Reflections on belief in God, its antithesis, and suffering/separation

The Self as god

Constriction and Expansion

Further reflections from Surah al Zumar

And when harm befalls man, he calls upon his Lord, turning unto Him. Then when He bestows a blessing from Himself upon him, he forgets the One upon Whom he called before and sets up equals unto God...

I suffered from depression or, should I say, I suffered from my own choices. Depression is an affliction, no doubt. Ibn 'Abbas, may Allah be pleased with them, said that the foundation of this world is tribulation. Tribulation can take two forms; a test or a punishment, and this depends on our choices. Like Dres from Black Sheep said, “The choice is yours.”

To be clear, here, I'm talking about depression not induced by trauma. Where a trauma was involved, I don't want to blame the victim. My depression, though I don't know when it began, was a result of choices I made, not from any trauma inflicted upon me. It is a gift to be able to see that clearly. However, even when trauma is involved, we are responsible for the choices we make in response to that trauma. It's a huge, difficult pill to swallow, like trying to take a giant pill meant for a horse, but it's the truth that with reflection we can see clearly. One important aspect of any therapy is learning how to see from a different perspective and perspective is a choice.

Allah says that “when harm befalls man, he calls upon his Lord, turning to Him.” Harm is a constriction. Everything in this world is constriction or expansion. There is a duality that exists in this world. Light and dark, male and female, static and dynamic, majesty and beauty are all examples; one necessitates the other. The Arabic word used for harm, ḍur-run, can mean disadvantageous, like a constraint in wealth. The use of the word befalls is interesting though. Other translations say touch. The Arabic word used by Allah is mas-sa which can mean befall, but can also mean touch, handle, palpitate, violate, or cohabit. Touch is interesting given our reaction to the constriction which is usually disproportionate to what actually happened. Like a professional actor, I mean athlete, flying to ground when touched by another player, we fly off in anger when someone touches our sensitive pride.

“Then when He bestows a blessing from Himself upon him...” Ahh, expansion, relief, and then growth. Depression wasn't a constant state. There were times that I could forget about it and enjoy the moment or at least be caught up in something enough to forget about it. This is a blessing, an expansion or at least an opportunity for it. It is a blessing from Allah.

”...he forgets the One upon whom he called before and sets up equals unto God..” Truly we are a forgetful creation. The prophets were reminders. The Qur'an is a reminder. One of the best acts of worship is dhikr, a reminder. Salat is a reminder to reconnect with Allah. We forget Allah, may He forgive us and be merciful upon us. That is why some have said that every moment we exist, meaning being cognizant of ourself and not Allah, is a sin. The rub here is that not only do we forget, we setup partners to the One that gave us the blessing. We make progress in therapy and are told to be proud of our accomplishment as if we did something. It is a blessing from God. We had nothing to do with it. “B-b-b-but I did this and I did that.” Who gave you the life to do that? Who gave you the intellect to make that choice? Who gave you the will to follow through? Who gave you the physical ability, the various organs and muscles involved in doing that? Who created that choice that you chose? Glory be to God!

Hast thou considered the one who takes his caprice (ego/self) as his god?

Allah, Most Elavated, knows best. And may He forgive us our mistakes and allow us to cover them with that which is better.