spiritual tension. There is no running away from it. All that matters is
how you deal with it. This article does not deal with the factors of
stress, anxiety, and depression, nor is it a clinical advice. If you feel
depressed, you are not alone. It has been estimated that 75 to 90 percent
of all visits to primary care physicians in America are for stress-related
problems. This is why it is wise to consult a doctor if you are having
physical symptoms of stress. However, here are some tips that can help from
a spiritual perspective.
Torture. Beatings. Loss of property. The death of loved ones. These were
just some of the enormous challenges the Muslims of Makkah faced in the
seventh century following their acceptance of Islam in fiercely tribal and
Detention. Harassment. Beatings. Discrimination. Loss of Job. Profiling.
Hate Crimes. Constant media attention. Surveillance. These are just some of
the challenges Muslims in America today face, post-9/11. Like our
predecessors in Makkah, we have begun to face great stress, anxiety, and
pressure, more than ever in our recent history on this continent, although
Muslims who were brought here as slaves faced worse than what we can even
1. Ask Him. He Listens: DU`A
Turn each anxiety, each fear and each concern into a Dua (supplication).
Look at it as another reason to submit to God and be in Sajdah
(prostration), during which you are closest to Allah. God listens and
already knows what is in your heart, but He wants you to ask Him for what
The Prophet said: Allah is angry with those who do not ask Him for anything
The Prophet once said that in prayer, he would find rest and relief
(Nasai). He would also regularly ask for God's forgiveness and remain in
prostration during prayer praising God (Tasbeeh) and asking for His
Allah wants you to be specific. The Prophet advised us to ask Allah for
exactly what we want instead of making vague Duas. Dua is the essence of
worship (the Prophet as quoted in Tirmidhi).
"Call on your Lord with humility and in private: for Allah loveth not
those who trespass beyond bounds. Do not make mischief on the earth, after
it hath been set in order, but call on Him with fear. And longing (in your
hearts): for the mercy of Allah is (always) near to those who do good"
2. Tie your Camel: DO YOUR PART
One day Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, noticed a
Bedouin leaving his camel without tying it. He asked the Bedouin, "Why
don't you tie down your camel?" The Bedouin answered, "I put my trust in
Allah." The Prophet then said, "Tie your camel first, then put your trust
in Allah" (Tirmidhi).
Muslims must never become fatalistic. Although we know only Allah is in
control and that He has decreed all things, we are each responsible for
making the right choices and doing the right thing in all situations of our
lives. We must take action (link to planning articles on SV). We must work
to alleviate the hardships we, our families and our communities face.
Ask yourself the following questions if you are worried about the state of
the world: are you part of the peace movement? Is your Masjid part of the
peace movement? Are you part of an interfaith group with an agenda of peace
and justice? Are you working with a group fighting discrimination? If your
answer is no, it is time that you sat down to plan your share of time and
money in finding solutions to the problems you face.
"Verily Allah does not change men's condition unless they change their
inner selves" (Quran 13: 11).
Turn each worry into a Du`a and each Du`a into an action plan. That will
show your commitment to your request and will focus your energy in the
3. Remember that human responsibility is limited
While we need to carry out our duty to the best of our abilities, always
remember that you don't control the outcome of events. Even the Prophets
did not control the outcome of their efforts. Some were successful, others
were not. Once you have done your duty, leave the results to Allah.
Regardless of the results of your efforts, you will be rewarded for the
part you have played.
However, never underestimate your abilities. Understand the concept of
Barakah (blessings from Allah) and remember that Allah can and Insha Allah
will expand them if you are sincerely exerting your energies for the right
4. Leave the world behind you FIVE TIMES A DAY
Use the five daily prayers as a means to become more Hereafter-oriented
and less attached to this temporary world. Start distancing yourself as
soon as you hear Adhan, the call to prayer. When you perform Wudu, keep
repeating Shahada, the declaration of faith, as water drops slip down your
face, hands, arms, and hair. When you stand ready to pray, mentally prepare
yourself to leave this world and all of its worries and stresses behind
Of course, Shaytan will try to distract you during prayer. But whenever
this happens, go back and remember Allah. The more you return, the more
Allah will reward you for it. Also, make sure your Sajdas (prostrations)
are talking Sajdas, in which you are really connecting to God and seeking
His Mercy, praising Him, and asking His forgiveness. (link to Sajda
5. Seek help through SABR
Seek help through Sabr and Salat (Quran 2:45).
This instruction from Allah provides us with two critical tools that can
ease our worries and pain. Patience and prayer are two oft-neglected
stressbusters. Sabr is often translated as patience but it is not just
that. It includes self-control, perseverance, endurance, and a focussed
struggle to achieve one's goal. Unlike patience, which implies resignation,
the concept of Sabr includes a duty to remain steadfast to achieve your
goals despite all odds.
Being patient gives us control in situations where we feel we have little
or no control. 'We cannot control what happens to us but we can control our
reaction to our circumstances' is the mantra of many modern-day self-help
books. Patience helps us keep our mind and attitude towards our
difficulties in check.
6. Excuse Me! You are Not Running the World, HE is.
It is important to remind ourselves that we don't control all the
variables in the world. God does. He is the Wise, the All-Knowing.
Sometimes our limited human faculties are not able to comprehend His wisdom
behind what happens to us and to others, but knowing that He is in control
and that as human beings we submit to His Will, enriches our humanity and
enhances our obedience (Uboodiah in Arabic) towards him. Read the story of
the encounter of Moses with the mysteries behind God's decision (Quran:
18:60-82). Familiarize yourself with God's 99 Names, which are also known
as His Attributes. It is a powerful way of knowing Him.
"God-there is no deity save Him, the Ever-Living, the Self-Subsistent Fount
of All being. Neither slumber overtakes Him, nor sleep. His is all that is
in the heavens and all that is on earth. Who is there that could intercede
with Him, unless it be by His leave? He knows all that lies open before men
and all that is hidden from them, whereas they cannot attain to aught of
His knowledge save that which He wills them to attain. His eternal power
overspreads the heavens and the earth, and their upholding wearies Him not.
And He alone is truly exalted, tremendous." (Quran 2:255).
The Prophet recommended reading this verse, known as Ayat al kursi, after
each prayer, Allah's peace and blessings be upon him. Once Ali, may Allah
be pleased with him, approached the Prophet during a difficult time and he
found the Prophet in Sajda, where he kept repeating "Ya Hayy Ya Qayyum",
words which are part of this verse.
7. Birds Don't Carry their Food
Allah is al Razzaq (the Provider).
"How many are the creatures that carry not their own sustenance? It is
Allah Who feeds them and you, for He hears and knows all things (Quran
By reminding yourself that He is the Provider, you will remember that
getting a job or providing for your family in these economically and
politically challenging times, when Muslims are often the last to be hired
and the first to be fired, is in God's Hands, not yours. As Allah says in
"And He provides for him from (sources) he never could imagine. And if
anyone puts his trust in Allah, sufficient is (Allah) for him. For Allah
will surely accomplish His purpose. Verily, for all things has Allah
appointed a due proportion (Quran 65:3).
8. God controls Life and Death
If you fear for your physical safety and security, remember that only
Allah gives life and takes it back and, that He has appointed the time for
it. No one can harm you except if Allah wills. As He says in the Quran:
"Wherever you are, death will find you out, even if you are in towers built
up strong and high!" (Quran 4:78).
9. Remember that life is short
It's easy to get caught up in our own stress and anxiety. However, if we
remember that our life is short and temporary, and that the everlasting
life is in the Hereafter, this will put our worries in perspective.
This belief in the transitory nature of the life of this world reminds us
that whatever difficulties, trials, anxieties, and grief we suffer in this
world are, Insha Allah, something we will only experience for a short
period of time. And more importantly, if we handle these tests with
patience, Allah will reward us for it.
10. Do Zikr, Allah, Allah!
"... without doubt in the remembrance (Zikr) of Allah do hearts find
If you commute, use your time in Zikr. Pick any Tasbeeh and do that instead
of listening to the radio or reading the newspaper. Maybe you can divide it
up between Zikr and planning. Personally, I recite the Tasbeeh of "Subhana
Allahe wa be hamdihi, subhan Allahil Azeem" 100 times as I drive. The
Prophet taught us these two short phrases which are easy to say but will
weigh heavy on our scale of good deeds in the Hereafter.
When your heart feels heavy with stress or grief, remember Allah and
surround yourself with His Zikr. Zikr refers to all forms of the
remembrance of Allah, including Salat, Tasbeeh, Tahmeed, Tahleel, making
supplication (Dua), and reading Quran.
"And your Lord says: 'Call on Me; I will answer your (prayer)..." (Quran
By remembering Allah in the way He has taught us to, we are more likely to
gain acceptance of our prayers and His Mercy in times of difficulty. We are
communicating with the only One Who not only Hears and Knows all, but Who
can change our situation and give us the patience to deal with our
"Remember Me, and I shall remember you; be grateful to Me, and deny Me