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DEPRESSION

Shaikh Saood Ash -Shuraym

Fear to Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Taaalaa) and being pious is the source of might, honor and security in this life, and the way to salvation on the Day of Resurrection, as Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Taaalaa) says that which translates as:

And there is none of you except he will come to it (i.e., Hell). This is upon your Lord an inevitability decreed. Then We will save those who feared Allah and leave the wrongdoers within it, on their knees. (Maryam:71-72)

If we, the slaves of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Taaalaa), take a just and unbiased look at the current condition of mankind in general and the Muslims in particular, in an era where technology is at its most advanced and civilization is at its most developed in economic, medical, military and informational terms, they will find that all this worldly knowledge, information and development is inherently deficient and inept because it cannot produce a single human being who realizes the reason for his creation.

There is no doubt that this is a fact, otherwise, how can one explain the spread of ignorance and illiteracy in the era of knowledge and technology? Why is there so much poverty at a time of abundant resources? Why is unemployment overwhelming in an era of mass production and manufacturing? Why do some international researchers who specialize in community affairs call this era an era of grief and depression after they called the previous one an era of anxiety?

We do not need many evidences to prove that we are suffering from the spread of this phenomenon, the phenomenon of grief and depression.

This is the destructive problem of our time and it is the most widespread amongst all the psychological diseases in the world. It is continually on the increase. An accurate international survey affirms that ten percent of the worlds population suffers from it, including the Muslim countries, which means that hundreds of millions of people are living through this bitter reality. Moreover, there is proof that this phenomenon is starting at a younger age as time goes by and that it affects twice as many females as males. This has resulted from the fact that women are not practicing their natural role in the community due to them shouldering responsibilities which they were forced to, leading them to leave the role of raising their children to maids and day-care centers.

The number of suicides resulting from grief and depression has exceeded eight hundred thousand annually, and this is beside the fact that eighty percent of those who suffer from it do not see doctors in order to report or solve the problem.

This is not a new pheno-menon and its causes are not mysterious, rather it is the natural and expected result when people become obsessed by gathering and collecting worldly belongings and when peoples concerns become purely materialistic. Therefore, this problem differs from one country or community to another and is dependent on the weakness of peoples belief in Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Taaalaa), His angels, His Books, His Messengers, the Last Day and the divine decree. This is in addition to peoples behavior and the degree of security, justice and love between the people.

This phenomenon has interested scholars of various disciplines, medical doctors, writers and journalists who have studied and addressed this problem. In many cases the articles written have been of little benefit, and as much as people have addressed this problem, no one seems to have approached it correctly. The only correct and acceptable way of curing and solving this problem is if its diagnosis is founded on scientific treatment which is based on authentic laboratory tests and reports conducted by trustworthy specialists who apply the principles of Islam to all their tests and stay away from the purely materialistic bias which fails to attach any value to the spiritual side of the problem.

Grief is something natural that humans feel due to their common problems. It is when it increases and overwhelms a person that it becomes what is known as depression. This is a condition that is considered to be at the highest level of grief and results in a person becoming controlled and dominated by their inner misery, the result of which is despair and loss of happiness. It is usually accompanied with headaches, bone problems, ulcers and other symptoms. It also makes a person lose their taste of joy and happiness. The results of depression include laziness, loss of energy and hatred of life which makes some people feel that suicide is the only solution.

Imaam Ibn Al-Qayyim said:
Four things destroy the body: anxiety, grief, hunger and sleeping late.

Applying medical treatment with a religious foundation, extracted from the Book of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Taaalaa) and the Sunnah of the Prophet (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) is vital because it is the most perfect and safest form of treatment, especially when one compares this to the hundreds of medications and tranquilizers which have flooded the market and which the human body becomes addicted to, thereby descending into a worse and more serious condition than depression.

Some medical reports state that swimming and frequently doing house work is a solution for depression, but it is ludicrous to imagine that depressed people will always remain in swimming pools or be constantly doing housework. On the other hand, it is accepted that a person can easily be remembering Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Taaalaa), glorifying Him and seeking His forgiveness at all times, whether he is standing, sitting or lying down. This is how Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Taaalaa) described the people of understanding when He says that which translates as:

(Those) who remember Allah while standing or sitting or (lying) on their sides and give thought to the creation of the heavens and the earth, (saying): Our Lord! You did not create this aimlessly; exalted are You (above such a thing); then protect us from the punishment of the Fire. (Aale Imraan:190-191)

Therefore, we can see the importance of spiritual treatment to these problems, although, there is no doubt that medication is also necessary. But the point is that we must not ignore the spiritual treatments that exist for these problems.

One may well ask: we realize that these problems exist, but what are the reasons behind them and what is the solution?

The answer is that in some cases, there are purely medical reasons behind depression which cannot be ignored, the most common being the frequent consumption of medication, drugs and alcohol. This leads to a person becoming addicted to them and subsequently feeling that their life is pointless without them. This results in a chemical imbalance within the brain which causes depression. Another reason why depression takes place is due to heredity, when one inherits them through their genes. We shall concentrate on the some of the reasons why depression exists which have been specifically addressed by Islam and dispraised and warned against it in many verses of the Quraan and in various Ahaadeeth.

In many Quraanic verses and Ahaadeeth, it is mentioned that the heart which is heedless of the remembrance of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Taaalaa), which is reflected by the heedlessness of the tongue is an indication of grief and misery for the person who is afflicted by this. Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Taaalaa) says that which translates as:

And whoever turns away from My remembrance Indeed, he will have a depressed (i.e., difficult) life, and We will gather (i.e., raise) him on the Day of Resurrection blind. (TaaHaa:124)

It is also mentioned in the Sunnah that sins lead to depression, as stated in the book of Imam Ahmad that the Prophet (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) said:

If a slaves sins increase and he does not have enough good deeds which would wipe these out, then Allah will afflict him with grief and sorrow in order to wipe them out.

Being anxious and concerned about the future and the lack of belief in divine decree and pre-destination is another cause of this problem. Some people worry about what the future holds for them and fear being incapable of dealing with problems, disasters and calamities, if and when they arrive. One finds that such people are in such a frenzy at times of tribulation that if they could find refuge in a cave or other remote and concealed place, they would rush like mad to get to it.

Bad dreams caused by Shaitaan (Satan), who instills sorrow in a person, also play an important role the cause of depression. The Prophet (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) informed us that Shaitaan comes to people as they sleep and makes them see things which results in them feeling grief and sorrow. This is why we see many people who suffer from depression not being able to sleep properly.

Other reasons that lead to depression are debts which a person cannot repay, cowardliness at the time of fear and stinginess whilst aggressively collecting wealth.

The proof that debts cause grief and anxiety lies in the Hadeeth where the Prophet (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) went into the Masjid one day and found Hadhrat Abu Umaamah and said:

O Abu Umaamah! Why do I see you sitting in the Masjid when it is not Salaah time?

Hadhrat Abu Umaamah replied:

It is due to Anxiety and grief, which resulted from debts that I owe.

So the Prophet (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) said:

Shall I teach words which will take away your grief and by which Allah will help you repay your debts, if you were to say them?

Hadhrat Abu Umaamah replied:

Yes! O Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Taaalaa)s Messenger (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam).

Thereupon, the Prophet (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) said:

Every morning and every evening say, O Allah! I seek refuge in you from anxiety and grief, weakness and laziness, miserliness and cowardliness, the burden of debts and from being over powered by men.

After this, Hadhrat Abu Umaamah commented that:

I did this and Allah relieved my sorrow and anxiety and helped me repay my debts.

These were some reasons behind depression, and through these one can clearly see the connection between depression and straying away from the guidance and the path of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Taaalaa), committing that which Islam has prohibited, and being attached to worldly matters. Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Taaalaa) says that which translates as:

So whoever Allah wants to guide He expands his breast to (contain) Islam; and whoever He wants to misguide He makes his breast tight and constricted as though he were climbing into the sky. Thus does Allah place defilement upon those who do not believe. (Al-Anaam:125)

In order to address this topic in a comprehensive manner we must briefly point out some of the best ways of curing this problem, based on the Islamic texts in addition to the testimony of eminent and specialized medical doctors:

1. The first and most important is the obligation of the Muslim nation of performing Jihad for the sake of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Taaalaa), propagating it and inviting people to perform it, and warning against being inclined towards this life and its pleasures. This is the way to a prosperous and tranquil heart, and a means of getting rid of grief and misery. The Prophet (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) said:

When people become stingy, deal with Eenah (a form of Ribaa), follow their cattle and become satisfied with agriculture (i.e., become attached to agriculture and commerce) then Allah will afflict them with humiliation until they return to their religion.

The Prophet (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) also said:

Perform Jihad because it is one of the gates that lead to Jannah (Paradise), and a way through which Allah relieves people from anxiety and grief.

2. The correct understanding and belief in divine decree and pre-destiny is another way to treat this problem. When a person believes that there was no way that he could have escaped whatever befell him and that all matters are in the Hands of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Taaalaa), including ones provisions and death, and that no one will die until he consumes all his decreed provision and until he lives for the whole amount of time that was given to him, then he will definitely rely on Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Taaalaa) completely without any worry or grief and will face all his problems with strength and resolution. Also, if people acknowledge that whatever Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Taaalaa) has decreed resulted from His perfect wisdom, then they will be content with whatever He decrees. One who is discontent will become an easy victim for grief, disease and following base desires. Hadhrat Hasan Basri when asked how he attained his good manners replied:

From being content with the decree of Allah.

Hadhrat Abu Haatim reported that some of the Salaf said regarding being content:

There is no rank higher or mightier than being content. It is the peak of loving Allah.

This is exactly why Prophet Zakiryaa supplicated to Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Taaalaa) to grant this to his son, as Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Taaalaa) says that which translates as:

And make him, my Lord, pleasing (to You). (Maryam:6)

Contentment can only be established when the slave has firmly in his mind the conviction that whatever Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Taaalaa) decrees results from His wisdom. Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Taaalaa) provides and deprives for a wise reason, and this is the only thing that will make a person feel at ease during times of hardships. This also applies during times of prosperity, as Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Taaalaa) informs us in the Quraan about Prophet Sulaymaan with that which translates as:

This is from the favor of my Lord to test me whether I will be grateful or ungrateful. And whoever is grateful his gratitude is only for the (benefit of) himself. And whoever is ungrateful then indeed, my Lord is free of need and Generous. (An-Naml:40)

This is also evident in the saying of the Prophet (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) when his son Ibrahim died:

The eyes cry tears, and the heart becomes sad, but we will not say that which will bring the wrath of our Lord. If it was not a true promise, and that we will meet in an appointed time, and that the last will eventually follow (die) after the first, then we would have cried hard for your death (O Ibraaheem). Indeed we are saddened by your departure. (Al-Bayhaqi & Ibne Maajah)

By saying this, the Prophet (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) meant that had he not known that there was a wisdom from Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Taaalaa) behind taking his son, he would have extremely been saddened.

3. Extra prostration and glorification of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Taaalaa) and worship in general takes away grief. Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Taaalaa) says that which translates as:

And We already know that your breast is constrained by what they say. So exalt [Allah] with praise of your Lord and be of those who prostrate [to Him]. And worship your Lord until there comes to you the certainty [i.e., death]. (Al-Hijr:97-99)

Whenever the Prophet (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) felt grief or worry, he would rush to offer Salaah. The Prophet (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) said:

Whoever continuously asks forgiveness from Allah, then Allah will make a way out for him from all his worries, and will provide him from means he never would have expected.

4. The dish of Talbeenah is another relief from grief and anxiety, as narrated by Hadhrat Aaishah that the Prophet (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) said:

Talbeenah relieves a persons heart from anxiety and some of its grief (Bukhari & Muslim)

Talbeenah is a natural medicine which is prepared by boiling wheat or barley with either honey or milk, or both of them.

5. The final cure is that which the Prophet (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) advised us with when he said:

Allah will relieve any slave who is afflicted with grief and anxiety from his anxiety and replace his grief with happiness if he says: O Allah! I am Your servant, son of Your servant, son of Your maidservant, my forelock is in Your hand, Your command over me is forever executed and Your decree over me is just. I ask You by every name belonging to You which You named Yourself with, or revealed in Your Book, or You taught to any of Your creation, or You have preserved in the knowledge of the unseen with You, that You make the Quraan the life of my heart and the light of my chest, and a departure for my sorrow and a release for my anxiety. O Allah! Teach me from it that which I am ignorant of and remind me with it that which I was made to forget; I ask You by Your mercy, for You are the Most Merciful, to grant me its recitation during the hours of night and day in the form which pleases You .

The people asked:
O Prophet of Allah! Should we learn (i.e., memorize) these words.

He replied:
Yes! Everyone, who hears this, should memorize it.

What I have mentioned are some helpful ways of curing the sickness of depression.

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