The average human being in the developed world battles
sadness and worry on a daily basis. While the majority of the world’s
population confront extreme poverty, famine, conflict and despair those of us
privileged to lead relatively easy lives must tackle fear, stress, and
anxiety. Why are those of us blessed with riches beyond compare immersed in
loneliness and desperation? We are living in a time of confusion, we try as we
might, yet gathering material possessions can do nothing to mend broken hearts,
and shattered souls.
Now, more than at any other time in human kind’s
history, stress, anxiety, and psychological problems are taking a tremendous
toll on the human condition. Religious beliefs should afford a sense of
comfort however; it seems that 21st century man has lost the ability
to connect to God. Pondering the meaning of life no longer overcomes a feeling
of abandonment. This desire to acquire material possessions, which in some way
validates our reason for being, has become the balm that soothes our troubled
souls. Why is this so?
We have the best of everything readily available, yet
the reality is we have nothing. Nothing that comforts the soul. Beautiful
furnishings do not hold our hand in the darkest night. The latest
entertainment centre does not wipe our tears or soothe our furrowed brow.
Those of us living with pain and grief, or afflicted with hardship feel
abandoned. We feel rudderless on an open sea. Huge waves threaten to engulf
us at any given moment. Our desires and debts stand at the apex and loom over
us, like great avenging angels, and we search for comfort in addictions and
How do we step away from the precipice? In Islam, the
answer is remarkably simple. We turn back to our Creator. God knows what is
best for His creation. He has complete knowledge of the human psyche. He knows
of the pain, the despair, and the sadness. God is whom we are reaching for in
the darkness. When we put God back on our agenda, the pain will subside.
“Verily, in the remembrance of God do hearts find rest.”
Islam is not a religion filled with empty rituals and
hypercritical rules and regulations, although it can seem so if we forget just
what our real purpose in life is. We were created to worship God, nothing more
and nothing less. However, God, in His infinite mercy and wisdom did not
abandon us to this world filled with trials and tribulations. He armed us with
weapons. These weapons are more powerful than the arsenals of the great 21st
century armies. God gave us the Quran, and the authentic traditions of His
The Quran is a book of guidance and the traditions of
Prophet Muhammad explain that guidance. The religion of Islam is all about
making and keeping a connection with God. This is how Islam deals with sadness
and worry. When the wave is about to come crashing down or the world begins to
spin out of control God is the one stable factor. The biggest mistake a believer
can make is to separate the religious and material aspects of his or her life.
“God has promised those who believe (in the Oneness of God)
and do deeds of righteousness, that for them there is forgiveness and a great
reward (i.e. Paradise).” (Quran 5:9)
When we accept with full submission, that we are no more
than slaves of God, put on this earth, to be tried, tested and tempted, life
suddenly takes on a completely new meaning. We recognize that God is the one
constant in our lives and we recognize that His promise is true. When we are overwhelmed
by worry and sadness, relief comes from turning to God. If we live our lives
according to His guidance, we gain the means and the ability to overcome any
despair. Prophet Muhammad declared that all the affairs of a believer are
Indeed amazing are the affairs of a believer!
They are all for his benefit. If he is granted ease then he is thankful,
and this is good for him. And if he is afflicted with a hardship, he
perseveres, and this is good for him.
Islam has the answer to all the problems that afflict
humankind. It asks us to look beyond the need for self-gratification, and
further still, beyond the need to acquire possessions. Islam reminds us that
this life is but a transient pause on the way to life everlasting. The life of
this world is but a fleeting moment, sometimes overflowing with moments of
great joy and happiness but at other times filled with sadness, sorrow, and
despair. This is the nature of life, and this is the human condition.
In the following three articles, we will examine
guidance from the Quran and the authentic traditions of Prophet Muhammad in an endeavor
to discover just how Islam suggests that we deal with sadness and worry. There
are three key points that will allow the believer to free himself from the
shackles of 21st century life. They are patience, gratitude, and trust in God.
In the Arabic language, sabr, shukr and tawwakul.
“And certainly, We shall test you with something of fear,
hunger, loss of wealth, lives and fruits, but give glad tidings to the patient
ones.” (Quran 2:155)
“Therefore, remember Me (God) and I will remember you, and be
grateful to Me (for My countless Favours on you) and never be ungrateful to Me.”
“If God helps you, none can overcome you; and if He forsakes
you, who is there after Him that can help you? And in God (Alone) let
believers put their trust.” (Quran 3:160)