Fruits for the Week

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The Prophet (saw) said: “There is no one who is afflicted with distress or grief and says: “O Allah, I am Your slave, son of your slave, son of your female slave; my forehead is in Your hand, Your command over me passes and Your decree over me is just. I ask you by every name belonging to You with which You have named Yourself – whether You revealed in Your Book, taught to any of Your creation, or have preserved in the knowledge of the Unseen with You – that You make the Qur’an the spring of my heart, the light of my breast, a departure for my sorrow, and a release from my anxiety,” but Allah will take away his distress and grief and replace it with joy.” He said: “Of course; everyone who hears them should learn them.” 

The Prophet (saw) offers in this hadith the cure to two of the most common and corrosive ailments of the heart; sorrow and worry. The hadith demonstrates that tawhid and the Qur’an, our connection with Allah, are the greatest cures to whatever is burdening our hearts. The importance of this hadith is evidence in the emphasis of the Prophet (saw) put on learning and understanding it.

Our heart is the main target of Shaytan, and he tries to destroy it with his greatest weapons: hamm (distress over the future) and hazan (sorrow over the past). One only needs to see how widespread these feelings are and how debilitating they can be to understand their potency as weapons.

All of us, with no exception, feel the pain of these emotions and many are saddled by their weight. They prevent us from doing many good deeds and sap us of energy and good will. With time, they begin to undermine our iman and trust in Allah. They can transform us from pious and happy people into sad and anxious individuals who have lost their faith in Allah. They can become so chronic that they steal all purpose and joy from our lives, and we find ourselves helpless before them.

How can we liberate ourselves from them? Is there a way out? The good news is that there is a cure, and it is possible to stop feeling miserable every day. The Prophet (saw) guides us in this hadith to the cure, a confirmation that Islam came to lead people to the happiness of this life and the next. Allah reveals what guides people out of darkness into the light, out of adversity into relief, out of sadness into happiness.

The revealed religion rescues us from our mental anguish and pain and teaches us how to repel the attacks of Shaytan. Allah indeed reveals the best of medicine.

People seek different medications for these two illnesses of the heart. We go out, we travel, we go shopping, and we meet up with friends and family to chase the spectre of disturbing thoughts. We watch movies, we listen to music, and we follow sports and fashion – all distractions to take our mind away from our troubles. But there are two main problems with these solutions.

The first is that they are temporary; the pain will soon return. This is why many of us throw ourselves in cycles of distraction, jumping from one distraction to the other and not affording to allow ourselves any break because of the pain.

The second problem is that some of these options are haram, and haram treatment only inflicts more pain and weakness; it fosters dependence on and addiction and addiction to this option. The more we do it, the worse we feel; it compounds the problems. And because we feel worse, we take even more of it, just like a drug, and we get buried in cycles of pain and addiction.  

We are moved, for example, towards continuous consumption because the joy the last purchase brought had faded. We become addicted to entertainment and its news, sports and its scores, and fashion and its latest iterations. The reason that we cannot pull out is the all emptiness that these leave behind and the assault of our buried and untreated thoughts.

The treatment from Allah is different. It goes to the root of the problem and does not shy away from it. It does not increase our pain but remove it. We don’t feel lousy after it but better. And the more we seek it, the better we will feel. And with time, we will conquer many of these negative feelings and ways of thinking and find comfort in being close to Allah.

by Dr. Ali Albarghouthi