Stress can be defined as anything that causes mental, physical, or spiritual tension. There is no running away from it as it is part of the body’s natural response when faced by a threat. All that matters is how you deal with it. As Muslims, we are very fortunate as Islam teaches many ways in dealing with the stresses we experience in our daily life.
1. Ask HIM. HE Listens: DU`A
Turn each anxiety, each fear and each concern into a Du`a (supplication). Look at it as another reason to submit to Allah and be in Sajdah (prostration), during which you are closest to Allah. Allah listens and already knows what is in your heart, but HE wants you to ask HIM for what you want.
The Prophet said: Allah is angry with those who do not ask Him for anything. (Tirmizi).
The Prophet once said that in prayer, he would find rest and relief. He would also regularly ask for God’s forgiveness and remain in prostration during prayer praising Allah (Tasbih) and asking for HIS forgiveness (Bukhari).
Allah wants you to be specific. The Prophet advised us to ask Allah for exactly what we want instead of making vague Du`as. Du`a is the essence of worship (the Prophet as quoted in Tirmizi).
“Call on your Lord with humility and in private: for Allah loves not those who trespass beyond bounds. Do not make mischief on the earth, after it had been set in order, but call on HIM with fear. And longing (in your hearts): for the mercy of Allah is (always) near to those who do good” (Quran 7:55-56).
One day Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, noticed a Bedouin leaving his camel without tying it. He asked the Bedouin, “Why don’t you tie down your camel?” The Bedouin answered, “I put my trust in Allah.” The Prophet then said, “Tie your camel first, then put your trust in Allah” (Tirmizi).
“Verily Allah does not change men’s condition unless they change their inner selves” (Quran 13: 11).
Turn each worry into a Du`a and each Du`a into an action plan. That will show your commitment to your request and will focus your energy to the right direction.
3. Leave the world behind you FIVE TIMES A DAY
Use the five daily prayers as a means to become more Hereafter-oriented and less attached to this temporary world. Start distancing yourself as soon as you hear the Adhan (the call to prayer). When you perform Wudu’, keep repeating Syahada, the declaration of faith, as water drops slip down your face, hands, arms, and hair. When you stand ready to pray, mentally prepare yourself to leave this world and all of its worries and stresses behind you.
Of course, Shaytan will try to distract you during prayer. But whenever this happens, go back and remember Allah. The more you return, the more Allah will reward you for it. Also, make sure your Sajdahs (prostrations) are talking Sajdahs, in which you are really connecting to Allah and seeking HIS Mercy, praising HIM, and asking for HIS forgiveness.
4. Seek help through SABR
Seek help through Sabr and Salat (Quran 2:45).
This instruction from Allah provides us with two critical tools that can ease our worries and pain. Patience and prayer are two often neglected stressbusters. Sabr is often translated as patience but it is not just that. It includes self-control, perseverance, endurance, and a focused struggle to achieve one’s goal. Unlike patience, which implies resignation, the concept of Sabr includes a duty to remain steadfast to achieve your goals despite all odds.
Being patient gives us control in situations where we feel we have little or no control. ‘We cannot control what happens to us but we can control our reaction to our circumstances’ is the mantra of many modern-day self-help books. Patience helps us keep our mind and attitude towards our difficulties in check.
5. Do Zikr, Allah, Allah!
“… without doubt in the remembrance (Zikr) of Allah do hearts find tranquility” (Quran 13:28).
When your heart feels heavy with stress or grief, remember Allah and surround yourself with HIS Zikr. Zikr refers to all forms of the remembrance of Allah, including Salat, Tasbeeh, Tahmeed, Tahleel, making supplication (Du`a), and reading Quran.
“And your Lord says: ‘Call on ME; I will answer your (prayer)…” (Quran 40:60)
By remembering Allah in the way HE has taught us to, we are more likely to gain acceptance of our prayers and HIS Mercy in times of difficulty. We are communicating with the only ONE Who not only Hears and Knows all, but Who can change our situation and give us the patience to deal with our difficulties.
“Remember Me, and I shall remember you; be grateful to Me, and deny Me not” (Quran 2:152).
6. Relying on Allah: Tawakkal
When you awaken in the morning, thank Allah for giving you life after that short death called sleep. When you step out of your home, say ‘in Your Name Allah, I put my trust in Allah, and there is no power or force except with Allah’ (Bismillahi Tawakal to al Allah wa la hawla wa la quwwata illa billah). At night, remember Allah, with His praises on your lips.
Once you have established a plan you intend to follow through on to deal with a specific issue or problem in your life, put your trust in the most Wise and the All-Knowing.
“When you have taken a decision, put your trust in Allah” (Quran 3: 159).
Rely on Allah by constantly remembering Him throughout your day. When you
lay down to sleep, remember that sleep is death. That is why one of the recommended supplications before going to sleep is “with Your (Allah’s) Name I die and become alive”.
7. Pray in congregation (Jamaah)
Pray with other people instead of alone. If you can’t pray all five prayers in congregation, at least find one or two prayers you can pray with others. During the Prophet’s time, even though the Muslims endured great persecution, including physical beatings, they would sometimes meet on the side of a mountain or valley and tried to pray together. This is a great morale booster.
8. Sleep the way the Prophet slept
End your day on a positive note. Make Wudu, then think of your day. Thank Allah for all the good things you accomplished, like Zikr and Salat. Ask yourself what you did today. For everything positive, say Alhamdu lillah (Praise be to Allah). For everything negative say Astaghfirullah wa atoobo ilayk (I seek Allah’s forgiveness and I turn to You [Allah]). Recite the last two chapters of the Quran, thinking and praying as you turn on your right side with your hand below your right cheek, the way the Prophet used to sleep. Then close your day with the name of Allah on your tongue. Insha Allah, you will have a good, restful night.
9. Begin the Day on a Positive Note
Get up early. Get up thanking God that He has given you another day. Alhamdu lillahil lazi ahyana bada ma amatana, wa ilaihin Nushoor (Praise be to Allah Who gave us life after death and unto Him will be the return). Use the melody of the Quran as your alarm tones. Or let the joyful notes of your favourite nasheeds put you in a good mood. Sing along if you like. Develop your to do list for the day if you didn’t do it the night before. Begin with the name of Allah, with Whose name nothing in the heavens or the earth can hurt you. He is the Highest and the Greatest.
(Bismillahillazi la yazurru maa ismihi shaiun fil arze wa la fis samae, wahuwal Alee ul Azeem).The Prophet used to say this after every Fajr and Maghrib prayers.
10. Make the Quran your Partner
Reading and listening to the Quran will help refresh our hearts and our minds. Recite it out loud or in a low voice. When you are praying Nafl or extra prayers, pick it up and use it to recite portions of the Quran you are not as familiar with. Connecting to the Quran means connecting to Allah. Let it be a means to heal your heart of stress and worries. Invest in different recordings of the Quran and their translations.
“O humanity! There has come to you a direction from your Lord and a cure for all [the ills] in men’s hearts – and for those who believe, a Guidance and a Mercy” (Quran 10:57).
Nor Azlan Nor Muhammad
Ketua Biro Akademik dan Kebajikan
ISMA Australia (Victoria)