Incessant, repetitive and anxious thoughts are a staple for many. They haunt our dreams and our wakeful states, yet there is a cure for it: fear of God.
By Nabi Raza Abidi
Worldly matters (dunyā) are what most of us think of when we first wake up. A common thought that perhaps springs up is not really a thought, but a fantasy. We imagine a world where people and events go about just the way we want them to. People react the way we want them to; the weather reacts the way we want it to; our finances, health and more all take shape in accordance with the way we want them to be.
Our ability to fantasize has some uses. They are the source of our creativity and they lay the foundations of many of our positive endeavors in life. Yet fantasies are also Satan’s greatest tool. Satan encourages our mind to replicate our desires in the form of fantasies. Our mind creates a scenario of what the world would be like if we simply were able to control it. When the world says no to us, frustration and anger come about. When we fear that the world will not go about the way we want it to, we panic and get anxiety attacks; hence the story of human stress and depression.
Our thoughts are important, but they can be our greatest enemy. One may get into an altercation with an individual and the instance may be over, but our thoughts follow us everywhere. Not even our dreams are free from our unceasing, repetitive and nagging thoughts. If our thoughts become our enemy, then we really don’t need another enemy. That in itself is enough.
In order to get out of the vicious cycle of oppressive thoughts, people resort to alcohol, drugs and unhealthy relationships (among many other vices). Yet all these do is distract or numb us to our internal pain.
What the Prophet Muhammad (s) taught us is that the key to escaping the burden of oppressive thoughts is by learning to fear God above all else. He said:
“Whoever fears God, God will make everything fear him, but whoever does not fear God, God will make him fear everything”
Yes, even the rich and powerful are anxiety ridden. They fear losing their wealth, their health. Why are wars conducted? Why is there financial corruption? All of it comes from fear of losing wealth and power.
Yet whoever fears God and is satisfied with His decree will find satisfaction in life no matter what. Whoever fears God exclusively, Satan will have a hard time tormenting him/her with thoughts.
Nabi Raza Abidi
Resident Imam of the SABA Islamic Center
San Jose, California