By Malika Khan

To experience negative emotions is part and parcel of being human. Emotions such as sadness or grief are not weakness nor an issue of faith as even the Prophets and their companions experienced these in various intensities and durations. In a previous blog post, we established that the Quran acknowledges the reality of depression. This article explores which chapters or surahs of the Qur’an can serve as a remedy for emotional turmoil, whether due to states of stress, anxiety, sadness or depression. 

Physical, mental, and spiritual health are intrinsically linked and therefore the Quran can serve as an effective means of healing. 

“Say, ‘It is, for those who believe, a guidance and cure.’”

(Quran 41:44)

The following chapters of the Quran are beneficial to read if one is depressed. Reciting and reflecting on their meanings can improve one’s emotional state, help to better grasp or reframe one’s situation, and assist in alleviating depression.

Read these if you are depressed 

Surah Al-Kahf

The 18th chapter of the Quran is known for its many virtues. This chapter contains parables dealing with themes of faith, wealth, knowledge, and power. Trials of this nature may contribute to the depression experienced by some. The stories herein teach how to deal with these tests in life and obstacles. Some values that these parables teach are patience, perseverance, humbleness, and gratefulness. The importance of remembering Allah is emphasized. In fact, a key component of al-Kahf, is that it emphasises that Allah’s protection, mercy, and guidance is always available.

 “[Mention] when the youths retreated to the cave and said, “Our Lord, grant us from Yourself mercy and prepare for us from our affair right guidance.”

(Quran 18:10])

When experiencing difficulty, one can and should rely on Allah for guidance as he can grant one the strength and means of grappling with the situation. This chapter of the Quran also emphasises the limitlessness of the Creator’s Power and Wisdom.

Say, “If the sea were ink for [writing] the words of my Lord, the sea would be exhausted before the words of my Lord were exhausted, even if We brought the like of it as a supplement.”

(Quran 18:109)

Reflecting on Surah Al-Kahf, as well as reciting it, can bring ease to one’s condition. A lesson one might take away is that during times of difficulty one should try to identify what one is being tested on and then troubleshoot from there. 

Surah Ar-Rahman

Chapter 55 of the Quran centres on the Creator’s Mercy and blessings. 

“The Most Merciful taught the Quran, created man, [and] taught him eloquence.”

(Quran 55:1-4)

This verse conveys that the Quran is a blessing in itself, a sign of Allah’s mercy to mankind, as one is not left wandering the world alone without direction. A 2017 study investigated the efficacy of Surah Rahman in managing depression in Muslim women experiencing major depressive disorder, finding that there was a significant decrease in depression from the group that listened to Surah Rahman compared to the control group. This supports the idea that this chapter of the Quran can be a remedy to reduce depression. 

This chapter of the Quran describes the nature of creation as well as the many blessings and favors bestowed on mankind. It contains some of the most beautiful descriptions of paradise, detailing the luxurious gardens and streams, as well as the bounties and happiness that awaits. The vivid imagery provided of the Hereafter is soothing, capable of shifting one’s mind to a more positive space. 

When depressed, it is normal to feel dejected or helpless. One may even fall prey to self-pity or negative thoughts that will further worsen one’s emotional state 

“So which of the favors of your Lord would you deny?”

(Quran 55:13)

This chapter of the Quran is a reminder to think about everything that one is blessed with. Contemplating about the blessings one has facilitates gratitude. Many studies indicate that counting one’s blessings instead of one’s losses decreases depression levels. Cultivating an attitude of gratitude, shifting the focus, can help improve one’s mental health significantly. Reading Surah Rahman can help to guide one’s thoughts and as a result can lift the crushing weight that comes with depression. 

Surah Ad-Duha

The 93rd chapter in the Quran was revealed as a consolation to the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). At the time, the revelation of the Quran had paused for so long that it caused him to feel anxiety and sorrow. Furthermore, he was ridiculed with the notion that his Lord had forsaken and was displeased with him. The resulting grief and distress was quelled with the opening verses of the chapter, which swears an oath by the light of day and the peacefulness of night in a message of resounding reassurance. 

In this life, one may be faced with situations that seem hopeless or even unfair. Feeling completely alone can allow sadness to consume one completely. This chapter provides perspective that Allah is readily there to be relied on.

“Your Lord has not taken leave of you, [O Muhammad], nor has He detested [you].”

(Quran 93:3)

Just as this chapter serves to console, it also reminds Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) of three of the major favors that Allah had granted him in life. The listed favours are then followed by the importance of showing kindness to orphans, those who seek knowledge, and the needy. The positive messages in this chapter of the Quran can provide inspiration and upliftment on a personal and societal level. Furthermore, it teaches that there are better things to come.

“And the Hereafter is better for you than the first [life].”

(Quran 93:4)

Hardships and sorrows in this life are not permanent. This verse conveys that problems experienced in this life are fleeting in the grand scheme of things. It shifts one’s mind to be hopeful towards an optimistic future beyond one’s current depression or anxieties. The purpose of Surah ad-Duha was to give Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) hope and assurance that Allah was with him, and likewise, this chapter of the Quran can grant ease to those going through similar states of depression, sadness, or helplessness. 

Surah Al-Inshirah

The 94th chapter of the Quran contains themes of hope and comfort. It was revealed around the same time as Surah Duha. Surah Inshirah urges not to give up under hardships and stress. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), at that time, was distressed. Before prophethood, he did not encounter the harsh and hurtful conditions which he suddenly faced from his own people. The verses guarantee that there will be ease after difficulties, and importance is given to directing one’s grievances to Allah. Herein, the Prophet is instructed that the ability to bear with hardships is strengthened through devotion and reliance on Allah.

“For indeed, with hardship [will be] ease. Indeed, with hardship [will be] ease.”

(Quran 94:5-6)

The repetition of the verse indicates that this is a guarantee. Tough times, emotional torment, and suffering does not last forever. For any struggle one is dealing with in life, remembering this verse can instil a sense of hope and strength. Just as the Prophet (pbuh) could be guided and relieved of his anxieties and obstacles, one is provided with hope that it is possible to combat difficulties such as depression and grief. This chapter of the Quran provides tranquillity of the heart and can remedy a burdened soul.

“And to your Lord direct [your] longing.”

(Quran 94:8)

Surah Yusuf

The 12th chapter of the Quran revolves around the history of Prophet Yusuf or Jacob (pbuh). It is another chapter of the Quran that was meant to remedy the Prophet Muhammad’s (pbuh) dejection after incidents following what is known as The Year of Sadness. Through a chronological insight into the life of Prophet Yusuf, this chapter of the Quran conveys lessons on how to approach and deal with life’s difficulties. Herein, one can see how Prophets’ Yaqub and Yusuf, peace be upon them, dealt with pain and suffering, maintaining their faith and values despite pressing circumstances. 

A key takeaway from this chapter is Prophet Yusuf’s patience and trust in Allah despite his tumultuous circumstances. He suffered ill-treatment from his own brothers who eventually abandoned him in a well. Some of his trials consisted of being sold into slavery, slandered, and imprisoned. This chapter also reveals the grief that his father, Prophet Yuqub, endured as a result of being separated from his beloved son. Despite losing his eyesight from crying, he spent tireless years in search of his son. The hopelessness of the situation did not make him give up.

“He said, ‘I only complain of my suffering and my grief to Allah, and I know from Allah that which you do not know. O my sons, go and find out about Joseph and his brother and despair not of relief from Allah. Indeed, no one despairs of relief from Allah except the disbelieving people.’”

(Quran 12:86-87)

This teaches that one should try all means to improve one’s situation, while maintaining hope that Allah will provide relief even if results are not “immediate”, as only He is the source of comfort and the ultimate ally. In fact, Prophet Yusuf himself realised this.

“And he raised his parents upon the throne, and they bowed to him in prostration. And he said, ‘O my father, this is the explanation of my vision of before. My Lord has made it reality. And He was certainly good to me when He took me out of prison and brought you [here] from bedouin life after Satan had induced [estrangement] between me and my brothers. Indeed, my Lord is Subtle in what He wills. Indeed, it is He who is the Knowing, the Wise.’”

(Quran 12:100)

Since this surah was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) to uplift him, by extension, it may serve as a source of consolation and inspiration to those who read it. 

Surah An-Nas 

This is the 114th and final chapter of the Quran. It entails the concept of external and unseen factors that can negatively influence the hearts and minds of mankind. This chapter enables one to seek refuge from evil thoughts, suspicions, and doubts. Since depression often entails self-doubt and repetitive negative thoughts, whispering from Satan can amplify these turning them into a source of despair, hopelessness, and debilitation. Reciting an-Nas often will help stop these inclinations from taking root, eliminating the possibility that one’s enduring state of sadness or hopelessness is being influenced by external or unseen factors. 

Additionally, Surah an-Nas imparts a valuable coping technique: the importance of action as well as faith. It instructs to take matters into one’s own hands by reciting. 

“Say, ‘I seek refuge in the Lord of mankind…’”

(Quran 114:1)

And what is recited is, in fact, a prayer for protection by seeking help from the Creator. 

Therefore…

Since the Quran can serve as a healing, it is a beneficial tool to equip when dealing with life’s hardships and mental health.

“O mankind, there has to come to you instruction from your Lord and healing for what is in the hearts and guidance and mercy for the believers.”

(Quran 10:57)

Although reflecting and reciting these chapters of the Quran can serve as remedies for depression, getting help from a therapist or psychologist is equally important because clinical depression varies in severity. Certain debilitating symptoms cannot be dealt with as an individual. However, striving to do the internal work as well as building a stronger spiritual connection can facilitate a healthier mindset and resilience that can overcome depression and other difficulties.

What do you think? Share your reflections below!

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Sources: 

  • Maudoodi, S., Ansari, Z. and Kidwai, A., 2010. Towards Understanding The Qurʻān. Markfield: Islamic Foundation.
  • Muslim Speakers, 2018. What Surah Should You Recite When You’re Sad? – Ask Mufti Menk. Available at: <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uJLDpm_78X0> [Accessed 23 June 2020].
  • Rafique, R., Anjum, A. and Raheem, S., 2017. Efficacy of Surah Al-Rehman in Managing Depression in Muslim Women. Journal of Religion and Health, 58(2), pp.516-526.
  • Shafīʻ, M. and ʻUs̲mānī, M., n.d. Maʻariful-Quran. Karachi: Maktaba e Darul Uloom Karachi.
  • Sunnah.com. Available at: https://sunnah.com/bukhari/1
  • The Noble Quran. Available at: https://quran.com/
  • Utz, A., 2011. Psychology From The Islamic Perspective. Riyadh: International Islamic Publishing House. 
  • Yusuff, W., Mokhtar, W., Amiruddin, E., Rashid, R., Idris, M. and Salleh, A., 2019. The Healer of all Diseases in Al-Quran: A Review. International Journal of Academic Research in Business and Social Sciences, 9(11).