The Islamic faith is not unfamiliar with tests and tribulations. This is the seventh in a series of articles on depression according to Islam. It is from the On Demand Course: Mental Health Workshop – An Islamic Guide to Dealing with Depression.
What is it that we desire through patience? It is closeness to Allah and His Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace). The means of having patience are being in constant remembrance of Allah, and being consistent with our spiritual routines
One of the companions came to the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) and asked him, “O Prophet of Allah, O Messenger of Allah The teachings of Islam have become overwhelming for me. So tell me one thing that I should hold on to.” The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) reportedly said, “Keep your tongue moist with the remembrance of Allah.” Allah says:
أَلَا بِذِكۡرِ ٱللَّهِ تَطۡمَىِٕنُّ ٱلۡقُلُوبُ
“Verily by the remembrance of Allah do hearts find peace.” [Quran, 13:28; tr. Keller, Quran Beheld]
What we say, directly impacts our hearts. That directly impacts our hearts. It is through that patience upon the good and patience with that remembrance that peace and serenity are granted.
One of the greatest ways of remembrance is through sending peace and blessings upon the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace).
A man came to the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) and he told him, “O Messenger of Allah, I surely send a lot of salutations upon you, peace and salutations upon you. So how much of those peace and salutations should I make for you?” The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Whatever you like.”
The companion asked him, “What if I make a quarter of the time of my remembrance in sending peace and salutations upon you?” The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Whatever you desire. However, if you increase that will be good for you.” Then he said, “What about half?” He said, “Whatever you desire, but if you increase, that will be good for you.”
He said, “What about two-thirds?” And he said, “Whatever you like, but if you increase, that will be good for you.” He said, “O Messenger of Allah, then I shall make all of my time of remembrance in sending peace and salutations upon you.” And so he said, “If you do so, then your worries are resolved and your sins are forgiven.”
This is a great means for resolving our worries, anxiety, and any state of depression we may fall into.
No Might nor Power
Another way of remembrance is saying, “La hawla wa la quwwata illa billah,” that, “There is no might nor power except by Allah.”
The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) reportedly said about that way of remembrance, that saying there is no might and no power except in God is a remedy of ninety-nine diseases, the lightest of which is anxiety or worry.
Another method is to repeat, “Inna lillahi wa inna ilahi raji‘un.”
Allah tells us in Sura al-Baqara,
ٱلَّذِينَ إِذَآ أَصَـٰبَتْهُم مُّصِيبَةٌۭ قَالُوٓا۟ إِنَّا لِلَّهِ وَإِنَّآ إِلَيْهِ رَٰجِعُونَ
“Those who say when any calamity strikes them, ‘Verily we are Allah’s, and to Him are we bound to return.’” [Quran, 2:156; tr. Keller, Quran Beheld]
What is the result of that?
أُو۟لَـٰٓئِكَ عَلَيْهِمْ صَلَوَٰتٌۭ مِّن رَّبِّهِمْ وَرَحْمَةٌۭ ۖ وَأُو۟لَـٰٓئِكَ هُمُ ٱلْمُهْتَدُونَ
“Those, on them shall be endless tender blessings from their Lord in light and hep, and mighty mercy, and those are the guided.” [Quran, 2:157; tr. Keller, Quran Beheld]
That is a great reward.
Another way of remembrance is saying:
حَسۡبُنَا ٱللَّهُ وَنِعۡمَ ٱلۡوَكِیلُ
“‘Allah suffices us, and is the best reliance.’” [Quran, 3:173; tr. Keller, Quran Beheld]
As a result for those who say this and are realized in it:
فَٱنقَلَبُوا۟ بِنِعْمَةٍۢ مِّنَ ٱللَّهِ وَفَضْلٍۢ لَّمْ يَمْسَسْهُمْ سُوٓءٌۭ
“So they returned with an immeasurable blessing from Allah and pure favor, untouched by the least harm” [Quran, 3:174; tr. Keller, Quran Beheld]
All these means of remembrance are keys to shedding away harm, worry, anxiety, and depression. Take those means. Our good opinion of Allah is that He will facilitate and open doors of peace, calm, and serenity within.
Abundtant Prostrations and Prayer
Other means are through an abundance of prostration and prayer, an abundance of supplication and an abundance of seeking forgiveness. Especially in the depths of the night.
Then Imam al-Haddad says, “So bear with steadfastness the tribulations which are destined for you and await the relief brought by the rotation of the Divine decree.”
The scholars of righteousness say, “Keep close to patience and know that its beginning is bitter and its end is like honey.”
So changing states is a norm that Allah has created in this life. There is no constant ease and happiness except in the hereafter. With patience, wait for the relief.
Do not Despair
Do not be of the people of despair. The believer does not despair. Nor does he think there is no way out. He does not think that there is no solution. Nor that things will not and cannot change.
Allah tells us in Sura al-Hijr:
قَالَ وَمَن یَقۡنَطُ مِن رَّحۡمَةِ رَبِّهِۦۤ إِلَّا ٱلضَّاۤلُّونَ
“He said, ‘And who despairs of the mercy of his Lord but the hopelessly astray?’” [Quran, 15:56; tr. Keller, Quran Beheld]
The believer is guided. We never despair. Allah is the All-Merciful. Never despair in the All-Merciful. Allah says in the Divine Narration (Hadith Qudsi), “I am what my servant thinks of me.”
We think highly of Allah. We have a good opinion of Allah. That trials and tribulations are there to purify us, to elevate us, to make us better, and to make us close to Allah, and then there is relief that is granted through those trials.
The relief that we wait for does not necessarily mean that it is a relief from the tribulation. Rather it could be a relief in the tribulation, that Allah grants us states of serenity and calmness through the trials and the tribulations.