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Fighting Depression: 10 Tips from the Sunnah

Kanika Aggarwal brings us wise advice from the Sunnah to ease feelings of depression.

Most of us are bombarded with situations and circumstances that leave us feeling sad and worried on a daily basis. For some, this feeling is so deeply rooted that they need to seek professional help. It is well-known that behavioural psychology and medication are used to treat clinical depression and anxiety issues. But even psychiatrists cannot deny the role of religious beliefs in the prevention and cure of such ailments. So how about the ‘medication’ that came down from Allah (SWT) through the Prophet (SAW) in the form of the sunnah? Here are a few tips from the sunnah on fighting depression or the feeling of sadness that plagues our lives by instilling feelings of hopelessness and despair. The tips not only mention prophetic actions that are prescribed for people suffering from depression, but also prophetic tips on conditioning your mind to think in a more positive direction.
Think, remember, contemplate:
1. Remember that there are people who are below you

Prophet Muhammad (SAW) said: “Whenever you see someone better than you in wealth, face or figure, you should look at someone who is inferior to you in these respects.” (Bukhari and Muslim)
2. Remember that everything that happens to a believer is good
The Prophet (SAW) said: “How marvellous is the affair of the believer! Everything that happens to him is good, and this does not apply to anyone except the believer. If something good befalls him, he gives thanks for it, and that is good for him. If something bad befalls him, he bears it with patience, and that is good for him.” (Muslim)
3. Remember that the trials of this world and sadness will expiate your sins
The Prophet (SAW) said: “Nothing of fatigue, illness, distress, worry, grief or harm befalls the Muslim, not even a prick from a thorn, but Allah will accept it as expiation for some of his sins.” (Muslim)
4. Remember that this world is temporary and our final abode is in the Hereafter, so make that your main concern
The Prophet (SAW) said: “Whoever has the Hereafter as his main concern, Allah will fill his heart with a feeling of richness and independence; he will be focused and feel content, and this world will come to him in spite of it. Whoever has this world as his main concern, Allah will cause him to feel constant fear of poverty; he will be distracted and unfocused, and he will have nothing of this world except what was already predestined for him.” (Tirmidhi)
5. Remember that one day you will die
The Prophet (SAW) said: “Remember frequently the one who will destroy all your pleasures: death, for there is no-one who remembers death when in straitened circumstances, but his situation will become easier, and there is no-one who remembers death during times of ease, but his circumstances will become straitened.” (Muslim)
Practical actions:
6. Find solace in prayer
Whenever the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) felt grief or worry, he would rush to prayer. When telling Bilal (RA) to pronounce the adhan, he said, “O Bilal, give us rest with it.” (Abu Dawud)
7. There is healing in listening to the Qur’an and performing ruqyah with it
The Prophet (SAW) used to love Qur’an being recited to him because it is a source of comfort for grief and healing for worry and distress. Abd Allah Ibn Masud (RA) said, “The Prophet (SAW) asked me to recite the Qur’an for him. He said to the Prophet, “Should I recite the Qur’an before you whereas it has been revealed unto you?” At this, the Prophet said, “I love it more to hear the Qur’an from someone else.”” (Bayhaqi)
It was narrated that ‘A’isha (RA) said: “When the messenger of Allah (SAW) was ill, he would recite al-Mi’wadhatayn (the last 2 chapters of the Qur’an) over himself and spit drily. When his pain grew intense, I recited over him and wiped him with his own hand, seeking its barakah (blessing).” (Muslim)
8. Asking for forgiveness may relieve you of your situation
Prophet Muhammad (SAW) said: “Whoever continuously asks forgiveness from Allah, then Allah will make a way out for him from all his worries, and will provide him from means he never would have expected.” (Abu Dawud)
9. Supplicate to Allah (SWT) and do dhikr (remembrance of Allah) at all times – before worry strikes you and while you are distressed
Narrated Anas (RA), the servant of the prophet (SAW): “I used to serve the messenger of Allah (SAW) when he stayed in Madina (i.e. was not travelling). I often used to hear him saying: “Allaahumma inni a’oodhu bika min al-hamm wa’l-hazn wa’l-‘ajz wa’l-kasal wa’l-bukhl wa’l-jubn wa dala’ al-dayn wa ghalbat al-rijaal – (O Allah, I seek refuge with You from distress, grief, incapacity, laziness, miserliness, cowardice, the burden of debt and from being overpowered by men).” (Bukhari)
It was also reported from Ibn Abbas t that the messenger of Allah (SAW) used to say, when he felt distressed: “La ilaaha ill-Allaah al-‘Azeem ul-Haleem, Laa ilaaha ill-Allaah Rabb il-‘arsh il-‘azeem, Laa ilaaha ill-Allaah Rabb is-samawaati wa Rabb il-ard wa Rabb il-‘arsh il-kareem (there is no god except Allah, the All-Mighty, the Forbearing; there is no god except Allah, the Lord of the Mighty Throne; there is no god except Allah, Lord of the heavens, Lord of the earth and Lord of the noble Throne).” (Bukhari and Muslim)
10. Eating Talbeen, one of the prophetic foods
‘A’isha (RA) used to order talbeen for people who were sick or had been stricken by tragedy, and she would say: “I heard the Messenger of Allah (SAW) say: “Talbeen warms the heart of the sick person and alleviates some of a person’s grief.”” (Bukhari) Talbeen is a soup or broth made from flour or bran to which honey is added. It is called talbeen because it resembles milk (laban). It is cooked from ground barley.
In conclusion, dear brothers and sisters, when we are faced with feelings of worry or distress, we should try to avoid expressing our displeasure in Allah’s Will. Let us instead return back to Him through the various means mentioned above and have faith that our Creator who is in control of the heavens and the earth, knows what is best for us.