What Islam says about hopeless and depression
Mohammad Nadeem Parray
You might often come across a conversation pertaining to things like “sadness is shaytan’s doing” or that “a believer never gets sad” or even that “sadness is an indication of weak or incomplete faith”. Nothing, and I mean nothing, could be further from the truth. Statements like these only escalate the process of drowning for individuals who suffer from depression, anxiety or hopelessness.
It is of the utmost importance that people know the difference between sadness and depression; sadness is a typical human emotion and depression is a much more damaging and longer lasting condition of hopelessness, despair, and dejection.
Sadness is a part of what makes us human. No living soul is unfamiliar with it; even our Prophets faced multiple episodes of sadness. For example, Yaqub (AS) wept until he lost his vision and even our beloved Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) experienced bouts of sadness upon the loss of his wife and uncle. Hence, sadness is not a sign of weakness in any form. To experience sadness is to be human. Having strong faith, or Imaan, does not render a believer to be an exception to the emotion of sadness.
Imaan does, however, equip us with the tools to combat depression and hopelessness. There is nothing wrong with accepting and acknowledging your grief. The strength of a believer is not that he remains strong by dwelling in denial or drowning in numbness, it is that he never loses hope despite all the pain and grief. That in essence is what true faith is.
If you feel yourself being chained down by your trials, or you feel stuck in your depressive thoughts and endless bouts of hopelessness, here are a few truths that can help you through your darkest days and rekindle that light at the end of that tunnel, inshaAllah.
No soul is burdened with more than it can bear
Don’t ever forget that Allah (SWT) will never burden you with something that is beyond your capacity to deal with. Even on days when you feel as if you cannot take it anymore, know that you can survive it- for Allah (SWT) knows us better than we know ourselves and whatever trial you’re facing in your life, know that He also gives you the strength to handle that trial.
With hardship comes ease
Allah (SWT) promises His believer that “For indeed, with hardship [will be] ease” (Quran 94:5). Trust His word. Even if the suffering feels endless and you feel yourself getting exhausted from the weight of it all, do not lose hope- for there is ease and something even better waiting for you right around the corner. Nothing remains forever, not even hardships. And those believers who hold on to hope and faith in Allah (SWT) and adopt patience amidst their difficult times are then rewarded in ways human beings cannot even imagine. So remember, this too, shall pass.
Allah (SWT) is in control, you are not
Depression is majorly defined by a sense of hopelessness- in yourself and in the world around you. It is rooted in a sense of sheer helplessness where you feel like nothing is in your control. But that is the truth; nothing IS in your control. It is in Allah’s (SWT) control.
Take a moment, embrace your lack of control over your circumstances, and know that the one in control is the best of planners and loves you more than you can imagine. Surrender your attempts to control your life, leave it up to Allah (SWT), and trust His plan for you. Sometimes, the human mind is unable to understand Allah’s (SWT) ultimate wisdom behind every single thing that happens to us. However, by accepting that Allah (SWT) is in control and welcoming His plans for us ultimately leads to the enrichment of our mind, body and soul.
Do the best you can and leave the rest to Allah (SWT)
Remind yourself that human responsibility is restricted within certain boundaries. All Allah (SWT) asks of us is that we fulfill our duties and do the best we can in our circumstances and leave the outcomes to Allah (SWT). We can only control our actions and duties, not the outcomes. Even Allah’s (SWT) prophets did not have control over their outcomes. A believer is rewarded based on the effort, not the result. Do not dwell on what is beyond your control and embrace Allah’s (SWT) magnificence. Do not make yourself anxious over the unknown outcomes. Play your role the best you can and leave the rest to Him.
Be grateful for the blessings Allah (SWT) has bestowed you with
During the hard times, we tend to forget the blessings we have around us and instead, we focus more on the things that are going wrong for us. It is human nature. We tend to get lost in circumstantial sources of grief and pain and forget to notice our source of blessings. Whenever you feel yourself being sucked into a dark phase of hopelessness and depression- remind yourself that you have a lot to be grateful for at the same time- whether it is a loving family, supportive friends, food in your belly every night before you sleep, a roof over your head and countless other things. Remind yourself that you are better off than so many other people who do not share our fortune in these domains. Keep a “count your blessings” journal if you want, where you can jot down a couple of things you are grateful for on a daily basis. It really does help in looking at the bright side of things!
Dua for when you feel depressed and hopeless
The Holy Prophet (PBUH) is known to have said: “Whoever was afflicted with grief and distress and says (see the following Dua), Allah, the Exalted and Ever-Majestic, will remove his grief and will change his sorrow into happiness.” It was said, “O Messenger of Allah! (Do) we have to learn these words?” He said, “Yes, whoever hears them should learn them:
“O Allah, I am your slave, the son of your slave. My forelock is in Your Hand. Your judgment of me is inescapable. Your trial of me is just. I am invoking You by all the names that You call Yourself, that You have taught to anyone in Your creation, that You have mentioned in Your Book, or that You have kept unknown. Let the Qur’an be delight of my heart, the light of my chest, the remover of my sadness and the pacifier of my worries” (Musnad Ahmad, 3704).
The Prophet also recommended the following Dua for a believer feeling grief and hopeless:
“O Allah, I hope for Your mercy. Do not leave me to myself even for the blinking of an eye (i.e. a moment). Correct all of my affairs for me. There is none worthy of worship but You.” (Abu Dawud 4/324, Ahmad 5/42)
Conclusion: Combating depression and anxiety is not an easy ordeal but Islam gives us hope for healing ourselves and dictates a path leading to its cure. Everything is possible for the Almighty- including the healing of His creation. He helps those who ask it of Him. Put your trust in Him and His plans, and you will feel a certain sense of contentment and comfort, knowing that the best planner is in control of your life and your circumstances.
Sadness is a part of what makes us human. No living soul is unfamiliar with it.
(The author is pursuing post graduation in Chemistry)