Dealing with Worries and Stress
- Kinds of Worry and Stress
- Islam's Treatment for Anxiety andWorry
- Writings of Immam Ibn al-Qayyim onTreating Distress and Grief
- Du'aa' (Supplication)
Praise be to Allaah, the Lord of the Worlds, theMost Merciful, theMost Compassionate, the Master of the Day of Judgement. I bear witnessthat there is nogod but He, the Lord of the earlier and later generations and Sustainerof heaven andearth. Peace and blessings be upon the one who was sent as a Mercy tothe worlds. I bearwitness that he is the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings ofAllaah be upon him). Peace and blessings be upon him, upon all hisFamily and Companions,and upon those who believe in his guidance and follow in his footstepsuntil the Day ofJudgement.
It is the nature of this life that people willsuffer from worriesand stress, because this world is the place of disease, hardship andsuffering. Henceamong the things that distinguish Paradise from this world is the factthat there is noworry or stress there: “No sense of fatigue shall touch them, norshall they(ever) be asked to leave.” [al-Hijr 15:48 – interpretation of themeaning].Nothing ever upsets the people of Paradise, not even the slightestword: “Nolaghw (dirty, false, evil vain talk) will they hear therein, nor anysinful speech (likebackbiting, etc.), but only the saying of Salaam! Salaam! (greetingswith peace).”[al-Waaqi’ah 56:25-26 – interpretation of the meaning].
It is also the nature of this life that peoplehave to put up withsuffering and hardship for various reasons, as is indicated in theQur’aan(interpretation of the meaning): “Verily, We have created man intoil.”[al-Balad 90:4]. So people feel regret for what has happened in thepast, anxious aboutwhat may happen in the future, and worried about what is going on inthe present.
The things that cross our minds and make us feeldistressed arethings in the past that have caused grief, things in the future that weare worried about,and things in the present which concern us.
People react differently to stress and worries,depending on howmany things are concerning them, whether the worry is continuous ornot, and on whetherthey have faith in their hearts or are rebellious and sinful. We maydescribepeople’s hearts as being of two types: either the heart is the throneof Allaah,filled with light, life, happiness, joy and all the treasures ofgoodness; or it is thethrone of Shaytaan, wherein is distress, darkness, death, grief, worryand anxiety.
People’s worries and concerns will also differ,according tothe differences in their motivations, circumstances and individualresponsibilities.
One type of worry or concern is that which maybe described as worthwhileworries that are a good sign, such as a scholar’s anxiety toresolvedifficult issues concerning which the Muslims need an answer –especially when thematter is very serious and there appears to be no solution. Anotherexample is the concernof the Muslim leader about the problems of the people under his care.This is what madethe two ‘Umars (i.e. ‘Umar ibn al-Khattaab and ‘Umar ibn ‘Abdal-‘Azeez) and other leaders worried and anxious. ‘Umar ibn al-Khattaabused tothink about how to prepare the army whilst he was praying, and he wasexcused for that; healso used to worry about the animals stumbling in the land of ‘Iraaq.‘Umar ibn‘Abd al-‘Azeez used to express his suffering thus: “I am dealing withsomething with which no one could help me except Allaah. The elderlyhave reached the endsof their lives with it (in this situation), the youth have grown upwith it; theforeigners have learnt Arabic and the Bedouin have migrated to thecities in thesecircumstances. [It is so well-entrenched] that they think this isreligion, and they cansee the truth nowhere else but in this.” When the khilaafahpassed to him andthe people gave their bay’ah (oath of allegiance) to him, hecame home,feeling anxious and stressed. His freed slave said to him: “Why do Isee you soanxious and stressed? This is not how you should be on such an occasionas this.” Hesaid, “Woe to you! How could I not be anxious when there is no one inthe East northe West of this ummah who is not demanding his rights of me orasking me to helpsettle some matter with another person, whether he writes down hisrequest or not, whetherhe asks me directly or not?”
The more any decision had to do with the fate ofthe Muslims, thegreater the anxiety and stress involved. Hence when ‘Abd al-Rahmaan ibn‘Awf wasentrusted with the task of selecting the next khaleefah for theMuslims, after thedeath of ‘Umar, he did not sleep during that period, because he was sobusyconsulting the Muslims, even the old women.
Other types of commendable concern include: the concern ofthe dai’yahwho is striving to spread Islam and convey the message, guiding othersto the path ofGuidance; the concern of the worshipper to ensure that his worship iscorrect both inintention and practice; and the concern of the Muslim for the sufferingof his brothers infaith throughout the world…
Kinds of anxieties that may resultfrom committing sin include:the distress suffered after shedding blood wrongfully; or the anxietyof a woman who ispregnant as a result of fornication or adultery.
Kinds of distress that result fromwrongful treatment at the hands ofothers include that suffered because of mistreatment by one'sown relatives, asthe poet said: “The wrong suffered at the hands of those who areclosely-related ismore painful to bear than a blow from a powerful sword.”
Distress suffered because of thecalamities that happen in this worldinclude: chronic or serious diseases, disobedience of children towardstheir parents,hostility on the part of one’s wife or mistreatment on the part ofone’shusband.
Some kinds of anxiety result fromfears about what may lie ahead in thefuture, for example a father may be worried about what willhappen to his childrenafter he dies, especially if they are weak and he has nothing to leavebehind for them.
These are a few examples of differentkinds of stress andworry. We will discuss the matter in further detail below:
The distress suffered by the dai’yahwhen he calls his peopleto Islam. The Prophets had more than their fair share of thiskind of stress.‘Aa’ishah (may Allaah be pleased with her) told her nephew (the son ofhersister) ‘Urwah that she asked the Prophet (peace and blessingsof Allaah be upon him): “Did you ever suffer any day worse than the dayofUhud?” He said: “I suffered what I suffered at the hands of yourpeople, and theworst that I suffered from them was on the day of ‘Aqabah, when I hadmade an appealto Ibn ‘Abd Yaalayl ibn ‘Abd Kalaal and he did not respond in the way Ihadhoped for. I left him, hardly knowing where I was going, and I did notrealize where I wasuntil I had reached Qarn al-Tha’aalib. I raised my head, and saw acloud which wasshading me. I looked in it, and saw Jibraa’eel, who called to me andsaid:‘Allaah has heard what your people have said to you, and their responseto you. Hehas sent to you the Angel of the Mountains, to do whatever you tell himto do tothem.’ Then the Angel of the Mountains called to me, greeted me, andsaid, ‘OMuhammad, if you wish, I will crush them between two mountains.’” TheProphet (peace andblessings of Allaah be upon him) said, “Rather, I hopethat Allaah will bring forth from their descendents people who willworship Allaah aloneand not associate anything with Him.”
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be uponhim) suffered similar distress when his people disbelieved his accountof his NightJourney (Israa’). Muslim (may Allaah have mercy on him) narratedfrom AbuHurayrah that the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaahbe upon him) said: “I found myself in the Hijr (an area in the HaraminMakkah, near the Ka’bah), and Quryash were asking me about my NightJourney,questions about Bayt al-Maqdis that I was not sure of. I felt moredistressed and anxiousthan I had ever felt, then Allaah raised it for me so that I could seewhat they wereasking me about and answer all their questions…”
Concern about acts of worship.The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) was very concerned abouttelling people about salaat (prayer). Abu ‘Umayr ibn Anasreported from his(paternal) uncles among the Ansaar that the Prophet (peace andblessings of Allaah be upon him) was worried about how to gather thepeople together forprayers. Someone suggested that he set up a flag, so that people wouldsee it and tell oneanother, but he did not like this idea. Another suggestion was a ram’shorn (the shofarof the Jews), but he did not like this idea, and said, “This belongs totheJews.” Someone else suggested a bell, but he said, “This belongs to theChristians.” ‘Abd-Allaah ibn Zayd ibn ‘Abd Rabbihi went away, worryingabout the concern of the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings ofAllaah be upon him), and he was shown the adhaan (call toprayer) in a dream. Thenext morning he came to the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessingsof Allaah be upon him) and told him about it: “O Messenger of Allaah,whilst I washalf asleep and half awake, someone came to me and showed me the adhaan…”
The anxiety faced by the truthfulperson when he is disbelieved.This happened to the great Sahaabi Zayd ibn al-Arqam (mayAllaah be pleased withhim), when he heard the chief of the munaafiqeen (hypocrites)saying to hiscolleagues: “When we return to Madeenah, the one who has pride andpower will expelthe one who is humiliated” (meaning that the “one who has pride andpower”was himself, and the “one who is humilated” was the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings ofAllaah be upon him) and the people with him). Zaydsaid: “I told my (paternal) uncle, and he went and informed theMessenger of Allaah (peaceand blessings of Allaah be upon him). The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaahbe upon him) sent for (the chief of the munaafiqeen,‘Abd-Allaah ibn Ubayy), who swore that he had said no such thing. TheMessenger ofAllaah (peace andblessings of Allaah be upon him) believed him andnot me. My uncle came to me and scolded me: “All you wanted was for theMessenger ofAllaah (peace andblessings of Allaah be upon him) and the Muslims tohate you and disbelieve you!” I felt extreme anxiety and stress, suchas no one hasever suffered. When I was on a journey with the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), I hung my head with worry.Then the Messengerof Allaah (peace andblessings of Allaah be upon him) came up to me,tweaked my ear, and smiled at me. I felt happy in a way that I wouldnot exchange immortallife in this world for that feeling. Then Abu Bakr caught up with meand asked me what theMessenger of Allaah had said to me. I said, ‘He did not say anything,but he tweakedmy ear and smiled at me.’ He told me, ‘ Be of good cheer!’ Then ‘Umarcaught up with me and I told him what I had told Abu Bakr. The nextmorning, the Messengerof Allaah (peace andblessings of Allaah be upon him) recited Sooratal-Munaafiqoon to us.’”
According to a report narrated byMuslim, which tells the same story, Zaydsaid: “I came to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah beupon him) and told him about it. He sent for ‘Abd-Allaah ibn Ubayy andasked himabout it, but he insisted and swore that he had done no such thing,saying, ‘Zayd istelling lies to the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings ofAllaah be upon him).’ I felt very hurt because of what they said, untilAllaahrevealed words confirming that I had spoken the truth (interpretationof the meaning):‘When the hypocrites come to you…’ [al-Munaafiqoon 63:1]”
The anxiety suffered by aninnocent person when false accusations aremade. An example of this is what happened to ‘Aa’ishah (mayAllaah bepleased with her) when the munaafiqoon accused her of sinduring the campaign ofMuraysi’. She was ill, and when she heard the news of the rumours fromone of thewomen of her household, she became even sicker, and felt verydistressed. She said:“I said, ‘Subhaan-Allaah! Are people talking about that?’ I wept allnight,until morning, and never slept; my tears never stopped falling. Then Iwept all day, andnever slept; my tears never stopped falling. My parents came to me thenext morning, afterI had cried for two nights and a day, without ceasing and withoutsleeping. They thoughtthat this weeping would kill me. Whilst they were sitting with me, andI was crying, awoman of the Ansaar asked permission to see me. I gave her permission,and she sat down,weeping with me. Whilst we were sitting thus, the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) came in, greeted us, andsat down. He had notcome to visit me since the rumours had started, and for a month therehad been noRevelation concerning my situation. Whilst he was sitting there, theMessenger of Allaah (peaceand blessings of Allaah be upon him) recited the Shahaadah,then he said: ‘O ‘Aa’ishah, I have heard such-and-such about you. Ifyouare innocent, Allaah will prove your innocence, and if you did commit asin, then ask forAllaah’s forgiveness and repent to Him, for when the slave admits hissin and repentsto Allaah, Allaah will accept his repentance. When the Messenger ofAllaah (peace andblessings of Allaah be upon him) had finished what he had tosay, my tears stopped completely, and I said to my father: ‘Respond towhat theMessenger of Allaah (peaceand blessings of Allaah be upon him) hassaid.’ He said, ‘By Allaah, I do not know what I should say to theMessenger ofAllaah (peace andblessings of Allaah be upon him).’ I said tomy mother: ‘Respond to what the Messenger of Allaah (peace andblessings of Allaah be upon him) has said.’ She said, ‘By Allaah, I donot knowwhat I should say to the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings ofAllaah be upon him).’ I said: ‘I am only a young girl and I do not knowmuch ofthe Qur’aan. By Allaah, I have nothing to say to you except the wordsof the fatherof Yoosuf: “… So (for me) patience is most fitting. And it isAllaah (Alone)Whose help can be sought against that which you assert.” [Yoosuf12:18].’Then I turned away and lay down on my bed. Then Allaah revealed(interpretation of themeaning): ‘Verily! Those who brought forth the slander (against‘Aa’ishah) are a group among you. Consider it not a bad thing foryou…’” [al-Noor 24:11 – see complete passage, aayat 11 to 20].
Before ‘Aa’ishah’s time, Maryam bint‘Imraan hadsuffered a great deal of stress and anxiety because she became pregnantwithout beingmarried. Her distress reached such an extent that: “…She said:‘Wouldthat I had died before this, and had been forgotten and out of sight!’”[Maryam 19:23 – interpretation of the meaning]. She spoke thus becauseshe knew thatpeople would accuse her and not believe her when she came to them witha child in herarms, because she had been one of the devoted female worshippers wholived in seclusionclose to the mosque, and she came from a very religious household andwas descended fromProphets. Because of all this, she bore such a great burden of anxietythat she wishedthat she had died before this happened to her, or that she “had beenforgotten andout of sight,” in other words, that she had never been created at all.
Another example is the story of thewomen who was accused unjustly.‘Aa’ishah (may Allaah be pleased with her) told her story: “A blackwomanwho belonged to some of the Arabs became Muslim. She had a cubicle inthe mosque. She usedto come to us and talk with us, and when she had finished conversingwith us, she told us:‘The day of the wishaah (an ornamented girdle worn by women)was one of thewonders of our Lord. Indeed, it is He Who saved me from the land of kufr(disbelief).’” When she repeated this several times, ‘Aa’ishah askedher, “What was the day of the girdle?” She said: “A young girl whobelongedto some of my people went out wearing a girdle made of leather. Shedropped it, and a kite(a kind of hawk) came and swooped it up, thinking that it was a pieceof meat. Theyaccused me of taking it, and they began to punish me, to the extentthat they evensearched my private parts. Whilst they were surrounding me and I was inthat state ofdistress, the kite flew back over our heads and dropped the belt. Theypicked it up, and Isaid to them: ‘This is what you accused me of, and I was innocent!’”
A man’s worry about what mayhappen to his wife and children afterhis death. ‘Aa’ishah (may Allaah be pleased with her) reportedthat theMessenger of Allaah(peaceand blessings of Allaah be upon him) usedto say: “One of the things that concerns me is what will happen to you[his wives]after my death, for none will be able to take care of you properlyexcept those who aretruly patient.”
Anxiety because of a loan.An example of this is what happened toal-Zubayr (may Allaah be pleased with him), whose story was told by hisson‘Abd-Allaah ibn al-Zubayr: “When al-Zubayr stood up to fight at theBattle ofthe Camel, he called me, so I went and stood by his side. He said: ‘Omy son, no-onewill be killed today except one who is a wrongdoer or one to whom wrongis done. I can seethat I will die today as one to whom wrong is done. My greatest concernis my debts –do you think that any of our wealth will be left after paying off ourdebts? O my son,sell our property and pay off our debts.’” ‘Abd-Allaah said: “Hestarted to advise me what to do about his debt, and told me: ‘O my son,if you areunable to pay off anything, seek the help of my mawlaa.’ ByAllaah, I did notknow what he meant until I asked, ‘O my father, who is your mawlaa?’Hesaid: ‘Allaah.’ By Allaah, every time I felt distress because ofdifficulty inpaying off his debt, I prayed, ‘O Mawlaa of al-Zubayr, pay offhis debt,’and Allaah paid it off…’” ‘Abd-Allaah ibn al-Zubayr said: “Icalculated how much he owed, and found it to be two million and twohundred thousand…(some of al-Zubayr’s friends did not think it possible to pay off sucha great debt,but Allaah greatly blessed some land belonging to al-Zubayr, andsurprisingly enough, whenit was divided up and sold off, there was enough to pay off the debtand have somethingleft over)…Al-Zubayr had four wives: one-third of his wealth was putaside for them,and each wife got one million and two hundred thousand. The total sumof his wealth wasfifty million and two hundred thousand.”
Anxiety caused by dreams.This happened to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), as he said: “Whilst Iwas sleeping, the treasures of the earth were brought to me, and twoarmlets of gold wereplaced on my arms. That distressed me, but Allaah revealed to me that Ishould blow themaway, so I did so, and they disappeared. I interpreted them as beingthe two liars whom Iam facing, the one in Sana’aa’ and the one in al-Yamaamah.”
Ibn ‘Umar (may Allaah be pleased withhim and his father) also feltdistress because of a dream which he saw. He told us about it: “Somemen among theCompanions of the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaahbe upon him) used to see dreams at the time of the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him). They used to tell himabout them, and hewould say ‘Ma sha’ Allaah.’ I was a young boy, and I used tolive inthe mosque before I got married. I said to myself, ‘If you were anygood, you wouldhave seen something like these people have seen.’ When I lay down thatnight, I said,‘O Allaah, if You see any good in me, then let me see a dream.’ Thentwo angelscame to me, each of whom was holding an iron bridle in his hand. Theydragged me to Hell,and I was praying, ‘O Allaah, I seek refuge with you from Hell.’ Then Idreamtthat I was met by another angel, who was also holding an iron bridle inhis hand. He said,‘Do not worry, you are a good man, if only you prayed more.’ They tookme to theedge of Hell, and it was shaped like a well with horns; between everytwo horns was anangel holding an iron bridle. I saw in it men suspended upside downfrom chains, and Irecognized some men of Quraysh. Then they led me off towards the right.I told Hafsahabout it, and Hafsah told the Messenger of Allaah (peace andblessings of Allaah be upon him). (According to a report narrated byMuslim: “When Iwoke up, I felt worried and scared about what I had seen, so I askedHafsah about it, andshe said, ‘It is good, what you have seen.’ I said to her, ‘Ask theMessenger of Allaah (peaceand blessings of Allaah be upon him) aboutit,’ so she asked him.”) The Messenger of Allaah (peace andblessings of Allaah be upon him) said: ‘ ‘Abd-Allaah is a righteousman, if onlyhe prayed at night.’” Naafi’ said: “After that, he always prayed agreat deal.”
Islam prescribes a number of ways todeal with the distress that resultsfrom seeing nightmares and frightening dreams.
Having described a number of kinds ofdistress and anxiety experienced inthis world, we will now discuss ways of dealing with them.
Undoubtedly the first thing we shouldmention when discussing worries andanxiety is: ‘aqeedah (belief) and eeman (faith), andthe effects theyhave on dealing with stress. One can see many of the kuffaarand Muslims who areweak in faith suffering breakdowns and committing suicide in an effortto rid themselvesof depression, frustration and despair when they get into trouble orwhen disasterstrikes. Hospitals are full of patients who are suicidal or havesuffered nervousbreakdowns, or other kinds of psychological trauma. These problemsaffect many of thosewho are strong, let alone those who are weak. How often they lead tocomplete incapacityand loss of sanity!
The person who has been guided to Islam,if his ‘aqeedah issound and his eemaan is strong, will find the cure in thatwhich has come fromAllaah, the All-Knowing and All-Aware, Who created all things and Whoknows best whatbefits His creation. “Should not He Who has created know? And He isthe Most Kindand Courteous (to His slaves) All-Aware (of everything).” [al-Mulk67:14 –interpretation of the meaning].
Let us now discuss some of the differentkinds of remedies and treatmentstaught by Islam:
1. Equipping oneself with eemaan(faith), accompanied by righteous deeds.
Allaah says (interpretation of themeaning): “Whoever worksrighteousness, whether male or female, while he (or she) is a truebeliever, verily, tohim We will give a good life (in this world, with respect, contentmentand lawfulprovision), and We shall pay them certainly a reward in proportion tothe best of whatthey used to do (i.e., Paradise in the Hereafter).” [al-Nahl 16:97]
The reason for this is clear: thebelievers in Allaah whose faith iscorrect and motivates them to do righteous deeds that reform theirhearts and characters,and change their status in this world and the next, have the basicprinciples according towhich they deal with every kind of joy and grief that they may face.They receiveblessings and joys with acceptance and thanksgiving, and put them touse in beneficialways. When they do this, they feel happy and hope that it will last andwill bring themreward for their gratitude, as well as other things that will supercedethe originalgoodness and blessings.
When faced with distress, harm, worriesand anxieties, they try to resistthem and reduce them as much as they can, and they react with befittingpatience to thethings in which they have no choice. They gain a lot of benefits as aresult, such as:resilience and toughness as is appropriate; useful experience, strongwillpower, patience,the hope of reward, and many other benefits which reduce the distressfelt. Thus theiranxiety is replaced with joy and the hope of blessings and reward fromAllaah, as theProphet (peace andblessings of Allaah be upon him) stated in thesaheeh hadeeth: “How marvellous is the affair of the believer!Everything thathappens to him is good, and this does not apply to anyone except thebeliever. Ifsomething good befalls him, he gives thanks for it, and that is goodfor him. If somethingbad befalls him, he bears it with patience, and that is good for him.”
This is the way in which we may viewcalamities in a positive light.Another example is:
2. Thinking of how the Muslim mayearn expiation for his sins, purify hisheart and raise his status, when he is stricken with distress and worryin this life.
The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings ofAllaah be upon him) said: “Nothing of fatigue, illness, distress,worry, grief orharm befalls the Muslim, not even a prick from a thorn, but Allaah willaccept it asexpiation for some of his sins.”
According to a report narrated byMuslim: “No illness, fatigue,sickness or grief befalls the Muslim, not even worries, but it will bean expiation forsome of his sins.”
The one who is distressed or worriedshould know that whateverpsychological pain afflicts him is not wasted, but serves a purpose inincreasing his hasanaat(good deeds) and expiating for his sayi’aat (bad deeds). TheMuslim shouldrealize that if it were not for disasters and afflictions, we wouldcome empty-handed onthe Day of Resurrection, as some of the salaf (earlygenerations of Islam) pointedout, which is why they would rejoice when misfortune struck just as werejoice at times ofease.
When a person understands how thedisasters that befall him expiate forhis sins, he will rejoice and be of good cheer, especially if thathappens to him straightafter he has committed a sin, as happened to some of the Sahaabah, mayAllaah be pleasedwith them. ‘Abd-Allaah ibn Mughaffal (may Allaah be pleased with him)reported that aman met a woman who had been a prostitute during the time of Jaahiliyyah.Hestarted to joke with her, then he touched her. She told him, “Watch it!Allaah hasdestroyed shirk (once ‘Affaan said: has destroyed Jaahiliyyah)and hasbrought us Islam.” The man went away, and walked into a wall, cuttinghis face. TheProphet (peace andblessings of Allaah be upon him) came along, sothe man told him what had happened, and he said: “You are a slave forwhom Allahwishes good. When Allaah wishes good for His slave, He hastens thepunishment for his sin;when He does not wish good for His slave, he withholds the punishmentuntil the matter issettled on the Day of Resurrection, when all of his sins will bebrought forthtogether.”
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be uponhim) said: “When Allaah wishes good for His slave, He hastens to bringabout hispunishment in this world, and if He does not wish good for him, Hewithholds thepunishment until he is dealt with for his sin on the Day ofResurrection.”
3. Understanding the reality ofthis world
The believer knows that this world isonly temporary, that its luxuriesare few, and that whatever pleasures exist here are always imperfect.If it causes alittle laughter, it gives many reasons to weep; if it gives a little,it withholds farmore. The believer is only detained here, as the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “This world is theprison of thebeliever and the paradise of the kaafir.”
This world is also fatigue, pain, miseryand suffering, so the believerfeels relief when he departs from it. Abu Qutaadah ibn Rib’i al-Ansaariused to saythat a funeral passed the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings ofAllaah be upon him) and he said: “He is now relieved, and people feelrelieved ofhim.” The people asked, “O Messenger of Allaah, how can he be relievedandpeople feel relieved of him?” He said, “The believing slave (who dies)isrelieved of the fatigue and pain of this world and has gone to themercy of Allaah; whenthe rebellious slave dies, people, land, trees and animals are relievedof him.”
For the believer, death brings a respitefrom the distress, worries andpain of this life, as is stated in the hadeeth: “When the believer isabout to die,the angels of mercy bring white silk and say, ‘Come out content, withthe pleasure ofAllaah upon you, to the mercy of Allaah and sweet fragrance and a Lordwho is notangry.’ So (the soul) comes out like the best fragrance of musk and theangels handit to one another until they bring it to the gate of heaven. They say,‘How good isthis fragrance that has come from the earth.’ They bring it to thesouls of thebelievers, and they rejoice over it much more than you do when one whohas been absentreturns. They ask him, ‘What did So-and-so do? What did So-and-so do?’then (theangels) say, ‘Leave him alone, for he was suffering the distress of theworld.’When he asks, ‘Did not So-and-so come to you?’ they say: ‘He was takentohis home in the Pit (i.e., Hell).’ When the kaafir is about to die,angels ofpunishment bring sackcloth and say, ‘Come out discontent, with thewrath of Allaahupon you, to the punishment of Allaah.’ So (the soul) comes out likethe worst stenchof rotten meat, and they take it to the gate of the earth. They say,‘How foul isthis stench,’ until they bring it to the souls of the kuffaar.”
This understanding of the reality ofthis world makes it easier for thebeliever to bear afflictions, pains, distress and anxiety, because heknows that they arean inevitable part of the nature of this life.
4. Following the examples of theProphets and the righteous
The Prophets and the righteous sufferedmore distress in this world thanother people. Each person is tested according to the strength of hisfaith. If Allaahloves a person, He tests him. Sa’d (may Allaah be pleased with him)asked the Prophet(peace and blessings ofAllaah be upon him): “O Messenger ofAllaah, which of the people suffers the most distress?” He said: “TheProphets,then those who come after them (in terms of status), then those whocome after them. A manwill be tested according to the strength of his faith. If his faith isstrong, then thedistress with which he is tried will be greater; if his faith is weak,he will be testedin accordance with the level of his faith. Distress will keep onbefalling the slave untilhe walks on the face of the earth free from sin.”
5. Making the Hereafter one’s mainconcern
The concerns of this world overwhelm andconfuse people, but if the slavemakes the Hereafter his main concern, Allaah will help him to focus andbe determined, aswas narrated by Anas (may Allaah be pleased with him): “The Messengerof Allaah(peace andblessings of Allaah be upon him) said: ‘Whoever has theHereafter as his main concern, Allaah will fill his heart with afeeling of richness andindependence; he will be focused and feel content, and this world willcome to him inspite of it. Whoever has this world as his main concern, Allaah willcause him to feelconstant fear of poverty; he will be distracted and unfocused, and hewill have nothing ofthis world except what was already predestined for him.’”
Ibn al-Qayyim (may Allaah have mercy onhim) said: “When a personspends his entire day with no other concern but Allaah alone, Allaah,may He be glorified,will take care of all his needs and take care of all that is worryinghim; He will emptyhis heart so that it will be filled only with love for Him, free histongue so that itwill speak only in remembrance of Him (dhikr) and cause all hisfaculties to workonly in obedience to Him. But if a person spends his entire day with noother concern butthis world, Allaah will make him bear its distress, anxiety and pain;He will leave him tosort himself out, and cause his heart to be distracted from the love ofAllaah towards thelove of some created being, cause his tongue to speak only inremembrance of that creationinstead of remembering Allaah, and cause his faculties to work inobeying and servingthem. So he will strive hard, labouring like some work-animal, to servesomething otherthan Allaah… Everyone who turns away from being a true slave of Allaahand obeyingHim and loving Him will be burdened with servitude, love and obedienceto some createdbeing. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): ‘And whosoeverturns away(blinds himself) from the remembrance of the Most Beneficent (Allaah),We appoint for hima shaytaan (devil) to be a qareen (intimate companion) to him.’[al-Zukhruf43:36].”
6. A surprisingly effectiveremedy: remembering death
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be uponhim) said: “Remember frequently the one who will destroy all yourpleasures: death,for there is no-one who remembers death when in straitenedcircumstances, but hissituation will become easier, and there is no-one who remembers deathduring times ofease, but his circumstances will become straitened.”
7. Praying to Allaah, may He beexalted
Du’aa’ (prayer or supplication)is very beneficial, andincludes both protection and treatment. As far as protection inconcerned, the Muslim isobliged to turn to Allaah and pray to Him for refuge from distress andto keep him awayfrom it, as the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him)used to do. His servant Anas (may Allaah be pleased with him) tells us:“I used toserve the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be uponhim) when he stayed in Madeenah (i.e. was not travelling). I often usedto hear himsaying: ‘Allaahumma inni a’oodhu bika min al-hamm wa’l-haznwa’l-‘ajz wa’l-kasal wa’l-bukhl wa’l-jubn wa dala’ al-daynwa ghalbat al-rijaal (O Allaah, I seek refuge with You fromdistress, grief,incapacity, laziness, miserliness, cowardice, the burden of debt andfrom beingoverpowered by men).’”
This du’aa’ is very effective inpreventing distressbefore it happens; prevention is better, and easier, than cure.
When one is worried about what mayhappen in the future, the following du’aa’is very beneficial. Abu Hurayrah (may Allaah be pleased with him)reported that theProphet (peace andblessings of Allaah be upon him) used to say:“Allaahumma aslih li deeni alladhi huwa ‘ismat amri wa aslih lidunyaayaallati fihaa ma’aashi wa aslih li aakhirati allati fihaa ma’aadiw’aj’al al-hayaata ziyaadatan li fi kulli khayri w’aj’al al-mawtaraahatan li min kulli sharr (O Allaah, make me adhere properly tomy religion, onwhich all my affairs depend; make this world good for me in which is mylivelihood; makemy Hereafter good for me, in which is my ultimate destiny; make my lifeincrease in everygood thing and make my death a respite from every evil).”
When distress and pain befall a person,the door of du’aa’is always open to him; it is never closed. When one calls upon the MostGenerous, He willrespond and give. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): “Andwhen Myslaves ask you concerning Me, then (answer them), I am indeed near (tothem by MyKnowledge). I respond to the invocations of the supplicant when hecalls on Me (withoutany mediator or intercessor). So let them obey Me and believe in Me, sothat they may beled aright.” [al-Baqarah 2:186]
One of the greatest du’aa’swhich take away distress andanxiety and bring joy is the famous du’aa’ which the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaahbe upon him) encouraged everyone who hearsit to learn it by heart:
The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings ofAllaah be upon him) said: “There is no-one who is afflicted by distressand grief,and says: ‘Allaahumma inni ‘abduka ibn ‘abdika ibn amatija naasyatibiyadika, maada fiyya hukmuka, ‘adlun fiyya qadaa’uka. As’aluka bi kulliismin huwa laka sammayta bihi nafsaka aw anzaltahu fi kitaabika aw‘allamtahu ahadanmin khalqika aw ista’tharta bihi fi ‘ilm il-ghayb ‘indaka an taj’alal-Qur’aana rabee’ qalbi wa noor sadri wa jalaa’ huzni wa dhihaab hammi(O Allaah, I am Your slave, son of Your slave, son of Your maidservant;my forelock is inYour hand, Your command over me is forever executed and Your decreeover me is just. I askYou by every name belonging to You which You have named Yourself with,or revealed in YourBook, or You taught to any of Your creation, or You have preserved inthe knowledge of theUnseen with You, that You make the Qur’aan the life of my heart and thelight of mybreast, and a departure for my sorrow and a release for my anxiety),’but Allaah willtake away his distress and grief, and replace it with joy.” He wasasked: “OMessenger of Allaah, should we learn this?” He said: “Of course;everyone whohears it should learn it.”
This important hadeeth indicates thefollowing: the slave should admitthat he belongs to Allaah and that he cannot do without Him and has noother master thanAllaah; that he should be a slave to Allaah, announce his submission toHim, obey Hiscommandments and heed His prohibitions; that Allaah is directing andcontrolling him as Hewills; that he should demonstrate his submission to Allaah and hisacceptance of Hisdecree; that he should pray to Allaah, using all His Names, then askfor what he needs.
A number of other du’aa’s to dowith distress and anxietyhave also been narrated in the Sunnah. They include the following:
Ibn ‘Abbaas reported that when theMessenger of Allaah (peaceand blessings of Allaah be upon him) felt distressed, he would say:“Laa ilaaha ill-Allaah al-‘Azeem al-Haleem, laa ilaaha ill-AllaahRabbal-‘Arsh al-‘azeem, la ilaaha ill-Allaah Rabb al-samawaat wa Rabbal-ard wa Rabbal-‘Arsh al-kareem (There is no god but Allaah, the All-Powerful,the Forbearing;there is no god but Allaah, Lord of the mighty Throne; there is no godbut Allaah, Lord ofheaven, Lord of earth, and Lord of the noble Throne).”
Anas (may Allaah be pleased with him)reported that when the Messenger ofAllaah (peace andblessings of Allaah be upon him) was distressed bysomething, he would say: “Yaa Hayyu yaa Qayyoom bi rahmatikaastagheeth (OEver-Living, O Eternal, by Your mercy I seek help).”
Asmaa’ bint ‘Umayr said: “The Messengerof Allaah (peace andblessings of Allaah be upon him) said to me: ‘Shall I notteach you some words which you can say at times of distress? ‘AllaahAllaah rabbeelaa ushriku bihi shay’an (Allaah Allaah is my Lord, I do notassociate anythingwith Him).’”
Another of the beneficial du’aa’swhich the Messenger ofAllaah (peace andblessings of Allaah be upon him) taught us is theone he told us about when he said: “The du’aa’ of the personwho isin distress is: ‘Allaahumma rahmataka arjoo fa laa takilni ilaanafsi tarfat‘ayn w’aslih li sha’ni kullahu laa ilaaha illa anta (O Allaah, forYourmercy I hope, so do not leave me in charge of my affairs even for theblink of an eye;rectify all my affairs. There is no god except You)’”
If a person thinks about the meaning ofthese du’aa’s andprays with concentration and a sincere intention, doing all thosethings that can help tobring about a response, Allaah will fulfil his hopes and do the thingsasked for; He willturn his distress into joy.
If the du’aa’ comes from a heartwhich is filled withfaith, it will dispel worry and bring comfort. The scholars havementioned many stories ofpeople who prayed to Allaah in times of calamity and distress, andAllaah responded totheir prayer and saved them from an enemy, or from drowning, or fromstarvation ordisaster. One example is the story of what happened to the greatSahaabi al-‘Alaaal-Hadrami, who was one of the most prominent scholars and devotedworshippers, one of theclose friends (awliyaa’) of Allaah whose du’aa’s areanswered. During the campaign against the apostates of Bahrain, hepitched camp, butbefore the people could settle down, the camels bolted, carrying awayall the provisionsof the army, including their tents and water, leaving them with nothingbut the clothesthey were wearing. It was night-time, and they could not restrain evenone camel. Thepeople were filled with indescribable distress and alarm, and some ofthem began makingwills to one another (because they felt that death was inevitable).Al-‘Alaa’called the people together and said: “O people, are you not Muslims?Are you notstriving for the sake of Allaah? Are you not the ansaar(supporters) ofAllaah?” They said, “Of course.” He said, “Then be of good cheer, forAllaah will not forsake anyone who is in your situation.” When the timefor Fajrprayer came, he called the people to pray and led them in prayer, thenhe knelt up, andthe people did likewise. He started to pray (make du’aa’), raising hishands,and the people did likewise. They prayed until the sun rose, and thepeople began to lookat the mirages caused by the sun, shimmering one after another, all thewhile ferventlypraying. When he reached the third [??], Allaah created a great streamof fresh waterbeside them. [‘Alaa’] walked towards it, and the people followed him,then theydrank and washed themselves. Before the sun had reached its zenith, thecamels started tocome back from all directions, bringing the supplies loaded on them, sothe people did notlose anything at all, and they were able to give water to the camels.This is one of thesigns of Allaah witnessed by the people during that campaign. (Al-Bidaayahwa’l-Nihaayah: Dhikr riddat ahl al-Bahrayn wa ‘awdatihim).
8. Praying for the Prophet (peace and blessings ofAllaah be upon him) (i.e., saying “Allaahumma salli ‘ala Muhammad,”etc.)
This is one of the greatest ways throughwhich Allaah may relieve worries:
Al-Tufayl ibn Ubayy ibn Ka’b reportedthat his father said:“When two-thirds of the night had passed, the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) got up and said: ‘O people,rememberAllaah, remember Allaah. The first blowing of the Trumpet has come, andwill be followedby the second blowing. Death has come, with all that it implies, deathhas come with allthat it implies.’ I said: ‘O Messenger of Allaah, I pray a lot for you.How muchof my prayers should I devote to you?’ He said, ‘As much as you want.’Isaid, ‘A quarter?’ He said, ‘As much as you want, and if you increaseit,it will be good for you.’ I said, ‘Half?’ He said, ‘As much as youwant, and if you increase it, it will be good for you.’ I said,‘Two-thirds?’ He said, ‘As much as you want, and if you increase it, itwill be good for you.’ I said, ‘I will devote all my prayer to you.’ Hesaid, ‘Then your worries will be taken care of and your sin will beforgiven.’”
9. Relying upon Allaah andentrusting matters to Him
“When a person knows that Allaah is Ableto do all things, that Healone makes choices for His slaves and runs their affairs, that the wayHe runs Hisslave’s affairs is better than the way the slave would do it forhimself, that Heknows better about the slave’s interests than the slave does, that Heis more able toachieve them, that He is more sincere and more merciful towards Hisslave than the slaveis to himself; and also knows that he cannot progress or regress anyfurther than thelimits that Allaah has decreed for him, for nobody can change the willand decree ofAllaah – when a person knows all this, he will submit himself to hisLord and handover his affairs to Him, throwing himself before his Lord like a weakslave throwinghimself before a mighty and powerful king. Allaah deals with His slaveas He wishes, andthe slave has nothing to do with it. Only after he has submitted thuswill the slave feelrelief from his distress, worries and regrets. He gives the burden ofhis needs andinterests to One Who is not concerned about how heavy or great theburden is. Allaah willtake care of it, instead of him, and will show him His kindness andmercy, without theslave getting tired or worried, because all his concern is now focusedon Allaah alone.His worry about his needs and interests in this world has been liftedfrom him and hisheart is now free of this concern. How good his life is now, howblessed his heart and howgreat his happiness and joy!
But as for the person who insists onrunning his own affairs and makinghis own choices, whose concern is only for his own share and not forhis duties towardshis Lord, Allaah will leave him alone with the choices he has made, sohe will besurrounded by concerns, worries, distress, grief, fear, exhaustion anddepression. Histhoughts will be confused, none of his deeds will be pure and none ofhis hopes will befulfilled. He will gain no respite, and will enjoy no pleasure. He willnever feel joy orcontentment. He will be labouring like a working-animal, with no hopeof gaining anythingthat could help him in the Hereafter.”
“When a person relies upon Allaah andputs his trust in Him, he isnot controlled by bad illusions. He trusts in Allaah and hopes forbounty from Him, whichprotects him from distress and worry, as well as many psychological andphysical diseases.Thus his heart gains indescribable strength, relaxation and joy. Theone who is truly freefrom problems is the one whom Allaah has freed and helped to striveagainst his own-self (jihaadal-nafs) by seeking beneficial means of strengthening his heart anddispellinganxiety. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): “… Andwhosoever putshis trust in Allaah, then He will suffice him…” [al-Talaaq 65:3] –i.e., He will take care of everything that is of concern to him,whether it has to do withhis religion or his worldly affairs.
The person who relies on Allaah isstrong in heart and is not adverselyaffected by illusions or things that happen, because he knows that thisis a sign ofweakness and fear that is unfounded. He also knows that Allaah hasguaranteed to takecomplete care of the one who puts his trust in Him, so he trusts Allaahand has confidencein His promise. Thus his worries and anxiety disappear, hardship isreplaced with ease,sadness turns to joy and fear turns to a feeling of security. We askAllaah to keep ussafe and to bless us with strength of heart and steadfastness throughcomplete reliance onHim, for He has guaranteed all goodness and protection from all eviland harm to those whoput their trust in Him.”
10. Other ways of dispellingdistress and anxiety include paying attentionto what is beneficial, focusing on what matters today and no longerworrying about whatmay happen tomorrow or regretting what happened yesterday
Hence the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah beupon him) sought refuge with Allaah from worry and regret: regret forthings that havehappened in the past which one cannot go back and change, and worriesabout what mayhappen in the future. The slave should think only about the present,focusing his energyon doing his best today, because this is what results in perfect work,and helps him toforget his worries and regrets. When the Prophet (peace and blessingsof Allaah be upon him) prayed a du’aa’, or taught it to hisummah, heencouraged them not only to seek the help of Allaah and hope for Hisblessings, but alsoto work hard and strive to achieve the protection they prayed for, for du’aa’goes hand-in-hand with effort. Thus the slave will strive for whateverbenefits him in hisreligion or his worldly affairs, and will ask his Lord to grant him theresult for whichhe is aiming. He asks Allaah for help, just as Abu Hurayrah reported:“The Messengerof Allaah (peace andblessings of Allaah be upon him) said: ‘Thestrong believer is better and more beloved to Allaah than the weakbeliever, and both aregood. Pay attention to that which could benefit you, seek the help ofAllaah and do notfeel incapacitated. If anything befalls you, do not say, “If only I haddonesuch-and-such, such a thing would have happened.” Say instead, “It isthe decreeof Allaah, and what He wills, He does,” for saying “if only…” opensthe way for Shaytaan.’”
Thus the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah beupon him) established a link between, on the one hand, his command tostrive forbeneficial things in every situation, seeking the help of Allaah, andnot giving in tofeelings of inadequacy which the harmful kind of laziness, and, on theother, giving in toregret for things in the past which are over and done with, andthinking about the willand decree of Allaah. He described things as being of two types: thingswhich the slavecan strive to achieve either in totality or as much as he can, or canprotect himself fromthem, or lessen their impact, by making an effort and seeking the helpof Allaah; andothers about which he cannot do anything, so he should accept them andbe content.Undoubtedly, paying attention to this principle will bring abouthappiness and dispelworry and distress.
The hadeeth quoted above indicates that oneshould strive to eliminatethe causes of distress and bring about causes of happiness, byforgetting about badthings in the past that cannot be changed, and by realizing that tospend too much timethinking about such an impossible task is a foolish and crazy waste oftime. So one shouldtry not to think about it, and try not to feel anxious about the futureor imagine fearand poverty that may or may not lie ahead. We should realize that thefuture, whether goodor bad, is something unknown; it is in the hands of the Almighty,All-Wise, not in thehands of His slaves, and all they have to do is to strive for the goodthings and protectthemselves from bad things. The slave should know that if he distractshis mind fromworries about the future and puts his trust in his Lord, then Allaahwill take care of itand his worry and anxiety will disappear.
11. One of the most effective waysof finding comfort and contentment isto remember Allaah frequently
Dhikr (remembrance of Allaah) hasa wonderful effect in calming thesoul and relieving stress and worry. Allaah says (interpretation of themeaning): “…Verily, in the remembrance of Allaah do hearts find rest.”[al-Ra’d 13:28]
The greatest phrase of dhikrthat can relieve the distress of deathis: “Laa ilaaha ill-Allaah (there is no god except Allaah).”This is whatTalhah told ‘Umar, may Allaah be pleased with him: “I heard the Prophet (peace and blessings ofAllaah be upon him) say a word which no slave saysat the time of death but Allaah will ease his distress and brighten hiscolour. It wasonly the fear that I might not be able to do it that prevented me fromasking him about itbefore he died.” ‘Umar (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: “I knowwhatit is.” Talhah asked, “What is it?” ‘Umar (may Allaah be pleased withhim) said: “Do you know any word greater that what he told his uncle tosay? –‘Laa ilaaha ill-Allaah’.” Talhah said, “That’s it, byAllaah, that’s it!”
12. Seeking refuge in prayer
Allaah says (interpretation of themeaning): “And seek help inpatience and al-salaat (the prayer)…” [al-Baqarah 2:45].
Hudhayfah said: “Whenever the Prophet (peace andblessings of Allaah be upon him) was grieved by something, he used topray.” When Ibn‘Abbaas (may Allaah be pleased with him) heard about the death of hisbrother, hestopped at the side of the road – as he was on a journey – and prayed,followingthe command of Allaah.
13. Another thing that may dispelworry is jihaad for the sake of Allaah.
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be uponhim) said: “You must strive in jihaad for the sake of Allaah, may He beblessed andexalted, for it is one of the gates to Paradise, and Allaah dispelsworry and distressthrough it.”
14. Speaking about the blessingsof Allaah, both those which are obviousand those which are hidden
Acknowledging them and speaking aboutthem dispels worry and distress. Theslave is encouraged to have the attitude of thankfulness, which is thehighest level hecan reach, even if he is in a state of poverty, sickness or other kindsof misery. If hewere to compare the innumerable blessings that Allaah has bestowed uponhim with the badthing that has befallen him, he will see that the distress is asnothing in comparison tothe blessings. When Allaah tests His slave by means of these disastersand miseries, andthe slave does his duty of being patient and accepting, then thedifficulties become easyfor him to bear, and he has the hope of earning reward from Allaah forsubmitting to Him,and being patient and content. This makes bitter things sweet; thesweetness of the rewardhelps him to forget the bitterness of patience.
One of the most beneficial things inthis regard is to follow the adviceof the Prophet (peace andblessings of Allaah be upon him) given inthe saheeh hadeeth reported by Abu Hurayrah: “The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaahbe upon him) said: ‘Look at those whoare below you, not at those who are above you, so that you will notthink little of theblessings that Allaah has bestowed upon you.”
If a person keeps this important concept(of looking only at those belowhim) in mind, he will definitely feel that he is better-off than manyothers when it comesto good health, physical strength, and provision (rizq) such asfood, clothing,shelter, etc., no matter what his situation. So his anxiety anddistress will disappear,and he will feel increased happiness and joy in the blessings of Allaahwhich have raisedhim above others.
The more he thinks about the blessingsof Allaah, both obvious and hidden,spiritual and worldly, he will see that his Lord has given him manygood things, and haslifted from him many bad things. No doubt this too will dispel worriesand anxieties, andbring joy and happiness.
15. Keeping oneself busy withuseful work or the pursuit of beneficialknowledge
This will distract a person’s mind fromthe matter that has beencausing anxiety. Maybe then he will forget the causes of his distress,and begin to feelhappier and more energetic. This is something which both believers andnon-believers maytry to do, but the believer is distinguished by the fact of his eemaan(faith), hissincerity and his hope for reward when he occupies himself withlearning or teachingsomething useful or doing something beneficial. If he is keepinghimself busy withworship, then this is worship, and if he is keeping himself busy withsome worldly work orcustom, then he tries to accompany it with the right intention, andseeks the help ofAllaah to do this thing as an act of obedience or worship to Him. Thushis action will beeffective in dispelling his anxiety, stress and grief. How many peopleare suffering fromanxiety and constant feelings of depression, which result in variouskinds of disease andillness. The right treatment for them was: to forget the thing thatcaused the depressionand worry, and to keep themselves busy with some important work. It wasimportant that thework with which they kept themselves busy was something that they likedto do and lookedforward to; this was more effective in bringing about the desired goodresults. And Allaahknows best.
16. Looking for the positiveaspects of the events in which he tends tosee only things that he dislikes
Abu Hurayrah said: “The Messenger ofAllaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: ‘No believing manshould hate abelieving woman. If he dislikes one aspect of her character, he will bepleased withanother.’”
The benefits of this hadeeth include:lifting anxiety and stress,preserving tranquillity, continued upholding of the duties which areeither obligatory orencouraged, and the achievement of peace between the two parties.Anyone who is not guidedby the Prophet’s words, but does the opposite, will see only thenegative aspects ofa situation, and will be blinded to the positive aspects. So it isinevitable that he willbecome anxious and depressed, the relationships between him and thosewith whom he is inclose contact will turn sour, and he will neglect many of the mutualduties that bothparties should pay attention to.
17. Understanding the true valueand shortness of this life, and that timeis too precious to be wasted in stress and anxiety
The wise person understands that histrue life is one of joy andcontentment. Life is very short, and he should not let himself getcarried away withdistress and depression that will make it even shorter. This goesagainst the true idea oflife, so he is reluctant to spend too much of his life in distress anddepression. In thisregard, there is little difference between the righteous and therebellious, but thebeliever can achieve this in the best way, in a way that benefits himboth in this worldand in the Hereafter. When misfortune strikes, or when he is afraid ofsomething badhappening to him, he should also compare the blessings that he enjoys,both spiritual andworldly, with whatever misfortune has befallen him. When he does this,he will see justhow much blessing he has, and the bad things will be put intoperspective. Similarly, hecan make a comparison between the thing he fears will harm him and thefar greaterpossibility that he will be kept safe from it: the faint possibilitythat he may be harmedis far outweighed by the greater positive possibilities, and so hisanxiety will berelieved. He takes into account the most likely scenario so that he cantry to preparehimself in case it does happen, and he takes measures to protecthimself against thingsthat have not happened, or to alleviate or reduce the impact of thingsthat have happened.
18. Another beneficial measure isnot to allow one’s work and otherduties to accumulate
This means taking decisive actionimmediately, so that one is free to dealwith whatever comes up in the future, because things that are not dealtwith immediatelypile up and are added to previous work that should have been done, thusmaking the burdeneven heavier. If you deal with everything at the right time, you willbe free to deal withwhatever lies ahead with a focused mind and adequate strength.
You should prioritize your work in orderof importance, and try to choosethings that interest you and that you enjoy, otherwise you will becomebored and fed up.You can help yourself to achieve this by thinking clearly andconsulting others, for oneneed never regret consultation. Study what you want to do in depth, andonce you are sureabout what action is needed to achieve your interest and have resolvedto go ahead, thenput your trust in Allaah, for Allaah loves those who put their trust inHim.
19. Constantly anticipating andbeing prepared for all possibilities
If a person is prepared for thepossibility of the loss of a loved one,the sickness of a relative, incurring a debt, being overpowered by anenemy, or any otherunpleasant possibility that has not yet happened – whilst seekingrefuge with Allaahand hoping to be safe from it – then if his fears materialize, theirimpact will notbe so great because he has already anticipated them and preparedhimself to deal withthem.
One important point that we should makeis the fact that many ambitiouspeople are prepared to deal with major calamities in a calm and patientmanner, but theyare unduly worried and stressed by trivial problems. The reason forthis is that theyprepare themselves to face major problems, but forget to preparethemselves to cope withminor troubles, which consequently cause them harm. The prudent personprepares himself todeal with both major and minor problems, and asks Allaah to help himand not leave him todeal with it by himself for even the blink of an eye. Thus both majorand minor troublesbecome easier to bear, and he remains calm and serene.
20. Another remedy is to complainto religious scholars and ask them foradvice
Their advice and opinions are among thethings that can be of the greatesthelp in remaining steadfast at times of calamity. The Sahaabah used tocomplain to theMessenger of Allaah (peaceand blessings of Allaah be upon him) aboutthe torture they were suffering…
Khabbaab ibn al-Aratt (may Allaah bepleased with him) said: “Wecomplained to the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaahbe upon him) when he was reclining on his cloak in the shade of theKa’bah. We saidto him: ‘Why do you not ask Allaah to help us (grant us victory)? Whydo you not prayto Allaah for us?’ He said, ‘A man from the people before you would beplaced ina hole dug for him, then they would bring a saw and cut his head intwo, yet that wouldnot make him renounce his faith. They would use an iron comb to dragthe flesh and nervesfrom his bones, yet that would not make him renounce his faith. ByAllaah, this matterwill be completed (i.e. Islam will be perfected and will prevail) untila rider travellingfrom Sana’aa’ to Hadramawt will fear nobody but Allaah or the attack ofa wolfon his sheep, but you are too impatient.’”
The Taabi’een also complained to theSahaabah. Al-Zubayr ibn‘Adiyy said: “We came to Anas ibn Maalik and complained to him aboutwhat wewere suffering at the hands of al-Hajjaaj. He told us: ‘Be patient, forthere willcome no time but the time after it is worse, until you meet your Lord.I heard that fromyour Prophet (peace andblessings of Allaah be upon him).’”
So the Muslim will hear from thescholars and leaders words which willhelp him and alleviate his pain, distress and anxiety.
Similarly, one can also seek the help ofsincere brothers, wise relativesand faithful spouses. When Faatimah (may Allaah be pleased with her)felt distress, shecomplained to her husband ‘Ali (may Allaah be pleased with him).‘Abd-Allaah ibn‘Umar (may Allaah be pleased with him and his father) tells us thestory: theMessenger of Allaah (peaceand blessings of Allaah be upon him) cameto visit Faatimah, but he found a curtain over her door, so he did notenter. It was veryrare for him to enter without greeting her so when ‘Ali (may Allaah bepleased withhim) came, he saw that she was worried and upset. He asked, “What isthematter?” She said, “The Prophet (peace and blessings ofAllaah be upon him) came to me, but he did not come in.” So ‘Ali (mayAllaah bepleased with him) went to him and said: “O Messenger of Allaah,Faatimah feels veryupset because you came to her but you did not come in.” He said, “Ihave nothingto do with these worldly things and fancy decorations.” So ‘Ali went totoldFaatimah what the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaahbe upon him) had said. She said, “Ask the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) what I should do with it.”He said,“tell her to send it to Banu So-and-so.” (It was a curtain that wasdecoratedwith embroidery and so on).
Going to a man who is wise and hassound opinions can also help to dispelanxiety.
Al-Mugheerah, the freed slave ofal-Waleed, said: “I entered uponal-Waleed and found him looking worried. I asked, ‘What is worryingyou, O Ameeral-Mu’mineen?’ He said, ‘The number of Muslims has increased, andthemosque is becoming too small for them. I offered them money for therest of this church,so that I could take it and add it to the mosque, to make the place bigenough for theMuslims, but they refused.’ Al-Mugheerah said: ‘O Ameer al-Mu’mineen,I have an idea that may relieve your worry.’ He asked, ‘What is it?’ Isaid: ‘When the Sahaabah took Damascus, Khaalid ibn al-Waleed enteredthrough theEastern Gate, conquering by the sword. When the people heard of this,they rushed towardsAbu ‘Ubaydah (who was laying siege to another gate of the city), askinghim forprotection. He granted them protection, so they opened the Gate ofJaabiyah for him. Abu‘Ubaydah entered peacefully, having made a truce with the people. Weshould find outhow far the military seizure of land reached, and take it, but theareas covered by thetruce should be left in their hands. I hope that all of the church willbe on land seizedmilitarily, so that you can incorporate it into the mosque.’ Al-Waleedsaid:‘You have made me feel much better. Take care of this matter yourself.’Soal-Mugheerah took care of it; he surveyed the area extending from theEastern Gate towardsthe Gate of Jaabiyah, as far as Sooq al-Rayhaan, and found that themilitary seizure ofterritory had continued as far as a little more than four cubits beyondthe Great Arch, sothe church could be incorporated into the mosque. So al-Waleed sentword to the Christiansto tell them: ‘The whole of this church lies in the territory which wasseizedmilitarily, so it belongs to us, not to you.’ They said: ‘Initially youofferedus money and land, and we refused. Be generous and give us what youoffered us originally,so that we may settle this matter peaceably, and we will give you therest of thechurch.’ So the matter was settled peaceably.” (Al-Badaayahwa’l-Nihaayah fi Seerat al-Waleed).
21. The person who is distressedor worried should know that afterhardship comes ease
So he should think positively andrealize that Allaah will make a way outfor him. The more intense his stress and depression is, the closer heis to relief and away out.
Allaah says in Soorat al-Sharh(interpretation of the meaning): “Soverily, with the hardship, there is relief, verily, with the hardship,there is relief.”[al-Sharh 94:5-6]. In effect, hardship is mentioned once, and relief ismentioned twice,because the definite article (“al”) indicates that the hardshipmentionedin the first aayah quoted is the same as that mentioned in thesecond, whereas thefact that relief is mentioned in an indefinite form (with tanween)shows that therelief mentioned in the second aayah is different from thatmentioned in the first.
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be uponhim) advised Ibn ‘Abbaas (may Allaah be pleased with him and hisfather): “Knowthat victory (or achievement) comes through patience, and that easecomes throughhardship…”
22. Another remedy for distress iscertain kinds of food
Al-Bukhaari (may Allaah have mercy onhim) reports that‘Aa’ishah used to order talbeen for people who were sick or hadbeenstricken by tragedy, and she would say: “I heard the Messenger ofAllaah (peace andblessings of Allaah be upon him) say: ‘Talbeenwarms the heart of the sick person and alleviates some of a person’sgrief.’”
Al-Bukhaari also narrated from‘Aa’ishah, the wife of theProphet (peace andblessings of Allaah be upon him) that whenever amember of her family died, and the women gathered together thendispersed, except for herfamily and close friends, she would ask for a pot of talbeen,then she would cookit, make thareed [a dish of sopped bread, meat and broth] andpour the talbeenover it, then tell the women: “Eat from it, for I heard the Messengerof Allaah (peace andblessings of Allaah be upon him) say that talbeen is thecure for the heart of the sick person and alleviates some of a person’sgrief.”
Talbeen is a soup or broth madefrom flour or bran to which honey isadded. It is called talbeen because it resembles milk (laban).It is cookedfrom ground barley.
Saying that it is a cure for the heat ofthe sick person means that itrelaxes him, gives him energy and alleviates his grief and distress.
Ahmad (may Allaah have mercy on him)reported that ‘Aa’ishahsaid: “Whenever the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings ofAllaah be upon him) heard that someone was sick or in pain, and noteating, he would say:‘You should make talbeen and let him sip it. By the One inWhose hand is mysoul, it will cleanse the stomach of any one of you just as you washthe dirt from yourfaces with water.’”
Al-Tirmidhi reported that ‘Aa’ishahsaid: “Whenever anymember of his family fell ill, he would order that soup or broth bemade for them, then hewould tell them to sip it. He used to say, ‘It makes the grieving heartstrong andcleanses the heart of the sick person, just as any of you cleanses thedirt from her facewith water.’”
Even though some people might find thisstrange, this is a true matter, asit has been proven to be part of the Revelation conveyed by theinfallible Prophet (peaceand blessings of Allaah be upon him). Allaah has created all kindsof food, and He knows best their characteristics, so the soup of barleymentioned in thehadeeth is one of the types of food that make people feel better. AndAllaah knows best.
With regard to the method of cookingthis food for the person who isphysically sick or whose heart is stricken with grief, Ibn Hijr (mayAllaah have mercy onhim) said: “What suits the sick person is the water from barley thathas been cookedwhole, and what suits the grieving person is the water from groundbarley that has beencooked. And Allaah knows best.”
Following this discussion of cures, wewill pause to look briefly at thelist written by Imaam Ibn al-Qayyim (may Allaah have mercy on him) inwhich he listsfifteen kinds of remedies through which Allaah may alleviate distressand grief:
- Tawheed al-Ruboobiyyah
(Unity of Divine Lordship)
- Tawheed al-Uloohiyyah
(Unity of Divinity)
- Unity of belief, i.e. Tawheedal-Asmaa’ wa’l-Siffaat (Unity of the Divine Names and Attributes).
- To declare that Allaah is far above mistreating His slave orpunishing him without any cause on the part of the slave himself.
- Admission on the part of the slave that he is the wrongdoer.
- Beseeching Allaah by the best of things, which are His Names andAttributes. Among the most comprehensive in meaning of His Names andAttributes are the Names al-Hayyu (the Ever-Living), al-Qayoom(the Eternal).
- Seeking the help of Allaah Alone.
- Putting one’s hope in Allaah.
- Putting one’s trust in Allaah and handing over all one’s affairsto Him, recognizing that one’s forelock is in His hand, that Allaahruns all one’s affairs as He wills, that His command is ever executedand that His decree is just.
- Reading Qur’aan and pondering its meaning, seeking consolation init for all disasters, and seeking a cure in it for all diseases of theheart (i.e., spiritual or psychological diseases) for it washes awaygrief and heals his distress and anxiety.
- Seeking the forgiveness of Allaah.
- Jihaad (striving for the sake of Allaah).
- Salaat (prayer)
- Admitting that one has no power or strength at all, andattributing them to the One Who holds them in His hand.
We ask Allaah, may He be exalted, to keep us safefrom distress, togrant us relief from depression and to alleviate our worries, for He isthe All-HearingWho answers prayers, He is the Ever-Living, Eternal.
Finally, let us remind ourselves that nomatter how great and how numerousthe worries and distress of this world may be, the distress and anguishof the Hereafterwill be far greater. This includes that which will befall all peoplewhen they aregathered all together for Judgement. Al-Bukhaari (may Allaah have mercyon him) reportedfrom Abu Hurayrah (may Allaah be pleased with him) that the Messengerof Allaah (peace andblessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “I will be themaster of all people on the Day of Resurrection. Do you know why I willbe the master ofall people? Allaah will gather together all the people, the first andthe last of them inone place, in such a way that if a caller calls out to them, they willall hear him, andthey will all be seen at once. The sun will be brought close to them,and they will feelmore distress than they can bear. People will say, ‘Can you see whathas happened toyou? Won’t you see who can intercede for you with your Lord?’ Then someof themwill say to others, ‘Let’s go to Adam…’”
There will be no cure for distress andanguish on that Day unless oneturns to Allaah today.
May Allaah bless our Prophet Muhammadand his Family and Companions, whoare the best of people. Praise be to Allaah Who is overtaken by neitherslumber nor sleep.
Muhammad Saalih al-Munajjid
P.O. Box 2999