Reflections Spiritual Purification

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 something, 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).” (Qur’an, 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.” (Qur’an, 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 ﷺ (peace be upon him) 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.

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.


  • As’salaam’walaikum. What an articulately and beautifully written article…why is it so beautiful? Because the recognition itself is beautiful…the recognition that Allah (swt) and the gift of life he has given us is beautiful.

    This reminds me…I haven’t seen any article posted on this site ( that does otherwise; so this just a reminder to keep up the good work in a way (just as this article is a good example)…but please do keep the article conditions/requisites the same in that there are verses from the Quran incorporated into the article in order to be posted; and that examples of documented stories of companions/scholars/wives/etc and/or examples of sunnah/hadith be incorporated as well when can be.

    I just dont want this great site mashaAllah to turn into an op-ed/opinion body. I like the way it is; as it should be….articles that talk about a plethora of subjects and topics; yet which all have Quranic verses, documented/authenticated stories, hadith/sunnah accompanying them.

    You guys on the site are doing a GREAT job and really do benefit a tremendous amount of people to better their lives and in turn help better the lives of others (whether it’s through information learned from this site to give as dawah to non-muslims…or whether it’s given to other Muslims; or to SELF!)

    May Allah (swt) shield individuals from delivering and sharing knowledge with the intent of gaining accolades and recognition…but rather to do it with TRULY helping to making self and others better and more cognizant for the sake of Allah!

  • Thank you Yasmin for this wonderful article. I often struggle with these issues and this gave me some tools to work with.

  • BarakAllahu Feeki Ukhti. This is a tremendously written article, eloquent and really hits where most miss. SubhanAllah, amazing capabilities of really actualizing where we often go wrong and just cant really put our fingers on it.

    Jazakillah elf khair 🙂

  • Mashallah, words can not describe how beautifully insightful this post is. I was really worried about a specific issue but this post really helped me to realize what to do!

  • I pray our heart become consumed for the appreciation and love of Allah and his beautiful book which he has sent down upon his slaves as a guide. May we always remember how temporary this life is and no benefit i obsession over materialistic things.

  • ALLAHU AKBAR! ALLAHU AKBAR! What joy your words bring to my hands! May Allah give me the power to share them with His slaves! Ameen

  • This is exactly what I needed to read right now. Thank you so much sister. May Allah (swt)continue to bless you with such beautiful insight and wisdom, and shower you with all the best in this life and the next inshaAllah. Ameen.

  • “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.”

    I don’t agree with this definition of a gift. Also if you are going to write an article about gifts you must also be more specific about how gifts from Allah s.w.t are a blessing and how these these are held in the heart. Materialistic gifts are useless but gifts such as children can be held in the hand and heart. It is very narrow minded to say, “A gift is not held in the heart. It is held in the hand.” A woman who has gone through the struggles and pain of pregnancy knows this. Bearing a child is not easy but it is gift, a gift from Allah s.w.t and held very closely to the heart regardless of the pain a woman undergoes. It is a bond between mother and child during those 9 months, and if the woman is strong in her deen, she knows with all her heart that this was the gift from Allah s.w.t. which she holds in heart AND in her hand after the baby’s birth.

    You must also include how in Islam, it is a sin to reject a gift. A gift is an offering and one must always accept any offering given to us especially from Allah s.w.t.

    A gift is a good thing in Islam and I believe you need to be more descriptive and elaborate about how worthless “materialistic” gifts are (like cars, clothes, money) and how meaningful gifts from Allah s.w.t are and how we should be grateful for all He blesses us with.

    And with the beauty thing: beauty is also a gift from Allah s.w.t. and with that said, it is a even more better reason to preserve it and protect it under a hijaab.

    Everything Allah s.w.t. gifts us with, we must protect it under His Gracious name, and toss the cars, the money, and the jewels, for those have no purpose.

  • There are countless blessings of Allah(SWT).
    On daily basis, our feet slip on a wet floor. It must have happened a lot of times in our lives. And how many percent of those slipping did we actually fall? It is a blessing that we’re saved too.
    How many times have it happened that we’re crossing a road and a car/vehicle skidded on the road to avoid us. How many times have a car jammed brakes in front of us?And how many percent of those brakes did we actually got hit? It is a blessing that we’re not hit by those accidents too.
    Thank you for your post too!

  • thank you Yasmin . I hope for Allah to reveal your ultimate gift , for you to know the eternal goodness of your path and how you have inspired others , and that your prayers are exponentially magnified through absolute detail and fractals of love blossoming by The Most High .

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