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1 Dec 2022

Finding Moments of Joy in Dark Times

Finding Moments of Joy in Dark Times

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Dr Musharraf Hussain is an Islamic scholar, CEO of Karimia Institute, and senior trustee of Muslim Hands. Formerly he was the chairman of the Christian Muslim forum (2008-2010), vice chair of the Association of Muslim Schools (2000-2003). He trained and worked as a research scientist before becoming a fulltime Imam and teacher. He has authored over 30 books.

Finding Moments of Joy in Dark Times

In our day and age, we struggle to find the slightest glimmer of joy.

If you are a regular news watcher like me then you will know that our homes, family, workplace, and society have become sources of anxiety.

The moral panic news culture fuels it. So, how do we cope with this gloomy situation?

I have seven suggestions for you. Hopefully, there will be at least one that you like.Mental well-being and sanity require an optimistic view of life and humanity. Even a small moment of joy will enhance well-being and reduce the risks of chronic illnesses.

The constant barrage of depressing news from news channels; the cost-of-living crisis, the tripling of utility bills, soaring interest rates on mortgages, Putin’s war, and the climate crisis causes anxiety and stress.

They have a devastating impact on our mental health. Poor mental health is a risk factor for chronic illnesses including; depression, diabetes, blood pressure, arthritis, cardiovascular diseases, and cancer.

So how do we overcome such menacing news?The teachings of Islam can help us here, the Quran and Sunnah bolster resilience and the immune system against stress. They teach us about bonding, and building relationships with the Divine Lord, our Creator, Master, Provider, and Carer as well as bonds us with parents, spouses, children, and relatives.

This fills lives with positive associations. Rule one is to reduce the consumption of news. Here are a few other ways to achieve these moments of joy in our daily lives no matter what’s going on around us.

1. “Proclaim the gifts of your Lord” – say Alhamdulillah

Peep into your past. Can you see the small wins, successes, and friendships forged? Make a list of the things you have won over the years. It’s a pretty long list!

When you feel sad or gloomy just read that list, this will lift you up (for more tips read Surat al Duha).

2. Stick to your daily habits

As a believer, you’re already a generous soul, disciplined with a selection of great habits including the five prayers, reciting the Quran in the morning, and doing zikr. You have cherished the habit of Basmala, remembering the Lord before doing anything.

You have amazing formulas of Alhamdu-lillah, Subhan-Allah and Jazak-Allah. Why not learn some more Prophetic prayers for your daily chores? You will get great pleasure from these things if you anticipate that time and look forward.

Anas (may Allah be pleased with him) said “here are five great habits; Do wudu thoroughly so you’ll live longer; Greet everyone you meet, and your virtues will increase; when you return home say Salam so, your home will be blessed; pray the midmorning (voluntary) prayer of Duha; be nice with children and respect the elderly so, you will be my companion on Judgement Day.”

3. Learn to be thankful

By definition, a Muslim is a thankful person. You thank the Lord, the Creator and the Sustainer, the Giver of Life. You are thankful to your parents who gave you a great childhood & upbringing. You are thankful to your teachers who taught you.

How can you forget relatives, friends and colleagues who supported you through life? Research has shown that people who are thankful for others have stronger mental well-being than unthankful ones.

4. Meet, phone, Facetime or chat with someone

When we meet other humans and shake hands, look them in the eyes, or hug them, we get the energy that lifts us up. In fact, whatever you do to connect with others will make you joyous. Arrange meet-ups with family and friends.

5. Take a rest from work

Even a small break (5-10 minutes) from work is enough to elevate the mood and reduce stress. Take a walk or do aerobic exercises or workouts like stretching the legs and arms or massaging the neck and the eyes. Anything longer than two minutes increases the rate of heartbeat.

6. Listen to Tilawat and devotional Nasheeds

The recitation of the Quran, melodious singing of na’at, nasheeds, and devotional music can help lift the mood and bring joy. Search for Quran reciters, and nasheed artists that are upbeat and inspire you.

7. Become a volunteer

Research has shown that people who volunteer, help others, and get involved with causes they believe in remain mentally sharp in old age. Look for opportunities in your local mosque, or charity organisation and get involved even in small ways.

Helping your friends, and organisation to do fundraising, for example, litter picking in your neighbourhood, or planting trees somewhere in a nature reserve. These are great ways of volunteering.

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