Zil-Hijjah / Muharram 1423 H
Volume 16-03 No : 195
Camps \ Workshops
Where all anti- depression drugs failed, a single verse of the Quran brought about a quality shift in the psychological state of depressed Muslims, discovers M Hanif Lakdawala
Farhan Khan, 32,suffered extensive losses in his chemicals business and he spent the entire year of 2002 sitting at home brooding over his losses. His wife Salma took him to the best known psychiatrists in Mumbai, but to no avail.
Spending a lifetime of savings on the treatment, Farhan also disposed off his business, as he was not in a position to take care of it. Last month, Farhan started reading the Quran translation in English on the advice of a close friend. While reading the translation, Farhan came across the verse, ‘No burden do we place on any soul, but that which it can bear’. (6:152). This verse acted as a soothing agent on his depressed nerves. Where all anti-depression drugs failed, a single verse of the Quran brought about a quality shift in the psychological state of Farhan.
Farhan said that this particular verse forced me into thinking positively. “I realised difficulties are perhaps as vital for the continuation of life as is oxygen for breathing. It cannot be that life goes on at a relative level of poverty or affluence till the end. The crests and troughs of this wave of life have an implicit existence. Every rise is sooner or later followed by a fall,” he said.
Samina Akhtar, 37,a housewife lost her husband in an accident in May 2001. Her happy life seemed to end permanently for her. She suffered frequent depression attacks, which affected the education of her three daughters. She withdrew from all social activities and confined herself inside her flat at Andheri. During the last October vacation when she was sitting besides her daughters who were listening to their Quran teacher explaining them the verse,. ‘Be sure we shall test you with something of fear and hunger, some loss in goods or lives or the harvest that you sow; but give glad tidings to those who patiently persevere; who say, when afflicted with calamity: ‘To God We belong, and to Him is our return’. They are those on whom [descend] blessings from God, and mercy, and they are the ones that receive guidance’. (2:155-7).
“When I heard this Quranic verse, a sense of peace began to descend inside my heart”, said Samina. “I started reading the Urdu translation of the Quran and now I have regained my composure. Now I am concentrating on the upbringing of my daughters. I now realised that the ultimate power is Allah and he always helps when his aid is sought through prayers. I always recite this verse, ‘When My servants ask you about Me, I am indeed close [to them]: I listen to the prayer of every supplicant when he calls on Me: Let them also, with a will, Listen to My call, and believe in Me: That they may walk in the right way’. (2:186). It gives me peace,” she said.
If you have grown tired of life, or wish to go to some place where you can be alone, or you are always nervous, stressed and gloomy, you are probably suffering from depression. One could expect such a person to be suffering from this ‘illness’ who is incapable of fulfilling his needs or a time has come in his life that he feels totally helpless, defeated and lonely, either as a result of an unfortunate death, a missed opportunity, a financial loss, persistent feeling of depravity, or some other unexpected disappointing experience. This can invariably contribute towards feelings of jealousy, fear, cowardice, pessimism and insecurity.
A heightened form of this ‘illness’ could force the sufferer into committing suicide or even setting himself ablaze. It is a pity though that today this ‘illness’ has become rampant at every level of society and its disastrous effects result in the form of all sorts of hideous crimes depending upon the circumstances and history of the sufferer.
In layman’s terms, depression can be of two forms: one finds its roots in the chemical disorientation of the sufferer whereas the other can be attributed to social circumstances. A psychiatrist can help recuperate the victim belonging to the former category whereas a psychologist can attend to cases forming the latter group. There are some for whom the sea is more turbulent hence the rise and fall of the tide is more marked. There are others who experience this rise and fall in a manner that almost defies the existence of any alteration. Despite the odds in a given condition, a true Muslim with his strong faith in the Almighty, observes the silver lining, something that promises him a more desirable and everlasting reward in the Hereafter.
The idea is that for a Muslim, each incident has both a bright side and a dull side to it. It is part of his faith that Allah knows everything that lies ahead. And that if apparently there is no remuneration from Allah in this life then surely: ‘God never fails in His promise’ (3:09). For Allah says in the Qur’an:
“Those who have faith and do righteous deeds, — they are the best of creatures. Their reward is with God: Gardens of Eternity, beneath which rivers flow; they will dwell therein for ever; God will be pleased with them, and they with Him: all this for such as fear their Lord and Cherisher”. (98:7-8)
Hence, the Qur’an says: “Truly no one despairs of God’s soothing mercy, except those who have no faith” (12:87)
Nilofer Jameel, 22 lost her three-year-old daughter to typhoid last January. She became hysterical weeping over his. Everyday she visited the graveyard and stood for hours before the grave of her daughter. This continued for six months. Her husband who was equally depressed approached the Imam of the mosque near their residence for help. The Imam quoted the following verse from the Qur’an, ‘every soul shall have a taste of death: and we test you by evil and by good by way of trial. “To us must you return”. (21:35). He also quoted ‘Verily, with every difficulty there is relief’. (94:5-6).
Thus, recovery of both Jameel and Nilofer began. “I was overwhelmed hearing these Quranic verses. I bought the English translation of the Quran the very next day and began a joint study with my wife. We both recovered within few days and thanked Allah for his mercy”, said Jameel.
So from a social viewpoint, it can be said without any misgivings that a true Muslim can never suffer from depression. The answer lies in this fundamental understanding, which governs (or should govern) a Muslim’s life: “his life with all its ups and downs is a trial”.
There must be thousands of young Muslims who feel for their country
By Khaled Al-Maeena
I was praying Salat Al-Maghrib (dusk prayers) at a mosque and next to me was a young man in his late teens. When prayer was over he relaxed, raised his hands and offered dua. For quite some time, he remained still like that. When he finished, I asked him what he had prayed for. “For my country,” he replied, without hesitation.
“I’m worried,” he replied, “seeing all the news on TV and hearing the different comments and analysis about the future of the region. I’m praying to God to protect our country and keep it safe.” His words affected me deeply.
He said he was a high school graduate working in a private company. “Didn’t you want to continue your studies?” I pressed him. “Yes,” he said, but added that he couldn’t get into the university. However, he added quickly: “I’m satisfied because I’ve joined a computer institute and I’m also taking a course in English.”
He replied that his wish was to be a productive human being who will contribute in some way to his religion and country. I was impressed. He had spoken simply, and from the heart.
“I would like to be part of a team that does well,” he said. “What do you mean?” I inquired further. He replied he was reading a book about Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, which talks about how Gates encouraged his young employees to pool their thoughts and ideas, to brainstorm and innovate. “I would like to do something like that. I’m learning about software and computer programming and while it is difficult to find good books in Arabic, I am making use of what’s available. The only regret I have is that I was not taught English from childhood. It would have made things much easier for me.”
“Yes, I like to read a lot - especially the biographies of men who have made an impact in today’s world. That’s why I’m reading about Gates.”
“No,” he said, “but I like to swim a lot because it keeps me mentally and physically in shape.”
I shook his hand and wished him luck.
Driving home, I realised I was humming a tune. I was happy. This young man had made my day. If there’s one like him, there must be a thousand others who feel for their country.
I thanked God for all His blessing and bounties, for the stability and security we are in and the privileges that we have and take for granted and prayed for that all is good in this country to prevail.
(The writer is Editor-in-chief
Arab News and can be reached at