I will lay out a specific plan for you to follow in order to refresh your heart and renew your faith:
Yes, you have committed sins, just like every single human being on the face of the earth, except for the Prophets and Messengers. But we Muslims have a great gift, which is that we can cleanse ourselves through Tawbah. You must stop committing the sin right away, ask Allah for forgiveness, and resolve firmly not to do it again.
2. Salat and Dua'
Start doing your prayers. If you can't manage it five times a day, do as many as you can. If you don't know how to do the salat, get a religious brother or sister to teach you. Don't worry right now about learning every aspect of Islam. Just focus on salat. Imagine that Allah is in front of you, and ask Him for forgiveness. Remember that the salat is a river in which you bathe five times every day, and it washes away your sins.
Share your burdens with Allah. Ask Him to help you and make your life easier. The Quran says, "Whoever is conscious of Allah, Allah makes for him a way out, and provides for him from a direction he does not expect." Allah can help you solve your problems and find your way to a better life.
See this page on our website: Dua' for anxiety and stress
Start getting yourself ready mentally and spiritually for Ramadan. It's never more than 11 months away, and never too early to begin preparing for it. Think of it as an opportunity to cleanse your soul and strengthen your spirit. Make a plan to spend your Ramadan as much as possible around people of strong faith who will support you.
4. Change your self-image
One young lady, who had committed some sins, wrote to me and said about herself, "I'm a wreck, a shame to society, I hate my life..."
This kind of thinking is common in people who have suicidal thoughts. To change your life, indeed to save your life, you must change the way you think about yourself. When you tell yourself that you are a mess, a shame, etc, you are creating a destructive self-image that stops you from changing.
Try this: anytime you find yourself thinking negative thoughts about yourself, I want you to push the negative thoughts away and instead repeat these self-affirmations (write them down if necessary and carry them with you). I made up these affirmations based on Islamic principles. I have used them in the past for myself, and I have found them to be very effective. You can use these, or you can write similar affirmations of your own according to your needs:
- I am a Muslim. Islam is my faith and my cherished way of life. I choose Islam because it is beautiful and true. (You can also say the shahadah here).
- I am a believer in Allah (a mu'min). Allah is my guide and the One in whom I trust. (At this point you can praise Allah further and ask Him for strength and guidance).
- I am a good and worthwhile person. I have many good qualities, ma-sha-Allah. (At this point, name some of your good qualities).
- I have the power to change my life for the better, with Allah's help.
- I thank Allah for all the blessings in my life. (At this point, name some of the blessings in your life and thank Allah for each one).
Say these affirmations out loud at least once every day, and if you can do them twice a day (once in the morning and once at night) that's even better. Insert your name after you say "I", so for example, if you name is Fatima, you would say, "I, Fatimah, am a Muslim." Same for all the other points. Say them out loud, and mention your name.
Regarding point number three, some people might say, "But I have no good qualities." That's nonsense. Everyone has good qualities. Maybe you're a loyal friend, maybe you're kind to animals, maybe you're a good cook or a good writer. The point is to always find something good to say about yourself.
Regarding point number five, the blessings that you name in your life could be big or small: good health, food to eat, the sunshine on your face, and of course Islam itself is the biggest blessing of all.
Perhaps this sounds like some kind of charm, but it's not. It's a way of changing your self-image by programming your subconscious with the beliefs that you want to have about yourself.
5. Change your friends
This is important. If you've been living a sinful lifestyle, then you have to stop hanging around the friends that you drink with, or do drugs with, or the boyfriend/girlfriend that you committed zina (fornication) with. You must cut off all contact with them. Even if you think that you can be around them but resist what they are doing, the problem is that one thing can lead to another. It will be difficult to change your life if you are still surrounded by people who live a sinful lifestyle.
If you know any brothers and sisters who are religious and supportive, get to know them and spend your time with them as much as possible. Get involved in a Muslim youth group, or volunteer with an Islamic organization, go to the masjid, get yourself a halal hobby to occupy your time and give yourself something to focus on (martial arts or other sports, chess club, computer club, learning a new language, volunteer with a non-profit organization, etc).
You need to see a counselor or therapist and talk out some of the feelings you are having. This will help you. If you are a student try your student health clinic, they always have a counselor on staff. If you are not a student you can try your public health clinic. If you can find a Muslim counselor, that would be great. A certified Muslim counselor would be ideal, but a non-Muslim would be fine also.
7. Find something that gives you joy
I touched on this earlier. You must find something that gives you joy and pleasure in life, and devote yourself to it. Get out of the house and become part of something. If you don't have a job, then do volunteer work. The writer of one of our sister websites, TeenPerspectives.com
, volunteered for years at a local hospital and she found it very rewarding.
Get involved in a sport, or start a blog, take some college classes, or write poetry. There must be something good and halal in life that gives you pleasure. Find that thing and amplify it.
8. Medication if necessary
I'm hesitant to add this point, because I think people in the West rely far too often on medication as a way to address problems that are actually spiritual in nature. If your depression is something that you've experienced only recently as a result of your life choices, then the previous six points will be enough for you and you do not need any medication.
However, if your depression has been a long-term thing (months or years), and doesn't seem related to your life circumstances, then it's possible that you are clinically depressed and you may benefit from a depression medication. Your counselor or physician should be qualified to assess this and refer you to someone if necessary.
O Allah, we hope for Your mercy, so leave us not to ourselves even for as little as the blink of an eye, and set right all our affairs, there is no God but You!
- a dua of the Prophet (pbuh)
By the time!
Indeed humankind is in loss;
Except for those who have believed and done righteous deeds and advised each other to truth and advised each other to patience.
- Quran, Surat Al-Asr