Praise be to Allah ﷻ.
Kinds of Stress and Worry
The distress suffered by the dai’yah when he calls his people to Islam, the Prophets had more than their fair share of this kind of stress. ‘Aa’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) told her nephew (the son of her sister) ‘Urwah that she asked the Prophet ﷺ, “Did you ever suffer any day worse than the day of Uhud?”
He ﷺ said,
| I suffered what I suffered at the hands of your people, and the worst that I suffered from them was on the day of ‘Aqabah, when I had made an appeal to Ibn ‘Abd Yaalayl ibn ‘Abd Kalaal and he did not respond in the way I had hoped for. I left him, hardly knowing where I was going, and I did not realize where I was until I had reached Qarn al-Tha’aalib. I raised my head, and saw a cloud which was shading me. I looked in it, and saw Jibraa’eel, who called to me and said, ‘Allah has heard what your people have said to you, and their response to you. He has sent to you the Angel of the Mountains, to do whatever you tell him to do to them.’ Then the Angel of the Mountains called to me, greeted me, and said, ‘O Muhammad, if you wish, I will crush them between two mountains.’
The Prophet ﷺ said,
| Rather, I hope that Allah will bring forth from their descendants people who will worship Allah alone and not associate anything with Him.
The Prophet ﷺ suffered similar distress when his people disbelieved his account of his Night Journey (Israa’). Muslim (may Allah have mercy on him) narrated from Abu Hurayrah that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said,
| I found myself in the Hijr (an area in the Haram in Makkah, near the Ka’bah), and Quryash were asking me about my Night Journey, questions about Bayt al-Maqdis that I was not sure of. I felt more distressed and anxious than I had ever felt, then Allah raised it for me so that I could see what they were asking me about and answer all their questions…
Concern about Acts of Worship
The Messenger of Allah ﷺ was very concerned about telling people about salat (prayer). Abu ‘Umayr ibn Anas reported from his (paternal) uncles among the Ansaar that the Prophet ﷺ was worried about how to gather the people together for prayers. Someone suggested that he set up a flag, so that people would see it and tell one another, but he did not like this idea. Another suggestion was a ram’s horn (the shofar of the Jews), but he did not like this idea, and said, “This belongs to the Jews.” Someone else suggested a bell, but he said, “This belongs to the Christians.” ‘Abd-Allah ibn Zayd ibn ‘Abd Rabbihi went away, worrying about the concern of the Messenger of Allah ﷺ and he was shown the adhaan (call to prayer) in a dream. The next morning, he came to the Messenger of Allah ﷺ and told him about it,
|“O Messenger of Allah, whilst I was half asleep and half awake, someone came to me and showed me the adhaan…”
The Anxiety faced by the Truthful Person when he is Disbelieved
This happened to the great Sahaabi Zayd ibn al-Arqam (may Allah be pleased with him), when he heard the chief of the munaafiqeen (hypocrites) saying to his colleagues,
|“When we return to Madeenah, the one who has pride and power will expel the one who is humiliated.”
Meaning that the “one who has pride and power” was himself, and the “one who is humilated” was the Messenger of Allah ﷺ and the people with him.
Zayd said, “I told my (paternal) uncle, and he went and informed the Messenger of Allah ﷺ. The Messenger of Allah ﷺ sent for (the chief of the munaafiqeen, ‘Abd-Allah ibn Ubayy), who swore that he had said no such thing. The Messenger of Allah ﷺ believed him and not me.” My uncle came to me and scolded me,
|“All you wanted was for the Messenger of Allah ﷺ and the Muslims to hate you and disbelieve you!”
I felt extreme anxiety and stress, such as no one has ever suffered. When I was on a journey with the Messenger of Allah ﷺ, I hung my head with worry. Then the Messenger of Allah ﷺ came up to me, tweaked my ear, and smiled at me. I felt happy in a way that I would not exchange immortal life in this world for that feeling. Then Abu Bakr caught up with me and asked me what the Messenger of Allah ﷺ had said to me. I said, “He did not say anything, but he tweaked my ear and smiled at me.” He told me, “Be of good cheer!” Then ‘Umar caught up with me and I told him what I had told Abu Bakr. The next morning, the Messenger of Allah ﷺ recited Surat al-Munaafiqoon to us.
According to a report narrated by Muslim, which tells the same story, Zayd said,
|“I came to the Prophet ﷺ and told him about it. He sent for ‘Abd-Allah ibn Ubayy and asked him about it, but he insisted and swore that he had done no such thing, saying, ‘Zayd is telling lies to the Messenger of Allah ﷺ.’ I felt very hurt because of what they said, until Allah revealed words confirming that I had spoken the truth (interpretation of the meaning), ‘When the hypocrites come to you…’” [al-Munaafiqoon 63:1]
The Anxiety suffered by an Innocent Person when False Accusations are made
An example of this is what happened to ‘Aa’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) when the munaafiqoon accused her of sin during the campaign of Muraysi’. She was ill, and when she heard the news of the rumours from one of the women of her household, she became even sicker and felt very distressed. She said, “I said, ‘Subhan-Allah! Are people talking about that?’” I wept all night, until morning and never slept; my tears never stopped falling. Then I wept all day, and never slept; my tears never stopped falling. My parents came to me the next morning, after I had cried for two nights and a day, without ceasing and without sleeping. They thought that this weeping would kill me. Whilst they were sitting with me, and I was crying, a woman of the Ansaar asked permission to see me. I gave her permission, and she sat down, weeping with me. Whilst we were sitting thus, the Messenger of Allah ﷺ came in, greeted us, and sat down. He had not come to visit me since the rumours had started, and for a month there had been no Revelation concerning my situation. Whilst he was sitting there, the Messenger of Allah ﷺ recited the Shahadah, then He ﷺ said,
| O ‘Aa’ishah, I have heard such-and-such about you. If you are innocent, Allah will prove your innocence, and if you did commit a sin, then ask for Allah’s forgiveness and repent to Him, for when the slave admits his sin and repents to Allah, Allah will accept his repentance.
When the Messenger of Allah ﷺ had finished what he had to say, my tears stopped completely, and I said to my father, Respond to what the Messenger of Allah ﷺ has said. He said, By Allah, I do not know what I should say to the Messenger of Allah ﷺ.” I said to my mother, “Respond to what the Messenger of Allah ﷺ has said.” She said, “By Allah, I do not know what I should say to the Messenger of Allah ﷺ.” I said, “I am only a young girl and I do not know much of the Qur’an. By Allah, I have nothing to say to you except the words of the father of Yoosuf,
|“… So (for me), patience is most fitting. And it is Allah (Alone) whose help can be sought against that which you assert.” [Yoosuf 12:18]
Then I turned away and lay down on my bed. Then Allah revealed (interpretation of the meaning):
|Verily! Those who brought forth the slander (against ‘Aa’ishah) are a group among you. Consider it not a bad thing for you… [al-Noor 24:11 – see complete passage, ayat 11-20]
Before ‘Aa’ishah’s time, Maryam bint ‘Imraan had suffered a great deal of stress and anxiety because she became pregnant without being married. Her distress reached such an extent that,
|“…She said, ‘Would that I had died before this, and had been forgotten and out of sight!’” [Maryam 19:23 – interpretation of the meaning]
She spoke thus because she knew that people would accuse her and not believe her when she came to them with a child in her arms, because she had been one of the devoted female worshippers who lived in seclusion close to the mosque, and she came from a very religious household and was descended from Prophets. Because of all this, she bore such a great burden of anxiety that she wished that she had died before this happened to her, or that she “had been forgotten and out of sight”, in other words, that she had never been created at all.
Another example is the story of the women who was accused unjustly. ‘Aa’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) told her story, “A black woman who belonged to some of the Arabs became Muslim. She had a cubicle in the mosque. She used to come to us and talk with us, and when she had finished conversing with us, she told us, ‘The day of the wishaah (an ornamented girdle worn by women) was one of the wonders of our Lord. Indeed, it is He Who saved me from the land of kufr (disbelief).’” When she repeated this several times, ‘Aa’ishah asked her, “What was the day of the girdle?” She said, “A young girl who belonged to some of my people went out wearing a girdle made of leather. She dropped it, and a kite (a kind of hawk) came and swooped it up, thinking that it was a piece of meat. They accused me of taking it, and they began to punish me, to the extent that they even searched my private parts. Whilst they were surrounding me and I was in that state of distress, the kite flew back over our heads and dropped the belt. They picked it up, and I said to them, ‘This is what you accused me of, and I was innocent!’”
A man’s worry about what may happen to his wife and children after his death ‘Aa’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) reported that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ used to say,
| One of the things that concerns me is what will happen to you [his wives] after my death, for none will be able to take care of you properly except those who are truly patient.
Anxiety because of a Loan
An example of this is what happened to al-Zubayr (may Allah be pleased with him), whose story was told by his son ‘Abd-Allah ibn al-Zubayr, “When al-Zubayr stood up to fight at the Battle of the Camel, he called me, so I went and stood by his side. He said, ‘O my son, no-one will be killed today except one who is a wrongdoer or one to whom wrong is done. I can see that I will die today as one to whom wrong is done. My greatest concern is my debts – do you think that any of our wealth will be left after paying off our debts? O my son, sell our property and pay off our debts.’” ‘Abd-Allah said, “He started to advise me what to do about his debt, and told me, ‘O my son, if you are unable to pay off anything, seek the help of my mawlaa.’ By Allah, I did not know what he meant until I asked, ‘O my father, who is your mawlaa?’ He said, ‘Allah.’ By Allah, every time I felt distress because of difficulty in paying off his debt, I prayed, ‘O Mawlaa of al-Zubayr, pay off his debt,’ and Allah paid it off…’” ‘Abd-Allah ibn al-Zubayr said, “I calculated how much he owed, and found it to be two million and two hundred thousand… (some of al-Zubayr’s friends did not think it possible to pay off such a great debt, but Allah greatly blessed some land belonging to al-Zubayr, and surprisingly enough, when it was divided up and sold off, there was enough to pay off the debt and have something left over), Al-Zubayr had four wives: one-third of his wealth was put aside for them, and each wife got one million and two hundred thousand. The total sum of his wealth was fifty million and two hundred thousand.”
Anxiety caused by Dreams
This happened to the Prophet ﷺ, as He said,
| Whilst I was sleeping, the treasures of the earth were brought to me, and two armlets of gold were placed on my arms. That distressed me, but Allah revealed to me that I should blow them away, so I did so, and they disappeared. I interpreted them as being the two liars whom I am facing, the one in Sana’aa’ and the one in al- Yamaamah.
Ibn ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him and his father) also felt distress because of a dream which he saw. He told us about it, “Some men among the Companions of the Messenger of Allah ﷺ used to see dreams at the time of the Messenger of Allah ﷺ. They used to tell him about them, and he would say ‘Ma sha’ Allah.’ I was a young boy, and I used to live in the mosque before I got married. I said to myself, ‘If you were any good, you would have seen something like these people have seen.’ When I lay down that night, I said, ‘O Allah, if You see any good in me, then let me see a dream.’ Then two angels came to me, each of whom was holding an iron bridle in his hand. They dragged me to Hell, and I was praying, ‘O Allah, I seek refuge with you from Hell.’ Then I dreamt that I was met by another angel, who was also holding an iron bridle in his hand. He said, ‘Do not worry, you are a good man, if only you prayed more.’ They took me to the edge of Hell, and it was shaped like a well with horns; between every two horns was an angel holding an iron bridle. I saw in it men suspended upside down from chains, and I recognized some men of Quraysh. Then they led me off towards the right. I told Hafsah about it, and Hafsah told the Messenger of Allah ﷺ. (According to a report narrated by Muslim: “When I woke up, I felt worried and scared about what I had seen, so I asked Hafsah about it, and she said, ‘It is good, what you have seen.’ I said to her, ‘Ask the Messenger of Allah ﷺ about it,’ so she asked him.”) The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: ‘ ‘Abd-Allah is a righteous man, if only he prayed at night.’” Naafi’ said: “After that, he always prayed a great deal.”
Islam prescribes a number of ways to deal with the distress that results from seeing nightmares and frightening dreams.
Having described a number of kinds of distress and anxiety experienced in this world, we will now discuss ways of dealing with them.
Undoubtedly the first thing we should mention when discussing worries and anxiety is: ‘aqeedah (belief) and eeman (faith), and the effects they have on dealing with stress. One can see many of the kuffaar and Muslims who are weak in faith suffering breakdowns and committing suicide in an effort to rid themselves of depression, frustration and despair when they get into trouble or when disaster strikes. Hospitals are full of patients who are suicidal or have suffered nervous breakdowns, or other kinds of psychological trauma. These problems affect many of those who are strong, let alone those who are weak. How often they lead to complete incapacity and loss of sanity!
The person who has been guided to Islam, if his ‘aqeedah is sound and his Iman is strong, will find the cure in that which has come from Allah, the All-Knowing and All- Aware, Who created all things and Who knows best what befits His creation.
|“Should not He Who has created know? And He is the Most Kind and Courteous (to His slaves) All-Aware (of everything).” [al-Mulk 67:14 – interpretation of the meaning]