Jun 9, 1999

Spiritual Transformation Relieved My of Depression

  • Author: Hala Diab
  • Translated by: Magda El Mufti
Before taking my first step towards the path my life was reduced to mere struggle, whether at the personal level or with those around me. I always experienced a state of psychological discomfort, as well as extended periods of depression. I was actually looking for an ideal psychologist, one who would be willing to monitor me day & night, knowing how I felt without my having to utter one word!!!! Where on earth could I locate such a wonderful therapist?!!! I have always felt-even though I am a mother-like a little girl who yearned for her mother’s warm hugs. Only recently, I have come to realize that such yearning was not for my mother’s arms, in fact it was a yearning for God’s eternal embrace. I also recently learned the reason for my feelings of depression and restlessness, as well as why I was struggling internally and with all those around me.

In spite of the fact that I have always acknowledged Islam as the religion of truth and beauty; and although I felt greatly committed to its teachings, always striving to ensure the sound performance of its prayers-nonetheless my knowledge and behavior did not help me to alleviate my psychological suffering. In fact, on the contrary, I experienced a further conflict of contradictions, which I could never even attempt to escape. For instance, I believed that the Heavenly World and this world are totally two different realms. I could never comprehend how they can relate to each other through our life. If I performed my prayer one-day with genuine experience of its essence and spirituality (something that is supposed to be related to the Heavenly World) I feel confident that I am a “good person”. And yet when I would continue my daily routine with its requirements and cravings, I would instantly consider myself totally unattached to religion, experiencing a sense of inner hypocrisy, not knowing to which side do I belong-and more important how am I ever going to pray again after having done this or that thing?!!
In reality I was the victim of a great misconception that religion was nothing more than a number of fixed conceptions and images limiting and controlling man’s behavior. For instance, there are those who insist that in Islam there is a specific concept stipulating that a woman’s place is at home. This is something that greatly impacted my life, in fact it resulted in my submitting my resignation from my job as a dentist, which was actually the career I loved. Consequently I also decided never to work again, in an attempt to comply with what I believed to be Islamic rules. I even went to the extreme of zealously asking my friends to follow my footsteps and quit their careers. In spite of that, I continuously heard this inner voice that told me that in society there are many jobs that only women can perform. Not only that, but I also suffered greatly knowing that no one would benefit from my scientific knowledge and experience. And in my heart I knew for a fact there existed no real reason or rational that could convince me of the need to do so. Actually I was at a total loss, not knowing how to put an end to this contradiction between how I genuinely felt, and what I thought was religious teaching.
Finally, it happened that I joined the path, and all that sense of inner struggle and contradiction disappeared. The path showed me that what is considered “right” (in Islam) regarding any matter, is definitely no rigid fixed precondition to be applied at all times, under all circumstances, and with all people. In fact Islam is a “way” of thought and consciousness, based upon one’s inner aspiration to be truly righteous, one’s keenness to interact purely with actual surroundings, and being qualified to choose that which is objectively better in any given options and follow it. I also learnt that one has to experience things, learn from the outcome, and be able to assimilate the knowledge one acquires ceaselessly. It is always necessary, I understood, that to go through inner jihad, yearning for spiritual purification, in order that one may reach truth and be able to interact with it.
Due to this deep transformation, thanks to the path I quitted my old former decision of idly staying at home unemployed. I decided to resume work with a fresh outlook to life and a new attitude to work. This coincided with a major positive change in my relationship with my spouse. In the past the contradictions I experienced were reflected on our relation where I used to mistreat him. Now I have a new vision for everything in my life. I learnt that one should know how to make of every new experience in one’s life a tool for spiritual gain. It is true that surroundings affect me as much as they affect any one else with moments of happiness and others of grief, but I do believe now that “happiness” is not the absolute goal and “grief” is not an absolute curse. The top priority is not to seek happiness and get rid of grief; the top priority is to know the main goal of life. What a wonderful goal I found: to live truly, to seek real life! Real life is to be attached the Messenger of God and to step in his path! To be with him and real life are one and the same thing. What a goal! Now that I understood it is the main goal I accept the fact that achieving it is not easy. It needs earnestness. May God support me.
In a very tragic moment in my life I instantly sensed the divine support. My younger brother had died in an accident. The mere notion of any such thing happening to any member of my close knit family was unthinkable! The moment I heard of the tragic accident, I felt as though I had received a strong blow on the head, and yet I managed to brace myself quickly rejecting my former notions of death. I would weep for a short while, then I would quickly experience a sense of inner peace, security and tranquility visualizing my brother’s familiar smiley face, knowing that he is not that body that had been buried in the dust. In fact, I knew that he is a spirit that was elevated, ant that God had taken him to His side. I felt that the spiritual power I had gained from my prayers and invocations had been God’s soothing and compassionate support for me which helped me through those tragic moments. Having experienced divine support, I set out to convey the news of the tragic loss to the children gradually, attempting to eliminate all ancient negative ideas about death, which are usually associated with endless feelings of horror and suffering.
I learnt that man is always exposed to periods of darkness and others of light. And that the one most important thing for man at all times is to always remind himself of his original spiritual origin. I also learnt, felt and experienced that the Messenger of God ,is not a mere historical human being, he is a “meaning”; a meaning that is an all embracing beyond the barriers of time and space. Such is the meaning inside each one of us, and we should all struggle to revive it. When we seek it we may realize it, and endure our lives, and become sustained by it. I made peace with myself once the path or Al Tareek showed me that our life in this world is “the key” to eternity. To live in accordance to Religion means that man can sense the existence of God while performing any action, however minute. For man to achieve this goal man goes through a long way of struggle with himself jihad. It is a struggle that man has to go through voluntarily with love and understanding; wherein he is spiritually and heartily attached to a higher spiritual source who support him with spiritual power and protection from any forces of darkness, inside and outside.
Finally, once I entered the path I learnt that as long as I am here on earth I am always confronted with the possibility of committing mistakes. I should not bother, I should always remember that mistakes are there for me to learn from them and not to be just encased in feelings of suffering or regret.