The Qur’an: A Source of Psychological Health*
by Muhammad Muhammad Dawud
The Qur’an tackles the different aspects of the human character, whether physical, psychic, or spiritual, and deals with all spheres of man’s life. Tackling these aspects and describing how they should be in harmony with each other guides man to lead a balanced life in which he is motivated to be positive and active. For instance, Allah Almighty draws man’s attention to the fact that all things in the Heavens and the earth are subjected to him, so that he may make use of them for his interest and reflect upon the truth behind their creation. Allah Almighty says:
And hath made of service unto you whatsoever is in the heavens and whatsoever is in the earth; it is all from Him. Lo! herein verily are portents for people who reflect. (Al-Jathiyah 45:13)
Allah Almighty also warns man against the consequences of yielding to the base desires and the temptations of this life. This is implied in His words:
Beautified for mankind is love of the joys (that come) from women and offspring, and stored up heaps of gold and silver, and horses branded (with their mark), and cattle and land. That is comfort of the life of the world. Allah! With Him is the excellent abode. (Aal `Imran 3:14)
The healthy character, according to the Qur’an, is the one marked by undertaking its responsibilities in this life within the available capabilities and potentials. Allah Almighty says:
Allah tasketh not a soul beyond its scope. (Al-Baqarah 2:286).
And strive for Allah as is the true striving for Him. He hath chosen you and hath not laid upon you in religion any hardship. (Al-Hajj 22:78)
Further, as the Qur'an depicts, the healthy person believes in what Allah destines for him and faces the events of life with a spirit full of serenity and composure, and thus avoids psychic pressures and psychological disorders. That is why Almighty Allah says:
Naught of disaster befalleth in the earth or in yourselves but it is in a Book before We bring it into being Lo! that is easy for Allah.(Al-Hadid 57:22)
True faith molds a person’s character and gives it all lofty qualities. When we refer to the Qur’an we find true believers portrayed as faithful, truthful, worthy of others’ respect, forgiving, generous, honest, and so on. These noble qualities bring one peace of mind, enhance one’s ability to give, and make one more active and positive in this life.
Thus it is Allah’s words that guide us to the perfection of personality:
Should He not know what He created? And He is the Subtile, the Aware. (Al-Mulk 67:14)
The Qur’an: A Healing of Hearts
Allah Almighty says:
We reveal of the Quran that which is a healing and a mercy for believers. (Al-Israa’ 17:82)
The choice of the word healing, versus treatment, for instance, here is precise in conveying what is meant by the original equivalent in Arabic. A treatment of a disease (be it physical or spiritual) may or may not be effective, but when we describe something as healing, we mean it is effective in curing the disease in question. When one sincerely recites the Qur’an, one is in the presence of Allah the Healer of all wounds. Allah Almighty heals the believers of the distress that may afflict their hearts due to the conspiracies the unbelievers contrive against them. So did Almighty Allah with Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) when he got extremely distressed because of the conspiracies of the polytheists and Jews and their false statements about Allah the Exalted.
Among these false statements is the Jews’ saying Allah, certainly, is poor, and we are rich!(Aal `Imran 3:181). The Qur’an also relates the Jew’s saying Allah’s Hand is fettered (Al-Ma’idah 5:64) and immediately comments Be their hands fettered and be they accursed for saying so (Al-Ma’idah 5:64). The Jews and polytheists would also accuse the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) of being mad, a poet, and a sorcerer, which added to his distress (peace and blessings be upon him). But Almighty Allah would solace him by revealing to him verses such as
Naught of disaster befalleth in the earth or in yourselves but it is in a Book before We bring it into being Lo! That is easy for Allah.(Al-Hadid 57:22)
We do indeed know that thy heart is distressed at what they say. But celebrate the praises of thy Lord, and be of those who prostrate themselves in adoration. And serve thy Lord until there come unto thee the hour that is certain.(Al-Hijr 15:97–99)
Three Cures of Hearts’ Distress
These last verses of Surat Al-Hijr guide us to three cures of hearts’ distress:
The first cure is to praise Almighty Allah and glorify Him every now and then. Glorification of Almighty Allah really has to do with relieving a person’s distress and delivering him of the calamities that may afflict him. So was the case with Prophet Yunus (peace and blessings be upon him) who was swallowed by a big fish but Almighty Allah saved him from it. Allah says about this incident
And had he not been one of those who glorify (Allah), He would have tarried in its belly till the day when they are raised (As-Saffat 37:143–44)
There is indeed a strong relation between glorifying Almighty Allah and one’s feeling of comfort and relief, as well as of bodily strength. This is indicated by the following hadith: Fatimah, daughter of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) came to him and asked for a servant to help her in doing the household work. He (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “May I not direct you to what is better than the servant for you?” She answered in the affirmative. He (peace and blessings be upon him) then said, “Say ‘Subhan Allah’ (glory be to Allah) thirty-three times, ‘Al-Hamdu lillah’ (praise be to Allah) thirty-three times, and ‘Allahu Akbar’ (Allah is the Greatest) thirty-four times as you go to bed.”
When Fatimah (may Allah be pleased with her) did so, she felt strength in her body and was able to do all the household work by herself.
The second cure referred to in the above verses of Surat Al-Hijr is prostrating oneself to Almighty Allah. This prostration is reflected in submission of one’s heart and soul as well as physical submission during Prayer. When a person prostrates himself in utter submission to Almighty Allah, he forgets all about the worldly ill-feelings of hatred, envy, etc., and experiences lofty spiritual feelings. That is why the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), when feeling any distress, would call, “O Bilal! (Get up and) comfort us with it (the Prayer).”
The third cure is to stick to serving and obeying Almighty Allah in preparation for “The hour that is certain,” that is, death.
Hence, adhernce to glorifying Almighty Allah and submition to Him Most High heart and soul throughout one’s life is the way that brings one inner happiness and peace of mind and delivers one from distress and life pressures:
But none remember except men of understanding. (Al-Baqarah 2:269)
* Translated, with some modifications, from Al-Qur'an and Sahwat Ad-Dameer.
Or think ye that ye shall be abandoned, as though Allah did not know those among you who strive with might and main, and take none for friends and protectors except Allah, His Messenger, and the (community of) Believers? But Allah is well- acquainted with (all) that ye do.