Cognitive Therapy of Depression from The Holy Quran

Introduction

The following is an excerpt from my book ‘Cognitive Therapy of Depression in the Holy Quran’ , written around 20 years ago in 2001 (unfortunately could not be published)

With some modifications and additions

Contents

Preface

What is Depression?

Causes of Depression

Treatment Options

Cognitive Therapy

You Will be Superior

The Qur’an as a Source of Healing

In the Remembrance of Allah, Hearts find Comfort

Allah’s Principles of Testing; Life is a Test

Allah is so Close to us; Trust Him

Despair NOT of the Mercy of Allah

Life of the Hereafter is Better and Long – Lasting

Will of Allah is Supreme

Seek Help with Patience and Prayer

Obey Allah and His Prophet PBUH to become among the Elite

Leave Your Affairs to Allah

Only Allah, the All-Knowing knows what is best for us!

Characteristics of Successful People

No Helper, Protector or Rescuer Besides Allah Almighty

The Ultimate Happiness

Be thankful for what you have!

Always Remember Allah for Success, Peace & Tranquility

Do Not be Sad; Turn to Him

The Feeling in Heaven

Summary/ Epilogue

PREFACE

Depression is a reality!

Millions of people suffer from some type of depression every year. Some of them are relieved, some of them develop a chronic depressive syndrome & some of these people go on to commit suicide.

In fact the suicidal rate is increasing year by year throughout the world. Even in the Muslim countries where this phenomenon was very rare, a few decades back, the suicidal rate is increasing alarmingly.

I believe that this is due to Muslims distancing themselves from the Holy Quran and its teachings. Most of them read the Holy Quran without understanding its message.  They just read it for attaining spiritual reward.

We Muslims believe that the Holy Quran is a cure “of all that which is in our hearts.” We believe that it is the last message sent down from Allah the almighty.

I believe that if we read this Holy book with its meaning regularly throughout the year, we will suffer less from various psychological disorders such as sickness, anxiety, depression and would certainly prevent us from committing suicide.

In this blog, a brief description of depression & its signs, symptoms, causes etc. is given at the start. This blog is recommended for all those who are suffering from the hard realities of this life and who seek solace & comfort. But I would really recommend all of my readers to read the Holy Qur’an as a whole with its meaning regularly throughout their life.

WHAT IS DEPRESSION?

Depression is one of the most prevalent medical disorders.

Definition

Depression is a state of depressed mood & activity with patients presenting with complaints of demoralization, sadness, fatigue, sleep disturbance, weight loss, feelings of guilt, difficulty in concentrating, multiple somatic complaints, & suicidal thoughts & behaviors.

Symptoms of Depression

This is characterized by

1. Change in Mood

The individual may be either sad, unhappy or anhedonic i.e., showing markedly diminished interest or pleasure in almost all activities.

2. Change in activity & appetite

This may include insomnia or hypersomnia, psychomotor agitation or retardation, fatigue or diminished energy and decrease or increase in appetite.

3. Change in Thinking

This includes a diminished ability to think as concentrate, indecisiveness, recurrent thoughts of death as suicide, and feelings of guilt.

Causes of Depression

CAUSES OF DEPRESSION

  1. Most Common cause: Loss of a Loved One

Mother, Father

Spouse

Child

Relative (Close)

Friend (Close)

Other Causes

  1. Loss of Property & Wealth
  2. Unemployment or Loss of Job
  3. Prolonged or Chronic Sickness of self or close person
  4. Domestic conflicts of with spouse, children, relatives, or friends
  5. Divorced, unhappy marriage, Domestic violence
  6. Prolonged absence from home (living abroad)
  7. Failure in achieving a minor, major goal exam, promotion, love, personal sports achievement.
  8. Childlessness
  9. Victim of Fraud, rape, assault, (victim of injustice, court)
  10. Victim of ridicule, for by friends, relatives due to any cause
  11. Relatively inferior status/severe inferiority complex; facing continuous ridicule for it
  12. Idiopathic, nonspecific, unknown multifactorial

Biochemical Factors

Some differences in the levels of certain biochemicals in the brain, such as serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine have been noted; thus supporting the amine theory of depression. The decrease in levels of these amines is caused by above factors that precipitate depression. It is therefore proposed that levels of these amines should be kept at high levels most or at all times, especially in people with depression.

Treatment Options

Treatment options include:

  1. Drug treatment

2. Psychotherapy or

Combination of drug therapy and psychotherapy

1. Pharmacotherapy

There are several groups of drags available for treating depression. This depends on the patient’s general medical condition. These drugs have to be taken for long periods for recovery and they also have their side effects. 50-70% patients recover but relapse rate, especially after triggers enhancing depression, is high. Severe patients may require Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT)

2. Psychosocial Therapies

Studies have indicated that the combination of psychotherapy & antidepressant medication is more effective than either used alone.

Many psychotherapeutic approaches have been utilized, but therapies focused on the depressed patient’s interpersonal functioning & cognitive distortions appear to be the most productive.

This will be discussed in detail later on and is the main theme of therapy upon which this blog is based. Family and spouse involvement shout not be neglected in treatment planning. This may include education about the illness, emotional support and considerable of interpersonal issues.

All mood disorders carry a risk of suicide. All doctors who deal with these patients must be familiar with assessment of suicidal risk, so that appropriate steps can be taken when needed to ensure the patient’s safety.

Voluntary or involuntary hospitalized may be required. Electroconvulsive therapy is more commonly done on indoor patients.

COGNITIVE THERAPY

This theory associates depression with faulty cognitive frame works. Individuals may learn to interpret the environment in a way that creates unhappiness. Depression results from demoralizing ideas about self, the world & the future.

This is the golden age of cognitive therapy. Its popularity among the society and the professional community is growing by leaps & bounds. Cognitive behavioral therapy assumes that changing maladaptive thinking leads to change in behavior and affect.

Studies have shown that cognitive therapy works at least as well as antidepressants in helping people with mild to moderate depression. According to cognitive therapists, depression is maintained by constant negative thoughts. With cognitive therapy, a person learns to recognize and correct negative automatic thoughts. They are replaced by constant positive thoughts.

The Holy Quran As Cognitive Therapy

The Holy Quran provides comfort and soothing to its readers. This is evident from various verses in numerous chapters of the Holy Quran.

They provide a continuous source of spiritual healing and cure.

Cognitive therapy is given on a continuum and often verses are repeated throughout the Holy Book for assurance and satisfaction of the reader.

We shall go through through many of these verses with the main cognitive theme behind the verses in this book!

The Holy Quran as a Source of Healing

Cure for those who believe (41: 44)

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Healing and Mercy for those who believe (17 : 82)

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You Will be Superior

“So do not weaken and do not grieve, and you will be superior if you are [true] believers.” (Holy Quran 3: 139)

One should have strong belief that no matter what happens, maybe the worst happens, but ONE WILL BE SUPERIOR, ULTIMATELY ONE WILL BE VICTORIOUS if one is a TRUE BELIEVER. So one should NOT lose heart, fall into despair or feel depressed. In the end, eventually YOU WILL BE THE WINNER, and that is all what counts; WHAT MORE REASSURANCE DOES ONE NEED IN SUCH TIMES OF SEEMINGLY EXTREME DESPAIR!

In the Remembrance of Allah, Hearts find Comfort

“Those who believe, and whose hearts find satisfaction in the remembrance of Allah: for without doubt in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find satisfaction.”

(Holy Quran 13: 28)

The above mentioned Ayah Kareema clearly indicates that all the modes of devotion towards the Exalted One are great means of achieving peace and tranquility of mind and soul. It also shows that the assurance of heart is actually the eternal feeling of happiness which keeps the rightful disciples of Islam clam and steady throughout their lives.

“O mankind! there hath come to you a direction from your Lord and a healing for the (diseases) in your hearts and for those who believe a Guidance and a Mercy. Say: “In the Bounty of Allah and in His Mercy in that let them rejoice”: that is better than the (wealth) they hoard”  (Holy Quran 10:57-58)

Allah has sent down the Quran which should direct our lives, and provide a healing for our spiritual diseases. If we accept the true faith, we will be rightly guided and will receive Allah’s Forgiveness & Mercy.

We should therefore, rejoice and be happy that we have been bestowed His Mercy and His guidance. Surely these are for better gifts than material advantages, wealth or possessions.

“We send down (stage by stage) in the Quran that which is a healing and a mercy to those who believe: to the unjust it causes nothing but loss after loss.”

(Holy Quran 17:82)

In Allah’s revelation there is healing for our broken spirits, hope for our spiritual future, and joy in the forgiveness of our sins. All who work in faith will share there privileges. It is only the rebels against God’s law who will suffer loss.

The Holy Quran is a healing & guidance for only those who believe. Those who truly believe in Allah and the hereafter; those who truly believe that they will return to Him one day.

Allah’s Principles of Testing; Life is a Test

“Be sure We shall test you with something of fear and hunger some loss in goods or lives or the fruits (of your toil) but give glad tidings to those who patiently persevere. (Holy Quran 2:155)

“Ye shall certainly be tried and tested in your possessions and in your personal selves; and ye shall certainly hear much that will grieve you from those who received the Book before you and from those who worship many gods.  But if ye persevere patiently and guard against evil then that will be a determining factor in all affairs.” (3:186)

Not only wealth & possessions are the means of our trial. All our personal talents, knowledge, opportunities and their opposites, in fact every thing that happens to us and makes our personality is a means of our testing.

All people are tested 

“If a wound hath touched you be sure a similar wound hath touched the others.  Such days (of varying fortunes) We give to men and men by turns: that Allah may know those that believe and that He may take to Himself from your ranks martyr-witnesses (to Truth).  And Allah loveth not those that do wrong. (Holy Quran 3:140)

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  1. In a fight for the truth, we are assured that the adversary has also suffered, but he has no faith to sustain him & we do.
  2. Success or failure in this world comes to all at varying times; we must not grumble, as we do not see the whole of God’s plan.

No Free Entry to Heaven

Did ye think that ye would enter heaven without Allah testing those of you who fought hard (in His cause) and remained steadfast? (3 : 142)

‘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 apostle and the (community of) believers?  But Allah is well-acquainted with (all) that ye do.’ (9:16)

We most all be tested & tried, but God knows our inner most hearts, and He will support those who live in our way, out of sincere love for Him, His apostle and the body of the true men of faith.

“Did ye then think that We had created you in jest and that ye would not be brought back to Us (for account)?” (23:115)

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God creation is not without a high serious purpose. It is not vain, or for mere play or sport. As for as man is concerned, the highest issues for him having on his behavior.

Do men think that they will be left alone on saying “We believe” and that they will not be tested? (29:2,3)

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Mere lip profession of faith is not enough; it must be tried and tested in the real turmoil of life.

The test will be applied in all kinds of circumstances, in individual life and in relation to the environment around to see whether we can strive constantly and put God above self.

“It is He who hath made you (His) agents inheritors of the earth: He hath raised you in ranks some above others: that he may try you in the gifts He hath given you: for thy Lord is quick in punishment: yet He is indeed Oft-Forgiving Most Merciful.” (6:165)

“That which is on earth We have made but as a glittering show for the earth in order that We may test them as to which of them are best in conduct.” (18:7)

This worlds good, world by power, glory, wealth, position and all that men suanble for, are but a fleeing show.

The possessions or want of them does not betoken a man’s real value or position in the spiritual world, the would which is to endore.

They test a men’s serling quality,

He, who becomes their shave loses rark in the spiritual world.

He who uses them if he gess then, and does not full into despair if he does not get them show his true mettle and quality.

Trials may help someone return to Allah 

Every soul shall have a taste of death: and We test you by evil and by good by way of trial: to Us must ye return. (21:35)

( 7 : 168)


In our life of probation or this earth, our virtue & faith are tested by many things; some are tested by calamitics, and since by the good things of this life.

If are prove our true mentle, we pass through probation with success. In any case we all must return to God, and then will our life be appraised at its true value.

Tested to know who Strives in His Cause

And We shall try you until We test those among you who strive their utmost and persevere in patience; and We shall try your reported (mettle).  (47:31)

The things reported of you; reptature for courage & coustaury which has to be brought to the test of facts & experience. So in life people may think is courageous, true, noble and self sacrificing I and we may consider ourselves possessing all such virtues; but it is actual experience that will bring them to the test.

No Soul shall be Tested more than he can bear!

“On no soul doth Allah place a burden greater than it can bear.  It gets every good that it earns and it suffers every ill that it earns. (Pray): “Our Lord! condemn us not if we forget or fall into error; our Lord! Lay not on us a burden like that which Thou didst lay on those before us; Our Lord! lay not on us a burden greater than we have strength to bear.  Blot out our sins and grant us forgiveness.  Have mercy on us.  Thou art our Protector; help us against those who stand against faith.”   (2:286)

Allah wants to purify you (5 : 6)

Possessions, Children are a test for us! (8 : 28)

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People may be a trial for us (25 : 20)

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The adornments of this world are a test! (18 : 7)

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Be at Peace with yourselves and with others! (25 : 63)

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Allah is so Close to us; Trust Him

He is very near to us; He hears us! (2 : 186)

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He is Closer to us than our jugular veins (50 : 16)

Call on Him, He will answer you ! (40 : 60)

He is with us wherever we are (57 : 4)

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Allah hears our prayers 14 : 30

He responds to our prayers (11 : 61)

He is Sufficient for us (3 : 171)

He is our Helper, our Protector (45 : 4)

He is sufficient as a Friend and as a Helper! (4 : 45)

He is the Best of Providers (62 : 11)

He loves the believers!

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He is Protector for those who believe (2 : 257)

We should put our trust in Him (33 : 3)

Allah loves those who put their trust in Him (3 : 159)

Only He can remove any affliction (6 : 17)

He wants to lighten your difficulties (4 : 28)

He grants Abundance (2 : 245)

Allah Almighty is with us. He will guide us through (26 : 62)

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Thus we should NOT be sad  (9 : 40)

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He is with Us; Do not worry! (20 : 46)

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He is the Most Merciful! (21 : 83)

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We should trust Allah! (8 : 2)

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And thus we should NOT forget Allah! (59 : 19)

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Despair NOT of the Mercy of Allah

Despair not of Relief from Allah (12 : 87)

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Life of the Hereafter is better and Long lasting

That which is with Allah is Much Better (42 : 36)

We should prefer the Hereafter (3 : 152)

Life of Hereafter is far far better and Non-ending bliss! (86 : 16-17)

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Indeed Hereafter is Better for You ! (93 : 4)

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THE Life after will be much better than this life (93 : 4)

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This world is just alluring; but the Believers will be above the losers in the Hereafter (2 : 212)

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Life of this world is nothing but amusement and play; Life of the Hereafter is far better and ever-lasting! (6:32 and 29: 64

Enjoyment of this life is a deception (3 : 185)

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Life of this world may deceive us! (7 : 51)

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We should NOT be satisfied with this life (alone) (9 : 38)

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No one will be wronged in this hereafter! (36:54)

Running /Competing for worldly goods ultimately leads us to our graves! (101 : 1-2)

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The One Promised Heavenly Bliss is NO match to one going to hell

We should seek the pleasure of Allah (2 : 207)

Will of Allah is Supreme

One Cannot will Except what Allah wills (81 : 29)

Seek Help with Patience and Prayer

Be patient (74 : 7)

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Endure with beautiful patience! (70 : 5)

Be patient! The promise of Allah is Truth! (30 : 60)

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The patient will be doubly rewarded!

We should pray to Allah to grant us patience ! (7 : 126)

Allah has Promised us ease after difficulty ! (94 : 5-6)

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Whoever is fearful of Allah, he will remove His difficulty (65 : 4)

Obey Allah and His Prophet PBUH to become among the Elite

Those who obey Allah and His Prophet will become among the Elite! (4 : 69)

Those who Strive in His Path, He will guide them (29: 69)

Leave Your Affairs to Allah

We ask You for help (1 : 5)

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Pray for one to be among the righteous and much more! (26 : 83-85)

Seek help through Patience and Prayer! (2: 45)

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Ease our Tasks (20 : 26)

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Pray for His Mercy and Help ! (18 : 10)

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He may give us good in this life! (39: 10)

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He may provide us from where we do NEVER expected; He is Sufficient for us. Trust Him! (65 : 2-3)

He may give us something better than what we have lost!

Be patient; help from Him is near! (61 : 13)

Help of Allah is near! (2 : 214)

Try your best and leave rest to Allah Almighty

Leave your affairs to Allah! (40 : 44)

We Complain of our Suffering to Him, seeking His help (12 : 86)

No one can defeat you if He assists you! (3 : 160)

Have hope, courage; We expect from Allah what disbelievers do NOT (4 : 104)

He will give us more than our expectation, if we are grateful (4 : 7)

He Gives us Provisions (42 : 26)

He has already given us so much; we cannot count His blessings! (14: 34)

If you love Allah, then follow me (3 : 31)

Have faith and trust in Allah (3 : 160)

In you we trust and turn to in repentance! (60 : 4)

He is sufficient for us ! (39 : 36)

Trust Allah, Remain Steadfast and You Will Not Grieve (41 : 30)

Surely the ones who have said, “Our Lord is Allah, ” thereafter they have gone straight, upon them the Angels keep coming down (saying), “Do not fear (anything), nor do you grieve, and have good tidings of the Garden that you are promised.

He is Your Friend! (41 : 31)

We are your constant patrons in the present life and in the Hereafter; and therein you will have whatever yourselves crave for, and therein you will have whatever you claim.

No Better Friend or Helper Besides Him 42 : 31

Only Allah, the All-Knowing knows what is best for us!

We may dislike a thing which may be good for us (4 : 19)

He Bestows His favours upon whom He wills! (62 : 4)

“Such is Allah’s favour: He bestows it on whomsoever He pleases. Allah is the Lord of abounding favour.”

Characteristics of Successful People

Best are those who are most pious (49 : 13)

Successful are those who ……(103 : 1-3)

Allah loves those who are steadfast/patient (3 : 146)

Be thankful to Him, He will give you more! (14 : 7)

Do good; He will give you more! (42 : 23)

No Helper, Protector or Rescuer Besides Allah

He is our Protector in this world and the Hereafter

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The Ultimate Happiness

Allah Almighty will give good-doers their full reward!

Believers and Good-doers will be rewarded!

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Fearing servants of Allah Almighty will earn Paradise !

Ultimately, Party of Allah will be successful!

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And for their recompense shall be Paradise and silk garments!

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Be thankful for what you have!

Be thankful to Him for all you have, at all times; Perhaps others maybe in an even worse condition than you! (1 : 2)

Praise be to Allah who has preferred us over many! (27 : 15)

He provides us without measure! (24 : 38)

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Because our living, prayers/worship and death are for Allah alone! (6: 162)

Always Remember Allah for Success, Peace & Tranquility

Remember Allah Almighty for achieving spiritual tranquility (13: 28)

Rememer Allah much, so that you maybe successful! (62 : 10)

Remember Allah with much remembrance! (33 : 41)

Remember Him. He will remember you! (2 : 152)

Whoever turns away from my Remembrance will be depressed! (20 : 124)

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Satan threatens you with Poverty! (2 : 268)

Do NOT be sad

To Allah we belong and to Him we shall return! (2 : 156)

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Only Allah the All-Knowing knows what is best for you! (2 : 210)

Allah Almighty is the Best of Planners! (8 : 30)

He wants to lighten your difficulties! (4 : 28)

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Allah gives good news to the believers (17 : 9)

Those who believe and do good are the best! (98 : 7)

Those who have believed and do righteous deeds will receive affection! (19: 96)

He forgives us with sincere repentance! (2 : 159)

He will forgive EVERYTHING for He is Merciful! (4 : 110)

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Turn to Allah to attain bliss! (24 : 31)

Allah will give double reward for patience and perseverance! (28 : 54)

Which of His favors will we deny? (55 : 13 and many other verses of this chapter)

He will remove every difficulty if we are fearful and obedient to Him (65 : 2)

If you obey Allah and His Prophet (pbuh) you will attain mercy! (3 : 132)

Whoever will follow His guidance will NOT go astray and NOT be sad (20 : 123)

Whoever does good will bear its fruit! (99: 7-8)

Whoever submits wholy to His Lord shall NOT fear NOR grieve! (2 : 112)

Allah will NOT punish you if you are thankful and Believe in Him (4 : 47)

Praise be to Allah who has removed all sorrow (35 : 34)

Destiny is in Allah’s Hands

Do not be sad for destiny is in Allah’s hands:

The Feeling in Heaven

The Ultimate Bliss: (69 : 19)

Your Effort Has been Appreciated (76 : 22)

[And it will be said], “Indeed, this is for you a reward, and your effort has been appreciated.”

The Ecstasty (80; 38 – 39)

[Some] faces, that Day, will be bright – Laughing, rejoicing at good news.

For the Righteous will be scenes they never imagined! (8 : 31)

The numerous rewards in Heaven (36 : 55-58)

Summary/Epilogue

Depression is a reality!

According to a large survey by a Non – Muslim psychologist of a German University

  1. Incidence greater in Non – Atheists

2. Incidence less in Muslims than in Christians, Jews and other religions

3. Incidence of suicide lowest in Muslims

And I am pretty sure he would have also found out that the incidence of depression is lowest in practicing Muslims and those who have the strongest faith in Allah

The best treatment of depression is the Quran

Dr Zakir Naik’s father, who was a psychiatrist, said

Let Allah talk to you

ہو الشافی

If one is trying to please someone else, instead of seeking pleasure of Allah;

If one is money centered, fame – centered and the like, i.e. worldly – centered; failures in these may lead to depression

Be Allah – centered, focused on success in the Hereafter, through the Holy Quran

Then one will never be depressed

After all, has one ever seen a Muslim clergy, a maulana , a maulvi of having suffered from depression?

This and much more in a small but comprehensive scientific discussion by Dr Zakir Naik

Hopefully this type of psychotherapy will be useful in not only treating but also preventing depression in sha Allah

May Allah Almighty Help us in Seeking Comfort and Satisfaction the way He has promised ! Ameen

And Allah knows best!

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