By Ahmad Sakr
As Muslims we know that the Qur’an offers guidance to us in all aspects of our lives. It is indeed a blessing and a guide for all times and places. In today’s modern world full of electronic communication, globalization, technology and the ever increasing pace of western life, it is easy to feel overwhelmed in this society. Stress and depression are two of the most common results of this hectic and fast paced life.
In his recent treatise on depression, Dr. Ahmad Sakr states, “Depression is a universal disease that affects millions of people. Some 10 to 15% of people suffer from it at some point in their lives. This could be due to physical illness or social isolation.”
Situational depression can be caused by a troubling time in someone’s life such as loss of a loved one, loss of a job, moving to a new area, and sometimes just the stress associated with economic survival in today’s world.
Some states of depression can be caused by hormonal factors in women and teens or by the process of aging in seniors.
Common medical symptoms such as tension and migraine headaches, sudden anger or rage, insomnia, obesity, hair loss, allergies, fatigue, memory loss, and lethargy are symptoms of depression and stress. Everyone suffers from stress at some time, but some people are better able than others to handle it.
We are sure to experience stress during the tests and trials that Allah presents to us in this life.
“Be sure We shall test you with something of fear and hunger, some loss in goods, lives and the fruits of your toil, but give glad tidings to those who patiently persevere. Who say when afflicted with calamity: To Allah we belong and to Him is our return. They are those on whom descend blessings from their Lord and Mercy. And they are the ones that receive guidance.” (Al-Baqarah 2: 155)
Stress, despair, and depression when approached from a scientific and spiritual basis can be effectively controlled by the ‘prescriptions’ found in the Qur’an. In Surah Al Ra’d,
“Those who believe, and whose hearts find satisfaction in the remembrance of Allah: for without doubt in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find satisfaction.” (Al-Ra’d 13: 28)
Prayer is ordered continuously throughout the Qur’an. Allah in His mercy emphasizes its importance over and over so there can be no doubt. “Keep carefully (adhere) to the prayers and (not forgetting) the middle prayer, and stand before Allah in obedience.”
Sujud and Mental Health
In his book, Sujud (Prostration), Dr. Ahmed Sakr states, “In Islam the concept and action of prostration (al-Sujud) is very important. It is important physically, medically, morally, spiritually and biologically. Prostration has been mentioned in the Qur’an 92 times in 22 different forms and in 32 different surahs. In the Qur’an Surah Al-Sajdah (prostration) says,
“Only those believe in Our Signs who, when they are recited to them, fall down in prostration, and celebrate the praises of their Lord, nor are they puffed up with pride.” (Al-Sajdah 32:15)
With the advancement of science and technology and the whirl that existence in the west can be, one feels obligated to mention one method that brings peace, harmony, accord, tranquillity, and happiness. This practice is Sujud or prostration!
People today are exposed to many daily frustrations. They are also propounded with many electrostatic charges from the atmosphere. These charges are precipitated on the central nervous systems (CNS) which becomes supersaturated. One has to get rid of these extra charges, otherwise, there is the possibility of headaches, neck aches, muscle spasms, etc. The use of anti-depressants, tranquilizers and other mood-altering drugs could be reduced or eliminated with the practice of Sujud.
The best way to rid oneself of these extra electrostatic charges is by dissipating them and discharging them from the body. In the same way that an electrical appliance needs to be grounded by the use of an electric cord, a person will find it helpful to do likewise.
The frontal areas of the brain are those that control abstract thought, creativity, conscience, and personality. Therefore, “grounding” oneself by putting the forehead (the frontal portion of the brain) on the ground during Sujud has beneficial medical (grounding) properties. The action of putting the forehead, nose, hands, knees, and toes all in contact with the ground at the same time during Sujud will result in a calming feeling resulting from dissipation of the electromagnetic energy.”
Drs. Abdul Ahad and Mehdi Hassan in their article “Some Medical Aspects of Al-Salat” say about prostration, “During Sajdah, a person has to support his body on knees, hands, and forehead. This posture has its effect on the intervertebral joints, especially cervical and other spinal diseases. During sajdah, while the person lays his body weight on legs flexed at knees, these muscles are put in action to various degrees which aids venous return and acts as a massage for these muscles.”
During prostration, muscles are exercised, blood flow is increased, lung capacity is utilized…all leading to better physical health. This, in turn, results in better mental health, not only because of the physical activity but due to the spiritual process also.
Sujud and Du’a
The word Du’a’ means supplication. It is a communication and dialogue between a believer and Allah. One may make Du’a’ in any place, in any language, and in any position. The best position to ask Allah (swt) from and to make Du’a’ in, is while making Sujud. During Sujud, the Du’a’ is more often accepted by Allah. The best position for dialogue with Allah is during Sujud. The best position to meet Allah in (i.e., death) is while in Sujud. The best way to thank Allah and to praise Him is while prostrating. For this reason, the Prophet (pbuh) said: “The closest position that a person can be from God is at the time of Sujud; hence increase your Du’a’.” (Ahmad, Muslim, Dawood)
While prostrating in Salat, a Muslim says three times: “Glory be to my Lord the Highest, and gratitude be to Him.” The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said, “Perform Sujud in abundance. Anytime you prostrate to Allah one Sujud, Allah will elevate you one step and erase one mistake for you.”
The real Du’a’ in Sujud is when a person feels and lives a few moments of their lives in communion with Allah. When a person is engulfed in the spirituality [and physicality] of Sujud they are momentarily outside of this world. The Du’a’ comes not only from the lips but from the totality of their being…the organs, the bodily systems, the cells, molecules, atoms, nuclei, electrons, neutrons, protons…every part and parcel of that person is with Allah at that moment. When a person reaches this level of communication (called Tadarru’) they are not aware of anything else around them. They are taken out of themselves spiritually and their bodies are manipulated in physically beneficial movements.
A person suffering from depression or stress is relieved on all levels through Sujud. They do not have to go through hypnosis to remember subconscious ideas, to find a source of relaxation or to feel at peace. The communion with Allah puts them mentally in a relaxed and peaceful state without yoga. The need for drug therapy with possible side effects can be re-examined. Submitting oneself to Allah relieves the stress of the unknown and turns it all over to Him thereby relieving the individual of undue worries over the future.
Through the process of Sujud, a person will be absorbed with the infinite, with the immortal and with the outer hemisphere. When a person reaches such a state of complete communion with the Almighty, to the point that trembling, shaking, crying, or shuddering takes place, it is said that their Du’a’ is being accepted by Allah. It is also said that they are being forgiven by Allah for their mistakes, and finally, that their bodily diseases and especially their mental, neurological and psychological problems will be relieved with the Mercy and Will of Allah. All creatures prostrate to Allah.
They glorify Him, exalt Him, and praise Him. Surah Al-Hajj states:
“Seest thou not that to Allah bow down in worship all things that are in the heavens and on earth – the sun, the moon, the stars; the hills, the trees, the animals; And a great number among mankind?” (Al-Hajj 22:18)
And in Al-Isra’:
“They fall down on their faces, weeping, and it increases humility in them.” (Al-Isra’ 17:109)
And this promise from Allah,
“O, you who believe! Bow down and prostrate yourselves, and worship your Lord, and do good, that happily, you may prosper.” (Al-Hajj 22:77)
Prostration is good for us mentally, physically, and spiritually. We are the beneficiaries of performing Sujud. As in all aspects of Islamic life, the Holy Qur’an has answers for all problems and conditions of mankind.
[Specific Areas: Brain areas are associated with specific functions…For example; the occipital lobe is associated with vision and the cerebellum with balance and coordination. Touch and pressure sensation is perceived within the postcentral gyrus. Muscle movements are controlled from the precentral gyrus, speech is controlled from an area in the frontal lobe of the dominant hemisphere.]
[Lobes: are broad surface regions of each hemisphere that are named after the overlying bones of the skull. The four main regions are the frontal, parietal, temporal, and occipital lobes.]
Taken from the Islamic Bulletin with slight editorial modifications.