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Heartstrings in Backpack; A Journey to Minimal Living and Spiritual Healing

Heartstrings in Backpack; A Journey to Minimal Living and Spiritual Healing

In a world filled with chaos and clutter, everyone is constantly yearning for what is beyond more!

What is beyond more?

Nothing will ever be “beyond more” than what you already have.

It is not about having less or more - it is about why is there always something missing.

This is something you have to ask yourself, what exactly is missing?

Everyone is suffocated despite having everything that a human could ever possibly need.

Suffocation is not because of lack, it is because we have more than what we need, which does not leave any space for us to breathe. We have so much in our lives, in our hearts, and in our minds that there is not even a space left to sit back and reflect on what exactly is missing.

What if I tell you that nothing is missing, and nothing will be beyond more in this present moment?

What if I tell you what’s missing is the core, the essence, and the purpose of creation?

What if I tell you that it is possible to feel content even in nothing?

What if I tell you that it is us who have made our life suffocating?

Would you believe me if I told you that it is us who have brought ourselves here?

وَلَا تَكُونُوا۟ كَٱلَّذِينَ نَسُوا۟ ٱللَّهَ فَأَنسَىٰهُمْ أَنفُسَهُمْ ۚ أُو۟لَـٰٓئِكَ هُمُ ٱلْفَـٰسِقُونَ
And do not be like those who forgot Allah, so He made them forget themselves. [59:19]

The emptiness that we carry within ourselves is not because we are falling behind, or that we do not have enough, or that we need something more - it is because we have more than what we need.

This constant yearning for peace and contentment can never be filled with material, but intentionally decluttering emotional, physical, and mental clutter to make space for breathing.

I never had any liking for worldly things all my life, if I look back - it would have been enough for me to be in the present moment and live - but still, I never realized I had so much that I did not need.

Until the last 2 years, when I had to move across a country, and 3 cities in just a year, while juggling between losing, finding and switching jobs, all alone; packing, moving, and setting up a home all over again in different places - and hell, it was frustrating.

It was frustrating to the point that the last time I had to move, I left everything behind other than what I could fit in two bags - because, I did not have the slightest mental capacity to carry anything anymore, especially the material possessions, while mental baggage was already weighing me down.

Every time, I would sit in the pile of everything, staring into it, wondering, and telling myself to gather the courage to get up and start to pack - no, I cannot, I am done - like really done, done.

It would have either me or the things I had to pack and move between fleeting homes - those were the moments, I knew I did not want to live with anything that could not fit in 2 bags(that actually kind of become my goal, despite being able to afford things, on my existence, I do not want to spend more than a set limit, which is very basic) - and I have never been more free.

I won’t say, I am living my life literally in a bag. Letting go is like a journey. It takes time, and I am not there yet, but this is the point that I only have things that I really need - because it gives me much more freedom and space than anything else, for things that value more to me.

It's about priorities - because it is not just decluttering your wardrobe, or throwing things away, it is about inspiration.

Amongst struggling with mental illness, a job, moving across the country, striving to work ways for my kids as a single parent, and rediscovering my whole existence - I did not have any space, time, or energy to carry one more burden alone.

Amongst anything, I did not have the courage to let this world drown me - I knew this was the time I had to let go.

minimalism is to make space - Minimal Living and Spiritual Healing

Like a normal human being, I do want or dream of many things, but things cannot let me lose what matters more to me, my freedom, mental peace, contentment, faith, religion, and things that my heart wants - experiences, warmth, love, compassion, humbleness, and submission to my Lord, Allah.

And it opened doors for me to a new realization that it never was about things, and it will always be beyond what we can only see - that is when I understood the real meaning of minimalism.

Heartstrings in Backpack is inspired by my minimal lifestyle of 3 years. Reaching here had its ups and downs, but the amount of peace, and time it has created in my life is beyond what words can explain.

Living a minimalistic lifestyle can have profound effects on our physical and mental well-being. It is a journey that allows us to let go of not only material possessions but also emotional and mental baggage and embrace simplicity, leading to a greater sense of peace and contentment.

Let’s explore the concept of minimalism and its connection to spiritual healing.

Minimalism and Islam: Zuhd

Minimalism, as colorless social media aesthetics portray, does not mean wearing neutrals, and having sleek designs.

What we see on Instagram is nothing more than a stress to change everything to beige neutrals.

That is not minimalism! That is extra work, damn it.

Minimalism is more than sleek designs, and neutral tones.

Zuhd(asceticism), on the other hand, means “severe self-discipline and avoiding of all forms of indulgence” as the dictionary says.

When we look at Zuhd, an Islamic concept of minimalism, in its deeper context, it is to avoid all types and forms of indulgence in the unnecessary(mainly haraam things and acts prohibited by Allah), and to focus on what is meaningful - the purpose of life, worshiping Allah and working for the hereafter.

The beauty of Islam is that it does not refrain us from earning, building, and making a better life for ourselves - however, it focuses, unlike modern minimalism, on disciplining your life holistically, on a deeper level, spiritual, and physical.

Minimal Living and Spiritual Healing

يَـٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا۟ لَا تُحَرِّمُوا۟ طَيِّبَـٰتِ مَآ أَحَلَّ ٱللَّهُ لَكُمْ وَلَا تَعْتَدُوٓا۟ ۚ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ لَا يُحِبُّ ٱلْمُعْتَدِينَ ٨٧
O believers! Do not forbid the good things which Allah has made lawful for you, and do not transgress. Indeed, Allah does not like transgressors.[5:87]

`Ali bin Abi Talhah said that Ibn `Abbas said, "This Ayah 5:87 was revealed about some of the Companions of the Prophet who said, `We should cut off our male organs, abandon the desires of this life and travel in the land, just as the Ruhban (monks) do.'

When the Prophet heard of this statement, he summoned them and asked them if they made this statement and they answered `Yes.' The Prophet said, “What is the matter with some people who said such and such I fast and break the fast, sleep and wake to stand to pray, eat meat, and marry women. He who is not pleased with my Sunnah is not of me.”

Heartstrings in Backpack; A Journey to Minimal Living and Spiritual Healing

Allah says;

وَكُلُوا۟ مِمَّا رَزَقَكُمُ ٱللَّهُ حَلَـٰلًۭا طَيِّبًۭا ۚ وَٱتَّقُوا۟ ٱللَّهَ ٱلَّذِىٓ أَنتُم بِهِۦ مُؤْمِنُونَ ٨٨
And eat of what Allāh has provided for you [which is] lawful and good. And fear Allāh, in whom you are believers.[5:88]

It means that do not exaggerate and make it hard for yourselves by prohibiting permissible things and do not also exaggerate yourselves in the permissible things so much that you lose your way.

And that is exactly what is happening.

We are indulged so much in worldly things, even the ones that are permissible for us, to the point that we lose sight of the purpose of our life, which is to worship Allah and work for our hereafter.

Islam does not tell us to leave everything and live a life of isolation and misery if we have the means to build a better life for ourselves.

Islam also does not allow us to run behind the world that we forget its temporariness, and forget about Allah, and our purpose of creation.

Islam teaches us balance, and we are far from it.

Heartstrings in Backpack; A Journey to Minimal Living and Spiritual Healing

وَمَا هَـٰذِهِ ٱلْحَيَوٰةُ ٱلدُّنْيَآ إِلَّا لَهْوٌۭ وَلَعِبٌۭ ۚ وَإِنَّ ٱلدَّارَ ٱلْـَٔاخِرَةَ لَهِىَ ٱلْحَيَوَانُ ۚ لَوْ كَانُوا۟ يَعْلَمُونَ ٦٤
This worldly life is no more than play and amusement. But the Hereafter is indeed the real life if only they knew.[Quran 29:64]

This ayah connects us to the clear idea of the way we should be living this life, and peace and contentment can only be found in the purpose, which is hereafter.

Purposeless purchases, spending, and hoarding things make it hard and distract us from our purpose, which creates this hollow inside us that makes us feel empty, despite having so much of everything.

  • Zuhd is to be moderate in deen and dunya.

  • Being content with what you have and need to live a good life.

  • Simplifying your life based on intentional, essential detachment from excessive indulgence in the world, to focus on what truly matters.

  • Avoiding excessive luxury and focusing on spiritual pursuits, our purpose, and hereafter - not only this temporary worldly life.

  • Making mindful and intentional choices in all aspects of our lives, including our actions and spiritual pursuits.

  • It means to make room inside your heart, mind, and your life - for bigger and better things than just material possessions.

Minimal Living and Spiritual Healing

But, it is more than that. Our mind and body are connected, and so is our mental and physical existence.

It is not just the physical possession, nor the mental baggage alone - minimalism is a holistic approach to decluttering your existence.

Minimalism is to Make Room

The biggest misconception with minimalism is to have less or survive on the bare minimum, but no - it is to have more room for meaningful things, like more physical and mental space, more time, more compassion, more experiences, more growth, and more contentment - which means more peace.

And the more is always in being grateful, and appreciating what we have.

رَبُّكُمْ لَئِن شَكَرْتُمْ لَأَزِيدَنَّكُمْ ۖ
‘If you are grateful, I will certainly give you more.[14:7]

Connection Between Minimal Living and Spiritual Healing

The idea of minimal living and spiritual healing is so overlooked, however, they cannot be separated from each other, if we look into the true meaning of minimal living and spiritual healing, connected or separately.

From our provision to mental energy, we are given a certain amount of capacity each day. We cannot take away even a second from the day or add one more second to 24 hours of the day.


The rizq Allah has written for you for the day will reach you - no one can take away or add anything more than what Allah wills.

Islam has made it rewarding for us to earn a halal income and spend it on ourselves, and our family - the problem arises, and we ruin not this life but our akhirah when we go beyond the limits set by Allah in earning.

It is not just about taking riba(interest), and working haram jobs, in haram ways, but also not being content with what we are given.

It is also about not stressing over our rizq to the point that it leaves us drained, it distances us from the gratitude of what we are given, and it makes us doubt the distribution of Allah.

It is about going beyond the limits set by Allah to earn more.

The last job I lost was because I started wearing niqab full-time. Doing this was as normal for me as I never expected that this would become a reason. Because the world wants "presentable" women at the desk - and we all know what presentable means in today's world - showing your body, wearing jeans, flaunting your hair, and good makeup.

but, naaah!

But, the only thing my heart told me was "I ain't gonna lose my akhira and pleasure of my beloved for some money/job."

Minimalism is to prioritize - my Lord is my top priority - and all my heart said was, Alhamdulillah. Because, my Lord has said;

إِن يَعْلَمِ ٱللَّهُ فِى قُلُوبِكُمْ خَيْرًۭا يُؤْتِكُمْ خَيْرًۭا مِّمَّآ أُخِذَ مِنكُمْ وَيَغْفِرْ لَكُمْ ۗ وَٱللَّهُ غَفُورٌۭ رَّحِيمٌۭ ٧٠
“If Allah finds goodness in your hearts, He will give you better than what has been taken from you, and forgive you. For Allah is All-Forgiving, Most Merciful.”[Quran 8:70]

minimalism is to rely on Allah for provision - Minimal Living and Spiritual Healing

I have not found a job yet, it's been six months, but my Lord hasn't left me alone. I am surviving in an expensive city without a job, for not me, for the faith I have in my Lord.

Because my Lord, Allah, the most exalted says to me;

اللَّهُ يَبْسُطُ الرِّزْقَ لِمَن يَشَاءُ مِنْ عِبَادِهِ وَيَقْدِرُ لَهُ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عَلِيمٌ
Allah extends provision for whom He wills of His servants and restricts for him. Indeed Allah is, of all things, Knowing.[29:62]

However, even when we can live a good life in what is required, we forget our Lord in gaining more at the cost of our faith, and purpose(worshipping Allah).

Rizq which is earned beyond the limits set by Allah does not have barakah. It can become the source of your damnation.

The minimalist approach I take in life is "I will cut down a few things, and put my tawakkul(reliance) in Allah, rather than removing my clothes!


The time Allah has given you for the day, no one can utilize for you - it is you who has to decide how and where you want to spend it.

Every extra second you spend on social media, you are cutting that out from the time you could have spent in remembrance of Allah, reflecting, reading, or seeking some beneficial knowledge.

وَلَا تَكُونُوا۟ كَٱلَّذِينَ نَسُوا۟ ٱللَّهَ فَأَنسَىٰهُمْ أَنفُسَهُمْ ۚ١٩
And do not be like those who forgot Allah, so He made them forget themselves. [Quran 59:19]

There is not anything like extra time. You have to make space for different things, by decluttering activities that are not beneficial for your mental health, your life, and the life hereafter.

We see people who leave their prayers because they are working or do not have time.

I wonder what are we working for? We leave the same Lord who gave us that opportunity to work. A meeting can wait. Hanging out with friends can wait - but a salah that is missed, cannot be made up.

When the time will end, the things that we will be taking with us are our deeds, not friends, not our work, not anything.

What we need is to filter activities we can be answerable to when Allah asks us where we spend our time.


The People we surround ourselves with surely play an important role in shaping our lives.

How, where, and with what kind of people you spend your time with is what you need to decide.

minimalism is to choose your company wisely Minimal Living and Spiritual Healing

The Prophet (ﷺ) said: “A man follows the religion of his friend; so each one should consider whom he makes his friend.” [Abu Dawud]

An important aspect of minimalism that is overlooked, and is beyond the material possessions is having few people or friends who add value to your life and do not drain you, which is better than having meaningless acquaintances.

The best thing you can ever give yourself is decluttering your social circle.

Your mood, energy, mindset, and whole life are shaped by the type of people you have in your company.

Declutter people who do not add to your growth, mental peace, and most importantly your akhira.

When you choose, and pray for the right people, you make room for the like. The time you spend with people who gossip, and waste time sitting around or being involved in haram activities, you can free space for better things, better people.

A righteous friend can take you to Jannah, whereas, a transgressive friend can pull you with them to hell.


Allah also has given us a limited resource of energy per day.

Do not drain yourself over the feeling of not being enough - instead, try to manage and utilize your energy in smaller time slots.

Do not let the negative thoughts overcome you. We all have our share of good and bad - and the best are the ones who seek refuge in Allah.

Use that energy intentionally and wisely in your ibadah, and worldly affairs - and know that it is not necessary to utilize it all - what’s important is to know what things require your energy and what not.

It is not about leaving things, it is about choosing better things!

You Are From and To Allah

يَا قَوْمِ إِنَّمَا هَٰذِهِ الْحَيَاةُ الدُّنْيَا مَتَاعٌ وَإِنَّ الْآخِرَةَ هِيَ دَارُ الْقَرَارِ
O my people, this worldly life is only [temporary] enjoyment, and indeed, the Hereafter - that is the home of [permanent] settlement.[Quran 40:39]

Islam’s attitude towards non-attachment toward this world is without denying its existence.

Islam encourages us to live and make use of this world and what we are given, but in a meaningful way, without becoming compliant with it.

minimalism in Islam is to connect to Allah Minimal Living and Spiritual Healing

I cannot emphasize enough that detachment is the first step to attachment to Allah.

The root cause of every evil, the downfall, lack of peace, and contentment is that we forget the temporariness of this life.

Emotions, feelings, heartbreaks, worries, stress, and everything become huge for us when we forget that this life has to end one day.

but also;

If there is night, the sun will rise.

If it rains, no one stops the rainbow.

The only thing that is eternal is Allah.

When you know you are from Allah, and you have to return to Allah - you know that no harm can harm you, no sorrow can make you feel hopeless, no struggle is a struggle - but an opportunity, given to you as a blessing to get closer to Allah, to get the reward.

And remember that we are always tested with the things we love or want the most.

Narrated Abu Sa'id Al-Khudri and Abu Huraira: The Prophet said, "No fatigue, nor disease, nor sorrow, nor sadness, nor hurt, nor distress befalls a Muslim, even if it were the prick he receives from a thorn, but that Allah expiates some of his sins for that."


In how many things and people, how many homes we have made?

And how many times we have broken our hearts when it comes to finding comfort?

I do not remember the times, for how long, I have yearned, cried, and begged for a home - which would drown me into worries, pain, and hurt, leaving me crippled, unable to do anything.

I still remember the nights I did not have a place to go to, and I would spend nights sitting in the parks, wondering “Ya Allah, do I not even deserve a small piece of ground I could put my feet on and call it a home” until I stood on the prayer mat, and realized, Allah is the only home.

And that day, again, I packed a bag, one more time. I put all the broken pieces of my heart in it and embarked on another journey of liberation - that my home is with Allah.

You know, you would only have the courage to let go of the unnecessary material possessions when you have had to let go of the things buried deep inside your heart. the things you have wanted the most. the people you did not want to leave. the struggles that you could not carry. the burden that crushed your bones.

Amidst chaos, when you hold the hand of Allah, and you experience His comfort, you realize nothing except Allah matters - and that is when you realize what you need the most in your life, and what you need the most to let go of.

When you have done everything for something, and still it isn’t working out, know that this is the time to stop - and stopping does not mean that you have stopped, it means that you have put it in the hands of Allah.

Heartstrings in Backpack; A Journey to Minimal Living and Spiritual Healing

The moment I stopped fighting for a home, Allah showed me home. A home that is eternal. A home that is peaceful. A home that let not reach heat to me. A home that truly shelters me.

If there is hardship, there is ease with it - and that is how this world works - it exists today, and tomorrow it will not.

Sometimes, we do our best, and still, things do not work for us. Sometimes we don’t have the strength to do anything, and things work for us.

Minimalism is to simplify our faith in firmness - knowing that whatever is happening is from Allah, and He has a better plan for us.

We cannot carry the burdens of others, weighing us down, drowning in despair for others' sorrows - but embrace the decree of Allah that helps us in managing our actions and response towards hardships.

Stop worrying about the things that are not in your control, and leaving it to Allah creates immense space in our lives and hearts to fill with things that are in our control.


Minimal Living and Spiritual Healing

إِلَّا مَنْ أَتَى ٱللَّهَ بِقَلْبٍۢ سَلِيمٍۢ ٨٩
Only those who come before Allah with a pure heart ˹will be saved.[26:89]

Our hearts hold the most significant place in our lives.

And what our hearts hold is important.

What are our hearts attached to?

What do our hearts want?

أَرَءَيْتَ مَنِ ٱتَّخَذَ إِلَـٰهَهُۥ هَوَىٰهُ
Have you seen ˹O Prophet˺ the one who has taken their own desires as their god?[25:43]

What our heart desires, and what we hold in our hearts decides who we become.

Be it the desire for money, people, or children.

Be it holding grudges, malice, envy, and hatred let go of it.

You do not have to carry the burden of temporary worldly possessions!

Why don’t I have this?

Why does someone else have that?

Why did that person do this to me?

Why didn’t he/she do that?

All the obsession with the unnecessary leads to diseases of the heart.

Let that go!

The most intentional decluttering we need in our lives is of our hearts.

Do not hold anything that does not serve you.

Do not hold onto things that tint your heart.

Nit pick things that you want to hold in the sacred home of your heart.

The same fruit that provides you nourishment, when rotten, causes a smell.

One mindset that really helped me in decluttering my life holistically, and what I firmly believe in is that “do not hold onto, and ruin yourself for things that you are not going to take to your grave.”

The transformative change of decluttering physical and emotional baggage allows us to leave behind what no longer serves us - making space for growth and healing.


By simplifying our lives, and focusing on what nourishes our souls, create space in our minds, hearts, and lives for deeper introspection and self-reflection.

This can lead to a greater sense of purpose and a stronger connection to Allah, our purpose, and our inner selves.

The more we let go of external distractions, we cultivate a deeper understanding of our values, beliefs, and spirituality.

The competition we see in today’s world, and the trends that people go crazy about is all an illusion - especially if it is taking away from you the time, and energy to focus on your religion.

Minimalism is to let go -Minimal Living and Spiritual Healing

Staying relevant has eaten away the sense of morality and the right and the wrong, which has normalized haram.

We have taken on the worries of the things that are not in our control, and we have let go of all the things that are in our control.

We worry about Rizq, which is not in our control. And we do not worry about offering Salah, which is in our control. SubhanAllah.

Surely, the journey toward minimalism and spiritual healing is unique for each individual - but it isn’t impossible for anyone.

It is about prioritizing your religion.

Prioritizing the permanent over temporary.

Prioritizing the provider of everything over everything.

Living a minimal life opens ways and serves us in the magnitude of benefits like it makes time in our lives that we can spend on meaningful things.

Let's Declutter

The clock is ticking, and yet it's never too late to start working on ourselves.

  1. Spiritual declutter

  2. Emotional declutter

  3. Physical declutter

  4. Social declutter

  5. Digital declutter

It opens our hearts and makes it easy for us to let go of the material and emotional baggage.

This life is too long to keep holding onto things that ruin you, and it is too short to ignore the things that actually build you!

**Comment one thing you feel hardest to let go of, and I will help you with a road map to embrace the art of letting go.


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submission is healing - spiritual journey - spiritual healing - islamic spirituality

Sanniya Arif

A cozy corner, warm lights, clouds, pen, a journal, Quran, and coffee is what I am made of.
By profession, I am copywriter, editor, and designer - By soul, I want to be a rain drop, or a leaf that falls on the cold, wet ground.
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