Stress and Anxiety Due to Worldly Matters

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Question 

Assalamu alaykum.

My question is regarding depression, anxiety, and fear. Before I start, let me begin by telling my life story. Ever since first grade, I was a clever student. Everybody appreciated me because I always finished the first from my class until grade 8. My ambition was to be a doctor or an engineer. After grade 9, however, I moved to the Netherlands. In the Netherlands, I did not continue my schooling as I had to learn the language first. The language was the first reason of my depression and anxiety. For me, it was difficult to learn it. Anyhow, I got a diploma for it, even though I was not a fluent speaker. Then I had to do grades 8, 9 and 10 in Dutch. It was very difficult for me, and I failed two years, and it took me 5 years to finish it. At that time, I was very depressed and anxious about everything. Praise be to Allah, I went to college and am now studying engineering for a bachelor degree. I again failed the first year of college and had to repeat it. Then I passed to the second year, and I am still struggling with it and am still depressed and anxious about it. If I do not succeed in the second year, I am going to quit, but I am worried for my family. They expected so much from me, and they do not want to see me without a degree. I am not living my life because of the difficulty of the language at school. I am afraid that I will be left without a degree. I am afraid that I am not going to achieve my ambitions. Praise be to Allah, I pray 5 times daily, even though I skip some prayers sometimes because of school. O Shaikh, please tell me what to do. I do not want be depressed because of fear of the future. I hope to hear from you soon.
Assalamu alaykum.


Answer

Assalamu alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu.

May Allah relieve you from depression and anxiety. The Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) said, “For every disease, there is a cure…” [Muslim] The root cause of many of the things that we complain about in this life is a lack of understanding of the nature of this life and what our purpose in it is as well as being forgetful of that purpose. Therefore, to be able to overcome your feelings of depression and anxiety, especially given that you know the reason for it, which makes it easier to cure the problem, you need to revive the knowledge of the nature of this life and your purpose in life in yourself, and you need to stay focused on achieving your goals that go in line with your purpose.

First: The nature of this life: This life is a test, it is temporary and has its ups and downs and its moments of happiness and of sadness. There are so much favors of Allah that we ignore or do not pay attention to. Allah, the Most High, said in the Quran: {And We will surely test you with something of fear and hunger and a loss of wealth and lives and fruits, but give good tidings to the patient.} [Quran 2:155]

Second: Our job is to know what is right, and then we must use the means and be determined and patient in achieving what is beneficial; then after that, whatever Allah decrees for you, you should be pleased with.
The Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) said:

The strong believer is better and dearer to Allah than the weak one, and both are good. Adhere to that which is beneficial for you. Keep asking Allah for help and do not refrain from it. If you are afflicted in any way, do not say, 'If I had taken this or that step, it would have resulted in such and such,' but say only, 'Allah so determined and did as He willed.' The word 'if' opens the gates of satanic thoughts. [Muslim]

Third: Understand that your school is nothing but a means to achieve your goal in life, which is to worship Allah, the Most High. Therefore, it should not stress you out; rather, your happiness and sadness is obtained when you fulfill the orders of Allah, or it is not. Pray the obligatory prayers in the masjid; make this your daily goal, and make everything else serve that goal.

Fourth: Seek help from Allah and supplicate that Allah makes easy for you what gets you closer to Him. Supplicate at the blessed times before the Fajr and between the azan and the iqamah (second, small call to prayer) and while prostrating.

Fifth: One of the ways to relieve oneself from the stress of this life is to persistently do the recommended acts of the Sunnah on a daily basis, like praying the Sunnah prayers, the night prayer, and the Dhuha prayer. Say the athkar (pl. of thikr [expressions of remembrance of Allah]) in the morning and the evening (you can find those in the authentic books of athkar, like Fortress of the Muslim) and read the Quran every day.

May Allah, the Most High, relieve you from the stress and anxiety and make easy what is best for you.

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