Anxiety is a part of life. In fact Allah says in the Quran:
We have created everything in pairs. (51:49)
This is not only for the tangible physical things like living beings, but also for the more subtle emotional and spiritual sides of our lives.
Life has joy, life has pain. There are good times, there are bad times. There is ease, there is difficulty. It is all a cycle, much like the day and the night.
However, today, an increasingly high number of young men and women suffer from anxiety issues that are distinctly different from that of generations past.
It is worth noting before going forward that anxiety can also be part of a variety of illnesses, and this article is not a substitute for any medical advice.
This article will only be looking at general anxiety that young people go through due to circumstances in life.
Growing up, there are anxieties related to the house. Disobeying parents is one, being misunderstood is another, getting bad grades as well! There is the anxiety of how to deal with relatives we do not know that well, of meeting new people, and worst of all the expectations put on us by society.
The anxieties of studying, doing well, “keeping the family name” last with us almost all the way through till the end of college or university. Going forward there is the anxiety of whether our degree will be enough to land us a good job, or for those more bolder, whether the business or start-up will actually be a success or not.
That is when the anxiety of whether money will come through every month or not, the thought of having to find a spouse, getting family to agree, and to get married all come in as well.
Post-marriage there is the marital bond to take care of, in-laws to deal with, kids to take care of!
All in all, anxiety is built in to our society. Especially, our capitalist driven society which expects complete perfection from us in all forms of our lives!
A believer has some other spiritual anxieties as well! Whether an act is halal or haram, whether the job that he/she is doing is ethical or not, whether his/her lifestyle goes properly with Islam and Islamic etiquette and so on.
There is obviously also the anxiety of whether our deeds are accepted by Allah. The religious anxieties are part of our faith, and part of what perfects us as human beings. If we were not anxious and apprehensive of the punishment of Allah, we would be doing every wrong thing on earth. Thus it helps us grow as human beings and as Muslims.
However, it is important to note that, as Muslims, we are also part of a faith that is based on hope, and is a faith that believes in a God who introduces Himself as Ar-Rahman Ar-Raheem, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.
He calls Himself Rabb in the first verse of the Quran, a term that means many things but one of which is that He is the One who has nurtured and taken care of us to bring us where we are today.
Understanding that, we will look at a formula that I made, called the “RKD” formula!
R is for Reflect
Reflect on who it is that is your Lord.
Reflect on who it is that has nurtured you. When the Prophet (peace be upon him) was sad, when the Companions (may Allah be pleased with them) were sad, depressed, or just unsure about life, Allah reminded them to reflect. Reminded them to reflect upon the past and how Allah favored them, and to reflect upon the signs in nature.
Reflect today on how you were a child having no chance of survival, and how Allah took care of you with a mother. Reflect back on when things looked impossible and yet Allah got you through.
In times of anxiety, reflect on the fact that Allah is the One who says “Be” and it is. Understand His Majesty and know that He is above all. Whatever it is that we worry about is in the Hands of the One whom we forget.
Reflect on how Allah has perfected the creation, how He has made day and night, how He sends rain to irrigate crops, and how He has beautified the earth. He is taking care of the universe, can He not take care of us?
K is for Knowing
Know that Allah is the Writer of your story. Know that not a leaf falls on earth except by His Knowledge. And know that when all else fails, He is there taking care of us. He is The Guardian Friend of those who believe.
He is Al-Lateef, the One who subtly takes care of His slaves in ways that we cannot fathom. Know that which you are anxious about is actually the story written by the greatest of Storytellers.
Remember the stories in the Quran. When Prophet Yusuf (peace be upon him) was in the well, in the darkness and among the insects, would he ever have understood that all of this was part of His plan in making Yusuf one day a King of Egypt? No he did not!
When we look ahead in our lives and see only darkness, we should remember that while we do not know what the path ahead holds, Allah knows. The Most Merciful, the Most Generous knows what is to come, and:
Whosoever puts their trust in Him, then He is sufficient for them. (Quran 65:3)
Know that whatever He allows to happen has a purpose, even if we do not understand it. I once wrote a small poem about times of uncertainty. A couplet from that poem goes as such:
“In times of uncertainty I learn that God is with me
In not seeing the path, I worry While The Most Generous writes my story”
D is for Doing
Reflect on His Majesty and know that He is in control. That empowers you to know that whatever you do, as long as you are doing it for Allah, and as long as you trust in Him in the path ahead, you will not be lost. Now do your own part! Do your part, and trust in Allah.
“Give your ultimate best And to Allah, leave the rest
The results are in His hand Just leave your footprint in the sand”
Doing involves both the spiritual acts and the physical acts. For example, if it is an exam that is making you worried and anxious, take time to pray to Allah to give you strength. Pick up a book on du’a and recite the du’as for studying, for anxiety. And at the same time, do your best. Make your hours work by studying, by working hard so that by the will of Allah, all will be well at the end of the day.
The problem of anxiety is massive, and it is not to be solved by just one article. This just gives us a framework for how we should act, and how we should think in times when we are anxious about how our lives are going to turn out.
(From Discovering Islam’s archive.)