depression

Your low iman may actually be depression

assalamualaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh brother I hope you are well in sha Allah. I have recently been experiencing very low imaan, to the point where I no longer feel like praying. I don't know why but my salah feels empty, there's been a couple of times where I've purposely missed my prayers. I don't even make dua anymore either and this worries me. What can I do to fix this? I'm scared of displeasing Allah but at the same time I don't want to pray I just have to force myself.

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah wa barakatuh,

In my experience when Muslims speak of “low iman” it is not actually a problem with their faith, it is just that they are depressed and their depression makes them feel abandoned and unspiritual.

If you think you are depressed, then remind yourself that it is your psychology that has changed, not your relationship with God. Even if you get no satisfaction out of the acts of worship, continue to perform them as a proof of your faith in God. It is good to worship God when it makes you feel good. But it is even better to worship Him when you have to force yourself to do it, because remaining steadfast despite difficulties and turmoil is what distinguishes the best believers from the average ones.

If you feel as if God dislikes you and has turned away from you then realize that this is just your depression making you think these thoughts. Always think of God the way He describes Himself (the Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful), regardless of how you feel. A saint is just someone who has reached a state where nothing that God does to them will reduce their love for Him. Even though they know that God is fully in charge of the universe, when they suffer they do not blame God for it and they never think negative thoughts about Him. They keep facing Him and striving toward Him regardless of what storms He sends their way, knowing that He is only giving them opportunities to prove their love for Him.

For more on getting back on the right track when you feel that your faith is low please see my essay: God has not abandoned you

You may also be interested in my essay:  Islam and Depression: A Survival Guide

Suicide and self-harm in Islam

This is a sensitive but also important topic. I remember at my lowest and my worst, needing to connect myself to Allah. It was during college . I was dealing with clinical depression, I also had PTSD. I was extremely suicidal, and I had been self-harming since years. I knew little about Islam, so I searched what islam says about being suicidal, self-harm, etc to be comforted, but instead I saw verses of Quran condemning suicide& threatening with harsh punishment.

I saw ahadith mentioning how the ones who commit suicide will repetitively kill themselves in such a way in the hereafter. many Islamic websites saying it’s a sin to self-harm. On top of my struggles I was dealing with, I felt like I was carrying a heavy burden on the religious side .I tried to numb my depression and to stop my self-harm behavior and suppress my suicidal thoughts,but it got worse. I thought I was a bad person. Then it hit me, why would The Creator of heavens not understand

Since then I’ve struggled with my faith. I realize that I needed Allah’s comfort and not fear. Since its taboo, I can never speak about this. I have no sense of directions, but just guilt of so many years thinking I indulged in sinful behavior by being sick. I don’t think common people understand self-harm and the mechanism of it , Which I can understand. But Allah? It’s a dark place to be mentally ill & ive crossed many sisters who are told they don’t have enough faith and they too feel bad.

I appreciate the difficulty of your situation. The problem is that you have read a few verses of the Quran without taking the rest into consideration, which always leads to an unbalanced view of God. And you should never let other people color your understanding of Him. Regarding suicide, the Quran has only this to say:

And spend in the cause of God, and do not throw yourselves with your own hands into ruin, and be charitable. God loves the charitable.1

The Quran also says:

O you who believe! Do not consume each other’s wealth illicitly, but trade by mutual consent. And do not kill yourselves, for God is Merciful towards you.2

But this second verse is actually referring to one Muslim killing another, as can be seen from the fact that first part of the verse is talking about interactions between Muslims, and from the fact that in verse 2:54, the same wording regarding killing is used to refer to a certain group of Jews killing another group, rather than their committing suicide. Another piece of evidence is that the same wording is used in the same chapter, in verse 4:66, in reference to God commanding a group of people to fight another. Interpreting 4:29 as referring to suicide is a bit far-fetched for someone who is familiar with the Quran, although the literal wording of the verse can be thought to mean that.

In Ṣaḥiḥ Muslim there is the story of a man who commits suicide but who is assumed by the Prophet to be forgiven by God, and he himself prays for him. Imam al-Nawawī, in his commentary on the narration, says that this means that God judges each case of suicide individually, deciding whether it deserves punishment or not.3

Back to the Quran, regards those who have sinned:

Say, “O My servants who have transgressed against themselves: do not despair of God’s mercy, for God forgives all sins. He is indeed the Forgiver, the Clement.”4

It also says:

God does not forgive association with Him, but He forgives anything other than that to whomever He wills. Whoever associates anything with God has devised a monstrous sin.5

If you rely on the understanding of other people of the Quran, you get a skewed picture that reflects the person’s biases. But if you read the Quran itself, all of it, you get a balanced picture. You recognize that God is far more intelligent, kinder and wiser than any human. It is due to relying on other people’s interpretations that we end up questioning God’s wisdom and kindness. If we read the Quran itself, we see that it nearly always keeps things vague, showing us that for every rule there nearly always are exceptions, and that it is God who ultimately judges things. It is illogical to assume that God, who created humans, is less wise and kind than humans, or that His justice may contain faults.

God understands us perfectly. He does not want us to become lax in our faith, saying that He will forgive us regardless of what we do. It is for this reason that the Quran continuously reminds us to fear God. But that is only part of the picture. The Quran also continuously reminds us of God’s kindness and mercy, and the fact the He does not expect us to be super-human in our resolve and self-control:

God does not burden any soul beyond its capacity. To its credit is what it earns, and against it is what it commits. “Our Lord, do not condemn us if we forget or make a mistake. Our Lord, do not burden us as You have burdened those before us. Our Lord, do not burden us with more than we have strength to bear; and pardon us, and forgive us, and have mercy on us. You are our Lord and Master, so help us against the disbelieving people.”6

And do not come near the property of the orphan, except with the best intentions, until he reaches maturity. And give full weight and full measure, equitably. We do not burden any soul beyond its capacity. And when you speak, be fair, even if it concerns a close relative. And fulfill your covenant with God. All this He has enjoined upon you, so that you may take heed.7

As for those who believe and do righteous works—We never burden any soul beyond its capacity—these are the inhabitants of the Garden; abiding therein eternally.8

We never burden any soul beyond its capacity. And with Us is a record that tells the truth, and they will not be wronged.9

The wealthy shall spend according to his means; and he whose resources are restricted shall spend according to what God has given him. God never burdens a soul beyond what He has given it. God will bring ease after hardship.10

The God of the Quran is utterly just and kind. He never asks us to do the impossible, and He is always willing to forgive, and He understands us better than we understand ourselves. There is no human on earth as kind or understanding as God. God does not accept laxity in us, He always wants us to be better, for this reason He constantly commands us to strive to be better. He is not like a spoiling mother who will let us go to ruin by accepting our negative and selfish behaviors; He shows our true natures to us, like a good teacher and mentor. But He is always willing to forgive if we go back to Him with humility and submission.

If other Muslims do not understand you and quote random verses and narrations that make you feel misunderstood, this shows you the limits of human kindness and empathy rather than God. I recommend that you read the Quran many times (if you do not speak Arabic, a good translation would be Abdel Haleem’s), so that when someone quotes to you a random verse out of context you would be able to remember other verses that counterbalance it. There is no excuse for letting other people become middlemen between us and God when God has sent us the best book ever written.

Best wishes inshaAllah.

Hope for someone desiring suicide

I want to KILL myself But im not cuz its haram But idk what to do help me Give me hope

Think back to the past and remember all the difficulties that you once suffered from and that have disappeared from your life. Sooner or later, your present difficulty will also be part of the past and will stop influencing you. No matter how difficult the day or week is, it will pass. To kill yourself is to say that you do not believe that God can put a stop to your situation. Do you think God is that powerless? Ask God for help and He can help you in ways you never expected.

Please see these two articles I wrote a while ago:

The Road to Maturity: On Dealing with Life’s Unsolvable Problems

God has not abandoned you: Regaining your sense of purpose when life feels spiritually empty, lonely and meaningless

Managing stress and loneliness

Salam alaykum how may I manage stress and focus on myself, sometimes I feel lonely-no one contacts me I'm ok with it I really need to put myself first

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

There are hundreds of books dedicated to those topics, everyone is different so no one solution that works for everyone.

You say you feel lonely. That might be the root issue. According to Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection by the renowned scientist John T. Cacioppo, loneliness is a disease. It increases inflammation in the body, slowly blocks arteries, causes diabetes, and leads to depression, and there is no cure for it other than to stop being lonely.

Being lonely means to lack meaningful social connection with others. You don’t have to be alone to be lonely. You can have many people around you and still feel lonely.

An easy way to start solving this problem is to use your tumblr to find people to interact with on a daily basis. To cure loneliness, we need to feel that we matter, that people care about what we do and say. And on tumblr, if you have many followers, as you interact with them, as they read your posts and reply to them, that can give you some of that feeling and in this way reduce your loneliness.

Doing anything that makes you feel cared about, that makes you feel like you matter to someone, will reduce your loneliness. You can do it online, or do it in real life by finding ways of connecting with people.

As for managing stress, one thing that helps is to read the Quran. If you dedicate an hour a day to reading the Quran, slowly the afterlife will start to appear more important to you than the life of this world, and this will make all of your worldly problems appear small and unimportant, which will take the stress out of daily life.