Islamic Character Islamic Studies Overcoming Hardships Reflections Spiritual Purification

The Lesson Taught by a Rose


Roses have always been my favorite flower. I’m always struck by how perfect they are—for a moment. But in that moment, and even more so the moments that follow, roses have taught me an invaluable lesson. And I don’t mean a lesson in botany or horticulture.

I mean a lesson in life.

What happens to the rose’s perfectly defined petals even days after it blooms? What becomes of the brilliant red that makes a rose breathtakingly beautiful? Those petals wither. That brilliant red turns brown. And the rose that was once so full of beauty and life turns into dried up scraps that crumble at the slightest touch. And no matter how hard we try, no matter how many times we change its water or give it food, we cannot keep a rose from withering.

This process, so profound if reflected upon, does not happen without a purpose. Allah tells us in the Qur’an exactly what life lesson we can learn from a rose. He says,


“Know that the life of this world is but amusement and diversion and adornment and boasting to one another and competition in increase of wealth and children – like the example of a rain whose [resulting] plant growth pleases the tillers; then it dries and you see it turned yellow; then it becomes [scattered] debris. And in the Hereafter is severe punishment and forgiveness from Allah and approval. And what is the worldly life except the enjoyment of delusion.” (57:20)

So the withering of that rose is intended as a sign for us. It is intended to teach us one of the most important, and yet most difficult, realities of this life: that nothing lasts. Everything will pass away—except Allah.

We see beautiful movie stars all over our television screen. We walk past them on magazine covers. We idolize their beautiful faces and perfect figures. But what happens to those beautiful faces after 10, 20, 30 years? They wrinkle, they fade, they die. What happens to the most genius mind 50 years after he or she has made a ground-breaking discovery? Perhaps they lay quietly in a nursing home trying to remember their own name.

But is reflecting on these realities intended to depress us, forcing us into a comfortable heedlessness instead? No. These realities are designed as a sign and a guidance for us. With the withering of the rose, and with each fallen petal, Allah is reminding us that everything here is passing away. He is reminding us that nothing in this word will remain, except for Allah. These realities are designed not to sadden us, but to wake us up and remind us that our ultimate attachments should never be to these fleeting things. In the Qur’an, Allah reminds us of this reality numerous times. He says, “Everything will be destroyed except His Face.”(28:88)

In another verse, He says:



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

These are deeply profound statements intended to shake us to the very core. And there is a surah in the Qur’an, consisting of only three short verses, that sums up the depth of this reality so beautifully. Surat Al-`Asr (Qur’anic chapter 103) begins with Allah making an oath by al-`asr (time). Following that oath, Allah uses the word ‘inna’ (verily) and ‘la’ (indeed), both of which put special emphasis. The use of the oath along with the double emphasis all shows how heavy the statement which follows is: “Indeed mankind is in a state of loss.” (103:2)

But the question is: What is mankind losing? It is the loss of what? Everything. Loss of time, loss of the people and things we love, loss of health, loss of beauty, loss of fruitless striving. And these things once lost, are lost forever—except for one select group of people: “Those who have faith, and do good works, and counsel one another to follow the truth, and counsel one another to be steadfast.” (Quran, 103:3) For them, nothing is lost.

So it is only by our faith and our actions that we can take anything away from this withering life. Only by escaping the false dependencies, letting go of our fleeting attachments, and holding on to Allah, can we return with water from the mirage of oceans. Only Allah is lasting. Everything else, we are in a constant and active state of losing. Everything else is only that withering petal which we fall in love with today, but which crumbles tomorrow.

Originally published by InFocus

About the author

Yasmin Mogahed

Yasmin Mogahed

Yasmin Mogahed received her B.S. Degree in Psychology and her Masters in Journalism and Mass Communications from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. After completing her graduate work, she taught Islamic Studies and served as the Sisters’ Youth Director for the Islamic Society of Milwaukee. She also worked as a writing instructor for Cardinal Stritch University, and a staff columnist for the Islam section of InFocus News. Currently she’s an independent media consultant and a writer for the Huffington Post, where she focuses most of her work on spiritual and personal development. Her written works, including a book chapter on the portrayal of Islam post-911, have appeared in print and online publications worldwide.

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  • Masha Allah, great reminder. Baraka Allah fiek.
    Its a beaitfull examples you used to clarify this worldly life.

    May Allah help you to write more benifitial articles or speeches.
    Aleikoem Salaam wr wb,
    Abu Adam, Ibrahim
    Amsterdam, Holland

  • Ma’sha’allah beautiul. I too, love roses. I happen to reside in the Rose City in the US (any guesses?) where I have lived for all but two of my 28 years. So thankfully, we have a great climate in which to grow them and we have many rose bushes in our backyard and I take picture s of them every year. It is impossible not to remember Allah (swt) when looking at them in that time frame when they are just perfect. Indeed, they do whither, like any other living thing . . . their beauty fades and turns into discolored dry or even blackened petals, which then fall to the ground and become part of the Earth once again, just as we are destined to one day as well.
    This was a beautiful reminder and so touchingly put with the quoted ayahs. If I may, just want to add one more ayah to which you seemed to have alluded to dear Sister, when you said, “Perhaps they lay quietly in a nursing home trying to remember their own name.” This ayah also a Sign of the science in the Qur’an, if I’m not mistaken:
    “O mankind! If you are in doubt concerning the Resurrection, then lo! We have created you from dust, then from a drop of seed, then from a clot, then from a little lump of flesh shapely and shapeless, that We may make it clear for you. And We cause what We will to remain in the wombs for an appointed time, and afterward We bring you forth as infants, then give you growth that you attain full strength. And among you there is he who dies young, and among you there is he who is brought back to the most abject time of life, so that after knowledge he knows naught!“[Al-Haj 22:5]

    I will surely remember this lesson the next time I see roses in bloom.

    Lastly, just wanted to share some of the beauty of which you talk about from the nature aspect. Please see the some of the photos I’ve taken last summer here:

    Jazak’Allahu Khairan Sister Yasmin.

  • hmm I never thought of it that way. In fact I dread the moments to see any of my mother’s die in her garden.

    Its so amazing how even a flower serve a purpose to remind us of life’s reality.

    Jazakallahukhairan for sharing sister Yasmin.

  • Subhallah!

    Jazakumullahi khayr sis, for providing these perspectives through the rose. May Allah swt reward you bountifully in this world and the next, for benefitting others. ameen.

  • As salamu aleycum wr wb sis yasmin!
    SubhanAllah you are so so sooooooo talented wid pen!
    i absolutely loved ur recent article “The Lesson Taught by a Rose”
    jazak Allah khair!! <3 u are so utterly totally awesome! mashaAllah
    Sisters like you give us hope <3 <3

  • I love reading your articles Yasmin ans hope to get meet you one day inshAllah. I love you fe sabeel Allah,

  • Assalamualikum,
    Alhamdulillah sister, Allah has given u the power to express Islam in such a simple yet awesome way that i am understanding Islam from ur writing from the beginning again.

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