Home is where the heart is. It’s an age-old saying and a common idiom. Wherever you feel your home is, you will be comfortable there even if it is not your actual home. How many times have we found ourselves at a friend’s home feeling as comfortable as we are at home? And, in contrast, how many times have we found ourselves in the houses we own (or occupy), but due to a skirmish or misunderstanding we feel like aliens. The idea of a home is very strange.
When Rasulullah (ﷺ) was forced to leave Makkah, he stopped for a few moments in the marketplace and said,
By Allah, you are indeed the best of Allah’s lands, and the most beloved of Allah’s lands to Allah. And had I not been expelled from you, I would not have left (you).
This hadith, recorded in Jami` Tirmidhi, highlights the difficult moment the Prophet (ﷺ) underwent when he migrated away from his home. Yet, the migration was an integral component for the spread of Islam and the propagation of its teachings. Eight years later, after the Conquest of Makkah and its subsequent battles, there was a rumor that spread from the Ansar, the helpers or the citizens of Madinah, who feared now that Makkah had submitted to Islam, the Prophet (ﷺ) would return to his homeland. When the Prophet (ﷺ) heard these rumors, he delivered a heart-felt sermon to the Ansar that displayed his feelings on this issue, ending with the timeless question:
Do you not prefer, O gathering of Ansar, that people return with sheep and camels and you return with the Messenger of Allah? For I swear by the One in whose hands is the life of Muhammad, had it not been for the migration I would have been a person from the Ansar. And had mankind traveled down one path and the Ansar traveled down (another) path, I would have traveled down the path of the Ansar. O Allah, have mercy upon the Ansar! And the children of the Ansar! And the children of the children of the Ansar!
In As-Sirah an-Nabawiyyah of ibn Hisham it is mentioned that those in attendance (the Ansar) wept so much that their beards became wet and they said,
We are content with the Messenger of Allah as (our) portion and (our) share.
This timeless story highlights the fear of the Ansar that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) may no longer return with them to Madinah. But the Prophet (ﷺ) reassured them that their sacrifices and their work was what made Madinah home to him. For him, and all of those who work effortlessly and tirelessly for their faith, home is where Allah (ﷻ) places you on His Earth to do serve Him. With the inauguration of our new president, and with some people fearing where his new laws may leave them, people have thought about moving back to their “homeland.” For believers, we continue to work in any land in the face of hardship, recognizing that public sentiment and political agenda do not drive what we consider home. If our “homeland’ is where we once lived, then for believers our home is Paradise. Our parents, Prophet Adam and Eve (Hawa) (ﷺ) lived in Paradise. We hope to also go back one day.. Thus, we should love where we live and with whom we live, and our actions and words should support that. Our job is to try to bring goodness to all walks of life. It is not up to us to determine whether or not we succeed. Our job is merely to try. And in order to try, we must have love in our hearts.
After all, home is where the heart is.