Dear brothers and sisters, positivity and Islam are synonymous with one another. After all, why could they be any different? As Muslims, we are the connection for the rest of the world and the truth of this life and the Creator of all. We are blessed with being guardians to the true message, the living miracle that is the Quran and followers of the best of all creation, past, present and future SAWS.
However, there are those who as Muslims suffer from misery, despair or depression. There are those among us who have lost hope and suffer in silence in an affliction which is often a taboo in our society.
There are many reasons why some are ‘miserable’ and have given up hope. We live in an information age and that also means that we are only too acutely aware of all the injustices that are happening over the world. Never before has such a deluge of bad news been accessible to us and social media as well as the mainstream media focus on these type of stories and events because they know these are the stories that get our attention.
Bad news is viral and there is no escaping that. In some ways it is good but in others it has an affect on each and every single one of us to some extent. Things like the status of our world, financial instability, oppression and fear.
As Muslims, we need to be able to tackle this issue because simply ignoring the problem will not help those who suffer from it. Mental health issues is said to be a leading cause of death in the not-to-distant future and so we need to be able to discuss these issues and help resolve them in our communities.
So how do we deal with this? Firstly, we know that difficulty is part of this life. Sura Al-Balad, ayat 4 is translated to say:
We have certainly created man into hardship.
Dear brothers and sisters, Muslims are in this life as if they are merely travellers. This life is not worthy of losing ourselves over as it is a drop in the ocean compared to the life hereafter. It’s simply a test with an ending that will be eternal bliss for us all insh’Allah.
The imam mentioned a hadith in which it is translated to say:
“O Messenger of Allah SAWS “Which of the people is tried most severely?” He said: “The Prophets, then those nearest to them, then those nearest to them.
Dear brothers and sisters, we need to understand that hope and optimism is what makes us Muslim. The imam mentioned a hadith in which the Prophet SAWS said:
“If the Final Hour comes while you have a palm-cutting in your hands and it is possible to plant it before the Hour comes, you should plant it.”
Dear brothers and sisters, we need to make supplication for success and happiness in this life. Alongside that, we need to remember that the Quran, through recitation, contemplation, discussion and engagement will serve to provide us with contentment through the trials of this life.
However, there are those who are lost in a feeling of hopelessness. For them there is a two-pronged approach we ought to take.
First of all, we need to remember that the purpose of this life is for us to feel hardship. Just like the hunger we feel during the fast before the iftar, this life is the pain before the eternal bliss.
We need to be acutely aware of this fact and remember that for each hardship and pain we feel, it is taking us one step closer to an eternity of happiness and an elevation to a higher station of Jannat.
We need to reset our focus from this temporary state to the actual existence in the hereafter. Allah SWT says in Sura Al-Kahf, ayat 7:
Indeed, We have made that which is on the earth adornment for it that We may test them [as to] which of them is best in deed.
Dear brothers and sisters, be mindful that we are only here for a short time and each moment is being given to us to elevate us in rank to the point we reach the highest station, Jannat Al-Fiduous in the next life.
Second point is that, alongside the spiritual health, we must treat mental health like every other illness. It needs treatment and we should not be dismissive of those who suffer from this affliction.
Practically we ought to surround ourselves with positive people and positive information. Replace the news feeds that update you daily with the heart breaking news and instead have news feeds that show you inspirational things, positive human achievements and feel good stories.
We know positivity is important as the imam mentioned the hadith in which it is said:
“The Prophet SAWS used to like good signs and hate bad omens.”
Also, we ought to be mindful of those in our community that show signs of this affliction and encourage them to seek professional help as well as support them as a community. Sometimes it is not enough to say “Oh well, it’s the will of Allah and you must just pray harder”. Sometimes it requires active engagement and support for that person to seek professional help before they do any harm.
One of the biggest challenges we face is our detachment from one another in a fast-paced, self-centred world. And so we need to work proactively to ensure that we do not exclude the vulnerable amongst us and therefore encourage the community spirit, either through the set up of community groups or through events centred in the community centres and masjids.
Dear brothers and sisters, we live in a world where we are encouraged to fit in with society and so feelings of sadness and despair are considered topics that are off-limits. Unfortunately, this is especially true of our community. However, alongside reaching out to Allah SWT in supplication, we ought to make practical steps to inject positivity into our lives and be there as a true community for one another and assist one another to cope if things begin to feel too much.