For many Muslims, Islam can appear to be a religion that teaches us to subjugate our feelings for the sake of truth and being a “good Muslim.” We are often taught that feeling that certain religious practices are hard (such as praying and fasting) or feeling depressed about one’s life are signs of weak faith in Allah (swt). Many verses in the Holy Quran teach us to be “obedient” to Islamic teachings as well as to those in authority. So does this mean that Islam wants us to ignore our feelings that do not fit into the “obedient” category?
If we search the Quran and Hadiths, we will find that Islam does not expect us to ignore our feelings and actually encourages us to face our negative feelings so that we can overcome them and be more sincere Muslims. Consider the following Quranic verses and hadiths:
A man once said to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him): “The laws of Islam are too heavy for me, so tell me something that I can easily follow.”
The Prophet replied: “Let your tongue be always busy with the remembrance of God.”
(Recorded in Fiqh-us-Sunnah, Volume 4, Number 99)
As we can see from this blessed hadith, the Prophet (s) did not rebuke people for admitting that religion can seem hard sometimes. The Prophet accepted this man’s feeling that sometimes religion can seem difficult, and then he gave the man some hopeful advice.
And consider this verse about Maryam (r):
And the pains of childbirth drove her to the trunk of a palm tree. She said, “Oh, I wish I had died before this and was in oblivion, forgotten.” But he called her from below her, “Do not grieve; your Lord has provided beneath you a stream. And shake toward you the trunk of the palm tree; it will drop upon you ripe, fresh dates. (The Holy Quran 19:23-25)
Maryam (r) expressed her pain and suffering in an honest way, and Merciful Allah (swt) does not chastise her for this, but He comforts her with a stream and fresh dates.
The Prophet (pbuh) experienced negative emotions at times, and Allah (swt) offered him comfort and guidance.
Then perhaps you would kill yourself through grief over them, [O Muhammad], if they do not believe in this message, [and] out of sorrow (Holy Quran 18:6).
Your Lord (O Muhammad (Peace be upon him)) has neither forsaken you nor hated you. And indeed the Hereafter is better for you than the present (life of this world) And verily, your Lord will give you (all good) so that you shall be well-pleased. (The Holy Quran 93: 3-5)
Our beloved Prophet (pbuh) experienced feelings of grief and sorrow, and Allah (swt) acknowledged his negative feelings and did not scold him for having such feelings.
In the field of counseling, acknowledging one’s feelings is an extremely important step in self-improvement. As Muslims, rather than ignoring our negative feelings, we should recognize them for the sake of self-improvement. We should strive to find solutions to our problems and to practice being patient and grateful, for the sake of Allah (swt).
When you are experiencing positive or negative feelings, remember to remember Allah (swt). If the feelings are positive, give thanks to Allah (swt). If the feelings are negative, turn to Allah (swt), call on Him, and find ways to positively cope with those feelings, rather than ignoring or denying them.
What are your thoughts about recognizing one’s feelings?