A Prayer to Ease Anxiety and Depression
Explanation from Imam Ibn Al-Qayyim al-Jawziyya
It was reported from ‘Abd-Allaah ibn Mas’ood that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “No person suffers any anxiety or grief, and says:
‘Allaahumma innee ‘abduka wa ibn ‘abdika wa ibn amatika, naasiyati bi yadika, maadin fiyya hukmuka, ‘adlun fiyya qadaa’uka, as’aluka bi kulli ismin huwa laka sammayta bihi nafsaka aw anzaltahu fi kitaabika aw ‘allamtahu ahadan min khalqika aw ista’tharta bihi fi ‘ilm il-ghaybi ‘andak an taj’ala al-Qur’aana rabee’ qalbi wa noor sadri wa jalaa’a huzni wa dhahaaba hammi
(O Allaah, I am Your slave, son of Your slave, son of Your female slave, my forelock is in Your hand, Your command over me is forever executed and Your decree over me is just. I ask You by every Name belonging to You which You named Yourself with, or revealed in Your Book, or You taught to any of Your creation, or You have preserved in the knowledge of the unseen with You, that You make the Qur’aan the life of my heart and the light of my breast, and a departure for my sorrow and a release for my anxiety)’ – but Allaah will take away his sorrow and grief, and give him in their stead joy.”(Ahmad 1/391 and Al-Albaanee declared it sahih.)
Imam Ibn Qayyim Al-Jawziyya said about this dua in his book ‘The Provisions of the Hereafter’ that the verse, “Lord: I am Thy servant, whose father and mother are thy servants…” embodies the core of knowledge and recognition of Allah Almighty, and the secrets of worship, and no single book can ever detail their full meaning. Yet, this prayer is full of recognition of who is God, and in it, the worshipper calling upon His Lord, acknowledges his Creator, and presents himself as Allah’s servant, and the son of His servants. The caller also places things where they belong by recognizing that his fate is in Allah’s Hand; that his destiny is moving according to the divine plan; that Allah Almighty does whatever He pleases with it; that the servant can neither bring benefits nor harm to himself; that he cannot bring about his own birth, death, or resurrection; that his destiny is in Allah’s Hand; that he has no power to alter it except as Allah wills; that he is totally dependent on his Creator, Cherisher, Sustainer, and Lord; that his own existence is subject to whatever Allah Almighty decrees; and that Allah is just, and what He wills shall be.
Imam Ibn Qayyim Al-Jawziyya then explains the next part of the dua: “My fate is in Thy Hand, and my destiny is moving according to Thy plan. Thou art indeed just in Thy judgment…”This section of the prayer embodies two cardinal aspects which are the core of the doctrine of monotheism (Tawheed): (1) the first is the recognition and confirmation of fate, and that Allah’s decree regarding His servant shall unfailingly come into force, and that the servant cannot escape it or repel it; and (2) the second aspect proclaims that Allah is just, that He does not oppress His servants, and that what He decrees is due by virtue of divine justice and knowledge of such needs. This is because injustice represents the need, ignorance, incompetence, weakness, and inferiority of an unjust person, and therefore, such attributes are not divine, and they cannot come from one who is omniscient, All-Knowing, wise, and has no needs. Hence, Allah’s wisdom is operative wherever His will is ordained. Allah is rich beyond any need, and everything is poor and seeks its nourishment from Him. He is All-Wise, and there is not a single atom throughout the entire universes where His will is not operative. The absolute dependence of each and every cell in the entire creation, and their soliciting of their support and sustenance from the sole and only provider requires their gratitude. Hence gratitude (shukur) is rewarded with blessings and ingratitude (kufr) is rewarded with disapprobation and consequent punishment for the non repenting ones.
When the unrepenting and ungrateful disbelievers and idol worshipers threatened Allah’s Prophet Hud, peace be upon him, to invoke the curse of their deities upon him, he replied: I call Allah to witness and you bear witness that I am innocent regarding what you ascribe as partners to Him. Therefore, scheme (Your worst) against me and grant me no respite. I put my trust in Allah, my Lord and your Lord. There is not a moving creature whose forelock is not (held firmly) in His Hand. My Lord is surely on a straight path, (Qur’an 11:54-56)–meaning that Allah’s power which is unlimited and unrestrained is operative over all creatures, and no one can withstand His decree. He alone has the power to move them as He pleases, and He does so rightly, justly, wisely and mercifully.
In this prayer, the servants proclamation: “My destiny is moving according to Thy plan,” means the same as ‘There is not a moving creature whose forelock is not (held firmly) in His Hand,’ and his saying: “Thou art indeed just in Thy judgment, ” is also parallel to ‘My lord is surely on a straight path.’ Furthermore, Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) calls in this prayer upon Allah’s most holy Names and the divine attribute He proclaimed in His kingdom, revealed in a Book, taught to a privileged servant or kept as His sole secret, so that no angel of the nearest and most exalted status and no prophet or messenger has ever known to ask by it. Such invocation surpasses all supplications, and of all prayers is the dearest to Him, and most worthy of immediate reply, because it proves the servant’s knowledge and recognition of his Lord.
Allah’s messenger (pbuh) then prayed to Allah Almighty to make the glorious Qur’an the prime of his heart, meaning the spiritual food of his body, mind, and soul, and through it, to wash away, dispel, and cure his stresses, worries, and concerns, making it the one conclusive medicine that will extract illnesses, and restore the human being to his true status and balance. Hence, he asked his Lord to make the Qur’an the light of his soul that removes any corrosion that tarnishes his clarity and wisdom, and that polishes his heart. Such medicine works only if the patient is truthful in his asking for it, sincere in his trust in its effectiveness and uses it as prescribed by his physician. Hence, Allah willing the correct use of the medicine will certainly be followed by complete recovery, excellent health and vitality and Allah is the Supreme helper.
About Imam Ibn Al-Qayyim Al-Jawziyya
His full name is Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr, son of Ayyoub, son of Sa’ad al-Zar’i, al-Dimashqi, patronymed as Abu ‘Abdullaah Shamsu-Deen, and known as Ibn al-Qaqqim al-Jawziyaa. He was born in Damascus, Syria in 691 A.H. and he studied under his father who was the local attendant of al-Jawziyya school. He also studied under the great Imam and scholar Imam Taqiyyu-Deen Ahmad ibn Taimiyyah who kept him as his closest student and disciple, and Ibn Al-Qayyim later became his successor.
Ibn al-Qayyim catered to all the branches of Islamic sciences and was particularly known and commended for his commentaries on the Qur’an, hadiths, and fiqh.