Let's Talk Mental Health

How To Cope With The Impact Of Depression On Iman

بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِيْمِ

One of the major symptoms of depression is losing interest or motivation in things that you normally enjoy. Not only that, but you’re dealing with fatigue and a state where completing the smallest things like getting out of bed becomes a Herculean endeavour. Depression can make everything feel empty.

Mental wellbeing isn’t something that can be compartmentalised. It impacts physical and spiritual wellbeing and vice versa. For Muslims, dealing with a mental illness like depression can feel like multi-faceted suffering. It’s one thing to be struggling with day to day things you need to function as an adult, it’s another when it’s compounded with the shame and guilt of regressing spiritually.

From personal experience, whenever my mental health deteriorates, without fail, it impacts my iman. Things like sunnah prayers, morning and evening adhkar, reciting Surah Kahf goes out the window because it takes all of my energy and concentration just showing up to my five daily prayers.

Feeling like you’re not doing enough spiritually can easily lead to internal dialogue that’s about self shaming and catastrophising the state of our relationship with Allah. On a normal day, it’s easy to battle with a few negative thoughts. In a depressed state, the slippery slope between ‘I’m doing my best’ and ‘I’m a terrible Muslim’ is quick and easy.

Here are a few things that I find really helpful when my mental health impacts my iman:

1. Understand that we don’t worship Allah swt for feelings.

Its euphoric when you’re in a good space spiritually. Your heart is light and you feel connected to acts of worship.

But what happens when you’re in a space where everything feels empty and the feeling is no longer there?

If you’re not experiencing ‘that feeling’, it doesn’t make you a bad Muslim and it certainly doesn’t make your acts of worship worthless. My biggest advice for anyone struggling with their mental health is not to let go of obligatory actions especially the five daily prayers.

Even when you don’t feel like it, even when you’re just there physically, dragging yourself, continue to show up.

Allah swt is aware of your circumstances and He is the Most Merciful.

2. Adhkars carry great reward

One thing that’s helpful to remember is short adhkars like Astaghfirullah, SubhanAllah, Alhamdulilah and Allahu Akbar carry beautiful and great rewards.

Allah swt is Ash-Shakur, the One who is appreciative of the tiniest actions we send forth and rewards them beyond our imagination.

Two recommended duas that are great for wellbeing and take less than a minute are:

Transliteration: Allaahumma ‘innee ‘as’alukal-‘afwa wal’aafiyata fid-dunyaa wal’aakhirati,
Allaahumma ‘innee ‘as’alukal-‘afwa wal’aafiyata fee deenee wa dunyaaya wa ‘ahlee, wa maalee,
Allaahum-mastur ‘awraatee, wa ‘aamin raw’aatee, Allaahum-mahfadhnee min bayni yadayya, wa min khalfee, wa ‘an yameenee, wa ‘an shimaalee, wa min fawqee, wa ‘a’oothu bi’adhamatika ‘an ‘ughtaala min tahtee

Another one I love is:

Transliteration: Yaa Hayyu Yaa Qayyoom bi Rahmatika astagheeth, Aslih lee sha’nee kullahu wa laa takilni ilaa nafsi tarfata ‘ayn.

Recite these duas as often as possible especially when you’re struggling to do anything.

I also recommend downloading the Dhikr and Dua app for more duas.

3. Take advantage of moments of inspiration

One thing I love about Islam is the emphasis on sincerity. Sincerity is the ultimate multiplier and it’s important for us not to fall into the pits of despair when we can’t do big actions.

Focus on the doors Allah has opened for you and trust me when I say there will be doors.

One recurring theme with me in moments I’m really down and feeling distant from Allah is something makes me sneeze forcefully and and after saying Alhamdulilah, I think to myself, that sneeze is a mercy from Allah to pull me closer by giving me the opportunity to remember him and praise him.

What if your smile in the face of your brother or sister even in your moments of despair is the deed of yours that is beloved to Allah?

Or the moment you took to offer a kind word to someone?

Or the charity you gave that took away the burden of your fellow Muslim?

Certain doors may feel closed right now but other doors are open. Walk through them.

4. Lean On Community

I’ve become really appreciative of collective gatherings and spaces. They make a huge difference for me especially when I am struggling with willpower or my motivation is low. Being able to join group adhkar sessions before going to bed or hopping on a Zoom call where a friend recites Surah Kahf on Thursday evenings can be an incredible iman boost.

In my journey, I’m definitely learning to lean on other people when I’m struggling and seeing it as a mercy from Allah.

Mental wellbeing aside, there are times I’m going through a low iman phase that I make myself attend a Halaqah (physical or virtual recently) because of this Hadith Qudsi:

On the authority of Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) from the Prophet  ﷺ who said:

Allah (glorified and exalted be He) has angels who rove about seeking out gatherings in which Allah’s name is being invoked: they sit with them and fold their wings round each other, filling that which is between them and between the lowest heaven. When [the people in the gathering] depart, [the angels] ascend and rise up to heaven.

He (the Prophet (ﷺ)) said: Then Allah (mighty and sublime be He) asks them – [though] He is most knowing about them: From where have you come? And they say: We have come from some servants of Yours on Earth: they were glorifying You (Subhana llah), exalting you (Allahu akbar), witnessing that there is no god but You (La ilaha illa llah), praising You (Al-Hamdu lillah), and asking [favours] of You.

He says: And what do they ask of Me? They say: They ask of You Your Paradise. He says: And have they seen My Paradise? They say: No, O Lord. He says: And how would it be were they to have seen My Paradise! They say: And they ask protection of You.

He says: From what do they ask protection of Me? They say: From Your Hell-fire, O Lord. He says: And have they seen My Hell-fire? They say: No. He says: And how would it be were they to have seen My Hell-fire: They say: And they ask for Your forgiveness. He (the Prophet (ﷺ)) said:

Then He says: I have forgiven them and I have bestowed upon them what they have asked for, and I have granted them sanctuary from that from which they asked protection.

He (the Prophet p.b.u.h) said: They say: O Lord, among them is So-and-so, a much sinning servant, who was merely passing by and sat down with them.

He (the Prophet p.b.u.h) said: And He says: And to him [too] I have given forgiveness: he who sits with such people shall not suffer.

Related by Muslim

Depression can be a debilitating and isolating experience but it’s important that we don’t fall into despair and hopelessness when it comes to our iman.

May Allah swt continue to safeguard, protect and bless us all Ameen.

I pray that you benefited from this post and I would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section.

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