Saturday, May 2, 2009

Facing Challenges

One of the most serious problems facing modern society is the epidemic of nervous and mental disorders. Paradoxically, the faster science and technology progress and more economic prosperity experienced by Europe, America and Japan, the more psychiatric patients, the more mental hospitals grow crowded beyond capacity with inmates and more people committing suicide. It has become increasingly evident to serious thinkers throughout the world that the universal adoption of materialist philosophy is, to a very large extent, responsible.

Some major causes of mental breakdowns are:


Inability to tolerate misfortune

Failure to achieve worldly success

Fear and anxiety concerning the future

The delusion that one’s life has no ultimate significance

The social disintegration of contemporary society has been responsible of countless mental breakdowns. "The over-emphasis which h is being put on individualism in modern society is disrupting family ties. As a result of disregard for the condition of neighbors and even of friends and relations, more and more people are suffering from loneliness."1

That is why Islam placed so much emphasis upon the crucial importance of marriage and a wholesome family life. The Holy Prophet said that believers in Islam must bestow abundant affection upon their little ones and respect for their old ones. When a desert Arab approached the Holy Prophet and confessed that he had ten children but had never kissed any of them, he was sharply rebuked. Muslims are not only obliged by the teachings of Islam to love and help their family members but maintain a close ties of mutual help to their neighbors as well as all their brethren in faith. The strong sense of community is a great preservative of mental health.

According to Islam, this life is not intended to be a pleasure trip but the most severe examination, the results that will materialize in the Hereafter. Thus the misfortunes and the calamities experienced in this life are not decisive but only test for the genuineness and strength of one’s faith.

As the al-Quran says: "We will most certainly test you with fear and hunger and loss of property, lives and fruits but give good news to the patient." (2:155)

"Do you think that you shall enter the Garden (of bliss) without such (trials) as came to those who passed away before you? They encountered suffering and adversity, and were so shaken in spirit that even the Messenger and those of faith who were with him cried: "When (will come) the help of Allah?" Ah! Verily, the help of Allah is (always) near!" (2:214)

"You will certainly be tried respecting your wealth and your souls." (3:186) "Do men think that they will be left alone saying, We believe, and not be tried?" (29:2)

The Quran and Hadith tell us that the suffering of the faithful in this world expiates their sins so that they may avoid punishment after death and enjoy greater rewards in the Hereafter. Anas reports that the Messenger of Allah said, "When Allah wishes good to His servant, He hastens punishment for him in this world and when Allah wishes evil, He lets him off in this world for his sin until the Day of Judgement." (Tirmizi)

Patience to endure adversity with a serene mind is the sing of every true Muslim. "Allah is with the patient." (2:153) "And verily, We shall bestow upon those who are patient the best rewards on account of what they did. And seek help through patience and surely this is a hard thing except for the humble ones." (2:153) "Most surely humankind is in loss except those who believe and do good works and enjoin upon one another Truth and patience." (103:3)

Muslim are taught to perform their duties to Allah and to their fellow beings assured that God is with them and persist until they attain their goal believing: "Allah is our support and the most excellent Patron." (2:173)

The true Muslim performs good deeds for the sake of Allah alone as actions intended to achieve worldly recognition possess no religious merit. Therefore if others fail to appreciate his humanitarian works, he suffers no disappointment. "Say, we feed you for the sake of Allah only; we expect no reward or thanks from you." (76:9)

One who places his total reliance upon Allah and performs his duties to obey the Quran and Sunnah never suffers from any sense of failure even if his efforts are not successful during his lifetime. "Whoever submits himself entirely to Allah and is the doer of good, he has his reward from his Lord." (2:112) "There is nothing for man but what he strives for." (65:3)

The authentic hadith also reports that the Holy Prophet warned his followers not to any man for his worldly success because it is not possible to know his fate after death.

Fear and anxiety are two of the greatest enemies of mental health. There is nothing so harmful to one’s mental balance as worry concerning what will happen in the future. Muslims who are strong in faith do not worry because we cannot know the future. Only Allah knows the future. That is why it is impossible to judge what will be good for us. "Perchance you hate a thing while it is good for you or love a thing which is bad for you. Allah knows best. You know not." (2:216)

Worry about one’s livelihood is one of the most universal human problems. Here is a typical example what the unbeliever will do when confronted with this difficulty.

"Sybil, eighteen-year old wife and mother of two small children, found herself pregnant for the third time in as many years. Ted, her husband, brought home a meager weekly paycheck as an unskilled laborer. Sybil, discouraged and depressed, told Ted she would get rid of the baby even if it meant killing herself. Desperate and determined, Sybil asked the neighborhood pharmacist to help her. He sold her some pills that only made her sick. She tried on a friend’s advice to abort herself with the greased tip of a goose feather. No luck! She tried other likely objects. All her efforts failed. Sybil didn’t carry out her threat to kill herself to get rid of the baby. The pregnancy went to term. The baby arrived on schedule, unwanted, unloved and a most unwelcome newcomer to an emotionally disturbed mother and poverty stricken household."2

In contrast to the above, here is what the true Muslim believes. Umar ibn Khattab reported: "If you had all relied upon Allah with implicit trust, he would certainly have given you your livelihood as He supplied provision to the birds who awake hungry in the morning and return with full belly at dusk." (Tirmizi, Ibn Majah)

Abu Darr reported that the Messenger of Allah said: Surely, I know a verse of al-Quran if people would have followed it, it would have sufficed them – "He provides for him from (sources) he never could imagine. And if any one puts his trust in Allah, sufficient is (Allah) for him." (65:3) -- (Hadith related by Ahmad, Ibn Majah)

Ibn Masud reported: The Messenger of Allah read out to me, "Surely Allah is the Great Giver of sustenance, possessing absolute power, the All Mighty." (Abu Daud, Tirmizi)

A coward has no true faith in Allah because he fears creation and not the Creator. The Muslim fears only God and is certain He is sufficient as his protector. Allah is always here to protect us and since our Fate has already been pre-determined, nobody can cause our death before its allocated time. Belief in this doctrine gives courage and strength of mind.

Whatever happens, the genuine Muslim takes positive and constructive action. If it is a good thing, he will exploit its advantages. If it is a calamity, he should think only of its positive side for there is a lesson in every experience. When a Muslim is afflicted by some inevitable tragedy, he accepts it with resignation. "Say, nothing shall happen to us but what Allah has decreed for He is our Patron and in Him shall the faithful trust." (9:51)

Some people deceive themselves by attempting to escape from the inevitable. When they find themselves overwhelmed by adversity, they drown themselves in alcohol, or commit suicide. By attempting to flee from the inevitable, one only succeeds in destroying his mind and soul.

Islam forbids pessimism because it kills hope and striving. To hope for death to finish earthly suffering is unlawful because by living longer, the Muslim may yet win salvation through an increase in his good works and thus expiate his sins while death ends these opportunities forever.

Those who believe in Islam possess everything they need to make them happy. The word "Islam" in Arabic literally means "peace" – peace with God, peace with one’s self, peace with one’s fellow beings and eternal peace in the Life Hereafter.

1 "The Dilemma of the Welfare State – Loneliness in the Midst of Plenty," Dr. M. Nasim

2 "The Sex Life of the Modern Teenager," Dr. Leland E. Glover

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