“Verily, with hardship there is ease”. This Ayah tries to get us to look at the solutions for our painful experiences. It gets us to try and see the light in a time of darkness, and find good in every hardship. This concept can greatly contribute to recovery as we are encouraged to not only remain hopeful, but to analyse and evaluate every hardship we are faced with. Perhaps to process things better and to shift focus on “how” rather than the “why”. Instead of dwelling over what has happened, which of course is healthy to do for a short amount of time, you draw up a checklist of how to get to point A to point B. Solution focused is the right phrase we are looking for.
Islam is very solution focused in general, we are encouraged to reflect on our past but to always keep in mind that our circumstances could change in the future. Constantly worrying about the past can be detrimental to our mental health. Yes, we must learn lessons from our previous encounters, but as Umar Ibn Khattab (ra) is reported to have said:
“No amount of guilt can change the past, and no amount of worrying can change the future. Go easy on yourself, for the outcome of all affairs is determined by Allah’s decree”.
One must be able to reconcile with their past to be able to move on with their life and to enable one to grow and develop as a person. If one does not accept their past mistakes and choices, it could negatively affect decisions and moods in the future. In the Quran Allah reminds us of previous nations, and the gravity of His punishment but this is outweighed by the ample reminders of what is promised for us and how to gain proximity to Him is the best way forward. The loftiness of tawbah (repentance) and dua (supplication) is a true mercy in Islam.
This is one of the goals of Solution Focused Therapy, often referred to as SFBT. As the name implies, it focuses on the solutions to patients’ issues, rather than so much on the problems themselves. This can prove extremely useful especially if one has had a traumatic past which makes it hard to concentrate on the past events themselves. Rather, SFBT aims to aid clients in setting realistic goals which will improve their lives. However, with this therapy there is an assumption that a patient will have an idea of how they want to improve their lives, therefore it may not work for everyone. This kind of therapy can work in an Islamic context as, like stated above, it is important to concentrate on the future as one always has time to change their future but nothing can change the past. We must remember that everything that happens is qadr Allah.
As we have mentioned in previous articles, one way of dealing with the past whilst looking to the future is to participate in counselling and therapy practises. Talking through our experiences whilst often can prove traumatic will help in the long run. It may open up old wounds, but it ensures you are more equipped to deal with similar situations in the future.
For a personal perspective of solution focused action, check out “10 survival tips for Mental Illness” by Shumi.
May Allah make it easy for those enduring pain and hardship, and may He allow the light of Islam to be their beam in times of darkness.