Sadness and Depression in Islam

بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَـٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ

This week’s Friday sermon (خطبة الجمعة), was about one of the most widespread illnesses of this day and age: sadness and depression

The Imam started the sermon by addressing Islam’s stand on sadness and depression. He also spoke about the main reason why some people fall into depression and, in some cases, lose the will to live: lack of/weak faith in divine decree (القضاء والقدر), or ‘preordainment‘. The Imam then concluded the sermon by sharing some ways by which a Muslim can overcome and repel sadness and depression: Remember Allah, never lose hope, apply yourself, do good, have patience, seek Allah’s forgiveness and supplicate.

Shaykh Aaidh ibn Abdullah al-Qarni wrote a fantastic book titled, ‘Don’t Be Sad‘, where many problems that we encounter on a daily basis were addressed, and solutions presented from an Islamic perspective: How does Islam teach us to deal with the tests and tribulations of this world? Inshallah, we will incorporate some extracts from the book with what the Imam at the mosque said during the sermon.

Being Sad is Discouraged in Islam

Sadness prevents one from action, instead of compelling one towards it. The heart benefits nothing through grief. The most beloved thing to shaytan is to make the worshiper sad in order to prevent him from continuing on his path.

The believer should not seek out sadness, because sadness is a harmful condition that afflicts the soul. the Muslim must repel sadness and fight it in every way permissible in our religion. There is no real benefit to sadness – the Prophet (PBUH) sought refuge from it in the following supplication: “O Allah, I seek refuge in you from anxiety and grief”.

In this supplication, grief is coupled with anxiety. The difference between the two is that if a bad feeling is related to what is going to happen in the future, then one feels anxiety. And if the cause of this feelings concerns the past, then one feels grief. Both of them weaken the heart and cause inactivity and decrease in will power.

Despite this, grief may sometimes be both inevitable and necessary. When the believers enter Paradise, its dwellers will say:

This verse implies that they were afflicted with grief in this life, just as they were afflicted with other forms of hardship, both of which were out of their control. So whenever one is overcome by grief and there is no way to avoid it, one is rewarded because grief is a form of hardship, and the believer is rewarded for going through hardship. The believer must therefore ward off grief with supplication and other practical means.

The good kind of grief is that which stems from missing out an opportunity to do a good deed, or from performing a sin. When one feels sad because he was negligent in fulfilling the rights of Allah, he shows a characteristic of a person who is on the right path.

The believer should not seek out means of finding grief, thinking that he is performing an act of worship. If this were the case, then the Prophet (PBUH) would have been the first to apply this principle. But he didn’t search out for misery; rather, his face was always smiling, his heart was content, and he was continuously joyful.

There is no doubt that sadness is a trial and hardship, and is in some ways similar to sickness. However, it is not a stage, level, or condition that the pious should actively seek out. We are required to seek the means of happiness and peace, to ask Allah to grant us a good life, one that gives a clear conscience and peace of mind.

Preordainment

The Prophet (PBUH) said: “Young man, I will teach you some words: Preserve (your obligations toward) Allah and He will preserve you. Guard (your obligations toward Allah) Allah, and you will find Him on your side. When you ask, ask Allah. When you seek aid and succor, seek it from Allah. And know, that if the entire nation got together to benefit you in some way, they could never benefit you at all except for that which Allah had already decreed for you. And, if they all got together  to harm you in some way, they could do you no harm except for that which Allah had already decreed for you. The pens have been lifted, and the tablets have dried” [At-Tirmidhi].

Whatever befalls us was not meant to escape us, and whatever has escaped us, was not meant to befall us. If this belief is firmly ingrained in our heart, then all hardship and difficulty would become ease and comfort.

The Prophet (PBUH) said: “Whoever Allah wishes good for, He inflicts him (with hardship)” [Bukhari].

For this reason, we should not feel overly troubled if we are afflicted with sickness, death, or loss of wealth. Allah has decreed these matters to occur and the decisions are His alone. When we truly have faith, we shall be rewarded well and our sins shall be atoned for.

Hadith: Expiation of sins

Hadith: Expiation of sins

Abu Sa`id and Abu Hurairah (RA) reported that the Prophet (PBUH) said: “Never a believer is stricken with a discomfort, an illness, an anxiety, a grief or mental worry or even the pricking of a thorn but Allah will expiate his sins on account of his patience” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim].

In fact, those who are afflicted with disaster, glad tidings await them – thus we must remain patient and happy with Allah.

ًWe will never feel completely at ease until we firmly believe that Allah has already preordained all matters. The pen has dried and with it has been written everything that will happen to us. Therefore, we must never feel remorse over that which is not in our hands. Do not think that we could have prevented the fence from falling, the water from flowing, the wind from blowing, or the glass from breaking. We could not have prevented these things, whether we wanted to or not. All that has been preordained shall come to pass.

As Muslims, we are taught to surrender ourselves: believe in preordainment, before anger and regret overwhelm us. If we have done all that was in our power to do, and afterwards what we had been striving against still takes place, we must have firm faith that it was meant to be. We should not say: ‘Had I done such and such, such and such would have happened’; rather we should say: ‘This is the decree of Allah, and what He wishes, He does’.

Verily, With Hardship, There is Relief

Eating follows hunger, drinking follows thirst, sleep comes after restlessness, and health takes the place of sickness. The lost will find their way, the one in difficulty will find relief, and the day will follow the night.

Allah (SWT), has promised us that with every hardship there is relief – in fact, this is repeated twice for absolute confirmation in Surat As-Sharh.

If we see the desert extend for miles and miles, then know that beyond the distance are green meadows with plentiful shade. If we see the rope tighten and tighten, know that it will snap.

Thus, we should never despair: it is impossible for things to remain the same. The days and years rotate, the future is unseen, and everyday Allah has matters to bring forth. Verily, with hardship there is relief.

Always Remember Allah 

Remembrance (dhikr) of Allah is the most excellent act of Allah’s servants and is stressed over a hundred times in the Holy Qur’an. It is the most praiseworthy work to earn Allah’s pleasure, the most effective weapon to overcome the enemy, and the most deserving of deeds in reward.

The history of humanity is full of sorrowful scenes in which, in order to attain tranquility, people have run after all sorts of things and in whichever valley they have stepped into, they have taken to various addictions (to help them cope with their sorrow). However the Quran, in one short, yet meaningful sentence has given us that the most assured and the closest path to this and has told us that, “Know that through the remembrance of Allah (SWT) shall your hearts and minds be put at rest and ease.”

 Never Lose Hope of Allah’s Mercy

One should never lose hope of Allah’s mercy. We should not grieve over the hurt that is inflicted upon us by others – we should forgive those that have ill-treated us.

We should also ever grieve over what has passed us by in life, indeed we have been blessed with much. We should always strive to contemplate the many favors and gifts that Allah has bestowed upon us, and be thankful. We should always remind ourselves of Allah’s many blessings.

Life, health, the faculties of hearing and seeing, two hands and two legs, water, air, food – these are some of the more visible blessings in this world. What would you say to someone who offered you large sums of money in return for your eyes, ears, legs, hands, or heart? How great is our wealth in reality?

Elhamdullilah.

Apply Yourself

Idleness is destructive, and most people who suffer from worries and anxieties are the same people who are idle and inactive. Rumors and gossip are the only dividends for those who are bankrupt of meaningful and fruitful work.

Apply yourself to something and work hard at it. Read, recite, and glorify your Lord with praises.  Write, visit friends, and benefit from your time. In short, do not give a single minute away to idleness. The day that you do will be the day that anxieties and worries will find their way into your life. Superstition and evil whispers will enter your mind, allowing you to become a playground for the games of the devil.

Also, try to make it a habit to do righteous deeds purely and sincerely for the pleasure of Allah, and do not expect either congratulation or gratitude from any person. And do not take it to heart if you confer a favor upon someone and he then turns out to be ungrateful, showing no sign of appreciation for what you have done. Seek your reward from Allah.

So make your dealings with Allah alone, as He is the One Who rewards people for good deeds. He gives and He bestows, or He punishes and He takes to account, being pleased with those who do well, and angry with those who do evil.

Do Good to Others

Being of service to others leads to happiness.

Hadith: Visiting the sick

Hadith: Visiting the sick

In an authentic hadith, the Prophet (PBUH) said: “Verily, Allah will say to His slave as He is taking account of him on the Day of Judgement, ‘O son of Adam, I became sick and you did not visit Me.’ He will say, ‘How can I visit You and You are Lord of the worlds!’ He will say, ‘Did you not know that My slave so and so, the son of so and so became sick and you did not visit him. Alas! Had you visited him, you would have found Me with him. O son of Adam, I was hungry and you did not feed Me.’ He will answer, ‘How can I feed You and You are the Lord of the worlds!’ He will say, ‘Did you not know that My slave so and so who is the son of so and so felt hungry, and you did not feed him. Alas! Had you fed him you would have found that (i.e: reward) with Me. O son of Adam, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink.’ He will say, ‘How can I give You drink, and You are the Lord of the worlds!’ He will say, ‘Did you not know that My slave so and so, the son of so and so felt thirsty and you did not give him drink. Alas! If you had given him, you would have found that (i.e: reward) with Me.'”

It is worth noting that in the first third of the hadith are the words: “you would have found Me with him.” This is unlike the second two parts of the hadith: “You would have found that (i.e: the reward for feeding and giving drink) with Me.”

The reason for the difference is that Allah, the All-Merciful, is with those whose hearts are troubled, as is the case with the person who is sick.

Patience

Allah knows

Allah knows

The Prophet (PBUH) said: “Wonderful is the affair of the believer! His affairs in their entirety are good for him: if good befalls him, he is thankful, and that is good for him. And if harm befalls him, he is patient, and that is good for him. And this (prosperous state of being) is only for the believer” [Muslim].

Thus we should always strive to not be sad and wait (patiently) for a happy outcome. This is because when a situation reaches the level of crisis, a light and an opening will appear. 

We should always remember that whoever fears Allah, Allah will reward them.

Seek Forgiveness and Supplicate to Allah

When one seeks Allah’s forgiveness, Allah bestows His grace upon us: peace of mind, lawful provisions, righteous offspring, and plentiful rain.

Thus we should always seek Allah’s forgiveness – morning, day and night.

Hadith: Asking for forgiveness

Hadith: Asking for forgiveness

“O Allah, You are my Lord and none has the right to be worshiped except You. You have created me and I am your slave. and I am upon your covenant and promise as much as I am able to. I seek refuge in You from the evil that I have perpetrated. I confess to You Your favor upon me, and I confess to You my sin, so forgive me; for verily, none forgives sins except You.”

Supplication is a very powerful weapon for the believer, the Prophet (PBUH) taught us a duaa to recite when when afflicted with worries or anxiety:

Hadith: Duaa for worries and sadness

Hadith: Duaa for worries and sadness

And finally, if one’s depression is critical, there is no shame in seeking professional help.

May Allah bless us all with pure hearts, tongues that are moist in remembrance and make our life free from worries and anxiety.

If you would like to find out more about the book, ‘Don’t Be Sad’, or would like to download it – you can do so here.

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Islam and Psychology

It was narrated that Anas bin Mâlik said: The Messenger of Allah said “Seeking knowledge is a duty upon every Muslim.”

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It was narrated that Anas bin Mâlik said: The Messenger of Allah said “Seeking knowledge is a duty upon every Muslim.”

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It was narrated that Anas bin Mâlik said: The Messenger of Allah said “Seeking knowledge is a duty upon every Muslim.”

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