Channel: Yasmin Mogahed
This lecture is about how to attain peace within self and full contentment in faith.
Do you feel like you're in this state of mind where nothing can make you feel any better at a constant state of worry, something that can really conflict in your life and, and, and really limit what you can do in your life as well. You just
the world is turning around you and you can't do anything where you're not doing anything.
The meaning of supplication it is, it's actually an affiliation of Moses.
in which he was after he was given the mission by God.
He made this prayer, and the prayer as
always, upgrade, Oh, God, expand my chest and take my matters easy.
walk in the door,
and take the dog out of my tongue. So people and people will understand the words. And so I would like to begin with this application. And I have said
that God, whatever is understandable and beneficial. What I wanted to talk about today is how and why my faith gives me personally.
And there's a few reasons that I wanted to share with you have a few sort of reflections that I wanted to share. And the first has to do with purpose. I think that purpose is one of the one of these things that a lot of people search for in life.
You know, it's a question many people have, and it's a question a lot of people struggle with, what am I doing here? What's my purpose in life? Why was I created? A Why was it put on this earth? And I think it's a very important question, and it's a question many people grapple with. And for me personally, I found that answer very clearly, in my faith, in one of the, as one of the verses in the friend, God says very clearly will not follow up to genuine interest.
And we will not be imagenet human beings, except to fulfill a good idea. Now, what's the
Arabic word, and it has a very deep meaning that goes beyond even just worship, but essentially means to take God and put him at the center of your life. So for example, we would say that everyone worships something, even a person who doesn't believe in God has something that they put at the center of their life. And that thing that you put at the center of your life becomes an object of worship, is the Arabic term in that. And so as a believer, as a Muslim, that that central point is God. And that becomes my purpose, my purpose essentially becomes to get closer to God to know God's love.
And that gives me a purpose in in why it is that here, I know why I was made. And I can, and it gives me a direction, that that, you know, to live my life. And the amazing thing about mobile data, if you look at the concept of Okay, a lot of times people limit the concept of worship, and in their minds, it's limited to just what you do at the altar. It's something that you just do in a church or a mosque. It's a ritual, it's prayer. And although that's part of worship, that's a very important part of worship. We believe that worship is even more encompassing than that, that
includes that even what the time I spent with my family can be considered part of the band for worship, the time that I spent teaching or writing, if you know that these kinds of mundane activities can also be part of my servitude. And that happens when a heart is directed towards God and has a purpose in everything that they're doing. As long as the person is acting in a way, according to the rules of God according to the to
the pleasure of God, and in a way where it's focused purposely on getting closer to God, and even the mundane become part of worship. So that's, that's me, allows me to live my life in a way that is very meaningful, that everything that I do
have been, even when I said, I'm a student, or I'm, you know, I'm trying to become a doctor or a writer or a mother, or a husband, any kind of role that I play even just part of my become a part of this.
So that's, that's one of the, you know, the ways in which it gives you that peace internally. Another thing that faith does is it creates, it gives gives me a sense.
It gives me a sense of direction. So we live in a world, the way I like to live, or one way to explain our journey, or our time on this earth is like a journey, where you start off somewhere and you end up somewhere and there's like, a path you have to take in between now on that path, just like any other paths, okay.
So right now I'm in San Diego. And if I want to drive down to Orange County, rather
Sorry, I'm not really from California, I actually grew up in the Midwest.
But anyways, in order to drive up to Orange County, I have to have directions, right, I need to do usually ask my GPS, right. And in order for me to get where I want to be, I have to have some sort of direction. And nowadays, what I do is I punch the videoconference into my GPS. But without direction, I can't get where I want to be. And without direction, I will get lost. And so this direction is something that's very essential in order for me to stay on the path I want to be on. And so for me to be focused in that direction, it's guidance. And why that's so important is see if I use the example of trying to get to Orange County, yet, I have no idea what to get.
How would I how would I find out how to get there, I have to ask, I have to ask,
I have to ask someone more knowledgeable than me. In that case.
Because I have no idea how to get to Orange County, I don't have the maps memorized. It's something that is not within my knowledge. And therefore I have to ask
for a map, I have to look to something beyond myself to get that direction, otherwise, it's not going to end up getting to Orange County. And so for me, that's what faith is, is that I believe, you see, the thing is that my knowledge is limited, there is no way that I could claim that,
you know, I like to make things
I can't actually claim that I know everything, for example, right now.
I don't even know what's happening in the wall, my knowledge is very, is completely limited. I can't see beyond that, like my eyes cannot see beyond a certain range, I cannot hear beyond this range. And I am and I do not know beyond what I can see here. And you know, whatever I have the knowledge I have. So my knowledge is limited. And that's why I need something beyond me that knows more than I do in order to directly. And so it's for me, that direction, I find that direction in God because God's knowledge is unlimited. God's knowledge is infinite, and finite is limited. And that essential truth is very important. I am acknowledging that you don't know everything. But I also know that God
does everything. And so for me as the one that knows everything, where to go and how to go is what
direction and guidance is something that's essential in any kind of a journey. One of the things that we ask at least seven times a day as
we pray five times a day, right?
But in those prayers, we say a chapter called the opening chapter. And in this opening chapter, we actually repeat this opening chapter seven times in one day. And that's if you create any extra prayers beyond the five in this chapter into subsets of how we asked God
to do what he asked, which means you want to be worship, and I explained a little bit about the meaning of worship and the nature of that and then what
and you will be helpful. We also asked about investing in chapter if
this means guidance.
And guidance from God is something that will be asked for
Part of life is the ability to heal because life is perfect. And life isn't. You don't go through life without cuts and bruises. It's just a part of this journey. So one of the things that faith provides is it provides this healing. And I'll tell you a few ways how my faith provides specific healing, in terms of how it is that we conceive of pain, and then how we understand everything we go through one of the most powerful concepts that that that we get from
your prophetic teaching, in which the Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him says,
I don't want to under the involvement that the matter of a believer is strange. Now, there's the word here that's used strange. Yeah, it can also mean amazing. So he's saying that there's something about a believer That's amazing, or, or unusual or strange. And then he goes on to say on boo boo boo him that his or her affairs are all good for him or her. So this is a bit strange, because we think of life as having bad things happen. And good things happen. One of the questions that a lot of people struggle with is what? Why do bad things happen to good people? This is a question so many people struggle with? And the answer to this question, or rather, the lack of answer to this
question has led people to total disbelief. And that's because this is a this is a question that people grapple with? Why do bad things happen to the people? Well, my faith actually teaches me that bad things ever happen to the people. That sounds strange, or you might think full, but I know, all these people who suffered and they're both so how can you tell me that bad things never happen to repeat. And, and obviously, we have to look deeper and have a believer are actually good, even when externally they seem to be bad. So sometimes, and at what the profit goes on to say is that if something that I like, so when I get the things I want them to deliver is grateful. So this is good
for the believers, the believer will be will be rewarded, because they've proven gratitude. And then if it's something that I don't want something that then pains me, the believers patience. And so it is.
So what we've learned from this concept, it's actually very, very powerful concept is that no matter what happens, it's all about your response. See, it isn't the things that happen to us that damage that caused the damage, it is the response that we have to what happens to us. And, and this is something taught across the board that when a person, it's it's how I view what happens to me, and how I respond to what happens to me, which determines its effect. Yeah. And so the the power of this concept is that a believer is always positive, a believer in the sense that even if I feel pain, it isn't just saying you become a robot, you don't feel sadness, or you don't feel pain, but that you
view everything in life as essentially Good for you. It's positive, right? Okay, what do they say about pain, no pain, no gain, right? Is it isn't necessarily painless to go to the gym.
There's actually a lot of pain associated with going to the gym, it hurts it hurts to do 100 sit ups, it hurts to do however many push ups or to lift however much weight, but there is a pain, that pain. And so suppose training, is able to see through the pain is able to see the benefit in the strength that they gain from that pain. And not feel like nothing's gonna happen, you're not going to see any results. Because you're just it actually was was a walk in the park. And so there we have this understanding that when
transformation there is struggle, this is something that we understand even a butterfly right, for a butterfly to become a butterfly to go through this to go from being a caterpillar to a butterfly isn't cocoon phase. And that cocoon phase is actually not easy. The process of going through a cocoon, and then getting out of a cookie involves struggle. And that struggle we understand the physical world is a part of the process, part of the bigger process of growth and transformation and beauty really, because what's happening to the caterpillar, it's becoming beautified. It's turning in from something looks like a worm, right? Something that's really beautiful, which is a butterfly,
and something that is then later on put on display. So we we understand this concept and that's what faith does, is it gives that positive outlook to everything that happens. That is such
Just like I said, trade the person who's trading, that even if we go through something painful, or something that that hurts us that we have that ultimate. That meaning that that positive outlook that allows us to heal. And that's where the healing comes from. Another concept is that the Prophet peace be upon him says that any kind of pain or sadness or fear or anxiety that a believer goes through actually becomes a form of purification that this is something that that purifies the the individual, as well as obviously strengthening. One of the things that God says in the end is that the believers go through a process. Allah says Leola has a lot of planning. And what this statement
means is, is that, that sometimes difficulties and struggle, we follow the theme or go through people go through these things. Why, in order to, to purify. You know, when you're when does anyone know how to use purify gold,
you got to heat it up, basically, and, and I'm going to learn to pick my back. But I know that goal will not be purified unless you heat it up. And when he does. Another thing is that there's another relaxation that really helps with and that is I mentioned that God is all knowing. Yeah, so when, when you go to the all knowing to ask for directions, you don't get lost. Yeah. But also there is a concept of God being not just on knowing, but all loving, and all merciful and all caring. So I use this example in my classes that if every single one of us right now goes outside, and gets picked up by our mother, right, so our mother's waiting outside of the car to pick us up. And she starts to
drive. And we asked her, where are we going? Where am I going? And she says, we'll see. Don't worry, okay. How many people at that point is how many people are gonna like pick up the phone call? 911? Because they're freaking out. Right? Like, absolutely no one, nobody is going to call the police.
That they don't know where they're going, they're not going to worry. And why? What is it that keeps you from worrying in that situation? You don't know where you're going. Right? And you're going there, but you don't know where you're going? What is it that keeps you from panicking and calling the police anyone? Trust, thank you, you trust your mother, right? You know that your mother has your best interests in mind, and she's not going to take into a ditch and leave you. Right? She's not going to sell you off to slavery or some some horrible thing like that, you know that your mother actually has your best interest in mind, she's not going to hurt you. That kind of trust is
what makes you calm, even when you don't know where you're going. And that's really the concept of knowing that God. And God is even higher, obviously about any analogy. God loves us more than and God has more mercy. We're told in one prophetic teaching that God has more mercy for us than a mother does to her child. So this, this concept of God of knowing that God has our best interests in mind, and is the most merciful and is the most loving, allows us to trust Him and to be a peace, even when we don't know where we're going in life. Right? We may not know it, okay, where's God taking. But we're not worried because there's that deep trust. And that deep trust allows you to
have peace, even when you don't know where it is that you're going even in the unknown. There's a very beautiful and powerful story that we're told in the end about Moses, and Addison and peace be upon him when he was escaping with the children of Israel. And he gets and we know the story in various traditions when he gets to the Red Sea. And what happens at that point is now he looks like he's stuck, right? You got an army behind this Pharaoh. So if you think about Pharaoh, the Pharaoh was no joke. Pharaoh was a monster. He was a superpower army had superpower army essentially. And he used to kill babies as a policy tape used to crucify people he was. He was barbaric. Yeah. And his
This is the children of Israel are now stuck in front of the Red Sea with an army behind them. What are they going to do? And and in the poem, and it talks about this dialogue between Moses and the children of Israel. And what you find is that Benny is struggling the children of Israel at that point, God says that when they see the army, they call out we're going to be overtaken, you know, sort of a natural reaction to being stuck in front of the Red Sea with a superpower army behind you. You look stuck. Yeah, you look like there's no way out. And so they reply, the their responses, one of sort of hopelessness, right, a panic and then
Panic leading to despair. So they're saying we're going to be overtaken. And what's so powerful is the response of Moses because of the amount of trust that Moses had up. And the amount of is that his viewpoint and the amount of faith that he had it the Koran says, when they're saying we're going to be overtaken, he says a very powerful statement, calling it Kenda, in a mire of these 18. He says, No, by no means we will not be overtaken. My Lord is with me, and He will guide you through this, as well. He said, he had such solid faith and God, that even when he couldn't see a way out, because he stuck, essentially right in the physical realm, he stuck. But yet, he had so much trust
in God that he's gonna take care of me, even when I don't know, you know, it's that example of your mother driving and you don't know where you're going. But you have full trust, you're not worried you're not calling the police. And that's how Moses was, is that he was I said, he saw, he knew that God had his back. And so he wasn't worried. And that's just it's such a powerful lesson. And it was then that he was told to take his staff and strike the seat. And, and when he struck the seat split, okay, now, what's the lesson here? Because we might read the story, okay. It's an awesome bedtime story, right? But it's more than that these stories were taught are given to us as life as lessons
as timeless lessons. What are they teach us, they teach us the power of faith, they teach us the power of trust, that even when things are possible, when things look closed, you can't even you can't imagine a way out. And that that is faith, and God is certainty and his trust in God made a way out from from an impossible direction, a waiting, never imagined, right? It's not every day of the season. And yet, that's what happened. And so it gives us that, that that hope, that ability to to see through difficulties, look at him through the Red Sea. And the enemy says, oh, you're watching cosmos, and
it provides a refuge. And I'll explain what I mean by that. I mentioned earlier, that we pray five times a day. Yeah, that might sound like a lot. You know, it used to be 55 might seem like a lot.
But in reality, what really is the purpose of the prayer. In order to understand the purpose of the prayer, it's important to go back and look at how the prayer was given to the Prophet.
And it's a very interesting context in which the prayer was given to the Prophet peace.
It was given to him, in fact, at his most difficult time. So he was at the, it was a time in his life, he went through a lot of struggle, Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, he went through a lot of struggle in life. But of all the time and all the struggle that he endured, this was the most difficult, it was such a hard time in his life, it was called the year of sadness. And the reason for this is this was the year that he lost his beloved wife and his uncle, within the same year. And these were two of his greatest supporters, in a political context, where he was being attacked, is messy. And they both died, they both passed away, at around the middle of his mission and within the
Savior. And so this was like, this was his most painful
experience, time during phase of his life. And it was in that time that God took him on the the journey to the heavens and gave the prayer and gave him some love. So this context is great, because what it does is it tells us the purpose of prayer, sometimes people limit kind of turn prayer into sort of a burden, right? Like, if they do pray, it's like, let me get it. You know, it's time when we get it always so that I can get on with my life. Yeah, my eating my class like Facebook, whatever. Yeah. So it's like, let me let me let me finish the prayer so that I can do something else. But the true purpose of the prayer was to be a refuge. It was what allowed the Prophet peace
be upon him to find solace in that difficult time. Because that was the most difficult time for him. And he used to say that in prayer, he found the fullness of his eyes put it up,
that he used to ask the epidemic to call for prayer. He'd say, again, you have given us peace through it, he was calm. He was something that he sneaked for peace and record, inside of this form of his life of life. Because there was there was a lot that he was dealing with, and this became his refuge.
the thing about about prayer is that, you know, five times a day, I think, okay, that's a lot, right. But what it does is it splits up the day. And it's spread throughout the day. And what it does is it forces me at each time of the day to pull away from whatever mundane things I'm doing, whether I'm in class or in a meeting, and refocus, refocus on God really focus on my ultimate purpose. And it provides that stability sort of grounding throughout the day. And it's almost like,
one of the things that players do in a building is that's what keeps the building stable. And so you have these five pillars, on the pillars of your day, and it grounds you and it gives you that refuge in that refocusing so that you don't get too caught up in anything too worldly. Any See, see, the thing about Islam is that it's not a religion that's only practiced in the mosque. It's not a religion that can only be practiced by a monk or if you go off to a cave, but it's a religion of spirituality that happens amidst your life, inside of the mundane, within your everyday life, the prophet peace be upon him, he continued to live, he was, he was a father was a friend, he was a
husband. He was a leader, he he was involved in the you know, the the world lead, so called worldly affairs. But the prayer gives you a way to continue to be spiritual within your worldly affairs, because it's kind of like these these breaks throughout your day, to refocus and to find that refuge. And
so finally, one of the things that you'll find is that it's a big question, especially for women. And I find this question all over, like, we're kind of bombarded with this with this issue. And that has to do with what is what determines the value of a woman, what determines our value, and so much I studied for a while when I was when I was doing my Master's in it. And I did Media Studies, one of the things I looked at is just how women are depicted. And I specifically looked at how female athletes are depicted, as opposed to male athletes. One example. And one of the things I found after doing my research is that for a woman, no matter how much she's excelled in her sport, or in, in
really any area, she's always objectified, she's always depicted it sort of a sexual way. And so for example, you know, When, when, when an Olympic soccer player, now she was depicted on the cover of a magazine, she's wearing nothing but two soccer balls. Like, that's how she's depicted. Whereas if you look at the way that they would depict men, they were properly dressed. And it was, the focus wasn't on their body, the focus was on their achievements, the focus was on, you know, how well they play their sport. At the time I was doing my research, it's sort of
dates me but
was Anna Kournikova, I don't remember her. But she was at the time, she was the most endorsed female athlete, she was a tennis player. And what was interesting about her is that she wasn't really good attendance. Okay, but she was the most endorsed female athlete. So the question becomes why? And the answer was because people found her attractive. And so the idea was, if you're a woman, it's not really about your achievements, or your accomplishments, but it's more about how you look,
it would never happen that the most highly endorsed Male Athlete would be someone who wasn't good at their sport. You see, it would never be just about this looks, it'd be about his how many points he gets, right how much he achieves. But whereas for a woman, it was about how she looked because this, this athlete wasn't the best in the sport, she just happened to be the one who they consider more attractive. And so there's this very implicit, or not very obvious sexism that you find in the way that women are depicted. And the message becomes very clear to women, which is that you can do whatever you want, you can accomplish whatever you want, but at the end of the day, your value is
based on how you look. And that's a very dangerous message. But unfortunately, this is the message given to women over and over and over by media, that at the end of the day, you know, you can be the CEO of a Fortune 500 you know, even even even if you have a CEO, a female CEO, she when she's depicted, she's also sexualized. What What does her job have to do with bending over
And whatever, like, she's not, she's not a Victoria's Secret model. She's actually the CEO of the Fortune 500 company. Why is she being depicted? In that way, she's not modeling lingerie. And yet, even, even when women are very high level professionally, they're still depicted in a sexualized way. So the problem now becomes what what, where does the woman get her value? Now, for me personally, when I find my value in God, then what that does, is it tells me that my value, my value has nothing to do with how I look like value doesn't have to do with how attractive or sexy it can be. But rather, your value isn't something much deeper. And that has to do with your soul, it has to
do with your heart, it has to do with how righteous you are your character, you know, your relationship with God. And that determines your value, not these other things, you know, like, like your body and your looks, and how much of a separate object you can be in. And this idea that a woman's body is used to sell beer to sell cars and Associates. And so this is a way in which my faith actually liberates me from that, and it gives me a concept that gives me my, my status and my value, completely have nothing to do with how I look. It's, it's it's independent of books, but it's something much deeper, and that goes to the soul and to the heart. And as a side note, that also has
to do with the concept of the trust, and why, you know, when I dress When, when, when a Muslim woman, dresses, covers, as God has told us to dress modestly to cover in a certain way. One of the things that that does is it sends a very clear message that I'm not here to be on display. And I'm not I can't I won't allow people to objectified my body or objectify my duty, that it's not something that it's, it's, it's something that you're so now when you deal with me, you have to deal with my heart and my soul, and my character and my mind, because you can't see the rest, right? It's covered up. So the idea here is that it's a very, very profound message. And that message has to do
with what really defines the the value of a woman, and in a reader context of a human being.
But finally, I would say that one of the one of the reasons why my faith gives me a piece is it allows it gives me a way to have hope, even in darkness. And, you know, there's there's a lot of stories that were told, in our tradition, that gives give me personally a lot of inspiration. And one of them is the story of a
job, Prophet. And we know from his stories that he was tested for many years where he lost, you know, his money, lost health, he became very ill, he lost children, he he was losing loss after loss after loss. And what happened is after when he got to a point where it had been years and years, and and he was like, almost like at its very, very difficult point in his life. And we're told that the supplication he says to God, I mean, a 70 of global wealth. And
what he says to God at that point is that adversity has befallen me difficulty has come upon me. And look at in the same breath, he says, What helped me and you are the Most Merciful, merciful. So even while he was going through his pain, if you think of it as like a person who's in darkness, like it's dark right now, it's he wasn't in darkness in the sense of, of misguidance, but in terms of his tests and his pain, and yet at that is in that same moment, he's calling out to God, and you say, But my hope is that you and you are the Most Merciful, merciful. And what this does for me personally, is it teaches me how faith can allow a person even in their darkness, to to have hope to
continue to have hope. You know, just like right now, the sunset right outside of the dark, we walk outside, it's going to be dark. But hope in darkness means that I might acknowledge that it's dark outside, but I also have full certainty that tomorrow The sun will rise. And that's the ability to have that's really what what what faith does, is it gives you that that hope that even if you're struggling now, that there's always a tomorrow and there's always a sunrise up we only have a lot of stuff going on even at home in order for him to kind of Columbia 100 assured that you're going to relate. I'm going to pause there
is my new book, I actually just launched a new book. So I have
reclaiming your heart was my first book. But just just literally in the last two weeks, I've just launched my new book called, it's called love and happiness. And what I wanted to do is available today, a few copies. I wanted to just read the introduction because
things fall apart, and the brain sometimes, like many of you, my journey hasn't always been easy. Pain is very real. And so as loss, sometimes it's hard not to like the weight of what we carry, or the memory of what we've lost take over. Many of us know the reality of struggle. And so many people suffer in silence. It is hard. It's hard not to give up. When we face the repeated disappointments of life. Like some of you I have known. I have known defeat, I have fallen many times chasing garages, and I have broken many bones, building castles and life's fading sounds. Sometimes all it took was one solid wave to destroy what I had spent years building. So I decided to give it a voice,
all of it, the tears, the pain, and the lessons, the things that I saw and learned that game along my path. He did a voice. I wanted to give back in hopes of helping myself and others survive. But then it wasn't just about surviving. I didn't only want people to survive inside their stores. I wanted people to thrive inside their stores. And so I wrote as I walked through my own
words found in this book, who became my voice and my letter to the world. It became my deepest attempt to not just pick myself up but others along the way. I wrote because just as we will fall in line, so will we rise. That's the thing about this world. It never gives us the one time that
there is pain, and last, and even darkness, but there is also light, there is hope. There is beauty, and there's also love and happiness.