Between Anxiety and Allah (SWT)

Most of us have a routine. We wake up at a certain time, brush our teeth, go to the same job, eat the same foods, and so on. But life is full of uncertainties. Life itself is uncertain. And every now and then the false sense of certainty that our routine gives us is pulled back and we experience the uncertain reality of life.

This uncertainty of life has been a defining factor of my life lately. Since I have moved from my home, and as my husband and I seek the means to build a new life, we have been in constant state of flux. Our life together has been a series of packing, unpacking, repacking, moving, unpacking, and doing it all again.

Tethering to Allah

This may all sound like a great adventure to some who feel stuck in a rut or those who just like to be on the move. But for me, someone who has suffered from pretty serious anxiety from an early age, uncertainty is like poison. Stability and routine is a coping mechanism that many people with anxiety cling to.

And when the illusions of stability and certainty are pulled back from my life, it causes an extreme reaction. My brain goes into overdrive sending signals that I am in constant, life threatening danger. It is a feeling and a state of distress that only those who have experienced it can really understand. It is a feeling of terror that you are floating away into space not knowing if you can make your way back to solid ground.

However, for the past fifteen years since converting to Islam, I have made Islam my solid ground. No matter where I am, I pray at certain times. No matter who surrounds me, I know that I have brothers and sisters in faith who know my heart. No matter what upheaval is happening, I know that in Islam I have certainty and stability. To feel like I can and will make my way back to solid ground, I have tethered myself to my belief in Allah (SWT).

guideThis is a part of the gift of Islam that Allah (SWT) gave to humanity because even for people who do not suffer from mental health issues these certainties provide comfort. But for those of us with anxiety, or depression, or bipolar disorder, or borderline personality disorder this stability is so much more meaningful.

Allah’s Perfect Plan

But lately, even these stable touch points have not been enough to counter the intense anxiety that has swelled inside my mind. Everything in my world is in upheaval. Nothing is certain, nothing can be planned, and even the simplest plans change a hundred times.

It came to a point where I felt as if I could not take much more. I ask Allah (SWT) in desperation to show me what I needed to learn, how I needed to change. I needed to know what Allah was guiding me to or away from so that I could just feel better, stable.

After asking Allah to guide me, all I could think of was His plan. The reality is not that life is uncertain. The reality is that we just don’t know what is certain. With Allah is certainty.

The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said:

“Allah wrote down the decrees of creation fifty thousand years before He created the heavens and the earth.” (Sahih Muslim)

And Allah Almighty asks us to trust His plan. He tells us in the Quran:

{[…] and put your trust in Allah if you are believers indeed} (Quran 5: 23)

I realized that I could not and cannot know what harm Allah (SWT) may be keeping from me. I cannot know, at this point, what Allah may be directing me toward. All I know is the bitterness of the prevention and/or guidance and I have to put my trust in Allah if I strive to be a mu’min (a believer).

After asking Allah to guide me, I could only think that it might hurt now, but Allah’s plan is perfect and if I trust in Him as He has asked, it will be more than OK.

The Prophet said:

“I am amazed by the believer. Verily, Allah does not decree anything for the believer except what is good for him.” (Muslim)

Allah’s Perfect Knowledge

After asking Allah (SWT) to guide me, I could only think that Allah knows it hurts, but sometimes the medicine is bitter. But He also knows that and is with me as I struggle. He is with me in times when I feel like a puddle of pain, panic, and tears; and He has a perfect plan for what is on the other side of this instability, this upheaval. He is the ultimate knower, Al-`Alim (the All-Knowing).

{And He is the All-Knowing, the All-Powerful.} (Quran 30:54)

As I focused on Allah’s perfect plan and knowledge, and returned to these thoughts day after day, they started to become a few more tethers to solid ground. Truly knowing and internalizing, as I move forward, that no matter where I am, what I am going through, Allah is with me in His knowledge and has a perfect plan has become a great comfort to me.

While I fully recognize and advocate seeking medical means to good health including good mental health– It takes medical attention, physical activity, and spiritual awareness– having faith in Allah’s plan and knowledge are a few more touch points of stability that I and anyone can use to cope with anxiety and other forms of mental health issues.

About Theresa Corbin
Theresa Corbin is the author of The Islamic, Adult Coloring Book and co-author of The New Muslim’s Field Guide. Corbin is a French-creole American and Muslimah who converted in 2001. She holds a BA in English Lit and is a writer, editor, and graphic artist who focuses on themes of conversion to Islam, Islamophobia, women's issues, and bridging gaps between peoples of different faiths and cultures. She is a regular contributor for and Al Jumuah magazine. Her work has also been featured on CNN and Washington Post, among other publications. Visit her blog, islamwich, where she discusses the intersection of culture and religion.