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Agony Aunt: How to Overcome the Feeling of Despair?

by in Palestine on 30th December, 2023

We know that Amaliah is like a Big Sis and sometimes our DMs have been filled with requests for advice on a range of life issues including relationships, friendships or work troubles.

We have started a new segment where we field dilemmas from the community and answer them as frankly as we can with love, truth and honesty.

Need some advice on a dilemma? Send them all here!

Salaam Alaikum, due to recent events in the world, I have finally understood that this dunya is all a test and it is not a place of true happiness, however I am struggling to come to terms with this. What is the best way to overcome this feeling of despair?

Maya Areem Responds:

Salaam alaykum dear sister, 

Thank you for writing to us and for taking the time to voice what so many of us have been feeling these past few weeks. 

It is undeniable that recent events have opened our eyes to so many truths that we possibly knew all along but were hesitant to face. I want to assure you that we are all in this together, and the feelings of despair and search for hope are a common theme in so many of our lives at the moment. 

I would first ask if you have a support system of friends, family and maybe even colleagues with whom you can have these conversations. Having someone to talk to in your moments of grief, who can hold space for your range of emotions, and offer a listening ear is so important. I have also found that those closest to you can offer perspectives that are needed to soothe your heart. 

Have you considered reaching out to a therapist or joining a healing circle near you? Many organisations are now offering specialised sessions for individuals who need a safe space to make sense of their feelings in the wake of recent events. You may want to look into either of these: 

  1. Ruh Care
  2. Maristan

In a Jummah khutbah a few weeks ago, Dr. Omar Suleiman addressed the need for hope and reminded us of this ayah from the Qur’an: 

“Do not lose hope, nor be sad. You will surely be victorious if you are true in Faith.” [Surah Ali Imran 3:139

While it is difficult to witness what is unfolding all around the world, he reminds us that this is Allah’s way of building our character and prompting us to depend on Him alone. The question then is how to take these feelings that are strange and uncomfortable and turn them into something productive and beautiful. How can we turn despair into a balance of hope and grief? 

While we may not be able to enact immediate change in the world, every step we take to strengthen our faith during this time is an act of worship. How can we get closer to the Qur’an, turning it into the springtime of our hearts? How can we learn more about our beloved Prophet (ﷺ), the hardships he went through and how he overcame trauma? How often will we raise our hands in dua, pouring our heart out to Allah and acknowledging that only He can change our affairs for the better? How can we continue to learn more about the world, how can we spread awareness and stand for the truth even when it is difficult? 

In addition, we must consider embracing the Sunnah and channelling our grief towards a cause for the sake of Allah and the Muslim Ummah. Try collaborating with friends or joining existing groups and collectives dedicated to making a positive impact.

Striving alongside a community offers not only support but also inspiration and a profound sense of purpose. It’s essential to approach this journey with mindful pacing, ensuring our actions are sustained and go beyond short-term responses. By transforming our despair into constructive efforts, we can contribute to positive change and discover a renewed sense of meaning and hope in collective endeavours. 

Moreover, it’s crucial to remember that Allah will only hold us accountable for our abilities and actions. By understanding and acknowledging our limits, we can find hope and solace in the knowledge that our sincere efforts, no matter how small, are valued.

Allah SWT says in the Qur’an,

 لِيَوَفِّيَهُمْ أُجُورَهُمْ وَيَزِيدَهُمْ مِنْ فَضْرِهِ إِنَّهُ غَفُورٌ شَكُورٌ 

“So that He will reward them in full and increase them out of His grace. He is truly All-Forgiving, Most Appreciative.” [Surah Fatir 35:30]

And again,

وَمَا يَقْتَرِفْ حَسَنَةً نُزِدْ لَهُ فِيهَا حُسْنًا 

“Whoever commits a good deed, we will increase for him the good.” [Surah Ash-Shuraa 42:23] 

He SWT emphasises in the Qur’an that every good deed, regardless of its size, holds significance not due to its magnitude, but because of the greatness of the One Who appreciates the good that we do – He is Al-Ghafur and Ash-Shakur, The All-Forgiving and The Most Appreciative. Allah’s generosity knows no bounds, always multiplying the rewards for even the smallest acts of worship.

Holding onto hope and sanity amidst these turning tides has been increasingly difficult.  However, by taking small steps each day, we can fortify our hearts, finding a balance between nurturing hope and acknowledging grief. 

I would advise you to consistently remind yourself that these feelings of despair are a testament to your heart’s ability to genuinely feel. Let them prompt a sincere reevaluation, a reconnection with Allah, and a deepening of your bond with your community. Let your emotions inspire meaningful action.

May Allah soothe your heart, and ease your affairs. 

Love + duas, 

Aunt Maya

If you would like some wisdom from Aunt Maya, send in your problems here! Please note Aunt Maya may consult the opinion of others from time to time and ask the Amaliah community for their advice too. Aunt Maya is not a licensed therapist or mental health professional.

Maya Areem

Maya Areem

Maya is a teacher by day and student by night. She hopes to pass on what she learns.