Brother Mazen Mokthar joined the Rutgers University MSA yesterday night in Paul Robeson and shed some light on the issue of depression. He talked about the differences between sadness, minor depression, and major depression. He emphasized some depressions occurred because of a chemical imbalance and some medical reasons, situations in which medical assistance should be sought out. While having faith probably wouldn’t fix that, it would definitely help. The depressions that are not from chemical imbalances are related to not understanding life for what it is.
The discussion then turned to happiness and enjoyment. Enjoyment generally results from external things, like eating, snow boarding, drinking hot chocolate, etc. Those enjoyments are short-term, and go away after the food or event is done. Only memories remain. True happiness, though, is long-term and internal. When a person looks forward to buying the latest phone, he’s very excited and assumes he’ll be content once he gets the phone. And then it comes. That joy might feel that for a day or two, but all in all it will go away and fail to make you a happier person.
Brother Mazen continued to say a mu’min, a true believer in Allah, needs to understand the consequences of La Ilaha Illa Allah. Know that Allah is the All-Powerful. Really know that. Simply believing in Allah is not good enough, because Shaytan believed in Allah. He knew of His power and strength, and he had all the evidence needed to prove that He exists. However, he didn’t (or at least refused to) believe Allah is the All-Powerful and All-Knowing. Brother Mazen reminded the students a true mu’min when in hardship, remembers Allah and is comforted, because he knows Allah is aware of the hardship and all of the power is in Allah’s hands only.
That dedication to Allah is what takes away external pains and the dependence on superficial things.
When a person feels immense despair and guilt, there is always a positive way forward. Once you commit a great sin, you should repent, believe (recommit yourself to Allah), and do good deeds. Brother Mazen said Allah doesn’t forgive and wipe away your sins; instead, he replaces your sins with hasanat. So instead of getting depressed for doing something wrong, one should immediately repent and never give up. The most important thing, regardless of how much you sin, is to always return to the right path.
Allah is the one who created us, and thus He is the one guides us. If we are dedicated to Allah, the only important thing in life is what have we done with the gifts of Allah. Brother Mazen pointed out when we get things, and everything goes according to plan, it doesn’t necessarily mean we’re getting rewarded. And when we lose things and are traumatised by events, it doesn’t necessarily mean that Allah is punishing us. We have to stop focusing on ourselves so much, and we have to use the gifts Allah gave us properly. Brother Mazen closed with a great point to one of the questions asked in the Q & A, when people go through hardship, they use the iman they stored to deal with it. Someone with strong iman is more accepting and understanding when bad things happen to him. However, someone who doesn’t understand it is overwhelmed by what had happened.
May Allah make us among those who have a strong iman, who truly understand La Ilaha Illa Allah, and who experience the sweetness of true happiness. Ameen.