What is the Qur’anic approach to handling your fears?
We all have fear of something. Heights, clowns, spiders, public speaking, jinn. Fear freezes us. It prevents us from doing anything. Some of it may be down to past trauma, and some fears may even be irrational. In any case, what are the solutions to get over our fear? What should we do?
Well, whenever my children feel scared, I always tell them ‘say auoodubillah’, and call on Allah’s names such as al-Wali (the protector). And use other logical devices and positive affirmations to convince them that there’s nothing they need to worry about and it’ll all be fine.
The NHS website lists things like staying calm, breathing through it, visualising a happy place, distracting yourself, intellectually challenging your thoughts and talking to someone, as possible solutions. Very mindset-centric.
But interestingly the antidote to fear is actually in the Quran. In Surah Taha, Allah tells us the story of Moses’ encounter with Pharoah’s magicians and sorcerers.
“Allah added, “And what is that in your right hand, O Moses?” He replied, “It is my staff! I lean on it, and with it I beat down ˹branches˺ for my sheep, and have other uses for it.” Allah said, “Throw it down, O Moses!” So he did, then — behold! — it became a serpent, slithering. Allah said, “Take it, and have no fear. We will return it to its former state.” [Qur’an 20:17–21]
Interestingly, that last verse says it all. TAKE IT (first), and (then) have no fear. The action comes first. Take action — i.e confront your fear head on by doing the very opposite. Don’t try and feel better about it first, don’t calm yourself down etc — do whatever you’re scared of first — and THEN you can do all the self-talk, etc. This is quite a small point, but very significant. If fear freezes us, action thaws us.
Too many times we prevent ourselves from growing by our own inaction. And the more we procrastinate and convince ourselves we need to feel not scared first, the deeper the fear will become and the mountain to climb will appear more daunting.
Having this action-orientated mindset, to directly confront your fear and just do it is also the subject of self-help books like Susan Jeffers’ bestselling ‘Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway.’ Overcoming fears, especially today is something almost everyone is plagued by. But now we know the Quranic mindset towards it. To end, when it comes to taking actions on our fears, I will quote from the Book of Five Rings by Miyamoto Musashi: “It may seem difficult at first, but everything is difficult at first.”