Leaving Mecca

red looking off at kabaa

This was the hardest talk I’ve ever had to give…

Leaving Mecca
By: Yasmin Mogahed

When I was 17 years old, I had a dream. I dreamt that I was sitting inside a masjid and a little girl walked up to ask me a question. She asked me: “Why do people have to leave each other?”

Ultimately, the question was about the nature of the dunya as a place of fleeting moments and temporary attachments…as a place where people are with you today, and leave or die tomorrow. But this reality hurts our very being because it goes against our nature. We, as humans, are made to seek, love, and strive for what is perfect and what is permanent. We are made to seek what’s eternal. We seek this because we were not made for this life. Our first and true home was Paradise: a land that is both perfect and eternal. So the yearning for that type of life is a part of our very being.

That’s why leaving hurts. It goes against everything we are made to yearn for. Allah put a yearning in us that can only be fulfilled by what is eternal and perfect. Yet he gives us samples. Everything in this life is just a sample of the hereafter. We have samples of jahanam, wa authu billah. We see fire here; we know what it feels like to burn. We know what puss or boiling water is like.

But we also have samples of jennah on this earth. And there is no closer sample on this earth than Mecca and Medina. What closer land could there be to jennah then the point directly below al bayt al ma’moor in the heavens? And yet it’s just a sample. We had to leave. Just as Adam and his children had to leave jennah for a while—we too had to leave. We had to leave the jennah of this earth.

And that is exactly the nature of dunya. It is a string of moments. Some moments are full of peace. Some moments are full of pain. But it’s all just moments. Fleeting. Our separation from the awe, peace, and majesty of being in the presence of the kabaa, is symbolic of our separation from jennah. Leaving Mecca for me is just part of the greater sunnah of this life: a place where we must eventually leave the people and things we love most.
But there is one thing that we never have to leave. One thing that never passes away. Only one thing: Allah. Allah tells us:

“Everyone upon the earth will perish, And there will remain the Face of your Lord, Owner of Majesty and Honor.” (55:26-27)

Allah says: “And do not invoke with Allah another deity. There is no deity except Him. Everything will be destroyed except His Face. His is the judgment, and to Him you will be returned.” (28:88)

And he is closer than our jugular vein.
Allah says: “It was We Who created man, and We know what dark suggestions his soul makes to him: for We are nearer to him than (his) jugular vein.” (50:16)

So often we look for Allah out there. And so the separation from somewhere like mecca becomes paralyzing. But our connection with Allah isn’t out there. It’s in here.
Yes, Adam (AS) had to leave jennah for a while, but what did Allah also promise Adam when he was leaving?

“We said: ‘Get ye down all from here; and if, as is sure, there comes to you Guidance from me, whosoever follows My guidance, on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.’” (2:38)

We had to leave the Kabaa. And it hurt. So much. But we never have to leave Allah. Unless we choose to. Unless WE choose to turn our backs on Him. But He is always there. It’s we who chose to turn away. And what happens when we do? Allah says:

“But whosoever turns away from My Message, verily for him is a life narrowed down, and We shall raise him up blind on the Day of Judgment.” (20:124)

“He will say, ‘My Lord, why have you raised me blind while I was [once] seeing?’” (20:125)
“[Allah ] will say, ‘Thus did Our signs come to you, and you forgot them; and thus will you this Day be forgotten.’” (20:126)

Brothers and sisters, there is one way to never leave that closeness, that awe, that peace that we felt there. There is one way to protect ourselves from the fear and grief of leaving:
Thikr. Remembrance.
Allah says:

“Those who believe, and whose hearts find satisfaction in the remembrance of Allah. for without doubt in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find satisfaction.” (13:28)

There is a jennah of the hereafter. We yearn to enter it. And perhaps the physical jennah of this life is in front of the kabaa. But like Adam who had to leave jennah for a while, we too had to leave the kabaa. But Allah does not leave us. He has given us another jennah of this life. Allah told Adam:

“We said, “Go down from it, all of you. And when guidance comes to you from Me, whoever follows My guidance – on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.” (2:38)

The jennah of this life is in the remembrance of Allah. It is in the obedience to His guidance. The one who holds tight to that guidance, has truly entered jennah here.
Ibn ul Qayyim said: “He who does not enter the jennah of this life, does not enter the jennah of the next.

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  • Shamsiya Noorul Quloob

    <3 words wont do justice of what I feel right now.
    Following the sunnah i will sincerely type out – jazak Allah khair :)

  • Islam Owaynat

    Asalamu Alaiykom. Thank you sister Yasmin for this information. I too often hear people describe a destination they have been to or seen as “heaven on earth” although we are told that it is like no place that eyes have ever seen. I think a lot of us think that the beautiful things in this dunya that we can see with our eyes is what Jennah will be like, or when we have beautiful homes and luxuries, that we are really “living the life”. When you mention that jennah of this life is in the remembrance of Allah, It is in the obedience to His guidance. The one who holds tight to that guidance, has truly entered jennah here. This really made me smile and it gave me a different perspective on how I view life. Now, I don’t feel so bad for not living in my dream home and I can stop obsessing about not having the good things in this dunya (wealth, traveling) I think most of us are so adapted to thinking that we have been so blessed when we have all these material things and that living in extravegance is like heaven on earth when sometimes these things push us away from Allah. To some people, jennah on earth is living a life of sin, it is not the same for everyone. How would you explain that jennah on this earth is in the remembrance of Allah and it is in the obedience to His guidance to those who are too far away from Allah?

  • mo ela

    “The jennah of this life is in the remembrance of Allah. It is in the obedience to His guidance. The one who holds tight to that guidance, has truly entered jennah here.”

    Very nice and informative.

  • Haajar

    A journey in itself. I can’t wait for hajj this year. It will be a spiritual experience <3

  • sabina raza

    Salaam sister!I am really so happy seeing your beautiful posts everyday
    and not only posts but also i am listening to your radio
    show.Masha’Allah.It has really changed my life since then,it has given
    me a different perspective of life. I lost my dad in 2008 and things
    have been really hard on us .We are five sisters and no man in our
    family but with time Alhumdulliah we have become strong.!Thanks a ton
    for your amazing words! May Allah bless you with abundant
    happiness.Ameen .Love you sister -Your sister-Sabina.

  • Asalamalaikum sister Yasmin, I will not praise you since our prophet peace be upon him stated once that it is akin to breaking our brethren’s back. But I will thank you and make dua for you. I had become a monster in “enjoining good, enjoining rules of islam and enforcing ahkam” that I forgot the true essence of Islam, i had forgotten Him and forgotten love. May our Allah give you the best in every way, in this life and the next for your beautiful reminders. Amen.

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