Some of us can fall deeply or occasionally get sucked in to negative, stressful, depressive feelings and thoughts. But, how can we overcome this? This is an outline of a 8 step plan, in using faith to replace the negativity with hope, positivity, inner strength and peace.
Ultimately only Allah cures and heals. But, the beliefs and techniques I am sharing here can prove extremely effective in combating the negativity and returning to an equilibrium , by the permission of Allah (SWT).
1. LIFE IS MERELY A SERIES OF TEMPORARY TESTS
The Quran clearly states:
“Do people think that they will be left alone because they say: “We believe,” and will not be tested?” (Quran, 29:2)
“We will test you with a certain amount of fear and hunger and loss of wealth and life and fruits of your toil.” (Quran, 2:155)
Life is temporary and is full of different tests for each individual; we are all in a series of tests, whether we consider ourselves liberated or trapped — whether we consider ourselves to be career or family orientated — or whether we wish to be politically correct and say that both are equally achievable simultaneously.
We don’t know what other people may be suffering with, so, we shouldn’t judge others, or assume that they are in 100% bliss, all day and every day. Everyone has had their own set of challenges embroiled on them. The testing, daily striving, struggling and challenges will always be there for all those who entered this life, until they cease to be in his life — whether we accept this or not.
This may feel like a sticking point or mental block that is difficult to digest or overcome. But, it’s an easy concept to grasp and remember. In life we know that we will continue to be tested every day and although we make so many choices, none of us have any proper control in the circumstances we will find ourselves in when we wake up, or even whether we will wake up or not. Yet we do make our own choices every day and try to feed our sense of control.
We may spend so long trying to work out what it was that would’ve made us happy if we could go back in time and choose all over again. No matter what we choose though, the outcome may not have necessarily been any better.
People looking in at our life may think that it is the most enviable life. Yet internally, we toil over the problems we want to eradicate and want to change, in order to eliminate the emptiness and sadness we feel; but, thinking and analysing too much can often create bigger problems than the ones we are trying to solve.
Some of us may conclude that we don’t want to change anything, but, the satisfaction and happiness is still missing. Some days may be worse than others, and the thought of having to rely on medications, if we let this negativity and stress linger — may be petrifying. Turning to our faith as a stronghold can give us the strength to continue.
Life is temporary. Allah is the most powerful and can control every heart and mind. Our one true lord, Allah, who created us, and controls the entire universe is the only true source of comfort and peace. He is the only one who deserves to be worshipped and obeyed. He knows of every minute detail and worry in our lives.
Reflecting on the essence of our faith, and establishing a strong connection to it can transform our hearts and lives. This takes sincere effort; this effort is easy when we believe. We can only believe fully when we know; so, learning more about Allah and his commands is an essential prerequisite for the ability to believe. Through seeking that knowledge our hearts and minds get stronger.
He (SWT) can change everything; he just has to say ‘Be,’ and it is. There is light at the end of every tunnel and Allah can restore our happiness in a split second, if he wills.
“Whoever disbelieves in Taghut (false worship) and believes in Allah, then he has grasped the most trustworthy handhold that will never break. And Allah is All-Hearer, All-Knower.” (Quran, 2:256)
Accepting that Allah knows best can free us of many burdens and false notions. The ‘What If’ mentality opens the way for Shaytan to enter our lives and thoughts, as the Prophet said:
“Seek out that which benefits you, seek help only from Allah and never say you can’t do it. If any adversity comes to you do not say: ‘If I had only acted in such-and-such a way, it would have been such-and-such;’ but instead, say: ‘Allah has decreed (it) and what He willed, He has done,’ for verily, (the word) ‘if’ opens the way for the work of Satan.” (Muslim)
It is sinful to be unhappy with the decisions of our creator. Why? Because, that very belief comes from an assumption that we know better than the creator what we deserve and should have got in life. Our need for control in every detail of life, oppresses and pressurizes our own soul; we can make a decision to dispose of that need. We may have had other plans but the way life was steered was in fact for the best — in the long run. That acceptance gives comfort and makes our faith stronger. Trusting Allah and being happy for what is decreed for us can be the crux of complete submission that many of us lack. Our lord knows best. Allah (SWT) tells us, “it may be that you dislike a thing which is good for you and that you like a thing which is bad for you. Allâh knows but you do not know.” (Quran 2:216)
Only Allah can heal and alleviate our suffering, and provide inner peace. Everything is easy for him and he promises us ease after hardship: He comforts us with the promise that “Verily, with every difficulty there is relief.” (Quran, 94:5). We should be hopeful and relax in the knowledge that Allah loves us. His mercy and wisdom is unimaginably vast, and far beyond our comprehension. In hardship we should turn to him, and be hopeful that he will relieve us. By his mercy he can grant us ease and restore our happiness. We belong to him. He controls everything in the universe, including our hearts and minds, and he knows us better than we do. Believing in him and his mercy; knowing he hears, sees and knows all can give us the strength and courage to be patient and persevere.
4. PSP (PATIENCE, SUPPLICATION AND PERSEVERANCE)
PSP: three key skills. Allah declares He is with us if we patiently persevere:
“Oh you who believe! Seek help with patient perseverance and prayer, for God is with those who patiently persevere.” (Quran, 2:153).
Having a connection with our creator leads to knowing what to do in life – and how to do it is simple when learnt from the original and pure sources. Every day we can remind ourselves PSP (patience, supplication and perseverance) and these strengths can help wipe out the emptiness. By replacing ingratitude with thankfulness and exchanging resentment with patience, we can gift ourselves with tranquillity and inner peace.
That abbreviation, PSP, is simple to say and for those that have the strong will to persevere in actually put these three skills into practice, these 3 life skills can give astonishing miraculous results.
5. DU’A (SUPPLICATION)
Supplicating and praying is a gift and tool for believers; it’s a direct connection that can be done at any time and situation. Invoking, beseeching and shedding tears whilst asking Allah, the controller of the universe is easy and incredibly effective, yet so many of us neglect this avenue of assistance.
Allah controls every mind, heart and body and can change our situation in a split second, if he wills it. Devoting time to supplication and prayers provides a source of comfort and strength. By pondering over the meaning of every verse we recite, and learning the beautiful tafsir (interpretation), we can give a new lease of life to my prayers.
Du’a can lead to amazing and immediate healing. Once the mind’s switch flips to positive we can clearly reflect and analyse each daily situation logically, and assess and determine what the causes of problems are, and employ suitable solutions or ways of handling them. Once we become rational every difficulty becomes an opportunity to get closer to Allah and seek reward from Him, and so the fog will lift. The emptiness inside will diminish as we fill life with tasks that increase knowledge, understanding and practical implementation of what we learn.
Allaahumma ‘innee ‘a’oothu bika minal-hammi walhazani, wal’ajzi walkasali, walbukhli waljubni, wa dhala’id-dayni wa ghalabatir-rijaali . (O Allah, I seek refuge in you from sadness and grief, from weakness and from laziness, from miserliness and from cowardice, and from being overcome by debt and from being overpowered by men (i.e other people). (Bukhari).
Allaahumma laa sahla ‘illaa maal ja’altahu sahlan wa ‘Anta taj’alul-hazna ‘ithaa shi’ta sahlan. (O Allah, there is no ease other than what you make easy, if you please you ease sorrow.) (Ibn Hibban)
Our purpose for which we were designed and sent down to earth has been revealed to us and we should focus on that. Worshipping Allah brings inner peace and healing for our soul, but many people remain deprived of it. During worship the soul dwells in tranquillity and fulfils the purpose it was designed for:
“I have not created the jinn and men except for this that they worship me alone.” (Quran, 51:56)
One of the key words in the above ayah is ‘alone’ – meaning making Him the most important factor in life and judging ourselves and everything surrounding us according to the criterion that He has revealed and taught. Whenever we deviate and fail to fulfil that purpose we begin to find our hearts lost, confused and wallowing in pain or sin.
For example a pen or phone is designed for a particular purpose; and no matter how pretty looking or expensive it is, if it stops working there is no use for it anymore, and it becomes useless. What we humans would do with such a pen is get rid of it, but Allah’s patience with us and his mercy for us is so vast and expanse that He has given us till the end of our lives to try to fulfil that purpose and so prove our worth and gain entry into paradise.
“Worshipping Allah” encompasses obeying his commands, seeking His help, believing in Him, relying on Him, trusting Him and His decisions and following the way that He taught us through the example of His Prophet (saw).
This worship actually benefits, nurtures, strengthens our souls, bodies and hearts, and is the most essential food for our survival.
Without this worship our systems come crashing down and we fall into traps, temptations, calamities and eventually our own failure. Whenever we feel failure, hardships or emptiness looming over heads we should ask ourselves are we fulfilling our true purpose in life, and what sins or distractions have we knowingly or unknowingly fallen into. Through eliminating the things that displease Allah, striving to please Him and aiming to reach paradise, we can be back on track on the straight path if Allah wills.
7. FOCUS ON PARADISE AS END GOAL
Once we make Paradise as our final goal – we can put this life into perspective. It is truly through Allah’s mercy that any of us will enter paradise. He doesn’t give up on us despite all our shortcomings. He is so generous and merciful that he gives us till the end of our lives to try to learn and perfect our job of worshipping him alone. He actually wants us to succeed; but, we oppress and deprive ourselves by digging our heels in due to our love and attachment to this worldly life.
The problems of this world are all temporary – and confined to this life – yet we allow our souls to be pressurised by them. Our creator knows us better than we do – and he has prescribed the solutions – but it’s our choice if we want to benefit from them or not.
We are encouraged to view this life as a place for striving to believe, submit and obey his commands. Why? To gain the reward of Paradise in the afterlife.
“Nay, you prefer the life of this world. Although the Hereafter is better and more lasting.” Quran 87: 15-16)
8. SEEING THE BIGGER PICTURE OF LIFE
Seeing things within context and perspective is vital. When we approach life in a wider context it helps us to not get too attached to its temptations and desires. Allah has given us this life as a test as he clearly says in the Quran (29:2); and he has given us the answers for it in advance, and the answers are readily available at our fingertips throughout the exam – if we choose to seek them.
Looking at the bigger picture of this life helps to put our problems and adversities in context. Strong established beliefs and spiritual striving are being acknowledged as a form of protection against depression. Amongst researchers the link between faith and preventing, as well as combating depression is becoming agreed upon. This overall principal may be even more magnified if we were to research this phenomenon in Muslim communities. In fact it would be fair to predict that our faith and practice of Islam are probably directly, and proportionally, linked to our ability to deal with difficult situations.
Allah, The Most Compassionate, wants us to succeed and achieve true success, positivity and inner peace. If we use our faith as a strong handhold and follow his commands we will be taken care of and our troubles can be melted down or eradicated through it.