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Depression and its Removal Factors as Mental Health Indicators, From the Viewpoint of Holy Quran

1 Department of Quranic Sciences, University of Islamic Sciences, Tehran, IR Iran
*Corresponding author: Hossein Taghipur, Department of Quranic Sciences, University of Islamic Sciences, Tehran, IR Iran. Tel: +98-969111579160, E-mail:
Islamic Lifestyle Centered on Health. 2013 December; 1(4): e16361 , DOI: 10.5812/ilch.16361
Article Type: Review Article; Received: Sep 24, 2013; Revised: Sep 24, 2013; Accepted: Nov 20, 2013; epub: Dec 20, 2013; ppub: Dec 2013


Context: Depression is a common disease among human beings, and because of different factors the patients suffer from mental disorders and do not have healthy life. In Holy Quran, the word “grief” is mentioned as a synonym for depression, and also other words such as “sorrow”, “regret”, “anguish”, “distress” and “sadness” are indicated. From the viewpoint of Holy Quran, grief is divided into two types as praised and condemned, the condemned grief refers to depression, but the praised grief is necessary for excellence and development. In the Islamic lifestyle, which Holy Quran and behavior of Holy Prophet and his inmate are its basis, the emphasis on mental health and prevention of grief and sorrow are among its most important indicators and indexes. The current study aimed to prevent and treat depression, according to Islamic lifestyle.

Evidence Acquisition: Holy Quran, narratives and behavior of inmate were evaluated to codify Quranic lifestyle, and provide prevention and treatment methods of depression, descriptively and analytically.

Results: In the first step, Holy Quran helps people avoid depression and in this regard introduces factors such as “sincerity”, “resistance”, “virtue”, “trust in God”, “belief”, “good deeds” and etc. as grief protection factors. A bunch of Holy Quran verses, with precise and meticulous look, point to the causes of grief such as “punishment of sins in this world and the hereafter”, “financial and human loss”, “jealousy”, “failure” , “fear of the enemy”, and etc. Quran, this book of guidance, by dragging the attention of human to some epistemic-educative notes such as “divine aid”, “worship” , “prayer”, “ mercy of God”, “support of angels” and some other means introduces depression and grief removing factors.

Conclusions: By analyzing and evaluating Quran verses and Islamic narratives, it is concluded that the grief is divided into two types as praised and condemned which praised grief is dedicated to righteous and God’s men and calmness, tranquility, increasing life expectancy are among the properties of this type of grief. According to religious texts, the condemned grief is a mental depression which usually affects individuals who cannot withstand hardships and challenges of life and lose their mental balance. This type of grief can be prevented and treated, according to the Quranic commands and following Quranic lifestyle.

Keywords: Life Style; Depression; Grief; Mental Health

1. Context

Depression is one of the common mental disorders of the current century that its patients suffer from mental disorders, and healthy happy life is taken away from them. Development of mental disorders in the world made the World Health Organization (WHO) establish a new department as mental health services to treat the patients (1).

Since Holy Quran is the book of guidance and welfare which deals with all that a man needs on the road to worldly and otherworldly prosperity and happiness, it has paid special attention to the mental health. In holy Quran, the word “grief” and some other words are synonymous to depression. In this regard, the terms “grief” and “face of despondent” have also been mentioned in Holy Quran. Besides, in some other verses grief of different groups, such as the vicegerents of Allah, believers, and unbelievers has been noted. Holy Quran has also pointed to the men who are immune to grief. In some verses of Holy Quran the hints have been provided regarding the causes and the ways to get rid of the grief that by evaluation and explanation of those verses a certain promising treatment can be achieved.

2. Evidence Acquisition

The current study was a descriptive library research conducted on Quranic evidences and their interpretations, Islamic narratives, books, and psychological references to determine the concept of grief and depression, and its types along with providing preventing methods as follows:

2.1. The Concept of Grief and Depression

Grief means great sadness, and is against happiness and cheerfulness; it originally means hard ground, and self-violence. Because of this violence, which derives from sadness and sorrow, man is swept by grief (2). In addition to the term “grief” and its derivatives which have been mentioned more than 42 times in 25 Surahs of Holy Quran, other words and terms have been also pointed to, such as: distress and distressed (Al-anam verse44, Al-mumenoon verse 77, Al-room verses 12 and 49, Al-zokhrof verse 75); repression and repressed (Al-yosouf verse84, Al-nahl verse 58, Al-zokhrof verse 17, Al-ghalam verse 48); anguish (al-anam verse 64, Al-anbua verse 76, As-safat verses 76 and 115); sorrow (Al-araf verse 150, Al-yosouf verse 84, Al-kahaf verse6, Al-taha verse86, Al-zokhrof verse 55); sadness (Al-maede verses 26 and 68, Al-araf verse 93, Al-hadid verse 23).

The word “distress” (Balas) originally means “quiet”. Distress is the sadness which intensively turns the man (3); since the sad person is quiet and does not talk most of the times (4). Repression (Kazm) also means throat or breath exit (5). Repression refers to grief, as the repression sweeps over the sad person and he cannot continue breathing (6). Anguish is a severe sadness which sweeps over all parts of the body. It originally means digging and rummaging the earth which points to the effect of grief that digs and rummages the soul (7). Sorrow also means extreme sadness (8)at the loss of something which is usually associated with anger (9). Sadness is a term related to grief which originally means doleful and wound healing, or disappearance of pain and grief (10). Sorrow refers to the curtain or coverage (11) covering the light or gaiety, dignity, beauty and etc. sorrow is also used both in natural and spiritual cases which cover the heart (12). Grief and sadness point to sorrow because they cover the gaiety and patience (13), but anyone who falls into grief and destruction is called “wail” (14). Imam Ali (AS), in addition to introducing grief as a mental illness, has stated that: “when the sorrow and sadness increases and becomes persistent, it turns to permanent grief (15); this grief is called depression illness in modern psychology. According to the lexical concept of the word “grief” and its synonyms, it is quite clear that all these issues point to the type of depression. Depression and grief are closely related; although some psychologists, such as Russell Mitchell, believe that these two concepts are the same (15), depression is a permanent and continuous grief and sadness. However, the sadness can be sectional and heal shortly. If sadness is generally ignored, the patient will be led from natural and relieving sadness to depression which is an abnormal and anguish illness (16).

2.2. Depression and Grief, in Psychological Terms

Depression is one the most common mental disorders which has involved most of the people. From the viewpoint of psychology, depression is reduction of energy, and physical and mental activities resulted from sadness (17). Lancaster, a western psychologist, has stated that: “depression is a mood-emotional disorder accompanied by sorrow, and the afflicted patient suffers from loss of interest, and disability to enjoy most or all daily hobbies and activities. Change of the mood is the main feature of depression which involves a range of sadness from weak disappointment to severe sorrow (18).

2.3. Types of Grief and Their Differences

From the viewpoint of Holy Quran and narratives, grief is not generally condemned, but according to the verses and Islamic narratives this concept has both positive and negative sides. Holy Quran has divided grief into positive and negative classes, and has introduced both elements and indexes through different verses (19). Praised grief and sorrow are expected to clean the soul and the way to purify it. Holy Prophet (PBUH) has stated that: “be sorrowful, which is the key of souls” (20). The signs of praised grief are usually laid in the heart of pious men of God; in this regard, Imam Sadigh (AS) has said: “God loves any sad and doleful heart” (21). Imam Ali (AS), describing the helpers of Imam Mahdi (AJ), has stated that: “they are lions of the day and monks of the night”. In the praised grief man is scared and tearful in the presence of God, far from the eyes of others, and these sighs and tears are not sorrow and sadness but a world of elegance, equanimity, and dignity, according to Mark Orwell a western psychologist (18). On the other hand, condemned grief is a type of illness. Imam Ali (AS) believed that: “sorrow is an illness. Grief destroys the body. Although sorrow and condemned grief are apparent in the face, they directly leave negative impacts on body and cause weight loss, and development of diseases (22). Although in praised grief, man feels safe in God’s peace, his heart relaxes, and the spirit of hope enters his life and future, condemned grief is the source of anxiety, stress, and sorrow, and the man who loses hope suffers emotional and mental disorders, loss of power, mental fluctuations, and is deprived of normal life. In Holy Quran, the commonality between depression and grief is referred to as condemned grief which the Lord has warned believers about incidence of this mental illness and grief. According to the definition of “grief”, it is a severe sadness which is against happiness and cheerfulness, and in Holy Quran condemned grief is referred to severe sadness and anxiety. Definition of depression also describes it as “feeling sadness and grief which is opposite of happiness and joy”. Nevertheless, Holy Quran has also pointed to the causing and removing factors, and some symptoms of depression have been also mentioned in this Holy book.

2.4. Depression Preventing Factors, From the Viewpoint of Holy Quran

Holy Quran has provided some directions to prevent this mental illness. These directions help man to immune himself, and considering God and the owner of existence is one of the most important directions. Grief usually begins when man predicts a probable loss, and grief occurs because of the loss or being exposed to it. For example, he thinks that he is the owner of his child or the position he obtained, but he never feels sorrow about the things he does not care and is not interested in. Therefore, man believes in the ownership of the Lord to all creatures and existence and has no partner, definitely does not He think about the ownership of anything and accordingly does not feel sorrow; and this is a way to be surrendered to God and be away from grief and depression. Some of the most important grief preventing factors have been mentioned as follows:

2.4.1. Sincerity

It is a way to be away from grief: “indeed, whoever submits his face to Allah and does good works shall be rewarded by his lord; there they shall have nothing to fear nor shall they be saddened” (Al-baqara, 112).Interpreters believe that “whoever submits” refers to “sincerity to God”, and “whoever does good works” also means “sincere men” who are devoted only to God (23), and they are away from sorrow and grief.

2.4.2. Perseverance

God promises the men who are persevered, by patience and tolerance, that the grief and fear is away from them: “the angels will descend on those who said: “Allah is our lord, and have then gone straight, (saying) “Be neither fearful, nor sad; rejoice in the paradise you have been promised” (Fussilat, 30). In this verse of Quran, “have then gone straight” means “perseverance in obedience to God and carry out His commands” (24). “Those who say: “our lord is Allah, and follow the straight path shall have nothing to fear nor shall they sorrow” (Al-ahqaf, 13).

2.4.3. Piety

Belief and piety are the characteristics rooted in the nature of men of God and are among the grief releasing factors. “Those who are cautious and mend their ways will have nothing to fear neither shall they be saddened” (Al-araf, 35). “Indeed, there shall be neither fear nor sorrow upon the guided by Allah. Those who believe and are cautious” (Yunus, 62-63). “But, Allah will save those who fear him with their winnings (paradise). No evil shall touch them, nor shall they ever grieve.” (Az-zumar, 61).

2.4.4. Reliance on God

If believers consider the important point that everything is done by the permission of God and they should rely on Him, they can stay away from grief and sadness. “Talking together maliciously in secret is from evil, so that believers should sorrow, yet he cannot harm them at all, except by the permission of Allah. In Allah let the believers put their trust.” (Al-mujadila, 10)

2.4.5. Belief

God says: “those who believe and do good works have nothing to fear nor they feel sadness” (Al-baqara, 62 & 277). “those who believe, Jews, sabaeans, and nazarenes whoever believes in Allah and the last day and does good shall neither fear, nor shall they sorrow (as long as they do not reject any of the prophets)” (Al-maedah, 69). Similar examples can be also found in different verses (25-28).

2.4.6. Testimony

Men who die to defend the religion of Allah are also released from grief and sadness. “rejoicing in the bounty that Allah has given to them and having glad tidings in those who remain behind and have not joined them, for no fear shall be on them neither shall they sorrow” (Al-e-imran, 170). Martyrs are men who are satisfied with what God has granted; they do not feel sad and use heavenly blessings under the shadow of divine mercy.

2.4.7. Good Deeds

Good deed is another factor which releases man from grief. In different Quranic verses such as Al-baqara 62, Al-maeda 9, Al-anam 48, and Al-araf 35 belief and good deeds are among the factors which preserve man from grief and depression. “those who believe and do good works, establish the prayers and pay the obligatory charity, will be rewarded by their lord and will have nothing to fear or to regret” (Al-baqara, 277). In this verse, good deeds means prayer and zakat. Charity is also another example for good deeds which in verses 262 and 274 of Al-baqara truly charity in secret and public are the reasons for being away from depression.

2.4.8. Thralldom

God’s servitude protects man from grief and sorrows in the world and hereafter. “On that day close friends shall become enemies of each other, except those who fear (Allah)” (Az-zokhruf, 67). This holy verse points to the sermon on the Day of Judgment which thralldom and servitude is the prerequisite to enter the paradise (29).

2.4.9. Accepting Divine Sovereignty

Caliphate of God and everyone who accepts His sovereignty on every angel of his life are also away from distress and sadness. “Indeed, there shall be neither fear nor sorrow upon the guided by Allah” (Yunus, 62). Guided by Allah refers to the people whom God is satisfied with and they love Him (28). “Guided by Allah”are just believers, because God is the caliph of their spiritual life, God in this regard says: “Allah is the guardian of the believers” (Al-e-imran, 68).

3. Results

Evaluation of Quranic verses showed that man suffers from grief and depression in the world and also hereafter. Hereafter factors of depression refer to companions of hell who feel sorrow and grief following the observation of their devil deeds, and punishment. Many of Quranic verses talk about sad and despondent face of sinners and unbelievers; for example: “when we opened on them a gate of severe punishment, they utterly despaired” (Al-mumenoom, 77). On the Day of Judgment, sinners will be disappointed from the mercy of Lord and this disappointment makes them depressed (30). “But the evildoers shall live forever in the punishment of hell, which will not be lightened for them, and therein they shall be silent” (Az-zokhrof, 74-75).In addition to thefactors causing depression in the world and hereafter and the despondent face of sinners, Holy Quran clearly and accurately points to the factors that cause grief and depression. These factors which are important for the members of the modern society are as follows:

1- Punishment of Sins in the World: divine traditions punish sinners who persist on their sins, and infringe the rights of themselves, others, and the society and do not obey rules and terms, not only on the Day of Judgment, but also in this world, and they will be severely depressed by the result of their punishment. “And when the second promise came (we sent them against you), to sadden your faces” (Al-asra, 7). This verse talks about the corruption and oppression of Israelites that after the second corruption, God sent some people to them who made Israelites contemptible and depressed and stricken (31). This depression and sadness will not relieve only by repentance and return to the way of Lord and respect the rights of others. “Say: “o my worshipers, who have sinned excessively against themselves, do not despair of the mercy of Allah, surely, Allay forgives all sins. He is the forgiver, the most merciful” (Az-zumar, 53).

2- Financial and human losses: one of the most common causes of depression is financial or human losses. In such situations man cannot bear the problem, and the factors causing the problem gradually develop in him. But God has prohibited the believers from sadness and says: “do not be weak, neither sorrow” (Al-e-imran, 139). This verse relaxes believers when they lose money or their beloved ones, and feel sad or grief (32). According to the Holy Quran, loss and lack of blessings, such as drought and lack of rain, are another reason for depression (33). “Though before its coming they had despaired” (Al-room, 49). Sometimes believers, because of lack of information, feel sad about the lack of world blessings, but Lord wants them not to feel sad about it: “and when they angered us, we took vengeance on them and drowned all of them” (Az-zokhrof, 55). Generally, God wants all Muslims not to feel sad about the loss of money and blessings, and by providing monotheistic insight wants them to be satisfied, because in hereafter they will have more than it (34). Therefore, at the exposure to lack of world blessings the man who considers his origin and looks for countless hereafter blessings is hopeful to life and this hope and happiness is an important way to get released from depression.

3- Jealousy: It is also one of the causes of depression. Jealousy is a moral disease and the jealous person can never bear enjoyment and benefit of others, and feels sad when someone is successful and he cannot achieve that success. Holy Quran has also considered this abject moral character: “when you are touched with good fortune, they grieve, but …” (Al-e-imran, 120), and “if good comes to you, it grieves them; but” (Al-tawba, 50). In these verses jealousy of enemies toward believers have been discussed. In other words, the hypocrites were saddened about the victory of believers and felt jealous of them (35). The reason for this jealousy that made them sad and sorrowful are: “advent of Islam and victory of Muslims, obtained spoils, and generally all the achieved benefits or properties of the Muslims (36).

4- Fear of failure and enemy: one of the most important factors that cause depression and grief is fear of failure against enemies and problems; in fact, lack of self-confidence makes people depressed. Generally, when man thinks that God has not considered him in failures, he feels sorrow. But Holy Quran always says that God supports and accompanies believers and they should not be afraid of failures, and feel sad. God always wants believers to remember Him in difficulties, because victory and support of God is always with believers (37). “He said to his companion: “do not sorrow, Allah is with us. ' then Allah caused his tranquility to descend upon him and supported him with legions (of angels) you did not see” (Al-tawba, 40). In this verse “sorrow” means “fear” and based on the idea of most of the interpreters “sorrow” results from fear (38). In fact, in this verse God tells the believers ,”if you were on the right path, you would not be afraid of the grief of enemies and difficulties and feel sad and depressed, because God always and everywhere monitors man” (39).

3.1. Eliminating Factors of Grief
3.1.1. Forgiveness of God

Repentance helps sad and grieved sinners to receive forgiveness of God and be released from depression (40). “They shall say: “praise belongs to Allah who has removed all sorrow from us. Indeed, our lord is the forgiver, the thankful” (Al-fater, 34).

3.1.2. Hope for the aid of God

As mentioned before, feeling of loneliness against difficulties and problems is one of the factors that cause depression. According to Quran, hope for everywhere and every day aid of God is a factor which can eliminate depression and grief. “Do not sorrow, allah is with us” (Al-tawba, 40).

3.1.3. Considering the Glory and Attention of God

The Lord released holy prophet from grief and sorrow by reminding him of His glory, power, and attention. “Do not let their speech grieve you. All might belong to Allah. He is the hearing, the knowing” (Yunus, 65) (41). Hence, considering this important issue that God is always aware of circumstances of His creatures and is powerful enough to eliminate their problems is a factor which relieves depression.

3.1.4. Orison

One of the most important factors to release from grief is orison and asking God to eliminate it. “And (remember) Noah, when he supplicated to us, we answered him, and we saved him and his nation from great distress” (Al-anbiya, 76). “Noah called to us, and we are the best to answer. We saved him and his people from the great distress” (As-safat, 75-76).Jonas was also rescued from the stomach of the fish and also the sadness of agony, after praying to God. “We heard his prayer and saved him from grief. As such we shall save the believers” (Al-anbiya, 88). As Jonas was rescued from the grief, believers will be also released from sadness if they pray to God with sincerity and submission (42).

3.1.5. Prayer

When man is depressed, praying might help him to eliminate his depression; since the prayer is the remembrance of God and remembrance of God makes man relaxed. “It is not with the remembrance of Allah that hearts are satisfied” (Al-rad, 28).“Indeed, we know your chest is straitened by that they say. Exalt with the praise of your lord and be one of those who prostrate” (Al-hijr, 97-98). In fact, “your chest is straitened” is the allusion of grief (43). Some believers have said: pray to God wholeheartedly to get released from grief (44).

3.1.6. Paradise

Since paradise is the source for all the good and there exists no grief and sadness, entering the paradise eliminates all grief and distresses (45). “And the companions of the ramparts call the men whose marks they recognize: “neither your amassing nor your pride have availed you. Are these whom you swore that Allah would never have mercy upon them? ‘(To them it will be said:) 'Enter paradise. You have nothing to fear neither will you be saddened.” (Al-araf, 48-49). It has been narrated that the world is the prison for believers and is the place for sorrow and grief (46), and entering the paradise removes all sadness and distresses (47).

3.1.7. Considering the Superiority of Believers

God supports believers from grief by supremacy and greatness. “Do not be weak; neither sorrow while you are the upper ones, if you are believers” (Al-e-imran, 139). This supremacy that God gives to the believers is in paradise or at dominance over enemies.

3.1.8. Considering the Support of Angels

The Lord has promised the strong believers not to fear from grief and sorrow, since angels support them. “The angels will descend on those who said: “Allah is our lord, and have then gone straight, (saying) “Be neither fearful, nor sad; rejoice in the paradise you have been promised” (Fussilat, 30).

3.1.9. God’s Grace and Forgiveness

Grace and forgiveness of God help believers to be away from sadness and sorrow. “We also favored Moses and Aaron. And we saved them with their nation from a great distress” (As-safat, 114-115).

4. Conclusions

Holy Quran, the book of guidance, believes that achieving perfection and happiness by man is a matter of his of mental health. Regarding depression and grief; first, Holy Quran has discussed prevention and then has introduced the practice of religion as an important factor to be immune to depression, since depression occurs when man has lost his tolerance and patience against personal or social difficulties and problems, felt failure, and gradually gets depressed. In this regard, Holy Quran again calls man for practice of religion and has always emphasized on the point that everything is in His hands and nothing will happen without His authority and most of the difficulties and problems are divine assessments and anyone who believes in the power of God, never regrets and never feels sorrow. Hence, considering and practicing religion are important factors to be immune and also release oneself from depression, because the true believer in the origin and resurrection is never sad and depressed.


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