Sadness, Depression and Anxiety
Dr Suhaib Ashraf Bhat
Peace of mind, contentment, happiness and freedom from worries and anxiety, these are what everyone wants, and these are the ways in which people can have a good life and find complete happiness and joy. There are religious means of achieving this, and natural and practical means, but no one can combine all of them except the believers; although other people may achieve some of them, they will miss out on others.The name of failure is enough to put us off it and strive for success, regardless of the material gains that a man may attain as the result of his success, because failure is a word that implies shortcomings and loss, and success is a word that implies perfection and praise. Failure and success are two sides of the same coin, although they may seem to contradict one another at first glance. But in fact they are interconnected if you think about it, based on experience and real life.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 (Alahisalam) wept until he lost his vision and even our beloved Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah swt be upon him) 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. 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.Steadfastness of heart and not being disturbed about the imaginary things that bad thoughts may bring to mind. For when a person gives in to his imagination and lets his mind be disturbed by these thoughts, such as fear of disease and the like, or anger and confusion stirred up by some grievous matter, or the expectation of bad things and the loss of good things, it will fill him with worries, distress, mental and physical illness and nervous breakdowns, which will have a bad effect on him and which causes a great deal of harm, as many people have seen. But when a person depends on Allah swt and puts his trust in Him, and does not give in to his imagination or let bad thoughts overwhelm him, and he relies on Allah swt and has hope of His bounty, this wards off his worries and distress, and relieves him of a great deal of mental and physical sickness. It gives indescribable strength, comfort and happiness to the heart. How many hospitals are filled with the mentally sick victims of illusions and harmful imagination; how often have these things had an effect upon the hearts of many strong people, let alone the weak ones; how often have they led to foolishness and insanity. It should be noted that your life will follow your train of thought. If your thoughts are of things that will bring you benefit in your spiritual or worldly affairs, then your life will be good and happy. Otherwise it will be the opposite.Have great hope in Allah swt, and do not let the Shaytaan cause you to despair of the vast mercy of Allah swt which He has guaranteed for His believing slaves. You need to increase your hope and trust in Allah swt Who forgives all sins, and who accepts the slave who seeks His protection and refuge, for He is the Most Merciful, the Oft-Forgiving and the Most Loving. You should increase your good deeds, upholding the ties of kinship, etc. The sadness which we feel also happens to others, for it is something natural. How many people were examples followed by others and had a great deal of drive and ambition, then they lost their drive and ambition for a long time, then it came back to them by the grace of Allah swt. Remember the words of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah swt be upon him): “Everybody has his time of energy, and every time of energy is followed by a time of lethargy. But if a person tries to follow a moderate path, then I have hope for him, but if he becomes one who is pointed out (in the street), then do not think anything of him.”(Narrated by al-Tirmidhi, 2453; classed as hasan (sound) by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Tirmidhi, 1995).
What is meant by “Everybody has his time of energy” is eagerness for a thing, energy and the desire to do good.What is meant by “every time of energy is followed by a time of lethargy” is tiredness, weakness and lack of movement.“But if a person tries to follow a moderate path” means that the one who has energy does his deeds in moderation and avoids going to extremes when he is feeling energetic and avoids being negligent when he is feeling lethargic.“Then I have hope for him” means, I have hope that he will be successful, for he can continue following a middle course, and the most beloved deeds to Allah swt are those which are continuous.“but if he becomes one who is pointed out (in the street)” means, if he strives hard and goes to extremes in doing good deeds so that he will become famous for his worship and asceticism, and he becomes famous and people point him out to one another,“then do not think anything of him” means, do not think that he is one of the righteous, because he is showing off. He did not say, “do not have hope for him,” as an indication that he has already fallen, and he will not be able to make up for what he has missed out on. Think about this hadeeth, and relate it to your own situation and the situation of others: you will see a clear similarity. This hadeeth clearly states that man goes through a stage of incomparable eagerness and great focus and ambition, and then suddenly he becomes weak and loses that focus and eagerness and ambition. When he reaches this stage, he must strive even harder to do obligatory duties and avoid haraam (impermissible) things. If he does that, then there is the hope that he will succeed and progress, but if he falls into haraam things and stops doing obligatory things, he will be lost and doomed.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.
The writer can be reached at Suhaibbhatt85@gmail.com