Think about the most painful day of your life.
Chances are, you will say a day in which you were emotionally hurt by people. The kind of pain that may perhaps have never healed. The kind of pain that changed you forever.
Our Prophet Muhammad s.a went through so many emotional pains. He lost his father, his mother, his grandfather, he grew up an orphan. He got ridiculed, rejected and betrayed by his own people. He lost his beloved wife Khadija r.a, his uncle, Abu Talib, who had raised him. He buried so many people he loved, including five of his six children. The Prophet (sa) was asked by Aisha Ra, “Ya RasulAllah, what was the most painful day of your life?”. Expecting him to say the battle of Uhud, as that was the day in which he was most physically wounded. But he did not say Uhud. The Prophet (sa) said “The day of Taif”. In which he beared the emotional wounds that pained his heart deeply. It was the year of sadness, in which he had lost his beloved wife Khadijah ra and his dear uncle Abu Talib. In the hopes of finding those who would accept the message, he went to Taif and was met with stones and more pain. If Prophet Muhammad s.a did not have emotional intelligence, the ability to face and grow with his pain and sadness, how could he have gone through it all and come out so gracefully? How else could he have conquered the hearts of so many and united the ummah.
So many people, almost a majority of the planet, try to seek the treatment in the pleasures of this dunya, whether that be, in other people, in their careers, in money, in drugs, or antidepressant pills. But none of those will ever treat their internal pains. It will only delay the treatment for temporary relief. It’s like putting a bandaid on a gushing wound. The healing is deeper, and needs spiritual stitches. The healing lies within the mind and the heart, and in remembering Allah swt alone.
Mental health has become a topic that is stigmatized and misunderstood in our ummah today. People have confused “insane” with “mental health”, when mental health really just means the health of one’s mind, one’s thoughts, and one’s emotions. When someone has a cut, or a wound, they can see that. They know to get treatment from a doctor for it. But no one can see inside their minds. No one can see inside their internal wounds. And as a society, we have learned to not confront internal pain. We have learned to run away from it, when we should have learned to embrace it, and to grow through it. We haven’t been taught what it takes to be an emotionally intelligent person. Yet, it’s the most important skill to have as a human being.
The wounds that are unseen, the ones we can’t cover with a band aid hurt the most. Because nobody ever taught us how to heal the wounds within, how to heal our hearts. Yet, the whole world is crying with wounded hearts, begging for help. The cries of the ummah have reached our ears. But also were heard deep within our hearts. Which is how we realized the necessity of healing and guiding the hearts. The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “The parable of the believers in their affection, mercy, and compassion for each other is that of a body. When any limb aches, the whole body reacts with sleeplessness and fever.” It is way past the time to heal the wounds within the hearts of the Ummah through Islamic holistic healing of the heart and the mind. It is time to nourish and heal the hearts of the ummah.
SubḥānAllāh these āyāt are so powerful and profound. In these beautiful āyāt Allāh ﷻ comforts and reassures His beloved Prophet ﷺ and *each of us* by saying,
فَإِنَّ مَعَ ٱلْعُسْرِ يُسْرًا
So, undoubtedly, along with the hardship there is ease
إِنَّ مَعَ ٱلْعُسْرِ يُسْرًا
Undoubtedly, along with the hardship there is ease
Grammatically, when the Arabic definite article al is prefixed to an Arabic noun and is repeated with the same definite article al, they refer to the same antecedent. The word al 'usr 'the hardship' in āyah 6 is the repetition of al 'usr 'the hardship' occurring in the 5th āyah. It does not refer to a new hardship rather the same hardship mentioned previously. In contrast to this, the word yusr 'ease' in both āyāt occur without the definite article. This indicates that the second yusr 'ease' in the 6th āyah is a different antecedent to the yusr 'ease' occurring in 5th āyah. Therefore, there is only one 'hardship' and two 'eases'. 'Two eases' does not only mean twice as much; it means 'manifold ease'. The āyah signifies that only one kind of hardship will face us, however following that one hardship many kinds of ease are assured. The word ma’a combines two things together in closeness either simultaneously or one after the other they are always together. Hardships are never absolute, for ease always accompanies them. This is strongly emphasized by a literal repetition of the statement: “Undoubtedly, along with hardship there is ease/there will be ease after it.” So, with every difficulty we face in life there will be ease and this ease is far greater than the difficulty. Focus on that ease, look for the good, and be patient with the difficulty. Another meaning that scholars have mentioned, is that the period of hardship that you are passing through is not too long; following close behind it is also a period of ease. Reflect on the fact that, the times of ease are more frequent than the times of difficulty. How often does one fall sick, in comparison to the time they are healthy? Our problem is that when we are tested we tend to put all our focus on the difficulty or the calamity and forget all the other blessings that we are still being showered with and all the blessings we have enjoyed in the past. The repetition also reassures us that difficult times will not last forever and inshā’Allāh soon they will be replaced with times of ease.
Another beautiful reflection is that Allāh ﷻ in these āyāt acknowledges and validates your feelings… that yes at this moment there is difficulty. This is HARD… but there is also ease in your life and more ease will come soon. The lesson for us is that when we are tested we should be patient and acknowledge that if Allāh has tested me with this there must be some good and wisdom behind it. That this test is an opportunity for me to attain closeness to Allāh, gain a great reward and elevate my status.
Dearest friends, next time you are feeling overwhelmed use your breath to help soothe yourself.
Practicing breathing exercises can help you relax when you are feeling overwhelmed, because they make your body feel like it does when you are already relaxed. Deep breathing is a great and easy way to lower stress in the body. This is because when you breathe deeply, your brain receives messages to calm down and relax. Deep breathing allows an array of physiological and psychological processes to take place in our body.
There is a wide range of evidence compiled in scientific reviews that supports the notion that deep-breathing techniques can be beneficial in enhancing physical and psychological wellbeing. Research has shown the effectiveness of deep-breathing exercises for improving psychological and physiological stress (Hopper, Murray, Ferrara, and Singleton, 2019). Deep breathing can reduce anxiety and depressive symptoms in people experiencing those conditions (Jerath, Crawford, Barnes, and Harden, 2015).
You may be wondering how can this seemingly simple exercise do all of this?
Practicing breathing exercises regulates our nervous system. Deep breathing with a slow rhythm can increase our relaxation responses by activating the parasympathetic nervous system and decrease stress responses by inhibiting the sympathetic nervous system (Saoji, 2019). Practicing breathing exercises also promotes emotional wellbeing. Studies on slow-breathing techniques suggest that they help foster positive emotions and behaviors, facilitating emotional regulation and overall wellbeing (Zaccaro, 2018).
The square breathing exercise uses the deep breathing pattern with internal and external breath retention. It consists of imagining each breath cycle as a square, using a 1:1:1:1 ratio for inhaling, holding in, exhaling, and holding out.