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Being Depressed? Or Hoping for the Best?

Sharifah Bebe Hasan explores the difference between experiencing natural low points in life, and being clinically depressed. being depressed

Negative emotions are completely natural.  In fact, they can make us realise that we are makhluq (created) being who are flawed, and that we have limitations.It’s also important to realise that we are eternally connected to our Khaliq (Creator) who has no limitation. Allah The Creator doesn’t leave His Creation without guidance. Allah says in the Qur’an:

لَا يُكَلِّفُ اللَّهُ نَفْسًا إِلَّا وُسْعَهَا ۚ لَهَا مَا كَسَبَتْ وَعَلَيْهَا مَا اكْتَسَبَتْ

Allah does not charge a soul except [with that within] its capacity. It will have [the consequence of] what [good] it has gained, and it will bear [the consequence of] what [evil] it has earned. (Sura Baqara 2:286) 

Reading this verse can empower us to realise that we are, in fact, equipped to handle what comes in our way.

Encountering Low Points In Life

When encountering sad and negative feelings, a good first step is to try to better understand their causes. Is it a family problem, financial stress, or anxiety over something in the future? The answers will vary depending on the individual, but overcoming the root causes of these problems is one of the best ways out. Moving on or away from what’s dragging you down, such as a toxic relationship, could also be a way out. 

Sometimes, going through a difficult time can reveal to you the people who truly care for you, as well as the ones who only stay with you until difficult times arise.  When feeling low, take the opportunity to notice the people who show you love in many ways, such as by asking if you are okay, providing you with good resources, working hard to fulfil your needs. Then this will be the time you can talk to them regarding your feelings, and show them respect and love in return to make them happy and loved.

The feeling of emptiness, loss and confusion is not something new in this world. Many legendary individuals and great people had  gone through these feelings to realise their existence and their reliance on their Creator. One of these great stories is the story of Prophet Ibrahim, peace be upon him, who was deprived  by his own people and family, and he took that opportunity to search for his Creator.

In the same way, you may rise above this situation by using this emptiness as a call upon you to fill  your heart with the love of the Creator and His Prophets, and find the great wisdom in life’s lessons.

Our beloved Prophet Muhammad taught his companions the following dua:

‏ اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنَ الْهَمِّ وَالْحَزَنِ، وَالْعَجْزِ وَالْكَسَلِ، وَالْجُبْنِ وَالْبُخْلِ، وَضَلَعِ الدَّيْنِ، وَغَلَبَةِ الرِّجَالِ

“O Allah! I seek refuge with You from worry and grief, from incapacity and laziness, from cowardice and miserliness, from being heavily in debt and from being overpowered by (other) men.” (Bukhari)

How to Seek Help

There are many things that one could do to seek help. There’s nothing to be ashamed of, as feeling sad, lost, hopeless, and anxious are all ups and downs of a normal human being’s life. Some people manage to calm themselves by connecting themselves to the Creator where as others would need additional external help from their loved ones, or professional help from counsellors or therapists.

However, the problem can get much worse if they bottle up their feelings and don’t seek help.  The best time to seek help is any time you need help. One could seek internal and external help by attending knowledge circles, or getting support from their love ones and counsellors.

What is Depression?

Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), simply known as Depression, is much different from usual mood fluctuations and short-lived emotional responses to challenges in everyday life. It is a long-lasting condition,  with a moderate or severe intensity of emotional response.

Experts have listed the following symptoms that usually appear in individuals with depression.  An adult with depression would usually experience 5 or more out of these symptoms (including at least one of depressed mood and loss of interest or pleasure) in the same 2-week period. In children and adolescents, the  duration must be 1 year or longer to be considered depression.

  1. Depressed mood (subjective or observed).
  2. Loss of interest or pleasure
  3. Change in weight or appetite
  4. Poor appetite or overeating
  5. Insomnia or hypersomnia
  6. Psychometric retardation or agitation (observed)
  7. Loss of energy or fatigue
  8. Worthlessness of guilt
  9. Low self-esteem
  10. Impaired concentration or indecisiveness
  11. 11.Thoughts of death, suicidal ideation, or attempt
  12. Hopelessness

Source: Uher et. al

To put it simply, depression is to feel some of the above symptoms over a long period of time. For adults, that time period is roughly more than 2 weeks, and for children and adolescent nearly a year, as their hormones are still imbalance and in growing state.

Unfortunately, not many people fully understand depression. When sadness or anxiety overpowers a person for few moments, some people self-diagnose with depression rather than seeking professional consultation. This puts them at risk of falling further into the abyss, rather than coming out of it.

Before coming to a conclusion, one should start by breaking down the root causes of their emotions.  Is it because they feel hopeless towards life? Or is it because they can’t do as well as others in life? Or is it because they feel like their life is empty?

Feeling Down but Not Depressed

If these are feelings one encounters every once a week or so, or these feelings come and go, making it difficult to lead a normal happy life, then here are few ways to tackle or respond to these feelings. These are usually symptoms of feeling down or sad. They may not necessarily be depression, but they should nonetheless be acknowledged and addressed.

When is feeling hopeless, they should bring to mind that Allah is their Creator and Sustained, and open themselves to receiving Allah’s mercy Knowing that there is Creator who will always cherish and protect the creation, could be the first step to a life of hope. 

For example, when a mother of small children bakes a cake, she would not put the cake at a place where her kids can reach it. In the same way, if a human being is so protective of its creation then, how one could think that Allah, The Creator of the Mankind and the World will ever leave His creation without help?

Hoping from Allah is the key to success. Having hope in Allah and staying connected with Him through, prayer and remembrance can keep you grounded.  Then, moving forward with your ambition in the effort to push down the hopeless, using any help and resources that are available, will hopefully bring you closer to a solution. Allah says in the Quran:

فَإِذَا عَزَمْتَ فَتَوَكَّلْ عَلَى اللَّـهِ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ يُحِبُّ الْمُتَوَكِّلِينَ

And when you have decided, then rely upon Allah.  Indeed, Allah loves those who rely [upon Him]. (Sura Aal-Imran 3:159)

Depression is on the rise amongst the adults and youth. Depression is not something which is incurable, especially if one can realise and work on it at an early stage. There are many ways that one could try out to overcome depression especially by breaking down on why and how they are feeling.

Channelling these feelings to positive actions and places is a great way to start. Constantly relying on the Creator, and spending time in circles of remembrance, can help overcome feelings of loneliness.  Learning the stories of the Prophets of Allah will give one hope in leading a successful life. Other way would also be by studying the seerah of beloved prophet Muhammad, Allah bless him and give him peace, and sending peace upon him, an act recommended by scholars to remove depression related to feelings like sadness and emptiness.

Finally,  since loss is one of the components of depression, I hope to express the reality of it through this short poem. I hope the outcome from this poem brings clarity to people, and helps many in finding their way out of depression.

I Was Lost Within Me

I asked you

I worshipped in your name,

But, still found out myself to be lost,

 

And so, I stopped everything that connects me to you,

I prevented all the connections I had with your name,

Although in deep down I knew i’m getting more lost,

The next day, I woke up missing you,

but , I was determined not to utter your name

As I want to put a stop for the feeling of loss,

I drank coffee in a cup that was written I love you

Which was gifted by my mom with on it my name

I always use this mug as I feared for finding them lost.

While sipping, I ignored once again my mom’s I love you,

Just because I found them uncool and very lame

And with my clinging siblings, to love them is a force

With all these problems I ran out to show I’m unhappy with you

Then, I heard my mom calling out Abdullah my name

Then I realise that You have never despair me to lost

I ran away from my mom’s love that was given by you

I pushed away my siblings whenever they came

I dug a hole and hide myself before claiming I’m lost

But I was always blessed by you.

Knowing this I uttered again with full of love your name

Allah thank you for being with me who were lost

I got my identity through you

I’m Abdullah a slave to you and your name

You are the Creator who never leaves one to lost

I was created by you

I will be  guided by your name

Now, I have no fear handling loss. 

 


Sharifah Bebe Hasan is from Singapore, and has obtained her Alimiyyah certificate in Hadith in addition to graduating in Shariah from University of Indonesia. Currently, she’s enhancing her research and writing skills through SeekersGuidance.


Caring for Elders Suffering from Dementia

Shaykh Abdul-Rahim Reasat is asked for advice on how best to treat an elder in one’s care, who suffers from dementia, within the bounds of Islam.

Question:

Assalam alaykum wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

I have a question. Where and how can I draw the line between what my religion has taught me, and what the doctors say in regard to caring for my elder with dementia?

Religion teaches I should not say an “uff” to my elders. The physiotherapist says I have to force her to do her movements – if she cries, so be it. She says I have to be cruel to be kind.

The intention is clear for me – I want her betterment and I want her to be independent for as long as it is possible. Can you please help to explain to me how to deal with this situation from an Islamic perspective?

Jazak Allah khayr.

Answer:

Wa alaykum assalam wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

I pray you are well.

Not Offending Parents

You are indeed in a very difficult situation. May Allah make it easy for you. In short, do pretty much what the physiotherapist says to keep her mobile – but use the nicest language, the softest tone of voice, and as much compassion as you can muster.

Allah has commanded the believers to be excellent to their parents, “And your Lord decreed that you worship none but Him, and [that you treat] your parents with the very best of conduct. If one, or both, of them reach old age with you then do not even express any frustration to them [literally, do not say ‘Uff’], and do not scold them. Use the very best choice of words with them.” (Sura al Isra 17:23)

Scholars mention that it is impermissible to use harsh language with one’s parents. This is understood from the first part of the verse, but Allah then explicitly mentioned it to further emphasize the point (Sayis, Tafsir Ayat al-Ahkam). Rather, the way of Muslims is to always try to be kind, merciful, and gentle with them — which is not always easy when they reach old age.

Practical Steps

Help her as much as you can with her mobility issues, but make sure you lovingly explain the importance and need for the movements, and that the physiotherapist requires a certain degree of movement. Make sure she understands the benefits of it, and the harms of neglecting it.

Support her through the pain with care and compassion, and realize the she has limits. Maybe pushing her to the degree you have been told to is not best for her. Try to strike a balance between what she wants and what she is capable of doing.

Also, you may want to look into alternative methods of restoring movement. Original Strength Restoration is a good resource on this topic.

May Allah make this test easy for you, and make this service a means for you to enter Paradise. Amin.

Abdul-Rahim

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.


What Are the Islamic Rulings Related to Someone Suffering From Dementia?

Answered by Ustadh Salman Younas

Question: Assalam aleykum

My grandma has totally lost her mind. She doesn’t know what she is saying, can’t eat, or relieve herself, so the family need to do everything for her.

a. Is she exempt from prayers?

b. Does she still have to cover herself in the presence of non-mehram man?

c. When taking her up the stairs to the bathroom, at times, I have to help lift her. There are occasions when we make body contact. Is it sinful?

Answer: assalamu alaykum

We ask God to grant your family health and ease.

Regarding your questions:

a. Based on the description you have given, it does not seem like the prayer would be obligatory on your grandmother as she is no longer considered morally-responsible (mukallaf) due to a deficiency in intellect (aql).

b. The basis is that a woman must cover her entire body in front of a non-mahram man except the face, hands, and feet.

However, in the case of an elderly woman who is no longer sexually desirable, a number of scholars stated that it is permissible to look at those parts of the body that are “generally” uncovered in front of her mahrams. This would include her face, hands, head/hair, feet, arms, neck, and shin. [Ibn Qudama, al-Mughni (9:491) & Sharh al-kabir (7:342); al-Buhuti, al-Kashshaf (5:31); al-Mardawi, al-Insaf (8:26)]

c. The general rule is that it is permissible to touch those areas of a woman that are not considered part of her nakedness (awra). The exception to this is (a) if one fears desire in doing so and (b) a non-mahram. In your cases, as your grandmother is your mahram, it would be permissible for you to touch the areas mentioned above. This is especially the case if there is no one else able to properly assist her as it would be a genuine case of need.

[Ustadh] Salman Younas

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadh Salman Younas graduated from Stony Brook University with a degree in Political Science and Religious Studies. After studying the Islamic sciences online and with local scholars in New York, Ustadh Salman moved to Amman. There he studies Islamic law, legal methodology, belief, hadith methodology, logic, Arabic, and tafsir.

My Suicidal Thoughts Are Coming Back and I Have No One to Trust. What Should I Do?

Answered by Ustadh Salman Younas

Question: I had to endure a very difficult life. I ended up with severe mental problems. I sought help and after several years of treatment I felt better.

I am now in the military and I can feel my suicidal tendencies coming back strong. I can’t trust any of my fellow soldiers because they will abuse my trust.

What should I do?

Answer: assalamu alaykum

I would strongly advise you to seek professional help regarding your situation and talk to someone you trust for further advice.

You mentioned in your question that you had previously received treatment for your issues and saw improvement. You should return to this as soon as possible.

If your fellow soldiers are unable to provide the needed assistance, seek out someone who will, such as a private doctor or someone outside of the army. The important thing is to find people who you can lean on to get better.

In regards to religious practice, you should try your utmost to engage in prayer, supplication, reading the Qur’an, and connecting with good people around you, such as your family and friends.

These are all means by which the heart finds rest and ease. Use these practices to distract yourself from the troubles around you; don’t spend your day and night thinking about your work and the distress you feel as this will only worsen the situation.

It may well be that you need to change aspects of your life in order to cope with these thoughts.

Your life is more valuable than a job or an occupation. As Muslims, we are taught that the lives of ourselves and others are inviolable and anything that seeks to challenge this has to be challenged in the appropriate manner.

Hopefully, by seeking professional help, leaning on the support of those around you, and turning to God, you will be able to overcome the problems you mention.

With prayers,
Salman

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

How Should I Deal With a Mentally Ill Mother?

Answered by Shaykh Umer Mian

Question: As Salam Alaykum,

My mother is seriously mentally ill. She fluctuates between emotional extremes. Because of this I have endured a lifetime of severe emotional abuse. I can’t go on living this way with her bullying me. What can I do?

Answer: Wa alaikum as-salam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu

The Divine Command

Allah Most High says in the Holy Qur’an:

وَقَضَى رَبُّكَ أَلَّا تَعْبُدُوا إِلَّا إِيَّاهُ وَبِالْوَالِدَيْنِ إِحْسَانًا إِمَّا يَبْلُغَنَّ عِنْدَكَ الْكِبَرَ أَحَدُهُمَا أَوْ كِلَاهُمَا فَلَا تَقُلْ لَهُمَا أُفٍّ وَلَا تَنْهَرْهُمَا وَقُلْ لَهُمَا قَوْلًا كَرِيمًا (الإسراء 23)
Thy Lord hath decreed that ye worship none but Him, and that ye be kind to parents. Whether one or both of them attain old age in thy life, say not to them a word of contempt, nor repel them, but address them in terms of honour (Qur’an 17:23).

In this verse, Allah has prohibited us from uttering the word “uff” (translated above as “a word of contempt”). In Arabic, the word “uff” signifies the slightest degree of annoyance or displeasure. The scholars point out that Allah’s prohibiting us from uttering even the word “uff” to our parents means that greater forms of harm (e.g. verbal abuse, physical harm, etc.) are even more reprehensible.

In addition, Allah Most High says in the Holy Qur’an:

وَوَصَّيْنَا الْإِنْسَانَ بِوَالِدَيْهِ حَمَلَتْهُ أُمُّهُ وَهْنًا عَلَى وَهْنٍ وَفِصَالُهُ فِي عَامَيْنِ أَنِ اشْكُرْ لِي وَلِوَالِدَيْكَ إِلَيَّ الْمَصِيرُ (لقمان 14)
And We have enjoined on man (to be good) to his parents: in travail upon travail did his mother bear him, and in years twain was his weaning: (hear the command), “Show gratitude to Me and to thy parents: to Me is (thy final) Goal (Qur’an 31:14).

Notably, throughout the entire Qur’an, Allah does not command showing gratitude to anyone other than Him and one’s parents (as in the verse above). These and other texts of the Qur’an and Sunnah show the incredible emphasis that Islam places on honoring one’s parents. For more, one could consult Imam Nawawi’s Gardens of the Righteous (Riyad al-Saliheen), of which chapter 40 is titled “On dutifulness to parents and maintaining ties of kinship.”

A Command Not Unconditional

Although we are obligated to maintain honor and respect for our parents at all times, this does not necessarily mean that obedience to them is obligatory in every situation. Please carefully read this Shaykh Faraz Rabbani’s article, which clarifies this issue in great detail.

Given your mother’s mental illness, obeying her when she requests your personal information or that of your daughter could very likely result in serious worldly harm coming to you or your daughter. Hence, you do not have to obey her in these requests. Of course, you should maintain respect and politeness, even when denying her requests. In doing so, you may want to consider enlisting the help of someone who has influence over your mother such as her parent, spouse, sibling, community leader, or religious scholar. Such people can assist in convincing your mother to respect your rights as an independent adult and also to obtain the professional medical care that she clearly needs.

Turning to Allah

Finally, after taking all worldly means to resolve this situation, you should not forget the greatest means of all: turning to Allah, the One who brings ease after hardship. This can be done by increasing in all forms of worship such as prayer, dhikr, fasting, giving sadaqah (charity), etc. In particular, prayer and supplication in the last third of the night is one of the greatest means for one’s requests to be answered. Also, the Messenger of Allah (sallAllahu alaihi wa sallam) taught us to make the prayer of need (salah al-hajah) for any worldly or other-worldly need that we have. The prayer of need is very simple: It is essentially to raise one’s need to Allah Most High, by performing ritual ablution (wudu), praying 2 rakats (or four), and then making whole-hearted dua to Allah. Any dua is acceptable, but duas that have been transmitted in the Sunnah are best. The dua which has been specifically transmitted in relation to the prayer of need (as recorded by Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah) is as follows:


لا إِلَهَ إِلا اللَّهُ الْحَلِيمُ الْكَرِيمُ
سُبْحَانَ اللَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَرْشِ الْعَظِيمِ
الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِين
أَسْأَلُكَ مُوجِبَاتِ رَحْمَتِكَ وَعَزَائِمَ مَغْفِرَتِكَ وَالْغَنِيمَةَ مِنْ كُلِّ بِرٍّ وَالسَّلامَةَ مِنْ كُلّ إِثْمٍ
لا تَدَعْ لِي ذَنْبًا إِلا غَفَرْتَهُ وَلا هَمًّا إِلا فَرَّجْتَهُ وَلا حَاجَةً هِيَ لَكَ رِضًا إِلا قَضَيْتَهَا يَا أَرْحَمَ الرَّاحِمِينَ

La ilaha il Allah Al Halim al Karim
Subhan Allahi Rabi Al ‘Arshi Al ‘Adhim
Al Hamdullillahi Rabi Al ‘Alamin
Ass’aluka mujibat rahmatika wa ‘aza’im maghfiratika wa al ghanima min kuli birr wa al salamata min kuli ithm
La tada’ li dhamban ila ghafartahu wa la haman ila farajtahu wa la hajatan hiya laka rida ila qadaytaha ya Arham ar Rahimin.

There there no god but Allah the Clement and Wise.
There is no god but Allah the High and Mighty.
Glory be to Allah, Lord of the Tremendous Throne.
All praise is to Allah, Lord of the worlds.
I ask you (O Allah) everything that leads to your mercy, and your tremendous forgiveness, enrichment in all good, and freedom from all sin.
Do not leave a sin of mine (O Allah), except that you forgive it, nor any concern except that you create for it an opening, nor any need in which there is your good pleasure except that you fulfill it, O Most Merciful!”

Wassalam,
Umer Mian

Photo: Danumurthi Mahendra