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Dealing with Worries and Stress

Sheikh Muhammed Salih Al-Munajjid

category: Coping with Adversity


reads: 24959

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Having described a number of kinds of distress and anxiety experienced in this world, we will now discuss ways of dealing with them.

Undoubtedly the first thing we should mention when discussing worries and anxiety is: aqeedah (belief) and eeman (faith), and the effects they have on dealing with stress. One can see many of the kuffaar and Muslims who are weak in faith suffering breakdowns and committing suicide in an effort to rid themselves of depression, frustration and despair when they get into trouble or when disaster strikes. Hospitals are full of patients who are suicidal or have suffered nervous breakdowns, or other kinds of psychological trauma. These problems affect many of those who are strong, let alone those who are weak. How often they lead to complete incapacity and loss of sanity!

The person who has been guided to Islam, if his 'aqeedah is sound and his eemaan is strong, will find the cure in that which has come from Allaah, the All-Knowing and All-Aware, Who created all things and Who knows best what befits His creation.

"Should not He Who has created know? And He is the Most Kind and Courteous (to His slaves) All-Aware (of everything)." [al-Mulk 67:14 -interpretation of the meaning].

Let us now discuss some of the different kinds of remedies and treatments taught by Islam:

Equipping oneself with eemaan (faith), accompanied by righteous deeds.

Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

"Whoever works righteousness, whether male or female, while he (or she) is a true believer, verily, to him We will give a good life (in this world, with respect, contentment and lawful provision), and We shall pay them certainly a reward in proportion to the best of what they used to do (i.e., Paradise in the Hereafter)." [al-Nahl 16:97]

The reason for this is clear: the believers in Allaah whose faith is correct and motivates them to do righteous deeds that reform their hearts and characters, and change their status in this world and the next, have the basic principles according to which they deal with every kind of joy and grief that they may face. They receive blessings and joys with acceptance and thanksgiving, and put them to use in beneficial ways. When they do this, they feel happy and hope that it will last and will bring them reward for their gratitude, as well as other things that will supercede the original goodness and blessings.

When faced with distress, harm, worries and anxieties, they try to resist them and reduce them as much as they can, and they react with befitting patience to the things in which they have no choice. They gain a lot of benefits as a result, such as: resilience and toughness as is appropriate; useful experience, strong willpower, patience, the hope of reward, and many other benefits which reduce the distress felt. Thus their anxiety is replaced with joy and the hope of blessings and reward from Allaah, as the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) stated in the saheeh hadeeth: "How marvellous is the affair of the believer! Everything that happens to him is good, and this does not apply to anyone except the believer. If something good befalls him, he gives thanks for it, and that is good for him. If something bad befalls him, he bears it with patience, and that is good for him."

This is the way in which we may view calamities in a positive light.

Another example is:

Thinking of how the Muslim may earn expiation for his sins, purify his heart and raise his status, when he is stricken with distress and worry in this life.

The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: "Nothing of fatigue, illness, distress, worry, grief or harm befalls the Muslim, not even a prick from a thorn, but Allaah will accept it as expiation for some of his sins."

According to a report narrated by Muslim: "No illness, fatigue, sickness or grief befalls the Muslim, not even worries, but it will be an expiation for some of his sins."

The one who is distressed or worried should know that whatever psychological pain afflicts him is not wasted, but serves a purpose in increasing his hasanaat (good deeds) and expiating for his sayi'aat (bad deeds). The Muslim should realize that if it were not for disasters and afflictions, we would come empty-handed on the Day of Resurrection, as some of the salaf (early generations of Islam) pointed out, which is why they would rejoice when misfortune struck just as we rejoice at times of ease.

When a person understands how the disasters that befall him expiate for his sins, he will rejoice and be of good cheer, especially if that happens to him straight after he has committed a sin, as happened to some of the Sahaabah, may Allaah be pleased with them. 'Abd-Allaah ibn Mughaffal (may Allaah be pleased with him) reported that a man met a woman who had been a prostitute during the time of Jaahiliyyah. He started to joke with her, then he touched her. She told him, "Watch it! Allaah has destroyed shirk (once 'Affaan said: has destroyed Jaahiliyyah) and has brought us Islam." The man went away, and walked into a wall, cutting his face. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) came along, so the man told him what had happened, and he said: "You are a slave for whom Allah wishes good. When Allaah wishes good for His slave, He hastens the punishment for his sin; when He does not wish good for His slave, he withholds the punishment until the matter is settled on the Day of Resurrection, when all of his sins will be brought forth together."

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: "When Allaah wishes good for His slave, He hastens to bring about his punishment in this world, and if He does not wish good for him, He withholds the punishment until he is dealt with for his sin on the Day of Resurrection."

Understanding the reality of this world

The believer knows that this world is only temporary, that its luxuries are few, and that whatever pleasures exist here are always imperfect. If it causes a little laughter, it gives many reasons to weep; if it gives a little, it withholds far more. The believer is only detained here, as the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: "This world is the prison of the believer and the paradise of the kaafir."

This world is also fatigue, pain, misery and suffering, so the believer feels relief when he departs from it. Abu Qutaadah ibn Rib'i al-Ansaari used to say that a funeral passed the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and he said: "He is now relieved, and people feel relieved of him." The people asked, "O Messenger of Allaah, how can he be relieved and people feel relieved of him?" He said, "The believing slave (who dies) is relieved of the fatigue and pain of this world and has gone to the mercy of Allaah; when the rebellious slave dies, people, land, trees and animals are relieved of him."

For the believer, death brings a respite from the distress, worries and pain of this life, as is stated in the hadeeth: "When the believer is about to die, the angels of mercy bring white silk and say, 'Come out content, with the pleasure of Allaah upon you, to the mercy of Allaah and sweet fragrance and a Lord who is not angry.' So (the soul) comes out like the best fragrance of musk and the angels hand it to one another until they bring it to the gate of heaven. They say, 'How good is this fragrance that has come from the earth' They bring it to the souls of the believers, and they rejoice over it much more than you do when one who has been absent returns. They ask him, 'What did So-and-so do? What did So-and-so do?' then (the angels) say, 'Leave him alone, for he was suffering the distress of the world.' When he asks, 'Did not So-and-so come to you?' they say: 'He was taken to his home in the Pit (i.e., Hell).' When the kaafir is about to die, angels of punishment bring sackcloth and say, 'Come out discontent, with the wrath of Allaah upon you, to the punishment of Allaah.'So (the soul) comes out like the worst stench of rotten meat, and they take it to the gate of the earth. They say, 'How foul is this stench,' until they bring it to the souls of the kuffaar."

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