By Shannon Abulnasr
Wednesday, 15 January 2014, originally published via OnIslam
Loneliness can be an opportunity to grow your relationship with Allah, and strengthen it while learning more about Islam, humbling oneself, and seeking a deeper inner spiritual self.
Allah is aware of all things, and is able to comprehend your concerns, relieve your sorrows, and will reward you for your struggles and efforts.
Allah is the master of planners and He may be testing you with loneliness to make you reach out to him in prayer. He is not in need of us, but we are most certainly in need of Him.
Don’t let the lack of having Muslim friends keep you from socializing in the world. Don’t become a hermit. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “The believer who mixes with the people and endures their harm has a greater reward than one who does not mix the people nor endures their harm.” (Ibn Majah, 4032 )
If you don’t have the means to make real life friendships with Muslims in your area, don’t despair. It isn’t the end of the world. Sometimes Allah removes everyone from around you so that it is just you and Him.
Allah tells us “… Fear not: for I am with you: I hear and see (everything).” (Qur’an 20:46)
So, what can you do to relieve the hopeless feeling of loneliness?
Let’s discuss some tips that have worked for other new Muslims. One thing may work for one person, while something else works better for the other. Just do what works best for you, and stick to it. Make a routine so that you remain busy and learning, mixing it up with various things so that it doesn’t feel boring, or like a duty.
Get a Routine Going
Depression stemming from loneliness can easily be overcome by simply establishing a routine and keeping oneself busy. As a Muslim, routine prayer is an obligatory act that can build a strong relationship with Allah. It is at five appointed times of day to worship your Creator, and to have a one-on-one conversation with Him.
Don’t miss out on such a wonderful blessing that is. Acknowledge how merciful He is to us by giving us this opportunity. Prayer is a direct connection with Allah, a time to pray for forgiveness, and ask for His mercy, and of His bounties to relieve our sorrows.
When you keep yourself busy, you will forget about feeling lonely. Don’t put things that do not interest you in your routine, otherwise you will not stick to it. Ask yourself, “What do I like to do, and how can I make it something that will benefit me and my religion?”
We will start with a few ideas, and you can pick and choose, or determine others that may be beneficial to you.
Feelings of accomplishment are always an emotional lift, so let’s start with doing something that everyone should do on a regular basis. Get yourself organized!
Have you ever done a spring cleaning of your home where you emptied out all the clutter filled drawers and closets, and re-organized while cleaning at the same time? Do you like that feeling you have afterwards? Of course you do! So, do it on a regular basis!
Do a deep cleaning of your home, office, and it will open up your mind to focus on other things to clear up in your life and mind. Once you can surround yourself with an organized, clean environment, you can feel some satisfaction, and a sense of comfort.
It is an amazing way to refresh your brain, and to relieve stress. It is known that your environment can have a strong effect on our emotions, and can open up a pathway to your spiritual side that is blocked by the worries of “things needing done”.
Get your surroundings clean and organized. Remember that shaitan (Satan) and the jinn love uncleanliness and disorder, so get cleaned up to remove the unnecessary roadblocks that are the easiest to get rid of first. It is the easiest thing that one can do to get started on the road to feeling satisfaction quickly.
Attend the Masjid Regularly
If you are fortunate to live in a community where there are Muslims and a masjid, don’t take it for granted. Make the most of it.
Attend as many prayers in the masjid as you can, especially the Maghrib, Isha, and Jummuah prayers. This is the time that you will find the most Muslims at the masjid. In larger communities, you can typically find regular classes, study circles (halaqas), events, and lectures that are great ways to get involved and grow.
You may be shy attending if you don’t know anyone, but don’t wait for people to approach you. Step out of your comfort zone and introduce yourself to a few people every time you go. Most people are shy to approach strangers, so remind yourself they may be just as shy as you. They only want acceptance and a feeling of belonging just as you do. Give your salams to those you see regularly, and over time, you will find you are making new friends on a regular basis.
Reading Quran should be a part of daily routine for all Muslims. It provides the main source of inspiration, support, and guidance. Try to read at least 15-30 minutes per day. Pick a time of day that is easy to do it in and stick to it. Make it a habit.
Some people try to read 4 pages after each prayer, so that they read 20 pages per day. You can reduce it, or increase it to whatever is appealing to you, just don’t overdo it, otherwise it will become a dreaded duty instead of something you enjoy doing.
Many Muslims choose to read Quran just after the fajr prayer until sunrise to help them gain blessings, as well as encourage them to stay awake and be productive instead of sleeping away their time. The Prophet had made a du’a for this time, where he said: “O’ Allah bless my Ummah in its early hours”. (Ibn Majah, 2237 )
Reading the Seerah of the Prophet in such books as The Sealed Nectar is a wonderful way to gain knowledge, and inspiration by learning about the life of the Prophet, his struggles, and accomplishments. It can be a real iman (faith) boost, making your struggles seem like a speck of sand in the desert, in comparison.
Video Lectures & Islamic Documentaries
Not everyone is a bookworm, so there are other options out there for you. The Internet has a host of video lectures recorded from scholars and Islamic lecturers from around the world on almost every topic.
There are also numerous documentaries on Islam, Muslims, and Islamic history out there. So, next time you find yourself picking up that remote to watch a mindless television show, put the remote down, and reach for your mouse instead.
If you are faced with depression of any kind, it can help by helping others. It doesn’t matter what sort of volunteer work you do, just get yourself out there and help others.
Visit VolunteerMatch.org and find a good cause near to you. The simplest way to volunteer is at your local homeless shelter to give a helping hand, because there are homeless people everywhere.
When you see others that are less fortunate than you, and have bigger problems than your own, it can really put things into perspective. You will begin to appreciate what you have, by realizing the misfortunes others are faced with.
Social Networking & On-line Friendships
Most new Muslims, including those who have no Muslim friends, as well as those with many, join social networking sites to connect with other Muslims.
Facebook has proven to be a great outlet and source of support for many new Muslims world-wide. Facebook has flourished with Islamic groups and pages targeted for new Muslims, and supporting new Muslims. Many have created wonderful friendships with other new Muslims they can relate to as well as knowledgeable Muslims to help teach and support them through difficult times.
If you have a Facebook account, but your old friends, and family members are on it, it may be a good idea to create an alternate profile with an alias so that you can join Islamic pages freely and post things about Islam without their negative criticisms.
Start a Hobby
If you have a talent that you haven’t tapped into, you can start a hobby around it. You can make them Islamic themed too! For example you can paint Islamic designs, or cross-stitch verses from the Quran, or wood carve Islamic patterns, or make candles with Islamic phrases wrapped around them. You can also sell your creations online or at a flea market. Be creative!
Exercise Your Body, Mind & Soul
It has become widely known that regular exercise can help battle depression as well as improve overall health. Exercise releases endorphins in the body that trigger a positive feeling which can reduce stress levels, ward off anxiety, reduce symptoms of depression, boost self-esteem, build confidence, and even helps you sleep better.
A simple daily walk in the park can do the trick. Get outside and breathe the fresh air and enjoy nature. Exercise usually involves doing something repetitive, whether it be walking at a brisk pace, or lifting weights, or stair climbing.
Gain extra benefit for your soul by doing simple things like trying to memorize a new surah of the Quran while you exercise. Every day, pick a verse or two or three to repeat while you exercise to help with your memorization, while you improve your health.
Battling depression and loneliness can be done. Don’t let the struggles in this world darken your heart. Let God rule your heart, mind, and soul.
You just need to motivate yourself and step outside the box of boredom. Boredom increases loneliness, and can be detrimental to your body, mind and soul. Nourish your soul by being productive and taking action.