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FaithLife

In The Depths Of Depression And Faithlessness: When Faith Comes Knocking At My Door

Although I am still on this journey of rediscovering my faith, I am sharing my story so that others like me don’t feel quite so alone. Although panicking might be an instinctive reaction, I would like to invite you to take a moment to breathe and embrace this journey of life. Slow down and be present so that you can feel and welcome in any signs from a higher power.

Although I am still on this journey of rediscovering my faith, I am sharing my story so that others like me don’t feel quite so alone. Although panicking might be an instinctive reaction, I would like to invite you to take a moment to breathe and embrace this journey of life. Slow down and be present so that you can feel and welcome in any signs from a higher power.

It has been a few months since I first felt a void in my heart – a gaping hole where my faith and love for God and Islam sat. This feeling had me in a state of panic. Where was God? Why was He gone after 20-plus years of feeling His presence? Didn’t I cultivate a life that guaranteed a connection to God? 

I had so many questions and at the time I wasn’t sure who to turn to or how to bring that feeling back. It was tough. 

In the past, feeling God’s presence and having my faith and life grounded in Islam brought me so much comfort, meaning, purpose and love. Also, as a born and bred Muslim, my identity is deeply rooted in Islam and the associated traditions. So understandably this felt like a major crisis of faith, spirituality, and identity.

I had never experienced anything quite like it. I would pray my daily prayers and it felt like passive motions with no feeling, I would say alhamdilAllah, mashAllah and inshAllah out of habit, which felt like empty, meaningless words.

Leading up to this period, I was experiencing persistently low and dark moods, depression, and hopelessness. In the past, I’ve had random and infrequent bouts of depression for short periods of time but never had it been this bad. This was probably triggered by the challenges of COVID, burn-out at work, and my singleness and loneliness.

I feel like I had been let down by God and it amplified any existing doubts and insecurities I had about Islam. This triggered what felt like a sudden feeling of faithlessness.

Creation’s Reality: A Personal Journey Through The Quran

I’d heard about people losing their faith and turning away from Islam on many occasions. Sadly, I have a few friends who have done just this. However, I’d never heard of somebody who had lost their faith and fought to get that faith back like the fervor of taking back an old lover. This is how I felt.

I wanted Islam and the love of God back in my heart immediately. Otherwise, what was I left with? A meaningless, limited, worldly life. A life with no guidance and little structure. A loss of the love that comes from the ummah. The beauty of creation without a narrative or purpose. A lack of spirituality that I knew couldn’t be satisfied with other religions or secular ideas. 

As somebody who doesn’t have regular access to a mosque or community to call my own (due to the unsuitability of mosques in my area) nor access to an approachable scholar as a female, I wasn’t sure who to turn to. 

My first instinct was to anonymously reach out for help on an online Muslim forum which garnered mixed responses as you might expect. However, a few responses touched me deeply. They were empathetic, loving, and filled with wisdom and openness. One of those responses was from a generous Muslim couple who extended a hand and offered to meet with me to provide me with a listening ear. Although I didn’t take up this offer, this love and openness is just what I needed at the time. 

Also, the couple encouraged me to reach out to a particular, well-known Muslim scholar. Upon reaching out to this scholar, I was referred to his trusted adviser and colleague. We scheduled a phone call and he listened intently.

He was compassionate and non-judgmental. He told me to use this moment to get to really get to know the real God. He highlighted it as an important moment that we all have to go through to solidify our faith. He told me this questioning is necessary. He told me that it was a blessing because sometimes people go through their whole lives not seeking and getting to know the real God but here I was being pushed and invited to search more deeply. He told me not to panic, to take my time, and to show myself compassion.

My Faith and Mental Health: A Personal Account

In the following weeks, I had some interesting experiences that I have seen as an invitation and as a sign of guidance.

I met with my non-Muslim friend at an art gallery and I was telling her about a Christian preacher who I’d been debating with at a street stall whilst waiting for her to show up. I told her I was confused about a certain argument he’d made. What ensued was an intense three-hour discussion about Islam and faith in the hallway of a busy art gallery.

She asked me questions and somehow I came out with passionate, logical, and convincing responses (at least in my opinion). This surprised me and caught me off guard. Here I was telling my friend about what Islam offered and how nothing else made sense to me, yet deep down I felt like I had no faith. Was God inviting me and challenging me to dig deeper? Was God telling me to listen to my own answers and reflect?

A few weeks later, after feeling alone and without access to a Muslim community, I received a spontaneous invitation from a Muslim neighbour who I didn’t know very well. The love, hospitality, and warmth I experienced warmed my heart and I knew I could never experience anything like this sisterliness outside of the Muslim community. 

A short while later I connected with a guy on a match-making app. He was lovely and sincere and we talked a lot about the challenges and journey of developing one’s faith. Between every few messages, he sent me short videos about Islam and marriage in response to my questions, which came from this one particular channel – Islamic Pulse. It drove me insane. “Respond to my questions properly!” I would say. As annoying as this was, I would occasionally watch these videos as they weren’t particularly long.

To my surprise, I found some of the videos beautiful and profound, and some of them responded to some of the feelings and questions I’d been grappling with. Again, it felt like it might have been God who was speaking to me and He was doing this with persistence despite my stubbornness. I am not sure a Youtube advert would have worked quite in the same way. 

Although I am still on this journey of rediscovering my faith, I am sharing my story so that others like me don’t feel quite so alone. Although panicking might be an instinctive reaction, I would like to invite you to take a moment to breathe and embrace this journey of life. Slow down and be present so that you can feel and welcome in any signs from a higher power.

Most importantly, I want you to know that God may appear in places you least expect it. For me, I have the feeling that God is emanating His attributes and touching me through His creation, especially through the humans I am encountering. The love, empathy, compassion, and openness feels like it might be God reaching out and comforting me.

May you experience the same in your moments of discomfort and if you ever struggle with your faith, may you have the openness to welcome an invitation from God.

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