all, we thought we could not go on. But, this was a lie that we told ourselves, until we believed it. It isn’t true. There’s only one loss that we can’t recover from. There’s only one reason we wouldn’t be able to go on: If we lost God in our lives. The irony is that many of us have lost God in our lives and we think we’re still alive. Our false dependencies on His gifts have deceived us. So much.

Only God is our survival. Not His gifts. God is our support and our only true necessity. Allah says:




“Is not God enough for His Servant? But they try to frighten thee with other (gods) besides Him! for such as God leaves to stray, there can be no guide.” (39:36)

We all have needs and we all have wants. But our true suffering begins when we turn our wants into needs, and our one true need (God) into a commodity we think we can do without.  Our true suffering begins when we confuse the means and the End. God is the only End. Every other thing is the means. We will suffer the moment we take our eyes off the End and get lost in the means.

In fact, the true purpose of the gift itself is to bring us to God. Even the gift is a means. For example, does the Prophet not say that marriage is half of deen? Why? If used correctly, few other parts of this life can have such a comprehensive effect on the development of one’s character. You can read about qualities like patience, gratitude, mercy, humility, generosity, self-denial, and preferring another to yourself. But, you won’t develop those qualities until you are put in a situation in which they are tested.

Gifts like marriage will be a means to bring you closer to God—so long as they remain a means, not an End. God’s gifts will remain a means to Him, so long as they are held in the hand, not the heart. Remember that whatever lives in the heart controls you. It becomes what you strive for and are willing to sacrifice anything to have. And to keep. It becomes what you depend on at a fundamental level.  It, therefore, must be something eternal, that never tires, and never breaks. It must, therefore, be something that never leaves. Only one thing is like that: The Creator.

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  • Salam…Great post as always dear sister Yasmin

    Mashallah you have a knack for expressing and articulating life/islamic concepts in a very positive and inspiring way

    But many people make the mistake of quoting the hadeeth about marriage being half of the deen….there is no such hadeeth.

    Sure, the prophet encouraged marriage and recommended it but he never said those exact words

    The following are also NOT real hadeeth

    “Paradise lies under the feet of the mother”

    The above statement has good meaning, but the prophet never said it

    Another one is this

    “Of all the haalal things, allah hates divorce the most”

    this one is also not true

    because Allah would never hate something that he made halal or allowed for us

    and Allah knows best

    jazakallah khair for your efforts

    may Allah give you jannah

    • Maryam A

      wa alaykum as salam warahmatullahiwa barakatuh,

      br.Abdullah, just to provide some corrections.

      The first hadith you mentioned, about marriage being half one’s deen, can be found in Bayhaqi:

      Al-Bayhaqi narrated in Shu’ab al-Eemaan from al-Raqaashi: “When a person gets married he has completed half of his religion, so let him fear Allaah with regard to the other half.”

      Shaykh Albaani, in Saheeh al-Targheeb wa’l-Tarheeb (1916) says about this and another like it, “(They are) hasan li ghayrihi.”

      The other one like it is the following: Al-Haakim narrated in al-Mustadrak from Anas, in a marfoo’ report: “Whomever Allaah blesses with a righteous wife, He has helped him with half of his religion, so let him fear Allaah with regard to the other half.”

      Additionally, although the statement you mentioned about the mother’s feet is not necessarily a hadith in those words, there is another hadith which has a similar meaning to those words.

      “Mu‘wiya bin Jahima said that his father approached Prophet Muhammad SallAllahu alaihi wasallam and said, “I intend going on Jihad. I seek your advice”. The Prophet SallAllahu alaihi wasallam inquired, “Is your mother alive?” He answered, “Yes”. The Prophet SallAllahu alaihi wasallam said, “Go and serve her, for Paradise lies beneath the feet of mothers.” (Ahmad, an-Nasai, Bayhaqi)

      Finally, with regards to the hadith on divorce:

      “The most hateful permissible thing (al-Halal) in the sight of Allah is divorce.” (Abu Dawud, Hadith 1863. Also found in Ibn Majah.

      You need to be very careful when you say something is or isn’t a hadith. Make sure you do your research.

  • Aneebaba

    Ma’sha’allah, another beautiful piece as usual! Indeed, I think I have felt both ends of the spectrum – those times when the Imaan is low, the heart feels imcomplete; then, when one keeps that connection to Allah, through Salah, through reading/listening to Qur’an, you don’t really need anything else to make you happy at the core – the heart. :-)

    Jazak’Allahu Khairan as always.

    Br. Anees Ahmed

  • Sobia

    Jazak Allah o khairukum sister Yasmin.. May Allah give you reward.

    Please also write about improving our relation with our Creator by working hard on our Salah, coz if our salah is good then every other matter will be at the proper place, i want to work on my salah please advice.

    • Taqqiyyah

      You should watch her video on YouTube or read her article titled : “salaah life’s forgotten purpose”

  • Khairun

    Salam my dear sister,

    As usual u always know what to say and farmost it is a big reminder for myself. Jazzakillahu khair katheera :))) Would love to meet u someday InsyaAllah :)))

  • Hira S.

    Sister Yasmin,

    JazakAllah for writing another amazing piece! you are truly an inspiration to all of us! May Allah (swt) reward for your work! I am so looking forward to hearing your lecture at DePaul University!

  • Farhat Muruwat

    you have a profound understanding of the. Really it is all about the Qalbi saleem’

  • Discovererworld

    JazakAllah, this is what i wanted at this time. Felt better and hopeful.

  • sameera shahid

    assalamoalaikum,sister yasmin, your artcles have so much depth in them ,so much wisdom and understanding of this world and hereafter, and ALLAH has given u a great gift of understanding things and then explaining it to ur audience, wow mashallah u r really blessed. and sometimes no almost all the times when i read ur writings they make me realise of my wrong approach towards worldly affairs and losses,and i repent of the time which i lost in complaining and whining, not understanding the real meaning behind those continous reminders, i always used to put the gift in the heart and ALLAH SUBHANAWATAALA in my hand, jazakallah khair for guiding me and many others.(u really put me to shame when i think u r so wise and understanding of these affairs at such a tender age, and myself who has spent so much time in this world, still struggling,still wiping my own tears instead of others, may ALLAH have mercy on me ameen)

  • Ofaira

    Masha’Allah, very good insight. May Allah (swt) reward you and guide us all to the right path, aameen.

  • Munaali123

    Masha’allah ! May allah reward you I truly look up to you ! JazaKs~

  • sis can u explain me how marriage brings us close to god pls.i didn’t understand that part.sorry.

    • Salika

      It can bring one closer to Allah if one uses it as a means to practise such attributes like patience forbearance like mentioned in the article. Or simply, if one chooses the right spouse ( which from hadith we know is a pious spouse) both become a support for the other in matters of the deen. Hence the dua we are taught in the Quran ” oh Allah make our spouses and children a coolness of our eyes ( hearts ) and make us foremost amongst the muttaqeen.

    • guest

      besides what sister saman said here marriage is half of the deen as it keeps us away from satisfying our natural biological need in haram way … Quran says spouses are garments of each other … garment not only covers our body and protect it from extreme weather but also adorns it modestly… same way a husband and wife support each other in hard times and beautify each others deen by keeping away from sins and temptations…!!

  • Muslimheart123

    Mashallah sis,, I love your reading your beautiful words… Truly and deeply >> Jasaka la khair..

  • Saman_k84

    SubhanAllah, all i can say is that these words touch the heart. Jazakillah, may Allah Grant many guidance through these words. Ameen.

  • Mosswendy

    Masha’Allah, sister Yasmin! Your writing ALWAYS speaks to me and touches my heart. I have copied so many of your articles to share with family and friends as I try to guide them, praying they will make a connection with your profound insight within their own hearts. May Allah reward you, bless you and keep you ever close to him. Jazakallah Khair.

  • zoia

    Is this the same as karma?

  • Ferras

    Hadya is the Arabic word for Gift. Hidaya is the Arabic word for Guidance.””” In fact, the true purpose of the gift itself is to bring us to God. “””. Allahu akbar

  • Black_topperfego

    ya allah,,wht a beautiful piece…if we ever could mend the time,,,,and if we could realize earlier,,,,

  • Dr iramnawaz

    jazak ALLAH ….. jazak ALLAH-o-khaira … i really needed to hear this….. i spent years in so much pain ….crying every night…..cause i had put the wrong thing in my heart….wrong priorities…wrong wrong… all wrong…. i’m speechless….

  • Kashifusman01

    What a thought provoking article. JazakAllah for sharing.

  • Zebi_farah

    May Allah bless you for conveying His message in such an impressive way

  • Mehwish

    It was the first thing i read in the morning today and I know it is the best thing I read in a long time. JazaakAllah.

  • Masha’Allah so very true.

  • Smallvil

    JazzakAllahu khair sister, beautiful article once again.

  • hannah

    Mashallah sr, it never cease to amaze me how every article n every lecture seem
    to resonate my innermost feelings n thoughts and make everything seem logic n alright.
    It brings back the exact reason y Allah put us on earth along with its trials n tribulations. Your articles have helped me deal with regretness n sadness about the wrong things that ive done in my life n thats aplenty..It has put many things in its proper perspective and understanding during the times when im choked with confusion n dont know what to think
    or how to deal with it. May Allah reward you many times over..

  • Ayesha

    I just looooooooooooooooooove this one. Can read it over and over again mashallah

  • Nabil Karatela

    JazakAllah – i have shared your article in my page. (hope that is fine)

  • Muhammad Hamza

    Masha allah Sis,,,i am getting opened with my knots in my head,,,i am very much helpful to U,,,and pray for u,,,can u suggest me anything which shows me what i get in PARADISE??? On internet i can find many things but i would be happy and content if i get it from U.

  • Rahila57

    Assalamu’alaikum Sister Yasmin. yWent for Being Me Conference, I needed to read more of the above so I googled and I found it Alhamdulillah:) your words are an inspiration to me. From Singapore

  • Taqqiyyah

    Masha’Allah, good read & great reminder !

  • Moatasem El-Toukhy

    Dear Yasmin,
    Your article is more than amazing and points out to a controversial issue. Jazake Allah Khyran for your work. but I have some comments.
    1- I disagree with you by claiming that one wrongly puts the gift inside his heart instead of the Creator. On what basis you concluded only two choices to be put inside heart? In other words, why one cannot preserve both Allah and love for the gift inside heart simultaneously, taking into consideration the difference between their priorities.
    2- Also, the narrow view of putting something in hand or in heart, taking into consideration that nothing can be put in hand as hand is not capable of feeling, loving or hating.Only heart can do so. Therefore I don’t think that we have to put only God in heart and life stuff in hands. Can you love your child with your hand ?!!
    3- You concluded with a statement claims that a gift is a kind of test and …..etc. , yet it shows a kind of contradiction with the mentioned claims on the issue of how to love a gift.
    4- Prophet Muhammed -Peace be upon him- said :
    أن يكون الله ورسوله أحب إليه مما سواهما
    so, “Ahab” , not stop loving others, not to take love away from your heart for the sake of Allah and Prophet Muhammed -PBUH- , yet love with priorities instead of an issue of love and stop loving.
    5- According to love, it is not just a feeling created by one’s decision. However, it is a result of electric signs sent from heart that orders the brain to generate particular chemicals that creates the feeling of loving a certain thing. So it is the issue of a heart not a hand, and if you can stop blood flowing , stop your heart beats you will be able to stop the flow of these chemicals.
    What I want to clarify, that God does not create a single thing without a valid reason -revealed or not- nothing created without a cause and importance.

    Finally, you can talk about how to balance between love of God and love of gift, how to benefit from the gift in a way that does not contradict with our religion. We should not talk about the extremes, like saying that the loving the gift will deprive you of God, however, taking into consideration the importance of balancing love for each element as it deserves.

    Regards. :)
    Moatasem El-Toukhy

    • Anonymous

      Assalamu alaikum brother,

      You write:
      “We should not talk about the extremes, like saying that the loving the gift will deprive you of God, however, taking into consideration the importance of balancing love for each element as it deserves. ”

      Did you read through the entire article? It specifically says: “We can love these things. It’s human to love. And it’s human to want the gifts we love. But our problem begins when we put the gift in our heart, and God in our hand. Ironically, we believe that we can live without God—but if we were to lose a gift, we crumble and can’t go on.”

      The article makes very clear that we can and should love these gifts of God. Saying that they are ‘held in the hand’ does not mean we don’t love them; it means we are not *ultimately* dependent on them. And only ultimately dependent on God.

      • Moatasem El-Toukhy

        Dear Yasmin,
        Thanks a lot that you responded. I really appreciate it.
        I did read the entire article and more than one time. And I pointed out that you did tell that we are humans and we love, and that what supports my claim. That is, there is a kind of contradiction between the sequence of ideas through the paragraph. Besides, you pointed for a single sentence in your article which supports the claim I raised, so What about the rest of the article? The whole article should aim at supporting the same point of view. but your words in some places contradicts -to a certain extent- the aimed view.
        Secondly, I should love what I am gifted to the extent that creates the motivational force that moves me to keep it or release it. To make it better or to benefit more from it. I do believe in the need for gifts because its life and my aim is to eslah my and others’ life.
        Taking the idea you introduces will rise up the issue of “التوكل والتواكل” ,
        yet I need a gift, then I work after my aim to make the utmost benefit from every gift without confusing myself with the limit of loving the gift more or less than God since from first it is all about intention “النية”.
        “ولقد خلقنا الإنسان في كبد ”
        In conclusion, the issue is not about controlling the rate of love, it is about creating the right intention.”النية”
        Regards :)

        Moatasem El-Toukhy

  • Haajar

    I just love you sister. Perhaps our souls have met in a dimension before or perhaps we are destined to meet. Just know that I love you for the sake of Allah. God preserve you, your offspring, your family and may he unite you all in paradise with radiant smiles. God bless.

Reclaim Your Heart