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According to psychological studies, a large percentage of people today are subject to some kind of depression, even small children, so it is important to explore this issue in relation to being better Muslims.

The Islamic system aims to create a balance in the Muslim's life, by putting life matters into perspective, rearranging priorities accordingly, and harmonizing all circles of relationships between the individual and his inner and outer environments:

{وَابْتَغِ فِيمَا آتَاكَ اللَّـهُ الدَّارَ‌ الْآخِرَ‌ةَ ۖ وَلَا تَنسَ نَصِيبَكَ مِنَ الدُّنْيَا ۖ وَأَحْسِن كَمَا أَحْسَنَ اللَّـهُ إِلَيْكَ ۖ وَلَا تَبْغِ الْفَسَادَ فِي الْأَرْ‌ضِ ۖ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ لَا يُحِبُّ الْمُفْسِدِينَ}

'Translation' {But seek, through that which Allah has given you, the home of the Hereafter; and [yet], do not forget your share of the world. And do good as Allah has done good to you. And desire not corruption in the land. Indeed, Allah does not like corrupters} [Al-Qasas:77].

People feel depressed or sad when this harmonious equilibrium is disturbed, in which case Islam steps in, not to condemn the feeling, but to offer a solution for regaining psychological and mental balance.

What Is Depression?

You seem to know the difference between situational depression (temporary deep distress or sadness) and clinical depression, which is a mental health disorder that can affect the way you work, study, sleep, eat, and enjoy pleasurable activities. A depressive disorder is more than a passing mood. It is not a sign of personal weakness, and it cannot be willed or wished away, because it is a change in the chemicals of the brain (neurochemistry) which trigger a certain mood, and it needs professional help for treatment.

The causes of depression are numerous: genetic, psychological, and environmental factors are often involved. Yet, the relation between the chemistry of your brain and your experience in life is a two-way street: true your brain affects how you handle your life situations, but also the way you solve your problems and handle challenges greatly affect the mood-chemistry of your brain.

So, people who have low self-esteem, who are consistently pessimistic, who are readily overwhelmed by stress, or who have a severe physical illness are prone to depression.

 

Can Muslims Be Depressed?

To become Muslim, you submit your will to Allah alone and no one else, and you trust that He will take good care of you no matter what happens as long as you keep your side of the relationship with Him. You admit your limitations as a human, so you go through life looking ahead positively, worrying only about what is in your knowledge and ability as a human, and you leave the rest to Allah's wisdom. Existential concerns can cause serious distress as one tries to understand: why am I here, where am I going, what is the point of living if I am going to die anyway?

As a Muslim, you get affected by life's troubles and disturbing thoughts like everyone else, but you can deal with them much better because you have a clear roadmap of where you came from, where you are going and why, so you have a head start having this fundamental knowledge from its source. In other words, you are resistant to existential emptiness, so your focus is on taking control over your life to make the most of it according to the purpose it was given to you for, and you make decisions that will not cause you to feel worse in bad times.

Someone who feels completely lost and alone in the face of a crisis would probably feel helpless and depressed. But someone who feels supported by a compassionate Allah who genuinely cares, who listens to desperate pleas, and who grants generous help, has a better chance of getting back on track much faster because there is a strong helping hand to reach for while dealing with life's troubles.

 

Depression: Condemned in Islam?

Islam does not require us to be superhuman. If one experiences negative feelings, he is encouraged to resist them with positive thoughts and actions if possible, or to seek professional help if the case is clinical.

We are required to take charge of our lives since we are accountable for our deeds and decisions, both for ourselves and for others who will be affected, and we are not allowed to hate or harm ourselves; instead we are taught dignity, self respect and protection both as a right and a duty:

{وَلَا تُلْقُوا بِأَيْدِيكُمْ إِلَى التَّهْلُكَةِ ۛ وَأَحْسِنُوا ۛ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ يُحِبُّ الْمُحْسِنِينَ}

'Translation' {And do not throw [yourselves] with your (own) hands into destruction (by refraining). And do good; indeed, Allah loves the doers of good [Al-Baqarah:195].

{وَلَا تَقْتُلُوا أَنفُسَكُمْ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ كَانَ بِكُمْ رَ‌حِيمًا}

'Translation' {And do not kill yourselves (or one another). Indeed, Allah is to you ever Merciful} [An-Nisaa':29].

Self hatred results from low self esteem in reaction to feelings of worthlessness or guilt. In Islam you always have hope of Allah's mercy even if you have committed the worst sins:

{وَلَا تَيْأَسُوا مِن رَّ‌وْحِ اللَّـهِ ۖ إِنَّهُ لَا يَيْأَسُ مِن رَّ‌وْحِ اللَّـهِ إِلَّا الْقَوْمُ الْكَافِرُ‌ونَ}

'Translation' {And never give up hope of Allah's soothing mercy: truly no one despairs of Allah's soothing mercy, except those who have no faith} [Yusuf:87].

There is no place for despair because you are encouraged to have confidence in knowing it is Allah Himself who is in charge of everything, the All Seeing, All Knowing, and All Fair and Wise Allah:

{وَمَن يَتَّقِ اللَّـهَ يَجْعَل لَّهُ مَخْرَ‌جًا . وَيَرْ‌زُقْهُ مِنْ حَيْثُ لَا يَحْتَسِبُ ۚ وَمَن يَتَوَكَّلْ عَلَى اللَّـهِ فَهُوَ حَسْبُهُ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ بَالِغُ أَمْرِ‌هِ ۚ قَدْ جَعَلَ اللَّـهُ لِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدْرً‌ا}

'Translation' {… and for those who fear Allah, He (ever) prepares a way out . and He provides for him from (sources) he never could imagine. And if anyone puts his trust in Allah, sufficient is (Allah) for him. For Allah will surely accomplish His purpose: verily, for all things has Allah appointed a due proportion} [Al-Talaq:2,3].

You are certain there is no impossible situation which has no solution:

{فَإِنَّ مَعَ الْعُسْرِ‌ يُسْرً‌ا . إِنَّ مَعَ الْعُسْرِ‌ يُسْرً‌ا}

'Translation' {So, verily, with every difficulty, there is relief: Verily, with every difficulty there is relief} [Al-Sharh:5,6].

You also have a simple and effective prescription against grief and anxiety; The Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, said: «No person suffers any anxiety or grief, and says this supplication but Allah will take away his sorrow and grief, and give him in their stead joy; 'O Allah, I am Your slave, son of Your slave, son of Your female slave, 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 Quran the life of my heart and the light of my breast, and a departure for my sorrow and a release for my anxiety'» (Ahmad).


 

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