When I was a child, I remember being obsessed with playing “adult” with the other kids. In my mind, adults could do whatever they wanted to while I was being cut short every now and again. It’s funny how our perspective changes as we grow up – as a young adult, all I can now see are the responsibilities coming my way and I long to go back to those carefree times of childhood.
I’m sure you can relate – it probably is a part of growing up itself. And while we all saw and dreaded the impending obligations adulthood will saddle us up with, nobody warned us of the everyday stress that goes with it – and it sneaks up on while we unexpected it.
No one acclimates to the transition smoothly. We all go through the bumps on the road, but it jiggles some more than others. As the stress accumulates and escalates, too many people develop mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression. Well then, it’s a good thing we have an awesome God who is there for us no matter where we are, and has taught us some amazing supplications to get us through these tough times that are so hard on our hearts, souls and bodies.
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What is Anxiety?
Anxiety is a blanket term used to describe *excessive* stressful conditions that morphs into feelings of extreme fear, dread, uncertainty and impending doom. While mild cases of anxiety affects all of us every now and again as we struggle through life’s challenges, the more severe cases are a mental health illness that spills over to our habits and behaviors and often manifests itself in some painful physical symptoms (headaches, muscle aches, palpitations, tremors, panic attacks etc.).
Fear of rejection. Fear of failure. Fear of certain situations. Fear of traumatic events in the past. Fear of an uncertain outcome in the future. Anxiety can sometimes translate into an all-consuming fear that has a crippling effect, making day-to-day life extremely difficult for the sufferer. Because it occurs so frequently along with depression, they are said to be the twin faces of each other. Psychologists will tell you that anxiety and depression are among the two most prevalent mental health illnesses of our time and it’s amazing because when Allah talks about eternal life in Paradise in the Quran, He uses this phrase over and over again:
“on them, there shall be no fear, and nor shall they grieve” [2:62]
As Muslims, we know that this life is nothing but a test [67:2] and among them is suffering from anxiety for whoever has it written for them. As such, like all other tests of life, we seek the best way to combat this one as well, a way that will enable us to come out of it with good health on the other side *while* bringing us closer to God; our ultimate destination.
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Du’a for anxiety
Abu Hurayrah (radiyAllahu ‘anhu) narrates that The Prophet ﷺ said: “There is no disease that Allah has created, except that He also has created its remedy.” [Bukhari]
Islam teaches us that God is Ash-Shaafi, the Source of all cure and even as we are highly encouraged to seek the medical *means* to good health, alongside them, we must strive to seek the Source *directly* as well because everything in our lives comes back to one single purpose: to drive us to Him. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala has taught us – through His Eternal Book and His Messenger ﷺ – some beautiful supplications to practice and internalize, through which we can seek Him in our dark times and find solace.
- It is recorded in Musnad Ahmad and Sahih Abu Hatim on the authority of ‘Abdullah bin Mas’ud that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “Whoever was afflicted with grief and anxiety and says (see the following Dua), Allah, the Exalted and Ever-Majestic, will remove his grief and will change his sorrow into happiness.” It was said, “O Messenger of Allah! (Do) we have to learn these words?” He said, “Yes, whoever hears them should learn them.”
للّهُـمَّ إِنِّي عَبْـدُكَ ابْنُ عَبْـدِكَ ابْنُ أَمَتِـكَ نَاصِيَتِي بِيَـدِكَ، مَاضٍ فِيَّ حُكْمُكَ، عَدْلٌ فِيَّ قَضَاؤكَ أَسْأَلُـكَ بِكُلِّ اسْمٍ هُوَ لَكَ سَمَّـيْتَ بِهِ نَفْسَكَ أِوْ أَنْزَلْتَـهُ فِي كِتَابِكَ، أَوْ عَلَّمْـتَهُ أَحَداً مِنْ خَلْقِـكَ أَوِ اسْتَـأْثَرْتَ بِهِ فِي عِلْمِ الغَيْـبِ عِنْـدَكَ أَنْ تَجْـعَلَ القُرْآنَ رَبِيـعَ قَلْبِـي، وَنورَ صَـدْرِي وجَلَاءَ حُـزْنِي وذَهَابَ هَمِّـي
O Allah, I am Your slave and the son of Your male slave and the son of your female slave. My forehead is in Your Hand (i.e. you have control over me). Your Judgment upon me is assured and Your Decree concerning me is just. I ask You by every Name that You have named Yourself with, revealed in Your Book, taught any one of Your creation or kept unto Yourself in the knowledge of the unseen that is with You, to make the Qur’an the spring of my heart, and the light of my chest, the banisher of my sadness and the reliever of my distress.
[Ahmad 1/391, and Al-Albani graded it authentic]
Scholars commented that this dua has four parts to it:
- Worshipping Allah alone and completely humbling oneself to Him (Ikhlaas)
- Belief in the Decree of Allah (Qadr)
- Belief in the Perfect Names of Allah (“And to Allah belong the best names, so invoke Him by them.” [7:180])
- The actual dua itself: to make His Words (the Quran) a source of happiness and relief for the distressed heart
Ibn Qayyim (rahimahullah), in his book Al Fawaaid, commented that the slave asks for the Quran to be made “the spring of my heart, and the light of my chest” in the sense that Allah has drawn a parallel of the Quran with rain numerous times in His Blessed Book, and promised the Quran to be a guide for the believers. So we ask Allah to revive our dead hearts through His blessed Words like He revives dead lands through water from the sky and to make the Quran a light in our hearts that dispels the darkness in it and rekindles hope.
2. Narrated as one of the “Da’waat al Makroob“, the supplications of the distressed:
اللّهُـمَّ إِنِّي أَعْوذُ بِكَ مِنَ الهَـمِّ وَ الْحُـزْنِ، والعًجْـزِ والكَسَلِ والبُخْـلِ والجُـبْنِ، وضَلْـعِ الـدَّيْنِ وغَلَبَـةِ الرِّجال
O Allah, I seek refuge in you from grief and sadness, from weakness and from laziness, from miserliness and from cowardice, from being overcome by debt and overpowered by men (i.e. others).
[Al-Bukhari 7/158. See also Al-Asqalani, Fathul-Bari 11/173]
“Hamm” is the kind of sadness that overwhelms someone so much that it’s all they can think about anymore. “Huzn” is a state in which someone is torturing themselves, a sadness where you’re beating yourself up after a situation beat *you* up.
“’Ajaz” is when someone feels like a failure, when you’ve lost faith in your own abilities and feel too weak to get up and make something of yourself. “Kasl” is a lazy, sluggish state of being when you feel so demotivated that it bears down on you and hampers your normal functioning.
“Bukhl” is when someone has enough money but they hoard it and are stingy when asked to give. “Jubn” means to feel so scared that you shrink within yourself with it. “Dala’a” is when someone feels something weighing on them constantly and “Ghalaba” is when someone is subdued and overpowered by something or someone.
While making this dua, ponder on the meaning of each of these words you are seeking refuge in your Lord from, ponder on how much you don’t want to be trapped in any of these miserable states of being. And know that Allah is al Mujeeb, The One who responds.
“So seek refuge in Allah. Indeed, it is He who is the Hearing, the Seeing.” [40:56]
3. Abu Bakrah (ra) reported that the Prophet ﷺ said, “the supplication of the distressed” is:
اللَّهُمَّ رَحْمَتَكَ أَرْجُو فَلَا تَكِلْنِي إِلَى نَفْسِي طَرْفَةَ عَيْنٍ وَأَصْلِحْ لِي شَأْنِي كُلَّهُ لَا إِلَهَ إِلَا أَنْتَ
O Allah, it is Your mercy that I hope for, so do not leave me in charge of my affairs even for a blink of an eye, and rectify for me all of my affairs. None has the right to be worshiped except You.” [Abu Dawood]
4. Asma (radiyAllahu ‘anha), daughter of ‘Amais, reported that the Prophet ﷺ asked her, “Shall I tell you words that you may say in times of pain or distress? These are,
اللهُ اللهُ رَبِّ لا أُشْـرِكُ بِهِ شَيْـئاً
“Allah, Allah is my Lord, I do not associate anything with Him.” Another narration says that these words should be said seven times. [Abu Dawood]
5. Sa’d ibn Waqas reported that the Prophet ﷺ said, “The supplication made by the Companion of the Fish (Prophet Yunus ‘alaihissalam) in the belly of the fish was,
لاَ إِلَهَ إِلَّا أنْـت سُـبْحانَكَ إِنِّي كُنْـتُ مِنَ الظّـالِميـن
There is none worthy of worship but You, You are far exalted and above all weaknesses. Surely, I was among the wrongdoers. If any Muslim supplicates in these words, his supplication will be accepted.”
In another narration, he ﷺ said, “I know words that will cause Allah to remove one’s distress. These are the words (of supplication) of my brother Yunus, peace be upon him.” [Tirmidhi]
Yunus ‘alaissalam was blessed with relief when he called upon Allah using them from under three layers of darkness: from within the darkness of the belly of the whale in the darkness of the ocean under the darkness of the night. Beseech Allah using these blessed words and trust that surely An Noor, The Light, will save you from the darkness surrounding you and illuminate your life.
6. When the Prophet ﷺ felt any distress, he would say:
“Ya Ḥayy Ya Qayyūm, bi-Rahmatika astagheeth.”
‘O Ever-Living, O Sustainer, in Your Mercy I seek relief.’ (Tirmidhi)
Once a man prayed to Allah, saying, “O Allah, I ask you as all praise is Yours. There is no God except You, You are al-Mannan (the Bestower), the Originator of the Heavens and Earth, Possessor of Majesty and Honor. O Ever-Living (Ḥayy), O Self-Subsisting (Qayyūm).”
The Prophet ﷺ heard him and said: “He has supplicated to Allah using His Greatest Name (al Hayy wal Qayyum); when supplicated with this Name, He answers, and when asked with this Name He gives.” (Abu Dawud)
7. Anxiety feels like being trapped in a constant state of restlessness and worry, the noise in your head simply refuses to quiet down and breathing through it is like breathing through smog: suffocating. The negativity is overwhelming and a sense of doom swamps the heart and mind. This is the dua for you to hold on to at times like these:
أَنِّي مَغْلُوبٌ فَانتَصِرْ
Indeed, I am overpowered, so help me. [Quran, 54:10]
8. When everything simply looks wrong and you’re desperate for something good to happen, the dua that Prophet Musa ‘alaihissalam made when he fled from his country just might be the thing that your heart is searching for, the words that your tongue longs to utter. For Musa ‘alaihissalam, the immediate consequence of this powerful dua was that he was given shelter, a wife and a job.
رَبِّ إِنِّي لِمَا أَنزَلْتَ إِلَيَّ مِنْ خَيْرٍ فَقِيرٌ
My Lord, indeed I am, for whatever good You would send down to me, in need. [Quran, 28:24]
9. Because nothing is easy to deal with and overcome until he makes it easy. And nothing is difficult when He makes it easy.
اللّهُـمَّ لا سَـهْلَ إِلاّ ما جَعَلـتَهُ سَهـلاً، وَأَنْتَ تَجْـعَلُ الْحَـزَنَ إِذا شِـئْتَ سَهـْلاً
O Allah, there is no ease except in that which You have made easy, and You make the difficulty, if You wish, easy. [ibn Ḥibbān in his saḥīḥ # 2427]
10. I think every single one of us us, in the deepest part of our hearts, are constantly in search of one thing: Peace. We keep looking for something…something that will cause the relentless buzzing in our heads to cease, the chaos in our thoughts to silence. For the constant anxiety of everyday life to melt away, if only for a while. For those of us desperately seeking for peace, here’s a dua to grab on to and never let go of:
“Allahumma anta Al-Salam wa minka Al-Salaam. Tabarakta ya Dha Al-Jalali wa Al-Ikram”
‘O Allah, You are Al-Salaam and from You is all peace, blessed are You, O Possessor of Majesty and Honor.’
After every prayer, the Prophet ﷺ used to make this dua after reciting “astaghfirullah” three times. [Muslim]
N.B. The Prophet ﷺ said: ‘Ask Allah with certainty that He will answer your prayers, and know that Allah will not accept the supplication from an absent heart.’
The reason why the supplications of the oppressed and broken-hearted are so powerful and always accepted is the same reason why we must understand and internalize the words we speak in our supplications – so that they are full of humility and presence and heart. So that we realize our need for Allah and know that there is absolutely no one who can cure us and bestow us with a way out.
Dealing with Anxiety Disorder
Anxiety can occur in various types – Post traumatic stress disorder, Generalized-anxiety disorders, Obsessive Compulsive disorder, Panic disorders and Phobia of numerous forms. While encountering any of these, please seek medical help in the form of psychotherapy (involves stress management therapy, relaxation techniques etc.) and medications as soon as possible so that you are able to manage the overwhelming negative emotions and thoughts that occur as part and parcel of the illness rather than letting them manage you.
The Prophet ﷺ said, “Emaan wears out in one’s heart, just as the dress wears out (becomes thin). Therefore, ask Allah to renew emaan in your hearts.” [Mustadrak Al Hakim, Authentic]
For Muslims, seeking Islamic counselling is also extremely important because I believe that we become more susceptible to these mental health issues when our faith begins to wane while our mind is occupied with the constant stress of daily life struggles. One practice that has been extremely successful in scientific studies is keeping a Gratitude Journal. It is basically a daily practice of writing down that *one (or more) thing* you are grateful for that happened to you on that day, thus helping you to focus on the good in your life. As God promises in the Quran, “If you are grateful, I will surely increase you in favor…” [14:7]
Another suggestion would be to study the Names of Allah extensively. Start with Al Wakeel (The Trustee, Disposer of Affairs). Because when you internalize in your heart the fact that it is God who is in charge of *ALL* your affairs and He is the Most Wise and as a believer whatever the outcome is, is always *beneficial* for *YOU* [Muslim], no matter how many times situations beat you down and circumstances disappoint you, no matter how many people deem you a failure – you will know you are above all that. Have complete faith in His Plans because indeed – God is extremely Merciful, the Bestower of Blessings.
“And never give up hope in Allah’s soothing mercy: truly no one despairs of Allah’s soothing mercy, except those who have no faith.” [12:87]
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