Islamic Voice A Monthly English Magazine


RABI-UL-AWWAL / RABI - U - THANI
MAY 2004
Volume 17-05 No : 209
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All About Life


Managing Stress-The Islamic Way
Gems of Wisdom from the Prophet (Pbuh)

Managing Stress-The Islamic Way

Muslims should understand that there is no reason for panic in the case of crisis - no reason to be
distressed or worried for we know that after hardship come ease!

By Md Ziyaullah Khan

As the pace of life is increasing with every passing day it has indulged mankind in various diseases, including stress evident while working at various places be it our corporate places or even while investing our time in Islamic services. It is the nature of this life that people will suffer from worries and stress, because this world is the place of disease, hardship and suffering. Hence among the things that distinguish Paradise from this world is the fact that there is no worry or stress there: “No sense of fatigue shall touch them, nor shall they (ever) be asked to leave.” (al-Hijr 15:480 )Nothing ever upsets the people of Paradise, not even the slightest word: “No 'laghw' (dirty, false, evil or vain talk) will they hear therein, nor any sinful speech (like backbiting, etc.), but only the saying of Salaam! Salaam!.” (al-Waaqi’ah 56:25-26)

It is also the nature of this life that people have to put up with suffering and hardship for various reasons, as is indicated in the Qur'ân “Verily, We have created man in toil.” (al-Balad 90:4). So people feel regret for what has happened in the past, anxious about what may happen in the future, and worried about what is going on in the present. The things that cross our mind and make us feel distressed are things in the past that have caused grief, things in the future that we are worried about, and things in the present which concern us.

What is stress?

Stress is the "wear and tear" our bodies experience as we adjust to our continually changing environment; it has physical and emotional effects on us and can create positive or negative feelings. As a positive influence, stress can help compel us to action; it can result in a new awareness and an exciting new perspective. As a negative influence, it can result in feelings of distrust, rejection, anger, and depression, which in turn can lead to health problems such as headaches, upset stomach, rashes, insomnia, ulcers, high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke. With the death of a loved one, the birth of a child, a job promotion, or a new relationship, we experience stress as we re-adjust our lives. In adjusting to different circumstances, stress will help or hinder us depending on how we react to it.

Kinds of Stress and Worry

The distress suffered by the dai’yah when he calls his people to Islam. The Prophets had more than their fair share of this kind of stress. ‘Aa’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) told her nephew ‘Urwah that she asked the Prophet (Pbuh): “Did you ever suffer any day worse than the day of Uhud?” He said: “I suffered what I suffered at the hands of your people, and the worst that I suffered from them was on the day of ‘Aqabah, when I had made an appeal to Ibn ‘Abd Yaalayl ibn ‘Abd Kalaal and he did not respond in the way I had hoped.

The Prophet (Pbuh) suffered similar distress when his people disbelieved his account of his Night Journey (Israa’).

The Messenger of Allâh (Pbuh) was very concerned about calling people to salaat (prayer).

Anxiety

The anxiety faced by the truthful person when he is disbelieved.

This happened to the great Sahaabi Zayd ibn al-Arqam (may Allâh be pleased with him), when he heard the chief of the munafiqîn (hypocrites) saying to his colleagues: “When we return to Madinah, the one who has pride and power will expel the one who is humiliated” (meaning that the “one who has pride and power” was himself, and the “one who is humiliated” was the Messenger of Allâh (Pbuh) and the people with him). Zayd said: “I told my (paternal) uncle, and he went and informed the Messenger of Allâh (peace and blessings of Allâh be upon him). The Messenger of Allâh sent for (the chief of the munafiqîn, ‘Abd-Allaah ibn Ubayy), who swore that he had said no such thing. The Messenger of Allâh (Pbuh) believed him and not me. My uncle came to me and scolded me: “All you wanted was for the Messenger of Allâh (Pbuh) and the Muslims to hate you and disbelieve you!” I felt extreme anxiety and stress, such as no one has ever suffered.

The anxiety suffered by an innocent person when false accusations are made.

An example of this is what happened to ‘Aa’ishah (may Allâh be pleased with her) when the munafiqoon accused her of sin during the campaign of Muraysi’. She was ill, and when she heard the news of the rumours from one of the women of her household, she became even sick and felt very distressed. She said: “I said, ‘Subhaan-Allaah! Are people talking about that?’ I wept all night, until morning, and never slept; my tears never stopped falling. Then I wept all day, and never slept; my tears never stopped falling. My parents came to me the next morning, after I had cried for two nights and a day, without ceasing and without sleeping. They thought that this weeping would kill me. Whilst they were sitting with me, and I was crying, a woman of the Ansâr asked permission to see me. I gave her permission, and she sat down, weeping with me. Whilst we were sitting thus, the Messenger of Allâh (Pbuh) came in, greeted us, and sat down. He had not come to visit me since the rumours had started, and for a month there had been no Revelation concerning my situation. Whilst he was sitting there, the Messenger of Allâh (Pbuh) recited the Shahaadah, then he said: ‘O ‘Aa’ishah, I have heard such-and-such about you. If you are innocent, Allâh will prove your innocence, and if you did commit a sin, then ask for Allâh's forgiveness and repent to Him, for when the slave admits his sin and repents to Allâh, Allâh will accept his repentance. When the Messenger of Allâh (Pbuh) had finished what he had to say, my tears stopped completely.

Ways to Handle Stress

1. Increase dhikr (remembrance of Allah): "Those who believe, and whose hearts find satisfaction in the remembrance of Allah: for without doubt in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find satisfaction (Qur'an, 13:28)."

2. Increase prayers: "O you who believe! Seek assistance through patience and prayer; surely, Allah is with the patient (Qur'an, 2:153)." Regardless of the type of meditation, recent studies have verified the physiological effects of meditation. Most of those mediations consist in focusing on something, repeating some words and breathing (Greenberg, p.142, 143).

3. Perform ablutions: The most important component of relaxation is what Hans Loehr calls "the rituals of success." These rituals may be as simple as making ablution; yet, they must be performed properly.

4. Ask for forgiveness: Even if a person has not done anything wrong, he must insure the forgiveness of Allah. "Then I said, 'Ask forgiveness of your Lord; surely, He is the most Forgiving'" (Qur'an, 71:10).

5. Recite the Qur'an: The Prophet (SAW) said, "... Qur'an is a remedy for illnesses of the mind" (Bukhari). "The echo of sound has a medical effect and is now widely utilized," says Dr. Greenberg.

6. Make the hereafter one's main concern: "Whoever has the hereafter as his main concern, Allah will fill his heart with a feeling of richness and independence; he will be focused and feel content, and this world will come to him in spite of it. Whoever has this world as his main concern, Allah will cause him to feel constant fear of poverty; he will be distracted and unfocused, and he will have nothing of this world except what was already predestined for him," said the Prophet (Pbuh). One of the greatest causes of stress is money - how to pay the loans, whether one's job will be lost, what will happen to the family if the father dies, etc.

7. Think positively: Muslims should forget about the bad things of the past and think of good things, always having hope that he can be better. Trying to change the past is a foolish and crazy waste of time, "for saying 'if only...'opens the way to Shaytan" said the Prophet (Pbuh). The Prophet (Pbuh) also said, " Know that victory (achievement) comes through patience, and that ease comes through hardship." Muslims understand that there's no reason for panic in the case of crisis - no reason to be distressed or worried for we know that after hardship come ease!

8. Do not waste time on thoughts of fear or stress: "The search of time is one of the most frequent causes of stress" (Seyle, p.102). Laziness is the mother of all evils, and the Prophet (Pbuh) used to seek refuge in Allah from it. Understanding that this life is short and time precious, Muslims should try to work hard and pursue worthy knowledge.

The writer can be reached at khanziya@rediffmail.com

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Gems of Wisdom from the Prophet (Pbuh)

The Prophet (Pbuh) said, "On the Day of Judgement, the people will be gathered in three ways: (The first way will be of) those who will wish or have a hope (for Paradise) and will have a fear (of punishment). (The second batch will be those who will gather) riding two on a camel or three on a camel or ten on a camel. (The third batch) the rest of the people will be urged to gather by the Fire which will accompany them at the time of their afternoon nap and stay with them where they will spend the night, and will be with them in the morning wherever they may be then, and will be with them in the afternoon wherever they may be then."

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