It is really important to talk about and raise awareness about mental health and mental distress which is a natural human condition and nobody is immune from it. In Islam, Quran verses and Prophetic teachings indicate that everyone experiences some of these and this is part of our life struggle.
‘Indeed, mankind was created anxious’
‘And We will surely test you with something of fear and hunger and a loss of wealth and lives and fruits, but give good tidings to the patient.’
Mental distress is part of human nature, not a failure of it
Mental health and mental distress are part of human nature rather than being a failure of it. Whether you are in a state of comfort and ease or hardship and stress, it’s how you respond to it with patience or gratitude that will determine how much contentment you feel.
Contentment is felt in the heart and is a sense of peace and acceptance and what the Quran and hadith provide is a lesson that contentment is a feeling of peacefulness no matter what is going on around you.
Grief is a part of Sunnah – What the Prophet went through
The Prophet (SAW) experienced periods of great grief and if you look at the period that is called ‘the year of sorrow’, in which his wife Khadija (RA) and his uncle Abu Talib who gave so much support, passed away shortly after one another, this period has been called this based on the feelings that the Prophet (SAW) had and the loss he felt.
Also six of his children died before him with some in infancy and others in adulthood so he has felt the pain and suffering and has grieved too. It also shows that if you have been given a heavy burden of sadness or depression etc, it is because Allah knows that you can bear it. It is a proof of your faith, not a proof of a lack of faith.
‘Indeed, mankind was created anxious’
This verse means, whenever any harm touches a person he is frightful, worried and completely taken back due to the severity of his anxiety and despair that he will receive any good after it.
So mankind has been created with this natural weakness and everyone suffers from it to varying degrees from time to time and is a natural thing.
The Quran also talks about how to cope and overcome anxieties and stress through verses, and from the commentaries, we learn the circumstances of their revelation.
There are examples of grief and anxiety in the Quran, which affected Prophets (AS) as well as ordinary people. We shall look at some of these:
The Intense grief of Musa’s (AS) mother
‘And the heart of Moses’ mother became empty [of all else]. She was about to disclose [the matter concerning] him had We not bound fast her heart that she would be of the believers.’
Allah tells us how Musa (AS) mother could not think of anything else in this world except him when he was lost in the river, because of the intensity of her grief. But Allah gave her strength and patience.
The Prophet’s sorrow
‘Then perhaps you would kill yourself through grief over them, [O Muhammad], if they do not believe in this message, [and] out of sorrow.’
Here, the Prophet (SAW) felt sorrow over the idolators because they would not believe in his message and would keep away from him, even though they were his own people. Allah also states elsewhere in the Quran:
‘And be patient, [O Muhammad], and your patience is not but through Allah. And do not grieve over them and do not be in distress over what they conspire.’
Here, Allah is saying ‘do not destroy yourself with regret.’ Killing yourself with grief over them, but just convey the message. Your job is to explain and pass on the message clearly and after this whoever goes the right way, will benefit himself, and whoever goes a different way, will do so at his own loss. This is a temporary abode in this world, which Allah made a place of trial, not a place of settlement. You can only do the best you can, then leave and trust it to Allah, the Creator.
Yaqub (AS) and his grief over Yusuf (AS)
‘And he turned away from them and said, “Oh, my sorrow over Joseph,” and his eyes became white from grief, for he was [of that] a suppressor.’
The Quran informs us of Yaqub’s (AS) grief and pain when he lost his beloved child Yusuf previously and how he kept this sorrow to himself only and did not complain but suppressed it. This verse also shows that there is a physical manifestation too that results from emotional stresses.
Ways of coping with stress
People talk about a change of attitude and this comes from your mental state, but what if you are mentally unwell, how do you adjust your attitude to be accepting of this?
There are varying degrees of distress or illness in different people and in most cases there is a degree of talking or mind shift that they are capable of doing which will bring improvement. As Muslims you can talk to trusted people like friends, family or consult with an imam.
In those cases where no amount of talking is going to work, you need to speak to health professionals who will decide the best course of action whether that’s medication or another treatment.
Humans are social creatures and with the current health measures being in place, people with existing mental health issues may be finding physical distancing and isolation particularly difficult. It is important that you speak to a healthcare professional about it.
How the Quran and Sunnah can help with mental health
Even in the case of mental health, Islam has not left out ways and means of being in a better state and there are a number of verses which offer help and reassurance:
‘O you who have believed, seek help through patience and prayer. Indeed, Allah is with the patient.’
Ibn Kathir writes ‘it is a fact that the servant is either enjoying a bounty that he should be thankful for, or suffering a calamity that he should meet with patience. Allah has stated that the best tools to help ease the effects of the afflictions are patience and prayer.’
Affair of a Believer
A hadith states:
On the authority of Suhaib (RA) who said: The Prophet (SAW) said:
“Amazing is the affair of the believer, verily all of his affairs are good and this is only for the believer. If something of good happens to him he is grateful and that is good for him. If something of harm befalls him he is patient and that is good for him.” (Muslim)
‘…Unquestionably, by the remembrance of Allah hearts are assured.’
This verse shows that the believing hearts find comfort on the side of Allah; they become tranquil when He is remembered and please to have Him as their protector and supporter. This is achieved through Salah, regular zikr and meditation.
‘…But they plan, and Allah plans. And Allah is the best of planners.’
As mentioned earlier, you can only try your best in any matter, after that you have to leave it to Allah. This includes those occasions where you have very little control to change circumstances on your own. Get closer to Allah and ask Him for help. Accepting you cannot control everything is important in managing stress and anxiety.
‘Indeed, with hardship [will be] ease.’
Whatever troubles are encountered Allah will always provide relief with it. If you can realise that the situation you face won’t last, this will help you get through it much faster. It is said that the relief is provided at the same time as the hardship, not merely coming after it.
Watch and listen to the dua below to help with mental health problems and more.
Watch and listen to the Duas to help with all sorts of health issues, whether that is mental health, weight issues, physical issues etc.
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