By Haroon Ishola Balogun
All praises and adoration to Almighty Allah, The Majestic. It is He alone we worship and seek assistance. He saved the Ark of Prophet Nuh (alahi salam) on Mount Judh, He spoke to Musa (alahi salam) on mount Sinai, He commanded Ibrahim (alahi salam) to build the Kaaba; He protected Isa from crucifixion. He gave ease to the one who is distressed. He revealed the Quran as a guidance to mankind and He sent us Prophet Muhammad (sallalahu alaihi wa salam) whose sunnah we exemplify. May His blessings continue to abide unto the one whose prophet-hood has illuminated our hearts and saved mankind.
The Quran says: “Verily We have created man into toil and struggle.” Definitely, Man is created to struggle always, he is always anxious for something else, he is never satisfied with what he gets. It is the nature of man to be consumed with anxiety and no human being is ever free from worries and anxiety. No matter what we have or what we have achieved, we still crave for more and then struggle all the time. The one who is poor is desiring to be rich, the one who is rich is always worrying about how not to lose it. The one who is single wants to be married and the one who is married wants to have children. The one who has no child is always anxious to have one, and the one who has children is anxious on how to make them become successful in life, and then, continue to struggle till death comes. This is the reality of human existence.
The question then is that since anxieties, griefs are part of life, what should be done to overcome the anxieties and griefs in life. How can we be less concerned about these facts of life so that it will not overwhelm us.
Ibn Qayim mentioned that never does Allah mention grief or worries in the Quran except that He commands us to get rid of it, or He gives us good tidings and hope that it will be lifted from us. Wala tahinu wa la tahsanun, wa antum mudkhalahum – don’t give up and don’t be worried, you all shall be victorious. Also Allah says in Suratul-Yunus vs 62: “Ala inna awliyaa Allah la khawfun alayhim wala hum yahzanoon” “Lo! verily the friends of Allah are those on whom fear cometh not,
nor do they grieve”. Those who are pious, those who are righteous and become friends of Allah have nothing to fear or worry about. So, Allah gives glad tidings that there shall come a time when worries shall be over and there shall be ultimate time in an abode where there will never be worries nor grief and sorrow. That is Al-Janah.
For these people, the first thin they will say when they get the ticket to enter Janah is Alhamdullilah ladhi azhaba anal-hassan. This means worries and griefs are part of life of mankind until He meets his Lord and enters Janah. The moment we realise that we can never eliminate them from our life, the better for us. It is human nature, the Prophet also felt anxious, but the goal is to minimise the worries, realising that ease will definitely come after all worries; that all worries, griefs and anxieties are meant for this life alone. They will cease to happen when we enter paradise. That is why the Janah is called Daru-l-salam, the abode of peace, no harm, no worries and no griefs.
I’m going to mention five ways to combat stress and griefs inline with the sunnah of our prophet. s.a.w.
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The first thing is to realise that Allah is in absolute control of our lives. This takes us to belief in al-Qadr. We need to believe in everything that happens to us as acts of God. If it has not been destined to happen, it will not happen. Not even a leaf can fall from a tree without the permission of Allah. This is one of the best antidotes to combat griefs and anxieties. When you are worried, or when anxieties overwhelmed you, you must remember that Allah is in control, not you. When Prophet Muhammad, s.a.w was in the cave Al-Tur when the mushirikoon came looking for them where they were hidding, and when Abubakar was in a state of panic, the Prophet said, la tahzanu, inna Laha maha’na, “don’t worry, Allah is with us.” The most powerful antidote to stress and worries is to turn to Almighty Allah. When Musa (Peace be on Him) was being pursued by the mighty army of Firaun, when they were faced with the red sea and behind them were the enemies, there was no alternative for them again, no place to go than to the red sea or be killed by the people of Pharaoh. The followers of Musa lamented (bani Israel said: Inna lamidrakoon) that they will be cut down, but Allah told Musa to tell them, “Kala! Inna maha robi “No, it won’t happen, My Lord is with me.” That is how to battle grief, worries and anxieties.
Right now, say, my enemies don’t control me, my enemies don’t have power over me, My Lord Allah is with me. Wa ala Lahi fali-yatawakali muminoon.” It is only by turning to the creator and relying solely on him that you can overcome any grief and anxiety and that what is happening is only by the will and command of Allah. Certainly, Allah has plans that are better than yours.
The second way of dealing with it is that in that grief, there is always a blessing. In any pain, there is also a gain. The Prophet said in sahi hadith: “Ma yusibul-Muslimum min nasabin, wala wasab, wala hami, wala husni, wala adami, wala gham” A Muslim is never afflicted with tiredness (worries) or illness, or any harm of the past (like the death of a parent or loved ones causing you grief) or future (as in how will I pay my debt and so on) except that Allah forgives his sins. No one wants grief, worries or any thing that will bring stress and depression, but when we experience that we as Muslims should console ourselves with the fact that there is in it a gain for us that Allah will forgive our sins. When we are in such a state of worry, when we cannot sleep, when we are depressed, turn to Allah and believe it will take away some of your sins and save you in the Hereafter. The suffering of this world is bearable and transient, the grief of the Hereafter is unbearable and eternal.
The third way to deal with grief and stress is in hadith related by Ibn Majah: Man jahala umuman aman wahidan, ahmul mahad.Kafahu Lahu amal duniyahu.” Whoever concentrates all of his concerns on one concern (concern of the akhira) then Allah shall relieve him of all of his concerns of the duniya. This hadith is very clear, if you start thinking of the Hereafter without worrying about the concerns and worries of this life, (how will I answer Allah for all my deeds, how will I explain my disobedience to Allah, etc) then Allah will take care of all your worries in this life. So, don’t worry about money, business collapse, barrenness, marriage issues, and other issues. He goes on to say, whoever is so worried about this life and never cared about the Hereafter, Allah will not care how he ends his life. This means Allah has abandoned that person because he abandoned Allah. It is a matter of priotizing and giving preference to the hereafter. So brothers, visualise the stress of the Hereafter and concentrate on it rather than this transient and ephemeral world.
Another important way is to alleviate the worries of others. The Prophet also said: “whoever alleviate the pain and suffering of his brothers, Allah will alleviate his pains and sufferings in the Hereafter. Whoever conceals the fault of his brothers, Allah will conceal his faults in the Hereafter. Whoever eases the debts of his brother, Allah will ease for all his inabilities, and so on. It is very difficult to do but in it there is so much gain. When you have a grief you cannot solve and you are capable of removing the pains and suffering of others, please do it. Sacrifice your own for him, bring joy to his face. It is a sure way of getting yourself out of the mess. The Prophet said, Allah will continue to help His servant as long as he helps other people. Yes! Let me repeat, when you are suffering, the best is to find someone in pain and suffering and help him out. Another gain of this point is to appreciate Allah that you are not being tested in that way, merely because even as you are being tested, when you hear what others are going through, you will thank Allah that you are better off. Give even in pain, even when you have little, Allah will give you much more in return.
The fifth mechanism I will mention here is that is doing prayers for the noble Prophet Muhammad. Ubayi bin Ka’ab asked the prophet “How much should I do salat wa salam upon you? Should I use one half, or one third of my dhikr time to do salat wa salam to you? The Prophet said, if you give all your dhikr time, all of your anxieties shall be taken away. At times of stress, or when the going gets tough, think of asalatu for the Prophet, say it, engage your tongue with it, sing it, dance it, and let it take over you, your heart will be at ease, you will be at comfort and ease will come. This is because the Prophet had said whoever sends salat wa salam to me, Allah will send 10 times to him.
The list is in-exhaustive but I will stop here. May Allah accept it as an act of ibadah and hope it serves as a soothing balm to anyone in distress, worry, anxiety or grief. May Allah ease our affairs and grant us the good of this world and the Hereafter. Amin.