Submission to Allah and the Psychology of Well-being
Submission. A term rarely used but holds a rather powerful meaning when applied to real life. To leave everything you are and everything you own in someone else’s hands is extremely difficult. But what if this someone promised you the heavens? Promised you all that is good for your soul? And in return only asked you to follow the path drawn for you, with rules that are good for you and that will help you, both in this world and the next?
To completely submit is to lose all control. A terrifying thought, I know. But ultimately, submission to the one who created you enfolds all the bliss, happiness and knowledge you could ever dream of. All that you unknowingly need. Because then He will be your compass. He will guide you and save you from yourself. When one commits a sin, small or big, they eventually end up reflecting. Psychological research has shown that reflection is a critical component of general positivity in life. Reflection should consist of evaluating different parts of the same situation, evaluating your actions and their consequences and learning how you could improve not only for yourself, but also for others. One needs to be wary of reflection that focuses entirely on the ego and ‘self’, as this type of reflection brings out narcissism and does more damage than good.
However, in most cases reflection helps individuals understand and cope with situations better, because it allows them to analyse all that has happened. This reflection could last hours, days or even weeks; which of course varies from person to person. Imam Ali (as) is reported to have said the following:
“Your remedy is within you, but you do not sense it. Your sickness is from you, but you do not perceive it. You presume you’re a small entity, but within you is enfolded the entire universe. You are indeed the evident book by whose alphabet the hidden becomes manifest. Therefore you have no need to look beyond yourself. What you seek is within you, if only you reflect.”
This quote I believe, stresses reflection. Reflection brings understanding and ultimately understanding brings happiness. As humans we naturally strive towards happiness in life, however for us to achieve this we must first understand what happiness really is.
Scientifically speaking, “happiness” consists of the following hormones:
Each hormone plays a different role in regulating the human body. However ultimately, studies have found that a common key feature of these hormones is that they drastically affect “happiness” and general positivity in life. This is because they moderate our feelings of mental and physical well being. It has been proven that constant stress and negative thinking causes several physical pains, ranging from headaches to back and neck pain. In extreme cases mental disorders can also occur. This is mainly due to the fact that constant negativity results in the fluctuation of these hormones, thus rendering them unable to regulate the human body adequately with the consequence being the occurrence of such disorders.
So how does reflection help exactly? Well, have you ever done something that made you feel guilty? Maybe you hurt someone with something you said, or you wronged yourself by breaking a religious ruling. Whatever it may be, this guilt is guaranteed to bring reflection to the table. This is where the magic happens. When you reflect, your mind wanders and looks at even the smallest detail. You analyse, evaluate and reach a conclusion about every one of these details. You may feel immense guilt throughout the reflection, which may or may not lead to tears. This accumulation of guilt and consequently reflection will as a result bring out the best in you. When this occurs, when you truly reflect and ultimately repent, Allah (swt) will forgive you. Albeit He is the most merciful and most forgiving, and most likely has already forgiven you as he knows what’s in every heart.
As stated in the holy Quran in Surat Ghafir:
‘…and your Lord says, “Call upon Me; I will respond to you.”’ (40:60)
Whilst Allah (swt) does not verbally respond to us, we don’t hear him, but we can feel him. When you close your eyes during a dua recitation, when you pray or listen to the Qur’an, that’s when you feel him. When you understand what love truly is because he lets you feel it and it will be overwhelming. Research has found that reflecting and speaking about your feelings helps you on both a long and short-term basis. This is because when you speak out, your body relaxes and lets go of all the tension that the negative thoughts brought along. Allah (swt) wants us to speak to him. To open up our hearts to Him. During prayer, during reflection, during happy and sad times. Because he knows that by doing this, our psychological well-being will improve and we will therefore have a clearer image of what our mission and goals in life truly are.
But ultimately, it’s a state of mind. Whatever you think is what you will feel. It’s inevitable. Far too often we blame the state of our mental and emotional health on others, on the situations we are placed in or how we were treated, but it’s all psychological. With the help of Allah (swt), you are in control of your thoughts and therefore in control of your feelings and mental wellbeing. It’s you. If someone awakens fear within you, it has nothing to do with them. It’s how you perceive whatever they did that scared you, it’s the accumulation of your thoughts. There is a definite link between thinking and feeling. Between reflecting and understanding. It’s all you. And this ‘you’ is the most authentic portrayal of your soul. This is the ‘you’ that Allah (swt) cares about and sees. The one He will judge.
So submit. Submit your heart, soul and mind to Allah (swt). The rich and poor, the intelligent and less intelligent; all raise their head to the skies when in pain or feeling pure bliss. Up at the one that gave them all they have. Allah’s (swt) forgiveness and mercy has no measure or bounds. Unlike this temporary world that inflicts moments of intense agony on our souls, Allah’s love and warmth never falters, never leaves. Regardless of how far you’ve strayed from the light or how ashamed you feel to turn back to Him, He loves you. He’s patiently waiting for your return to Him. He’s allowing you to open up and repent, reflect and be the best possible version of yourself. Once you lift your head to the stars and submit your whole being to Him and only Him, you will find peace. Mental, physical and emotional peace that leads to a rewarding and happy life, in which everything falls into place at the right time. n
Written by Aya Al-Sader