Depression vs. Contentment: What Does Islam Say?
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Islam teaches us hope and faith, and depression contradicts the promises of God, which are intended to encourage.

Depression drains our energy, hope, and drive, making it difficult to do what we need to feel better.

While there is no quick fix to overcome depression, it is far from impossible.

Admittedly we cannot beat it through sheer willpower, we do though have some control even if our depression is severe and stubbornly persistent simply by having faith, trust and confidence in God and trust that things will get better.

One reason for depression is that we are faced with very painful or challenging circumstances. When we are asked to do something incredibly hard, or when we face persecution, injury, or loss we will find our faith tested.  We may fall prey to depression, which springs forth from this hopelessness.


In today's world there are many factors contributing to the rise of depression. This depression is common both in the East and in the West, while it is evident among the youth; it also affects the older age brackets, due to the widespread of political, economic and social problems of modernity.

No Escape from Trials

To begin with we must acknowledge that this depression or stress is part of life. Whether it is caused by mental, physical, or spiritual tension or simply the feeling of hopelessness and despair this stress can hit even the most optimistic of us at some point in our lives; there is no running away from it. What does matter is how we deal with it.

The Quranic verse reads:

{We will test you with a certain amount of fear and hunger and loss of wealth and life and fruits. But give good news to the steadfast.} (2:155)

As believers, we are blessed that we may turn each anxiety, each fear and each concern into a supplication and view it as another reason to submit to God and speak to Him through our prayers. This is when we are closest to Him. He has created this world as a place of trial, and He has placed many means for testing in it.

God listens and already knows what is in our heart, but He wants us to ask Him for what we want. If we truly understand the meaning that God truly listens we will find peace. One time I was praying and my younger daughter kept calling me and I did not answer her since I was engaged in prayer. It was at this time that my eldest, who was still quite young, scolded her saying can’t you see mummy is speaking to God? That awakened me and made me realize the power of what we ourselves were taught when young that God hears and listens and knows everything.

The Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, once said:

“Allah is angry with those who do not ask Him for anything.” (At-Tirmidhi, 3373)

The Quran reads: 

{Verily, in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest.} (13:28) 

Make the Effort and Leave the Outcome to God

Islam teaches us hope and faith, and depression contradicts the promises of God, which are intended to encourage. We must always believe that there is always a new beginning to look forward to with each new dawning day. Certainly our trial might not end or improve tomorrow, but there will be new blessings with each dawn.

By recognizing that we were created for a specific purpose that is to serve God in the way that He wills, and to never forget that He is All Knowing and All Merciful to those who struggle sincerely, we understand our true calling for this world. We must never underestimate our abilities and understand the concept of blessings from God and believe that He can expand them if we are sincerely exerting our energies for the right path.

While we need to carry out our obligations in solving our problems to the best of our abilities, it’s significant we grasp that we don't control the outcome of events (especially as we understand in Islam that everything is predetermined) where sometimes we will succeed and at other times not so, sometimes leading to our frustration and depressions.

Even the Prophets did not control the outcome of their efforts and the Quran is replete with such examples. Once we have done our duty, we must leave the results to God. Regardless of the results we will be rewarded for the part we have played.

We must realize our purpose and never forget that God created all things and that every event occurs within His knowledge. People who continue to live with conjecture and stray far from the path leading to true salvation need to understand this truth, and only those who know this can lead a life of peace, for they have submitted to the destiny that He is the one who created them out of nothing, and has determined for them what He deems is absolutely good for them. Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, taught us:

“How wonderful is the situation of the believer, for all his affairs are good. If something good happens to him, he gives thanks for it and that is good for him; if something bad happens to him, he bears it with patience, and that is good for him. This does not apply to anyone but the believer.” (Muslim, 27)


“Whenever you see someone better than you in wealth, face or figure, you should look at someone who is inferior to you in these respects.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim, 467)

These beautiful hadiths bring back memories of the novel “Pollyanna”, I read as a child, theme being ‘it could be worse’.  It was this that led me to teach my children a game we called the ‘glad game’, in which the goal is to find something about everything to be glad about. I assure you many funny ‘glad things’ were brought up and mentioned to lighten our burdens and keep us content. This state of contentedness is highly regarded in Islam and we are rewarded accordingly in the process.

Remain Optimistic and Stay Positive

We must throughout our trials remember that we are luckier than many. Keep in mind that nothing can harm us without the consent of God and realize that, doubt and supposition cannot change the results of any events. Remember the ‘pens have been lifted and the pages have dried’.

I personally find that when I surrender to this thought a load is lifted from my shoulders. By understanding this truth we may lead a life of peace, for we have submitted to the destiny that God has preordained for us. He says in the Quran:

"No calamity befalls, but with the leave of Allah, and whoever believes in Allah, He guides his heart, and Allah is the All-Knower of everything." (64:11)

Islam orders us during difficult and trying times and confrontations to remain optimistic.

“Good expectations are a feature of belief, and nothing can be achieved without belief, prayer, faith and hope. Be optimistic and good shall be found.”

With this faith, God promises to light our darkness and intends to straighten the paths that have become crooked. When we are depressed, we are blinded by misery and hopelessness. God plans to heal our blindness. While we may feel weak during our times of depressions it takes a strong person to admit we need help. We must become that person who is dedicated and determined to overcome the darkness in our hearts and by understanding how precious our life is we will no longer want to be a slave to unhappiness. Through prayer and faith, God heals us of our miseries delivers us of our burdens, and loves us when it feels no one else does, can or will.

Studies reveal that when you choose to redirect your attention to the positive, and helping others your serotonin levels increase making you more content and happy.

The best way to thank God (remember we said to be grateful in our glad game mentioned earlier) is to serve humanity, especially those who have less than you. Serving others is uplifting and rewarding. It helps us gain a better perspective on life’s challenges, making us realize how very often, our problems seem so small compared to the overwhelming difficulties others face. This is shown in many stories of the Prophet’s life where even when the Muslims were a small, poor and persecuted community, they used to give to the poor even more. They understood that when you are generous when you have less, you achieve the perspective of a winner. You are focused on the bigger picture.

The verse reads:

{Whoever works righteousness whether male or female while he or she is a true believer, verily, to him We will give a good life in this world with respect, contentment and lawful provision and We shall pay them certainly a reward in proportion to the best of what they used to do.} (16:97)

Contentment is Contagious

Surround yourselves with people who are happier who make you feel better with yourself and who always look on the bright side when dealing with challenges, even minor ones, like (silly as it may sound) not being able to find a parking space. Then consider how you would react in the same situation. Even if you have to pretend, try to adopt their optimism and persistence in the face of difficulty.

Bear in mind that happiness and contentment are contagious. It's not a state of mind, but rather a skill that becomes stronger with practice (trust me I know). I like to adopt this stance, when we are hunting for the glad things, we sort of forget the other kind of things that make us unhappy and discontent and it is sort of looking at the half cup policy.

I understand that feeling down or blue is a natural part of life. When people let us down, things go wrong, or we lose people we love, or the dreams we've valued, it appears this sadness becomes a problem when it fails to pass and we don’t bounce back. That is why we must take care of ourselves rely on God and know that He is always with us and only He can give us strength in difficult times.

Hard as it may be, remain true to yourself and try not to forget that God will help us come out of a trying situation as a better person if we deal with it positively. The proverb reads ‘what won’t kill you will make you stronger’, I know I am that person. The key is to start small, keep the faith, learn through contentment and build from there. Although feeling better takes time, we can get there if we make positive choices for ourselves each day.

Something I read recently triggered my thoughts, it explained that our heart also has seasons, so if it is winter, do not lose hope and keep going, after all spring always comes.



Authors: By Deana Nassar
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