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Deep in Debt: I Wish for Death

14 July, 2023
Q I'm so sick of my life. I wish I was dead. I'm broken, in debt, and about to lose my house. I feel weak as once I had it all and now don't have anything. I have been out of work for over 18 months. I have applied for over 100 jobs and still am unemployed. I have done and said things which are unforgivable, maybe I'm getting punished for those. When I look at my 3 children and rethink what I'm about to do, I don't want them to grow up without a father, but at the same time I don't want them to grow up with a failing father. I hope God can help me from this darkness.



As-Salaamu ‘Alaikum Dear Brother in Islam,

I am sorry you feel so down. May Allah help you and make me able to help you, in sha’ Allah. I am going to talk to you mostly about how you can feel good about yourself even in the face of apparent failure.

First, it is helpful to remember that our “selves”, like everything else we are or have, does not belong to us; they belong to Allah. As such, they are a trust.

So, when you don’t feel good about your “self”, remember your “self” is from Allah, and as such, you have a responsibility to treat it in a way that is pleasing to Allah.

In your case, because your heart feels guilt about not being able to support your family now, and about the idea of leaving your children, it deserves to be loved. Your soul loves Allah because a person who feels guilty has a conscience.

A person who does not feel guilt is not interested in Allah and His religion. That person is not Allah’s servant. That sort of person is serving an idea which dictates something other than truth.

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The fact that you feel guilty proves that Allah made you a believer and that is what you should love in yourself and thank Allah for it!

To answer to your feelings of guilt, the first step is to realize that you already have the blessing of being a believer, evidenced by your guilty feelings; therefore, love yourself for that and be grateful to Allah for it.

Beyond that, say:

La hawla wa la quwwata illah bilLah” (There is no power or strength except in Allah) as Allah to strengthen you with His “real” power and strength.

By the way, too much guilt is toxic. So, while it is absolutely essential to feel guilty in order to know that you are a believer, if your guilt goes on and on so much so that it cripples you to the point of not being able to function for a long period of time (which may be your problem now, I don’t know), then it is time for the role of “mercy” to take over.

The correct path, In Sha’ Allah, is the combination – the balance –between guilt and mercy. Without mercy, there is no good in the world, so we really don’t want to be here!

Next, you should love yourself because you are being true to yourself as a “man”, according to what Allah expects from a man. The Prophet (saw) said:

“Indeed among the believers with the most complete faith is the one who is the best in conduct, and the most kind to his family.” (Tirmidhi)

You have been caring for your family. Now, when you can’t with material things, do you care any less? I say, No. All this guilt you are expressing is because you care.

Your problem seeing this may be because of how you are defining “care”. Is your understanding of “care” limited to material things?

In reality, “care” is not only food, clothing, and shelter – that is a flawed definition. Your “success” before may be dictating a value system in you which says that you are only good for (or your purpose in life as a man is) material provision.

Maybe Allah is putting you through this test to teach you that there is another type of care which is much more important than material things.

It is sort of the same as saying that the only thing a woman is good for is sex.

We, all of us, have a soul which is the thing that “really” matters. Material realities only matter when they are in service to the good of the soul, i.e., service to Allah. Risq (provision) is from Allah.

Men are just the medium – the stewards – through which Allah sends that provision. This is because men do not get pregnant so they are free to work for money, which is the thing needed to buy the provisions needed.

However, if the provision comes from another (halal) source, that does not take anything away from a man’s “manliness”.

There is actually a sunnah which proves this: Khadijah (ra) facilitated the Prophet (saw) giving da’wah instead of having to work for money by giving him (saw) money.

Obviously, everyone’s wife in not in a position to give such charity and many husbands are not interested in doing da’wah.

But, this Sunnah proves that when the best example of a “man” of all times (saw) did not provide for his family’s material needs which did not take away from his “manliness”; he was still the best man ever.

Don’t get me wrong. If a man says that he does not have to provide the material needs of his family, it is a serious mistake.

However, if his wife gives him the money, or he gets it from any halal source, that is not a sin on his part. In other words, “making money” is not how Allah defines a “man”. “Care” is. If and when making money is also “care”, then it is in service to Allah, In Sha’ Allah.  

“Love” means things like belonging and safety. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs describes our “needs” in more detail – and Allah Knows Best. You will notice when you go to that website and look at Maslow’s chart that material provision is at the bottom of his list, not the top.

A newborn will die from “failure to thrive” if it is feed but not loved. Our emotional make-up does not change as we grow; we just get physically-stronger so don’t die as easily when we are not loved.

When not loved (starting with self-love), one’s spirit loses its “youthfulness” – its energy and motivation. In turn, that negative feeling infects the whole family.

By loving oneself first and then one’s family, for example, by giving kisses and hugs and compliments and telling people how smart they are and how their smartness makes your life worth living, you infect the family with good feelings and happy thoughts instead.

That is how people are happy – even if they are poor, materially! If you lead with love for your idea of “care”, you will build a new type of provision castle – a type that does not crumble like brick, In Sha’ Allah.

Also, shortcomings, weakness, mistakes are not sins. Lies, deceit, theft, illegitimate sexual behaviors, etc. are. To refuse to own our shortcomings, weaknesses, and mistakes is also a sin. But none of that is what you are doing; you are being painfully honest about your shortcomings!

Also, sin/evil is intent to wrong others. If you told me that you believed that you have the right to do injustice to others, it would be “sin”. Then, I would be very worried about you! But, again, that is not what you are telling me.

You feel weak, inadequate, like a failure, etc., and owning those shortcomings. You are also trying to get better by asking us for help – because you want to CARE for your family. You are not “trying” to harm anyone.

In fact, your guilt stems from the fact that you fear harming your family. To leave your children is wrong in your mind because you care about them. Many men leave their children, don’t look back, and don’t send child support.

They don’t care. They don’t care about their wives either; the injustice that they do by leaving her with two jobs to do – the job of the man and the woman. This is not you either.

So, love yourself because you love Allah and His religion and because Allah gave you the heart of a believer, not a kafr – and thank Allah for it! As you grow in your Islam, you will see the gifts Allah gave you more easily, In Sha’ Allah, but that does not mean that they are not there now just because you did not see them, yet!

Allah works in mysterious ways because many, if not most, of His gifts are in the unseen world. Our emotions, hearts, souls, feelings and spirits, etc. are not in the material world which we see with our eyes.

But, even though you cannot see them, they are just as real. Actually, they are “real” and the material world is not! If you were to leave your children, you would be changing your path from one to Jannah to one to Jahannam or Hellfire, if Allah wishes. And that is not something you want to do because no pain in this world can compare with fire!

Next, I want to address your wish to be dead. That wish assumes that death ends suffering. Is that true? Your family will probably be more miserable without you, no matter how difficult life was with you – assuming that you are not physically or verbally abusive (you did mention that you felt guilty about saying some horrible things before).

If so, apologize for those immediately and don’t say such things again! Use love instead to address hurt feelings (assuming those horrible words came from hurt feelings).

Also, the way to purify sin is charity! Kindness is charity; one hadith says that a smile is charity. (Tirmidhi) Another hadith says that Allah will not show mercy to those who does not show mercy to others. (Bukhari) So, show mercy, not anger or hatred. That is the Sunnah, too.

Furthermore, Pray to Allah to purify your sins and trust Him!

“And whosoever puts his trust in Allah, then He will suffice him.” (65:3)  

You said you are broke, in debt, about to lose your house, and can’t find a job. If material things answered to our “needs”, the wealthy Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe, etc. would not have died from drug overdoses – drugs they used for pain-medication to relieve their miserable lives!These tragic stories teach us the very important lesson that material things are not the answer.

Flip your value system so that love and mercy come first as the greater “goods”, In Sha’ Allah. Since you haven’t been able to land a job, have you considered venturing out on your own, i.e., entrepreneurship?

The best way to figure out what kind of business you should start is to ask yourself what you love to do. Once you figure that out, you can also volunteer in an establishment that does that.

Then, the people there will get to know you and you will get to know their business; hence, when they need a new employee, you will be the first person to get hired, In Sha’ Allah.

Lastly, I recommend that you get an upgrade in your relationship with Allah.

Allah says, ‘I am as my servant expects Me to be, and I am with him when he remembers me. If he thinks of Me, I think of him. If he mentions Me in company, I mention him in an even better company. When he comes closer to Me by a handspan, I come closer to him an arm’s length. If he draws closer to Me by an arm’s length, I draw closer by a distance of two outstretched arms nearer to him. If my servant comes to Me walking, I go to him running.” (Al-Bukhari)

So, start asking of Allah; He loves it when we ask of Him. Remembrance of Allah does not have to be in prayer alone. Say “Bismillahir-Rahmanir-Raheem” (in the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful), and “Innalilahi wa Innailaihi Rajiun” (From Allah we come and to Allah we return) are the du’aa’s we supposed to say when we feel traumatized, and, “La hawla wa la quwwata illa bil-Lah” (There is no power or strength except in Allah”). Say, “Oh Allah Help me” over and over again. And then, glory in the feelings and rewards you get when Allah Responds, In Sha’ Allah!

If you have not been praying, start. If you don’t feel you have the strength, start by reciting surahs you know whenever you can. Then add one prayer a day, or two, one in the morning and one in the evening. Allah will increase you when you turn to Him – He promises.

I hope this makes you feel a better, In Sha’ Allah.


Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information that was provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, it’s volunteers, writers, scholars, counselors, or employees be held liable for any direct, indirect, exemplary, punitive, consequential or other damages whatsoever that may arise through your decision or action in the use of the services which our website provides. 

About Nasira S. Abdul-Aleem
Nasira S. Abdul-Aleem, an American, has a BA in English from UC Berkeley and is about to receive an MS degree in counseling psychology (Marriage and Family Therapy - MFT) from the Western Institute for Social Research. For over ten years, Nasira worked as a psychotherapist with the general public and in addiction recovery.For the last few years, she has been a life coach specializing in interpersonal relations. Nasira also consults with her many family members who studied Islam overseas and returned to America to be Imams and teachers of Islam. Muslims often ask Nasira what psychology has to do with Islam. To this, she replies that Islam is the manifestation of a correct understanding of our psychology. Therapists and life coaches help clients figure out how to traverse the path of life as a Believer, i.e., "from darkness into light", based on Islam and given that that path is an obstacle course, according to Allah.