Usually while selecting religious books, people tend to be pretty much selective as most books lying in the very category are written in language too elaborate to be grasped by an average reader – or perhaps the writers of such books miss out the most important element, that is, explaining how the religious implications have a deep impact upon our lives.
“Reclaim Your Heart”, written by the psychologist and famous Islamic speaker, Ustadha Yasmin Mogahed, however, writes in a tone simple, non-rigid and soothing which makes the reader feel as though the writer is physically speaking to them. The book is not just a self-guidance book of do’s and don’ts. It isn’t a book that tells you “what” to do, but “why” you must do so – it shows why detaching yourself from the chains of worldly temptations, reforming the manner you take life’s joys and calamities, connecting yourself to the Ultimate and Ever-Benevolent Creator doesn’t burden you – rather it liberates you. It is a book which enlightens the path; the journey; the road to the thing every human being on the face of the Earth, be it a believer or a non believer is ever-seeking; and that is inner peace. Peace of mind, peace of heart, peace of soul.
The chapters are short, covering one-to-three pages at most, making it a quick and easy read. The titles are quite catchy and profound which arouses the interest and curiosity of the reader, such as “On Filling the Inner Hole and Coming Home”, “Escaping the Worst Prison”, “The Only Shelter in the Storm”. The title of the book itself sounds a bit clichéd and could have been more creative like the titles of the chapters, but the serene cover image does enough to draw the reader’s attention.
The best part of the book is that Yasmin Mogahed doesn’t merely quote the Ayaat of the Qur'an and the Ahadith of the Holy Prophet (P.B.U.H), but uses delightful analogies and anecdotes to draw the reader towards the depth of the teachings of Islam and their relationship with human psychology. For instance, in the chapter “People Leave, But Do They Return”, she says:
“So in answering the question of whether what is lost comes back, I study the most beautiful examples. Did Yusuf return to his father? Did Musa return to his mother? Did Hajar return to Ibrahim? Did health, wealth and children return to Ayoub? From these stories we learn a powerful and beautiful lesson: what is taken by Allah is never lost. In fact, it is only what is with Allah that remains. Everything else vanishes. Allah (swt) says, “What is with you must vanish: what is with Allah will endure. And We will certainly bestow, on those who patiently persevere, their reward according to the best of their actions. (Quran 16:96)” (People Leave, But Do They Return)
Below is one of the lines which personally touched me the most:
"Allah (swt) tells us in a very profound ayah: 'Verily. With hardship comes ease.' (Quran, 94:5). Growing up I think I understood this ayah wrongly. I used to think it meant: after hardship comes ease. In other words I thought life was made up of good times and bad times. After the bad times, comes the good times. But that is not what the ayah is saying. The ayah is saying *with* hardship comes ease. The ease is at the same time as the hardship.This means that nothing in this life is ever all bad (or all good). In every bad situation we're in, there is always something to be grateful for. With hardship, Allah also gives us the strength and patience to bear it. "
One of the most skillful elements of Yasmin Mogahed’s style of depicting religion is that she portrays spirituality through a very broad and deep perspective. As she very beautifully explains in the chapter “Emptying The Vessel” that every human being – even an atheist or agnostic – unknowingly worships something, which in Islamic terms, is referred to as an “Ilah”. Normally, whenever we happen to hear the word “idol” we tend to picture in our minds a figurine or statue believed to be a higher deity. Yasmin Mogahed, in the light of the Qur’anic Ayaat, sheds light on the unnoticed deeper definition of “Ilah”, in the following words,
“An illah is what we revolve our life around, what we obey and what is of utmost importance to us—above all else. It is something that we live for—and cannot live without. So every person – atheist, agnostic, Muslim, Christian, Jew – has an illah. Everyone worships something. For most people, that object of worship is something from this worldy life, dunya. Some people worship wealth, some worship status. Some worship fame, some worship their own intellect. Some people worship other people. And many, as the Qur’an describes, worship their own selves, their own desires and whims.”
All in all, the book is a beautiful illustration of the core elements of Islam and an eye-opener for the Muslims of today’s era as most of us have not clearly felt the actual essence of our religion and have taken it as a mere ritual instead of a thorough and encompassing code of life. “Reclaim Your Heart” is a highly recommended read to everyone trapped in the cycle of continuous inner disappointment, and a manual elucidating how the love of the Almighty Creator allows us to live a life of happiness and success.