Overcoming Hardships Spiritual Purification With the Divine

Peace on a Rooftop

kabe_kaba_1-bigOriginally Posted 05/28/2010

We’ve all had intense moments. For me, one such moment happened while standing on the rooftop of Masjid al-Haram. Above me was only sky, below me, the most beautiful view of the Kaba’a and an acute sign of Allah, this life, and the life to come. I was surrounded by an overwhelming crowd – that exists nowhere else on this earth – but, for me, it could have been that I was standing completely alone. With Allah.

I brought with me to that rooftop so much heartache, confusion, and doubt. I came with so much weakness, human frailty, and pain. Standing at a crossroads in my life, I brought with me fear of what was to come, and hope in what could be. So, as I stood on that roof, I remembered the story of Musa (`alayhi assalam – may Allah be pleased with him) standing at the Red Sea. His physical eyes saw nothing but a wall of water, entrapping him as an army approached; but his spiritual eyes saw only Allah, and a way out so certain it was as if he had already taken it. While the voices of his people – bereft of trust or hope—spoke only of being overtaken, Musa (as) did not waiver.

As I stood there, I heard the distant voices warning me of what was to come – but my heart heard only, “Inna ma’iya rabee sa yahdeen…Truly my Lord is with me, He will guide me through.” (Qur’an, 26:62)

But seeing through the illusions of hardship, confusion and pain that surround us can only happen when we allow our heart to focus. The foundation of Islam is tawheed (Oneness). But tawheed is not just about saying that God is One. It is so much deeper. It is about the Oneness of purpose, of fear, of worship, of ultimate love for God. It is the oneness of vision and focus. It is to direct one’s sight on one singular point, allowing everything else to fall into place.

One of the most beautiful traditions of the Prophet ﷺ captures this concept perfectly. He ﷺ said: “Whoever makes the Hereafter his preoccupation, then Allah places freedom from want in his heart, gathers his affairs, and Dunya (worldly life) comes to him despite being reluctant to do so. And whoever makes Dunya his preoccupation, then Allah places his poverty in front of his eyes, make his affairs scattered, and nothing of the Dunya comes to him except that which has been decreed for him.” [At-Tirmidhi]

If you’ve ever seen a “magic eye” picture, you can see a wonderful metaphor of this truth. At first glance, the picture looks like nothing but a collection of shapes, with no order or purpose. But if you start by bringing the picture right up to your face, focusing your eye on one singular point, as you move the picture slowly away from your face, the picture suddenly becomes clear. But, as soon as you take your eyes off that singular point of focus, the picture disappears and again becomes nothing but a sea of shapes.

In the same way, the more we focus on the dunya, the more our matters become scattered. The more we run after the dunya, the more it runs away from us. The more we chase wealth, ironically, the more poverty we feel. If money is the focus, you will find that no matter how much money you have, you will always fear losing it. This preoccupation is poverty itself. That is why the Prophet ﷺ says about such people that poverty is always in front of their eyes. That is all they see. No matter how much they have, there is no contentment, only greed for more and fear of loss. But, for the ones who focus on Allah, the dunya comes to them, and Allah puts contentment in their hearts. Even if they have less, they feel rich, and are more willing to give from that wealth.

And when such people feel trapped by life, by financial hardship, by pain, by loneliness, by fear, by heartbreak, or sadness, all they have to do is turn to Allah, and He always makes a way out for them. Know that this is not some feel-good theory. It is a promise. A promise made by Allah Himself, who says in the Qur’an:

“…And for those who fear Allah, He (ever) prepares a way out, And He provides for him from (sources) he never could imagine. And if any one puts his trust in Allah, sufficient is (Allah) for him…” (65:2-3)

Allah is sufficient for them. Allah is enough. For those who make Allah their primary concern, there is only peace, because whatever happens to them in this life it is good and accepted as the will of Allah. Imagine having only good in your life. That is the state of this type of believer, as the Prophet ﷺ says: “Wondrous are the believer’s affairs. For him there is good in all his affairs, and this is so only for the believer. When something pleasing happens to him, he is grateful, and that is good for him; and when something displeasing happens to him, he is enduring (has sabr), and that is good for him.” [Muslim]

And so in the heart of such a believer is a sort of paradise. That is the paradise that Ibn Taymiyyah, may Allah have mercy on his soul, spoke of when he said: ‘Truly, there is a Heaven in this world, [and] whoever does not enter it, will not enter the Heaven of the next world.’

And in that heaven, complete peace is not something of a moment. It is a state, eternal.

About the author

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.


  • Ma’sha’allah, wow, Sr. Yasmin, this was lovely. Jazak’Allahu Khairan for sharing this experience with us . . . . just an awesome piece – it was like a good shake that we all need, to again, see the big picture amidst all the distractions, worries, stress, difficulties, and pain (and of course, the more positive, joyous moments) that we all go through and that no matter what, as we often say/hear, to put it in a modern way – “It’s all good” – because it’s what Allah has Planned for us.

    Br. Ahmed

  • mashaallah.Jazakillahu khairaan.Thats really wonderful how you pondered and reflected .
    Excellent article.The ayah that is with me through tough times is [أَلاَ إِنَّ نَصْرَ اللَّهِ قَرِيبٌ] (Yes! Certainly, the help of Allah is near!)


  • Masha’Allah sister Yasmin, what a great reminder! This is exactly what I try to explain to my non-muslim parents about Islam and the state of being that arises from total submission to Allah.
    Please continue your excellent work and may Allah reward for your effort in His path.

  • Masha’Allah, this is what I strive for everyday, reminding myself this life is only temporary. Jazaki Allahu khayran

  • Beautifully written masha’Allah and excellent metaphors! It is truly critical where we put our focus in life and when the goal is janna- every step we make is purposeful. May Allah reward your efforts!

  • AA,

    This was very moving mA. May Allah grant us the focus that you write so beautifully about!


  • Barik Allahu feek sister…Your Quranic references were EXACTLY what I needed. Thank you so much for the reminder! JazakAllahukhair!

  • Jazakallah Kairan sister Yasmin. These deep reflections are a great insight on pondering about these verses and Ahadith, Subhan’Allah.

    • I loved your image of Allah’s omnipresnence in the soul of a true believer. Fluently and smoothly, you draw the opaque Dunya curtain apart and allow us a peak through that crystal-clear magic eye. A revealing moment on THE ROOFTOP. as you so wisely called it, is what we all need to perceive rather than see the truth about life. Thank you for an eye opener, passionately sought by those who yearn for the everlasting company of the One and Only.

      • Lets be careful on how we use the term ‘omnipresence’, please. Loads of confusion can result from throwing that term around.


  • Masha’Allah sister, Allah has truly blessed you and may he reward you for your beautiful, soul touching work. You have guided me,(through Allah), to understand much of what has happened and is happening to me. I believe that anyone who is guided to read your words will be deeply touched by your wisdom and grace. Jzk sister. <3

  • MashAllah… Very powerful words. You’re doing an amazing job here. Keep up this wonderful work dear sister. I love your articles, very inspiring. Jazakillah bikhair. And May Allah grant us all the chance to stand on that blessed rooftop that we’re sooo much yearning for… Ameen.

  • Salaam, my sister in islam
    really a wonderfull place ,It’s nice to see the crowd of people coming from different country ,and one word unit them ,to say that ALLAH is one.coming to kaabah with hearts emtpy from anger, hate, from all bad caracters just focus in praying .Barakallahu feeki,for this article.

  • Mashallah, very beautiful and eloquent post! I love the point that you made about a persons affection with money and how if becoming wealthy is the only goal than the person will always be worried about poverty and losing the money. I thought that this was a very true and beautiful point.

  • JazakAllah wa BarakAllah. May Allah grant us all such guidance. May He grant you everlasting peace in this lilfe n the next. ameen. wassalamualaikum.

  • My dear sister,
    Thank you for sharing these wise words. I felt the same on that same rooftop a long time ago and your words remind me how easy it is for the dunya (the low) to take one away from what is al-Ala (the High).
    Jazak Allah khair

  • Whoa awesome. I loved MagicEye..bringing back fun memories. Very apt analogy. Interestingly with magiceye the single “focus point” at which the real image becomes apparent is also always set at a distance behind the immediateness of the card :p

  • Masha Allah… the sort of quotes (hadith wise) you gather to fit each and every of your posts are soooo inspirational.. may ALlah always use you for carrying out the word of His Deen.

  • jazakalaahumakhair sister
    may allah suwt bless you
    and guide our hearrts and make ours hearts peace eternal
    because if we want to change all we need is the will for it and to ask allah swt for it ofcours
    but i have a question im finding it hard to let dunya ou t of my hrat and the past that happens and i have confidence and self esteem issues talkign to people
    im always thinking aboyut allah
    but i need to let people go first
    how do you do so and look forward to the future and meeting with allahj swt to be with allah swt basically.

  • Jazakallahu Khairan for a beautiful though provoking article.

    May Allah grant you and your family, Jannathul Firdaus, Ameen

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