Sadness in Islam

Islam is a religion that respects human nature. Allah is aware of the emotions that people experience. For example, sadness has a place in Islam and it is not discouraged to experience it.

There are several stories of Islam in which we see that there was sadness. These stories provide validation that it is okay to experience sadness. The Prophet (ﷺ) experienced this, his Sahaba and the scholars after them.

It is a natural emotion to be sad. This happens in the event of an accident, trauma, injustice and various other situations.

Moreover, Muslims are forgiven of their sins when they experience a difficult situation, grief or worry.

The Prophet (ﷺ) said: “Never is a believer afflicted with discomfort, hardship, sickness, sorrow, and even worry, except that his sins are thereby forgiven.” [Sahih Muslim 2573]

"Why me?"

In grief, that thought often automatically comes to mind, even if you try to stop it. It is a thought that tries to come up with a logical or reasonable explanation to why you are in pain.

Allah tests anyone with a calamity or difficulty that causes grief. In reality, He wants the best for the people. He expresses this in several verses of the Quran.

Allah wishes for you ease and He does not wish for you inconvenience.
[2:185 Quran]

Allah wishes to lighten (the burden) for you; and man is created weak.
[4:28 Quran]

You will not be tested beyond your ability

It can sometimes become so difficult that you feel that it is beyond your ability to deal with it. That happens when the test is very hard. But Allah says that no one is tested beyond his ability.

Allah burdens no one beyond his ability.
[2:286 Quran]

  1. Dealing with sadness
  2. Supplications for sadness
  3. Stories of sadness in Islam

Dealing with sadness

There are different ways to deal with sadness. So there are good and bad ways to deal with this. It is common for people to try to ignore sadness, which can lead to depression.

Islam advises every Muslim to treat his or her sadness. This is done, among other things, by remembrance of Allah. But know, that frequently remembering Allah by itself is not the solution to sadness.

Many think that increasing iman, remembrance of Allah or supplication is the solution to sadness. This is not always the case, because sadness is an emotional response, and so requires an emotional solution.

But how do you treat this emotional reaction with an emotional solution? What is that solution?

1. Find out the cause

First of all, it is important to determine the cause of your sadness. These can be different things.

Common causes:

The cause of your sadness determines the intensity. This will then ensure that you, for example, may experience a deeper sadness.

Addressing the cause will provide you with a lot of clarity. That way you can approach it more precisely. Distress is an emotional response to a stressful event. Each person experiences an event differently. It has more impact on some because sensitivity plays a role in it.

2. Give space to your sadness

The next step is to give yourself the space to experience your sadness. It is therefore good that you express your sadness and give it the space it deserves.

In order to give space to your sadness, it is sometimes necessary to take a break from daily tasks. That way you give yourself the time and space to experience your sadness.

Experiencing sadness is part of the release from pain you carry. You reduce the negative energy and stress in your body.

By experiencing your sadness you open the doors to let the event have less effect on you. You no longer carry as much pain as the person who ignores his or her sadness.

Extra: Talk to Trustees

A natural action is that when we are sad we tend to share it with people we trust. It is helps a lot to share your story with someone else. Expressing what is bothering you is relieving and clarifying, because it reduces stress and pain.

The understanding and compassion that the trusted person then offers you ensures that you integrate that same approach for yourself. And that is the next step: compassion for yourself.

3. Compassion for Restoration

We often tend to judge ourselves after experiencing a negative event. This often comes automatically, but with a negative consequence. When you judge yourself, you open the doors to unnecessary guilt or criticism.

What compassion does is it looks at your situation without judgement. It is a neutral view that removes unnecessary criticism or guilt.

The fact is that we are not always in control of what we experience. For example, you cannot do anything about it if you have lost a loved one or if you have been wronged by someone.

When you did have some control

Of course there are also situations where you had the opportunity to change something. Think, for example, of failing school or being fired. We have some control over that, but if it happened unjustly, we do not. Then it is a matter of acceptance that injustice has been done.

We sometimes tend to criticize ourselves more than necessary. This will quickly result in us interrupting the healing process.

The Purpose of Compassion

The purpose of offering compassion is not to put yourself down and to be gentle with yourself. We do not have complete control, so we need to let that thought go.

Sure, if you have wronged someone else, then you have to put the blame where it belongs (on yourself). You then have to solve it with them.

Supplications for sadness

One can process sadness by making supplications, among other things. Several Ad'iyaa (plural of Du'a) have been narrated. These were performed by the Prophet (ﷺ) and his Companions.

The supplications are intended as a form of relief, remembrance of Allah and a potential release from sorrow, hardship and more.

One cannot get rid of sadness just by making supplications. You are supposed to approach the heart of the matter as well as making supplications.

Ibn Abbas reported: The Prophet (ﷺ) said the following in times of trouble: “There is no God but Allah, the All-Knowing, the Forbearing. There is no God but Allah, the Lord of the Great Throne. There is no God but Allah, Lord of the heavens, the earth, and the Noble Throne." [Sahih al-Bukhārī 7426, Sahih Muslim 2730]

The Prophet (ﷺ) said: "O Allah! I seek refuge with You from worry and grief, from incapacity and laziness, from cowardice and miserliness, from being heavily in debt and from being overpowered by (other) men." [Sahih al-Bukhari 6369]

Stories of sadness in Islam

There are several Islamic stories that indicate that the Prophet (ﷺ) experienced sadnedd. These stories give validation to any Muslim facing sadness.

These stories give you insight and understanding that sadness is a natural response. The Prophet (ﷺ) went through many things in his life. For example, he lost his first wife Khadija and his beloved uncle Abu Talib in the same year.

Year of sorrow

This moment was a very difficult period in the life of the Prophet (ﷺ), also known as 'Aam al-Huzn (year of sorrow). He lost his first wife Khadija. She was the first person to believe in his prophethood.

Khadija supported the Prophet (ﷺ) in difficult times. She experienced it when the Prophet (ﷺ) first received revelation. Khadija was married to the Prophet (ﷺ) for 25 years. She died when the Prophet (ﷺ) turned fifty years old.

After the death of Khadija, Abu Talib: the beloved uncle of the Prophet (ﷺ). Abu Talib held an honored position among the people of Quraysh.

His position gave him power to protect his nephew Mohammed from his opponents. The Prophet (ﷺ) lost this protection when Abu Talib died, and he never converted to Islam.

Khadija and Abu Talib died in the same year. After Khadija's death, several difficulties followed. She offered the Prophet comfort and help in his prophethood. With the death of Abu Talib, he lost support in his personal life and protection from Quraysh. Abu Talib's death was about three years before the Prophet emigrated to Madinah. During that time, Quraysh seized the opportunity to harm the Prophet. A man of the Quraysh threw earth on the head of the Prophet (ﷺ). He returned to his house where he met his daughter. She wept as she removed the earth from the head of the Prophet (ﷺ), whereupon the Prophet (ﷺ) said: “Do not cry oh daughter of mine, Allah will protect your father. They (Quraysh) never had the courage to harm me until Abu Talib died." [Seerah of Ibn Hisham, "Death of Khadija and Abu Talib"]

Death of Ibrahim

The Prophet (ﷺ) lost many of his children during his life. Of these children the son Ibrahim died.

We see in this story that the Prophet was also touched by trials. This proves his human nature and validates the experience of sadness in a Muslim's life.

Anas bin Malik reported: We went with the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) to the smith Abu Saif, and he was the husband of the nursing wife of Ibrahim (the son of the Prophet). Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) took Ibrahim and kissed him and smelled him. Later we went back to Abu Saif's house and at that moment Ibrahim took his last breath, and the eyes of Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) started to shed tears. `Abdur Rahman bin `Auf said: "O Allah's Messenger, even you cry!" The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: "O Ibn 'Auf, this is mercy." Then the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) wept more and said: "The eyes are shedding tears and the heart is grieved, and we will not say except what pleases our Lord, O Ibrahim! Indeed we are grieved by your separation." [Sahih al-Bukhari 1303]

Pause of revelation

During the prophethood of Muhammad (ﷺ), the revelation was temporarily paused. This happened for a while causing the Prophet (ﷺ) to become concerned and sad.

The disbelievers of Quraysh tried to bring him down at that time. Thus they said that Allah paused the revelation because He hated him.

The opponents tried everything to make the Prophet (ﷺ) sad. They said: "If this revelation really came from Allah, then it would be consecutive (without pausing), but Allah hates him and has forsaken him."

The Prophet (ﷺ) was saddened by the words of Quraysh and how they treated him. After this, the pause ended and Allah brought revelation again.

Ibn Ishaaq (first Islamic historian) said: "Then the revelation stopped for a while, whereupon the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) became concerned and sad. Then Gabriel brought him Surat ad-Duha, in which his Lord, Who had so honored him, swore that He had not forgotten him, nor hated him." [Seerah Ibn Hisham (1/225)]

Abu Athari writes about basic principles within Islam. He uses his critical and well-researched way to spread knowledge of the first three Muslim generations.

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