By Zahra Anjum
“But how do people get depressed? What is depression?” I asked her, shocked by the news that an acquaintance had passed away because of depression.
“When a person thinks of their problems over and over again and just carries them in their heads, they get depressed,” she replied.
I remember the analogy of holding up a glass for too long. No matter how light a glass weighs, if you hold it up for a few hours or even a few minutes, you will feel tired. The same applies to our problems and worries. Nobody has a perfect life; it is all part of the test we’ve been sent to give in this world. Look around you; take a tour of a hospital, a squatter settlement, or a war-stricken area and you’ll realise the blessings you have. Compared to many others yours is only an easy test, given in accordance with your capabilities to handle it.
Allah (st) says in the Qur’an: “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.” (Surah Baqarah 2: 155)
Belief in Predestination (Qadr) – A believer’s haven
As Muslims we derive our strength from the belief system that Islam has bestowed us with. We know that whatever befalls us, whether good or bad, is from Allah.
Umar al-Ashqar writes in his book Divine Will and Predestination: “And when trials and tribulations befall a person, he knows that this is happening by the decree of Allah, as a test from Him, so he does not panic or despair; rather he seeks the reward of Allah and bears it with patience, and this faith brings contentment and tranquillity to the heart of the believer.”
Allah (st) says in the Qur’an: “No disaster strikes upon the earth or among yourselves except that it is in a register before We bring it into being – indeed that, for Allah, is easy. In order that you not despair over what has eluded you and not exult [in pride] over what He has given you.” (Surah Hadid 57: 22-23)
Know that Allah loves you
We believe in the promise that Allah has made in the Qur’an; He does not burden a soul more than it can bear. A loving mother will never expect her toddler to lift heavy suitcases or do things beyond his or her capabilities. Similarly, the Most Loving and All-Knowing Fashioner will not give you a test that you cannot pass. Yes, you can do it! He has assured us: “Allah does not charge a soul except [with that within] its capacity.” (Surah Baqarah 2:286)
The trials coming your way are a sign of His love for you. They are a ladder to His pleasure and Paradise; a source of upwards gradation in rewards and status. Prophet Muhammad (sa) told us: “Indeed greater reward comes with greater trial. And indeed, when Allah loves a people He subjects them to trials. So whoever is content, then for him is pleasure, and whoever is discontent, then for him is wrath.” (Tirmidhi; reliable)
Keep your calm…
The reasons for our anxieties may be big or small. It may be a staggering business, a child who often gets sick, a tantrum-throwing child, an illness, a cranky spouse, difficulty in the workplace, or a tough parent. Constantly whining about your troubles and blaming yourself or others or your choices will do no good. Whatever you are going through was bound to happen; it was written down years ago. This should calm us down: Whatever I am going through is an assessment of my patience and whether or not I adhere to the commandments of Allah.
The Alhamdulillah Game
Whenever you sense that your heart has been engulfed with clouds of sorrow play the Alhamdulillah game. This is how it goes: look closely at those facing greater trials than you are. If you are worried that your child is not getting good grades compare yourself with a disabled child’s mother. If you are feeling irritated at your husband, imagine yourself in the shoes of a widow and what she might be going through.
The Ifs and Buts
The ‘ifs and buts’ are a door for Shaitan. On the contrary, Allah wants us to trust His plan, be content, and remain steadfast in His obedience. Prophet Muhammad (sa) once instructed his Companions: “If anything afflicts you, do not say, ‘If I had done such and such things, such and such would have happened.’ But say, ‘Allah decrees and what He wills He does,’ [Qaddar Allahu wa ma shaa’a fa’al] for (the utterance) ‘If I had’ provides an opening for the deeds of the devil.” (Muslim)
So, instead of making mountains out of molehills, just put those worries away. Handle your problems with the tools of Akhlaq (good manners), Ihsan (excellent behaviour), prayers and Taqwa (piety). This phase will soon become a part of the past and a distant memory. What remains is your attitude towards it; it can either be a source of reward or punishment, recorded in your scroll of deeds.
May Allah make attaining Jannah (paradise) the greatest of our concerns, and may He straighten all our worldly affairs. Ameen!