Returning to the Source: Tips to Convert Fear and Depression into Faith

Our Ummah’s collective heart is in pain. One after another, tragedy after tragedy. After much persuasion by Muslims on social media, media outlets began showcasing these tragedies and Muslims have been spreading awareness around the globe. Bias still exists, and news has been skewed like always, but at least Muslims have finally begun to speak up.

But despite our efforts on the outside, our hearts are still fearful. A Muslim girl born and raised in America rarely feared walking outside in her Hijab, but now she does.It’s still home to her, but now it seems as if her own home doesn’t accept her. Praying in the university library served as a form of Dawa before, but now a young Muslim thinks it would unnecessarily attract dangerous attention.

As Muslims, we have to understand that when times are difficult, it’s a call from Allah to turn to Him completely, submitting ourselves more than ever before. Fear is natural, but we have to learn how to convert it into increased faith. The One protecting us in good times is the same One protecting us in bad times.

The first action we all need to take is to intensify our asking for forgiveness from Allah. We should already have this down in our daily Dhikr (remembrance of Allah), but when calamities increase, Istighfar (seeking God’s forgiveness) becomes crucial. You might not be doing anything wrong, but when we as an Ummah become too attached to the Dunya and slowly start forgetting the real reason we’re here, Allah collectively shakes us awake.

And the best response to that wave of tragedy was prescribed by our Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him.

He said, "If anyone constantly seeks pardon (from Allah), Allah will appoint for him a way out of every distress and a relief from every anxiety, and will provide sustenance for him from where he doesn’t expect."

Fear just as an emotion cannot change anything. But if you convert that same emotion into motivation and strength, then it becomes positive. Being complacent and unaware should also be worrisome, because these signs are sent from Allah to test our faith. Now is the time for action, for speaking out, for raising our hands in desperation to Allah, not for pretending like nothing has happened and continuing as before.

Along with Istighfar, increase your Ibadah (worship). Strengthen your obligatory prayers if they’re not already solid, and then start on Sunnah prayers, then Nafl. The peace that emanates from prayer is unlike any other. In tough times, Allah wants to see who we turn to for assistance and comfort. We can turn to our family and friends for support, but when it comes to the ultimate, guaranteed relief, we need to turn to Him first and foremost.

As we should do in even the smallest of matters, turn to the Quran for guidance. Specifically, read Surah Al-Kahf, read the translation and be sure to listen to a lecture or several lectures of the explanation of the Surah, especially of the story of the People of the Cave. Whatever happens to us, we can find an exact verse, surah, in the Quran that addresses our state of mind, our emotions, and the exact solution that we need for it. 

In the story of the People of the Cave, the youth who hid in the cave were also in tough times, and they were the recipients of hostility simply because they said, “God is One.” For their courage and resilience in trying times, Allah honored them by preserving their story for years and years to come. It might have happened centuries ago, but their story has numerous lessons we can apply to our current situation. The Surah also contains other advice, stories, Prophetic examples with incredibly exquisite morals that can certainly aid us in looking at our situations in a positive light.

As the old adage goes, an idle mind is the devil’s playground. Don’t allow yourself to sit without doing anything productive, or negative thoughts might make their way into your mind. Sitting and sulking on life’s complications will not make it any simpler. Counter the negativity by keeping yourself occupied in activities in which you need to think more. For tedious tasks, try to repeat Dhikr or listen to the radio, a lecture, etc. in the background. Consider taking any weekend classes at your local Masjid or sign up online for one of many programs.

What better time than these days to go out and volunteer? Set some time aside every week to go to a local food bank, retirement home, or charity fundraiser to lend a hand. Better yet, go with a group of friends to show others that Muslims are as, if not more, humanitarian as any other group. Be sure to do some research about the place beforehand and bring at least one relative or friend, just to be on the safe side.

We truly are entering a difficult age, but that means there are more opportunities to do good and earn the pleasure of Allah. The lives who have returned to Allah left wonderful legacies for us to continue, and we simply cannot afford complacency and indifference at this point, nor can we possibly do any good while in a constant state of fear and hopelessness. Help yourself first by turning to Allah.

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