Combating Depression, Sadness and Anxiety

Depression, sadness and pain related crossword(This article has been “proof read” by a foreign qualified Psychologist)

Those who believe (in the Oneness of Allah – Islamic Monotheism), and whose hearts find rest in the remembrance of Allah, Verily, in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest.” (Ar-Rad 13:28)

“But whosoever turns away from My Reminder (i.e. neither believes in this Qur’an nor acts on its orders, etc.) verily, for him is a life of hardship, and We shall raise him up blind on the Day of Resurrection.” (TaHa 20:124)

The above two verses from The Quran explain the basic requirement in order to achieve tranquility of the heart. The heart and mind shall be at peace when it is filled with the remembrance of Allah (swt); on the contrary, it will be full of anxiety and restlessness in its absence.

The “Shaytan” (Satan) wants to inflict pain to us. His work is done for the disbelievers but his main targets are Muslims. Anyone who tries to get closer to Allah (swt), Allah (swt) makes the path even easier for him; whereas somebody who continues to ignore his Creator, Allah (swt) appoints a Shaytan (Satan) for that person, and makes that also easy for him, so it is our choice to choose our course.

“And whosoever turns away (blinds himself) from the remembrance of the Most Beneficent (Allah) (i.e. this Quran and worship of Allah), We appoint for him Shaytan (Satan – devil) to be a Qarin (an intimate companion) to him.” (Az-Zukhruf 43:36)

In contrast to the above verse, Allah (swt) gives good news to those who remain close to Him and do good deeds, they will not only have contentment of heart in this world but will also have a good ending, which means good return in the afterlife. Insha’Allah.

The heart and mind shall be at peace when it is filled with the remembrance of Allah (swt); on the contrary, it will be full of anxiety and restlessness in its absence.

“Those who believe (in the Oneness of Allah – Islamic Monotheism), and whose hearts find rest in the remembrance of Allah, Verily, in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest. Those who believe (in the Oneness of Allah – Islamic Monotheism), and work righteousness, Tuba (it means all kinds of happiness or name of a tree in Paradise) is for them and a beautiful place of (final) return.” (Ar-Rad 13: 28-29)

A believer is grateful to Allah (swt) when he is blessed in some way, and he is patient when he is going through a test in order to wait for Allah’s (swt) help.  Imagine how Yaqoob (as) wept for his son Yusuf (as) and lost his sight. Imagine how distress and overwhelmed ‘Aishah (ra) was when people slandered her by telling lies about her, and she kept weeping so much that she said: “I thought that grief would tear me apart.”  (Source: Shaykh Al – Munajjad, Saudi Arabia)

Turn each worry into a Dua and each Dua into an action plan.

As human beings, we have a habit to get attached to people and worldly things. We also tend to expect quick results and humans are generally impatient by nature. Many times, even after much effort when the results do not turn out the way we planned, we get depressed. Most common reasons of depression are loss of wealth, health problems, demise of a family member and relationship conflicts. There is no running away from stress because in this life there will always be something small or big troubling us. All that matters is how you deal with it.

This article does not deal with the factors of stress, anxiety, and depression, nor is it a clinical advice. This article would help to develop an attitude to combat with it on a daily basis Insha’Allah. If you feel depressed, you are not alone. It has been estimated that 75 to 90 percent of all visits to primary care physicians in America are for stress-related problems. Turn each anxiety, each fear and each concern into a Dua (supplication). Look at it as another reason to submit to God and be in “Sajdah” (prostration), during which you are closest to Allah (swt). God listens and already knows what is in your heart, but He wants you to ask Him for what you want. Allah (swt) is displeased with those who do not ask Him for anything.

A Muslim turns towards Allah (swt) and calls for His help in all types of distress.

Adopt the Prophetic approach

Our job is to carry out our responsibilities to the best of our capacity parallel with a clear belief that we do not control the outcome of events. Even the Prophets did not control the outcome of their efforts. Some were successful, others were not. There will be Prophets on the Day of Judgement with one, two and more people; and some with not even one. Does that mean Prophets with very few or nobody were failures? No! They did their best and had their faith in Allah (swt), but Allah (swt) did not choose guidance for their Ummah (nation). Similarly, our role in this life is to make the best with the given resources, and leave the rest in Allah’s (swt) hands. Regardless of the results of your efforts, you will be rewarded for the part you have played.  (Insha’Allah)

However, never underestimate your abilities. Understand the concept of Barakah (blessings from Allah (swt); and remember that Allah (swt) can and Insha’Allah will expand them if you are sincerely exerting your energies for the right path.

A person can be sad due to various reasons.  Depression may be caused with or without a reason. In all types of grief and sadness, a Muslim deals with it differently from a non-believer. A Muslim turns towards Allah (swt) and calls for His help in all types of distress. We can encapsulate it in two categories for easy understanding:

1. Due to a specific reason, such as loss of wealth or loss of a family member.

2. Due to no reason at all. Person may start crying or get aggressive for no reason.

In both of the above situations, it is essential for a person to have a connection with his/her Creator. Whether it is a medical healing or a spiritual healing, the Healer is only The Creator.

              15 Islamic tips to overcome sadness, depression and anxiety

  • Believing that Life and Death are in the hands of Allah (swt) only. Allah (swt) says in the Quran, “Wherever you are, death will find you out, even if you are in towers built up strong and high!” (Quran 4:78)
  •  Believing that ease and difficulty come from Him only.
  • Believing that Allah (swt) is the Only “Raaziq” (Provider). Our job is to make efforts and leave the rest to Him. Our “Rizq” (provision) was decided and written when we were 4 months old in our mother’s womb.  Fataawa Noor ‘ala al-Darb (p. 36). Shaykh Muhammad ibnSaalih al-‘Uthaymeen, Saudi Arabia  (quoted and checked by Shaykh Al-Munajjad, Saudi Arabia) “How many are the creatures that carry not their own sustenance? Allah (swt) says, “It is Allah Who feeds them and you, for He hears and knows all things.” (Quran 29:60)  Allah (swt) further says in the Quran, “And He provides for him from (sources) he never could imagine. And if anyone puts his trust in Allah, sufficient is (Allah) for him. For Allah will surely accomplish His purpose. Verily, for all things has Allah appointed a due proportion” (Quran 65:3)
  • Believing that what He gave us was never our right and what He took away from us was always His in the first place.
  • Turning towards Allah (swt) in “Taubah” (repentance) in order to seek His help and forgiveness. Allah’s (swt) mercy overshadows His anger.
  • Keeping a clear focus on those who are less privileged and in greater pain than us.  This should be done on a daily basis as a reminder.
  • Take a spiritual break from the world and have a private moment with Allah (swt). This can be done in various ways such as, by going to Masjid for prayers, doing long prostrations, shedding tears during Dua and keeping total faith in The Creator or by going on a family vacation. It is extremely important to break the monotony of our daily routine before we reach our limits.
  • Recognizing the ultimate enemy- The Satan. He plays with our mind. We can put up a fight with him with Allah’s (swt) help.
  • Appreciate the blessings that cannot be bought with worldly wealth. Health, family and friends are some examples of such blessings that have no price tag.
  • Find a hobby. Involve in some community service. Be a volunteer or even start your own organization if you can. It gives an inner peace and satisfaction when a selfless deed is performed.
  • Staying away from negative people- especially the ones who keep putting us down. Keep a constant check of your company. The ideal company is of somebody who is positive, helps you get closer to Allah (swt); somebody who is honest to you and becomes your shoulder when you need him or her.  It is important not to have too many confidants.
  • Try not to verbalize the negative thoughts. Fighting negative thoughts is better than verbalizing them, which eventually turn into negative actions. Diversion is better and recommended by getting involved in something more positive and constructive.
  • Learn to let go of the things that are not in your control.
  • Exercise daily. Walking and swimming are one of the best exercises for depression. Healthy mind only exists in a healthy body.
  • Learn to forgive. Forgiving is important for our own peace. Once we forgive, we will be able to forget also. Keeping grudges is very unhealthy and self-destructive.
  • Do not fall prey to worldly material things and do not let them control us. We all want money, cars, house and jewellery etc. but there will always be people who will have more than us, and there will be ones who will have less- this is how it works. It is important to have decent living but it is more important to have good health, nice family and friends.

The above method is a road leading towards positive living.

Conclusion

A lot of worry and psychological stress is caused by not being content with the will and decree of Allah (swt). Even after getting what we want, we may still suffer from anxiety and fear of losing that blessing. There is no remedy for this apart from accepting the decree of Allah (swt), thanking Him for His blessings, and patiently bearing the difficulties and calamities that Allah (swt) has decreed for us.

Prayer

May Allah (swt) bestow His blessings up on us in this life and in the hereafter. May He give us peace of heart and mind, give us courage and wisdom and guide us to the right path. May He make us of those whom He loved and shown His mercy to. Ameen!

No Time to Waste

Photo credit: *USB* / Foter / CC BY-SA

Photo credit: *USB* / Foter / CC BY-SA

The Prophet (sa) said: “Take advantage of five matters before five other matters: your youth before you become old; your health, before you fall sick; your wealth, before you become poor; your free time before you become preoccupied, and your life, before your death.” This Hadeeth teaches us the importance of time and its right use. Every day is a precious gift to us by Allah (swt) and we should make the best use of it- remembering the ultimate goal of pleasing Allah (swt) and not letting a minute to be wasted. This is not to say that we should constantly work and pray, because Islam teaches us to find the right balance and we have the right to rest. Rather, wastefulness is giving time to things and activities that take us further from Allah (swt) and lower our Iman. And some of the most common time thieves nowadays are- watching TV and listening to popular music.

TV – the vital or the virus?

One might ask, “What is wrong with the TV? Why to vilify it, when it’s so common it has practically become part of our lives?” The TV box may be on constantly, and we would hardly give it any thought – just letting it become the not-so-silent background to our day-to-day activities. Yet, if we have young children at home, we should certainly give it more than a fleeting thought, as TV has a profound effect on shaping the mind and it is rarely a positive effect. Even though there are some worthy channels with some content of benefit; the TV in general is full of violence, inappropriate images of genders and gender relations, foul language and un-Islamic ideology.

Also, the TV is addictive, especially for small children who may throw tantrums the moment someone changes their favourite cartoon channel; its content is beyond our control and by watching TV we simply become passive consumers of the broadcast. Getting used to this passive reception also leads to laziness and makes the traditional ways of acquiring knowledge such as reading, seem tiresome and difficult.

Some people may think that if they give up on TV, they would miss out on latest news, newest dramas, everything people might be talking about. But the truth is just the opposite for we miss out on real life, meaningful activities and authentic human interaction, because we spent too much time watching the telly. And same goes for children. Yes, they might learn their phonics and counting quicker from the TV cartoons, but they will miss out on learning good habits and socialising with other family members and guests. Considering all these arguments, I decided that my family would be better off without the TV, but how to make the switch off painless for children (and everybody else)?

Watching TV easily becomes an addiction and breaking off the habit may be more difficult than just turning off the set. It might be a little easier for the grown-ups, once they realize that spending time in front of TV or listening to useless songs really diverts our mind from worthy activities and thoughts and lowers our productivity.

It’s never too late to change

When trying to make a change, it’s always a good idea to replace a bad habit with a good one. For example- if we are used to watching the TV in the afternoon to relax and rest, we might instead reach out for a book or go for a walk. If we get into the habit of listening to music while doing kitchen work or any other household chore, we could instead turn on the CD with the Quran recitation or get busy with Dhikr. Just keeping in mind, why we want to make a change should be enough to keep us motivated through the difficult early stages.

Yet, the children may not be so easily persuaded. It might be much harder for them to understand why watching cartoon is bad and in the first stages they might express lots of negative feelings or even throw tantrums about not being allowed to turn on the TV. It is our role as parents to make the transition easier for them, while at the same time remaining firm about our goals. And this might be actually the hardest part for us as parents, because children occupied with watching TV shows makes the parenting job easier; giving mums a break from watching over kids when they are very busy.

Be there for your child

Yet, we should remind ourselves that the easiest option is not always the best; and bringing up children as good Muslims is our most important job and we should primarily focus our efforts and time on the right education. Once we switch off the TV, the children will turn to us to find them something to do and keep them busy. Expecting this, we should try to find for them activities that would be not only more meaningful, but also more fun for the kids. It would be perfect if we could manage to occupy our children’s time in a way that would be more attractive to them than watching TV. And if we put a little effort, they might not even demand for cartoons at all, preferring instead to spend time playing and learning with their parents and other family members.

Children who spend lots of time watching TV often have no contact with books and see reading as a boring activity. But, we should try to instil the love of reading in our kids from the early age; and that’s why, it is a good idea to build a family library and share stories together every day. Little children love listening to the stories told by their parents and looking at the colourful illustrations in children’s books. Little elder children are often interested in activity books and stories about other children. There is a lot of choice of good literature for children at all ages, and it doesn’t have to be very expensive to build the right collection for them with so many shops with good quality second-hand books available.

Sometimes, we do have a lot of work and we cannot give children our full attention, but there are lots of activities to keep them busy and entertained other than watching TV. Doing crafts, painting and colouring are some of the things all the kids love. Otherwise, we might try to engage the elder children in our own activities, teaching them to help in the kitchen or with any other household work.

I believe that with Allah’s (swt) help, the right intention and a bit of determination, we can give up the unproductive activities and make better use of every minute of our time. Insha’Allah.