Yup….. I had to say it. I am a practicing muslim. I have memorized 20 juz of the Quran. I am a full time Arabic and Islamic studies student at Imam Saud University. I sit with world famous scholars in Saudi Arabia. I know the Arabic language. Oh, and let me add that I have Anxiety disorder.
I have a confession to make that may shock people. The Quran has been a major source of stress for me.
Now I never thought I would ever say that openly. This statement may surprise many people, especially shiukh. Those shiukh who are black and white, and simply say, “You’re depressed because your iman is so low and you are far away from Allah. You sin day and night and don’t care about coming closer to Allah.” Maybe I should respond back to them by saying, “People like you who are always criticizing and harsh are part of the reason why you’re pushing us away from Allah.”
The question is, how though? How can the Quran be a source of stress?
Well, it’s quite complicated. Very complicated. Because shaitan is a very complicated force. A few caveats here, is that
#1. The Quran was never designed to make us stressed out. How could the words of Allah cause somebody to become stressed out and feel worse?
طه ما أنزلنا عليك القرآن لتشقى
Ta Ha. We did not send the Quran upon you to make you feel stressed out. 20:1-2
2. I am writing this post to raise awareness, especially to those shiukh, whose sole solution to stress and depression is to “go back to Allah. read the Quran, ponder of the book of Allah.” I’m not denying that these are valid solutions, but I’m saying that it’s not quite so simple. More details and understanding needs to take place. More understanding of the core issues is needed. More ideas and directions for what it means to go back to Allah is necessary. Because for me, one of the biggest stresses is when I try to approach the Quran. You could say in a way that I’ve developed a Quranophobia.
3. Whereas I have been majorly stressed out by the Quran. I too have had such amazing moments of bliss and comfort and connection with the Quran both in and out of the salah. This dichotomy may seem quite strange. And it is strange, even to me. The conflicting experiences further makes me worried and stressed.
So how then could it possibly stress someone out?
1. First comes the person. A person who has a low self esteem and self image. Who doesn’t have a strong identity. They are unsure about themselves and who they are. The person probably has issues with feeling accepted.
2. This person has anxiety and stress issues, and the vicious symptoms to go along with it. Depersonalization, Black and White thinking. Subdued rationality. Heightened fear emotions. Emotional Roller Coasters.
3. They don’t have a very strong love relationship with Allah. The relationship is more just not getting put in hellfire. They know they will be judged by Him, and He is the greatest. And nothing can escape his seeing and hearing. And every single action will be accounted for on that day. And they know that Allah’s punishment is extremely severe and torturous.
4. They heard stories of the salaf (early generations) about how meticulous and cautious they were about avoiding sins. They heard the narrations of how most sahabah would consider themselves hypocrites. So believing your’e a hypocrite is a righteous and noble mindset to adopt.
5. They are in touch with a lot of good nonmuslim people who they may have worked with, or are even friends with.
6. Shaitan who knows this person better than himself, and his weaknesses, gets him slowly slowly but surely.
Now let’s go to the 1st major surah of the Quran after fatiha. Surah Baqara.
About the kuffar: (disbelievers)
ختم الله على قلوبهم و على سمعهم و على أبصارهم غشاوة ولهم عذاب عظيم
Allah has set a seal upon their hearts and upon their hearing, and over their vision is a veil. And for them is a great punishment. 2:7
“Oh great Allah sealed up their hearts. and their hearing, as well as their sights. What if I’m a kaafir at heart? I feel like I fall into kufr all the time, so Allah will now seal up my heart and prepare a great punishment for me. “
About the hypocrites:
في قلوبهم مرض فزاد هم الله مرضا
In their hearts is disease, so Allah has increased their disease; and for them is a painful punishment because they [habitually] used to lie. 2:10
“There is a disease in their hearts. So Allah increased their disease. I have diseases in my heart, so Allah will increase the disease? Man that is so depressing, because I just wanted a pure heart. And if I’m a righteous person, then I have to believe and feel that I may be from this group of the hypocrites.”
يحسبون كل صيحة عليهم هم العدو فاحذرهم قاتلهم الله أنا يؤفكون
They think that every shout is against them. They are the enemy, so beware of them. May Allah destroy them; how are they deluded? 63:4
“Oh great. that’s exactly like me. When I’m anxious, I always feel that all eyes are on me and everybody wants to blame me. I must be from the hypocrites. And they are punished in the lowest pits of hellfire forever.”
إن المنافقين في درك الأسفل من النار
Indeed, the hypocrites are in the lowest pits of the fire.
So what is the conclusion then with this type of interaction with the Quran? You get the feeling that Allah is criticizing and condemning you, and making you lose hope, and making you feel that you’re a true loser who will be punished forever in hellfire.
Does this type of outlook make someone (especially with anxiety and self esteem issues) feel motivated to come closer to Allah? Does it increase the love of Allah? Does it make them feel like reading the Quran more and more? Like this, the Quran becomes a major stress for them. Like this, Shaitan has confused them about who Allah is. Like this, Shaitan has caused them to despair from the Rahmah of Allah. And like this Shaitan has caused them to doubt and deny the greatest name of Allah, Al-Rahman
Like this, does Shaitan destroy our iman and our relationship with Allah.
May Allah save us from this trap and help us fully realize his immense care and love for us, and bring us closer to Him, and make the Quran the light of our chests, and the banisher of our anxieties and stresses as a prophetic dua mentions.
I ask you to share this post in particular with as many people as you can. Let’s make a change in the way that our speakers remind the people!