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Ways a Muslim could become resilient when dealing with distress

Resilience is not just our ability to bounce back, but also our capacity to adapt in the face of challenging circumstances, whilst maintaining a stable mental wellbeing. Resilience isn’t a personality trait – it’s something that we can all take steps to achieve (Mind).

“This life is a test!”

We’ve heard it before but having this in mind helps detach an individual’s heart with this life, which can decrease stress and increase resilience. How? Knowing this life is temporary and focusing on increasing our connection with Allah (SWT) through prayer, reading Qur’an and charity work are some ways.

“If you are thankful, I will surely increase you [in favor]”
[Qur’an 14:7]

This is important in increasing resilience as it changes a Muslim’s perspective on their situation by concentrating on things they do have and gives focus on trying to find the positives.

Research has found that religion can be used as a resilience tool (Lamoshi, 2015) with the main strategy for that is through offering a spiritual sanctuary from all kinds of adversities. Kneier, Rosenbaum, & Rosenbaum (2006) stated that people with spiritual beliefs can benefit from their faiths and prayers in different ways such as having a strong sense of peace, exercising their inner strengths and capabilities to cope with challenges, and improving their psychological status and quality of life.

“Allah burdens not a person beyond his scope.“
[Qur’an 2:286]

Although we hear this often, this reminder that Allah (SWT) is always on our side, no matter what can be reassuring and that our affairs can be handled by us – this is through help from Allah or in particular, by those means and people that Allah has placed for us – sometimes we may need to find these people and opportunities ourselves and put in the effort to achieve some sense of peace and being open to it. 

According to Peres, Moreira-Almeida, Nasello, & Koenig (2007) religion can provide answers to the wisdom behind the difficult situations and past tragedy events, which can alleviate stress symptoms – giving us some hope and determination through difficult times. This does not mean that religion makes everything ‘ok’ but it can help and ease those feelings somewhat (but it doesn’t mean we wouldn’t experience those feelings of despair or hopelessness at all!)

There are numerous ayah (verses) that can help Muslims with their resilience and to remember them in their time of need as well as reading about the difficulties of the Prophets (peace be upon them) and the salaf, and how they dealt with those stressors.

“For indeed, with hardship [will be] ease [i.e., relief]”
[Qur’an 94:5]

This creates optimism as we know after a bad day there will come a good day. In fact, this verse is repeated twice so it shows that there can be twice the ease after any hardship so keep holding on, there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Hope and optimism can increase resilience, but also relaxing oneself to allow hope and optimism matters too. Every day we can be better, and we are worthy of living, saving and thriving in this dunya (this worldly life) whilst we can.

There are various ways this can be done, grounding techniques e.g. putting one’s head into sujood (prostration) is a way to be present in reality so why not pour out your frustration and tears into one? Perhaps try exploring one’s interests and hobbies and making some time to do activities that can give you joy. Although it may be hard to find some joy, it may be pushing oneself to do something or to challenge those thoughts and accepting that things are not ok.

As well as developing our relationship with our Lord, having a support system matters so try discussing what you are experiencing to your loved ones as well as sharing to those that are learned (not just Islamically but medically and psychologically) so that they can assist you in your resilience development.

How are you developing your resilience?

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