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How to Help Your Mental Health and Spirituality by reading Surah Ad-Duha

by Musa Bukhari

The first revelation that the Prophet (SAW) received from Allah was “Iqra!” (Read!). Jibril (A) revealed the first five ayahs of Surah Al-Alaq to the Prophet SAW during this initial meeting. The Prophet (SAW) was terrified. He did not know what he had experienced, only that it had left him shaken. He ran home to his wife, Khadijah (RA), and said, “Zammilooni, Zammilooni” (“Cover me, cover me!”) and she covered him and comforted him by reminding him of all the good things he was accustomed to doing for people. She assured him that he had not lost his sanity and that Allah would not disgrace someone of good character like him.

Soon after, some ayaat from Surah Al-Muddatthir and Surah Al-Muzammil were revealed to the Prophet (SAW). Allah was telling the Prophet (SAW) to rise at night for the night prayer and to warn the people of the coming danger, i.e. the Day of Judgement. This is the period in which the Prophet (SAW) began to understand the weighty responsibility of prophethood and what type of strength and perseverance it would demand from him (SAW). The Prophet (SAW) gave da’wah to his family and his close companions and they accepted. He would read to them the ayaat that Allah had revealed thus far. Then, all of a sudden, revelation stopped. Days went by, Weeks went by. No revelation. Eventually, up to six months had gone by but still there was no revelation! (Scholars range in saying it was a 25-day period to some saying it was six months!) The Prophet (SAW) began to feel sad. He questioned if Allah was upset with him.

Before revelation had ever come to him, the Prophet (SAW) was quite disturbed by the state of world. Revelation from Allah had given the Prophet (SAW) the purpose of life that he was searching for. It gave him hope and solace. Now all of a sudden, that comfort and solace was gone.

When Allah in His Wisdom decided to end this hiatus of revelation, He decided to do it with the very powerful verses that we now know as Surah Ad-Duha. When a person goes through a period of sadness or depression, they need reassurance and hope, and reminders of Allah’s Mercy. Shaytan seeks to take us away from Allah by making us feel isolated and making us believe that Allah does not care about us or had abandoned us, a’udhubillah. Scholars prescribe Surah Ad-Duha as a spiritual remedy for the one who is sad or depressed because it contains powerful ayaat that can fill one with the light of hope in Allah. In this surah, Allah gave the Prophet (SAW) the reassurance that he needed. Then He gave him hope in the future, and then He reminded him of His past favors upon him. This surah became very dear to the Prophet (SAW) and it serves as a light and a balm for the aching hearts.


Wad-duha— By the morning brightness

Whenever Allah makes an oath by something in the Qur’an, it means that the thing itself is important and that whatever Allah will say after the qasam (oath), is of deep importance.

Here, Allah swears by the morning brightness, the time of Duha. The time of Duha starts after sunrise and lasts up to the time before 12 noon (zenith). This is the time we are advised to pray Duha prayer in units of two like the Prophet (SAW) used to pray.

When someone is going through a period of sadness or depression, everything seems to be dark and bleak in life. There seems to be an absence of light. Allah is reminding the Prophet (SAW) and us that there is always light. That after every period of darkness, there will always be light, if only one perseveres until the morning.

Wal-laili idha sajaa— And [by] the night when it covers with darkness,

The night is a time of rest and recovery. Darkness may seem threatening, but it doesn’t have to be. Allah is the Owner of the light and the darkness. The sun and moon both follow His command. Similarly, Allah is the Owner of the states of our hearts. Sometimes He allows to remain in periods of darkness to test us, to see how much we will call upon Him. But sometimes it is also to allow us to rest. Sometimes we might feel ‘stuck’ in our lives. It might feel like the deprivation of light. But Allah might be covering us up like a seed that is placed in darkness so that we can bloom into a beautiful tree that yields the most amazing blessings by the mercy of Allah.

Ma wad-da’aka rabbuka wa ma qalaa— Your Lord has not abandoned you, [O Muhammad], nor has He detested [you].

After taking these powerful oaths by creation, Allah reassures the Prophet (SAW) that He has not abandoned him and nor does he detest him. Allah’s perceived absence from our lives is not in reality an absence. We may not always feel the sweetness of iman. We may not always feel Allah’s close presence. We might struggle to see His signs, but we have to remember that Allah is Al-Latif (The Subtle) and Al-Batin (The Hidden). Sometimes He takes care of us from behind the veil and other times He makes His mercy apparent.

Allah provides clear and powerful reassurance in this ayah to the Prophet (SAW) and to us that if we’re going through hardship, it’s not because Allah has abandoned us. It’s actually so that He may prepare us for better blessings in the future that will fill us with joy.


Walal-aakhiratu khairul-laka minal-oola— And the Hereafter is better for you than the first [life].

Allah reminds the Prophet (SAW) and us that the Hereafter (the life that is coming) is better for us than this life (the life we have now).

It is easy for us to think we are stuck in a bad situation when we are in it. It’s hard to see a way out. The light at the end of the tunnel seems too far away. We get tired. We get disheartened. But if we hold onto the hope that Allah gives us, we can rest assured that the life to come will be better for us than this life if we believe and persevere for the sake of Allah.

Wa la sawfa y’uteeka rabbuka fatarda— And your Lord is going to give you, and you will be satisfied.

Allah is reminding the Prophet (SAW) and us that when Allah withholds, He only withholds to give. Allah never takes something away from us except that He replaces it with something better. Allah builds hope in us through this ayah. He gives us something to look forward to, something that will make us happy. Allah specifically mentions our happiness and connects it to His giving it to us, which is a reminder that our happiness matters to Allah. He does not want to see us miserable. Even in times of hardship, He wants us to hold onto hope in Him.


Alam yajidka yateeman fa aawaa – Did He not find you an orphan and give [you] refuge?

When we’re low or in a negative space, it’s easy to think, “well, why would Allah help me? Maybe I deserve this.” Shaytan comes and whispers to us that we will not be helped, that we will be stuck forever, etc. Allah uses reminders of His past favors upon us (note: it is bad manners to remind another of one’s favors upon them but for Allah, it is rightful as He is the Creator and we are the created) to remind us that He took care of us in the past and He has the Ability to do so again. Allah’s Favors upon us are indicative of His Love and Mercy upon us, so He uses these to help us remember what He did for us.

The Prophet (SAW) was an orphan so Allah reminds him that He took care of him when he needed safety and refuge by sending people his way when he needed them. Some of us reading this may not be orphans but we were certainly in situations where we were alone, and Allah sent us His help and good company from among the creation.

Wa wa jadaka daal-lan fahada— And He found you lost and guided [you].

This is applicable to all of us as well. None of us were born with the tawfiq (ability) to walk upon the path of guidance. Even if we were born Muslim, it was Allah who inspired us. If it wasn’t for Allah’s guidance, none of us would have been on the path to Allah. Allah chose us for guidance. This should humble us and make us grateful.

Wa wa jadaka ‘aa-ilan fa aghnaa— And He found you poor and made [you] self-sufficient.

This is yet another need we had—the need to be independent. There was a time when we were babies, utterly weak and dependent upon our parents to survive. Allah helps us grow in stages, He provided for us, He gave us the means and the skills to be independent.

When we are going through a low period, Shaytan may come to us to remind us of all the things we do not have. He might try to make us ungrateful in our trials. But keeping in mind everything that Allah has done for us and is doing for us reminds us that to be grateful. It also reminds us that Allah cares.


Fa ammal yateema fala taqhar — So as for the orphan, do not oppress [him].

Wa ammas saa-ila fala tanhar— And as for the questioner, do not repel [him].

Wa amma bi ni’mati rabbika fahaddith – But as for the favor of your Lord, report/proclaim [it].

Depression is a time when people become inactive. They become prone to laziness and they don’t have the energy to help others. Their negativity might fester and grow if they don’t help themselves.

Allah teaches us here how to get out of inaction, how to get out of a rut. By helping others. By serving others. The Prophet (SAW) said in a hadith, “Allah is in the aid of His slave as long as the slave is in the aid of his brother/sister.”

Allah tells us not to turn away the orphans and the questioners (those who need something from us, those who ask us for help). And He tells us to remember and to mention His various blessings on us. What this proclamation of blessings does is that it helps us affirm that Allah is indeed Al-Kareem, the Most Generous and it gives others hope who might be going through a tough time, “If she can get out of the slump, so can I” or “If Allah helped him out of this near impossible situation, I have faith that He will help me too.”

When we talk about Allah with each other, when we glorify Him together, when we use reminders of His collective blessings upon us, and our individual examples of Allah saved us, then we engage in a form of healing. Family healing. Community healing. Healing on a deeper level. This surah is a reminder to us to never lose hope, to know that Allah is near, to grow our hope and trust in Him, and to know that the light is just around the corner.

May Allah allows us to live in hope and trust (in true Tawakkul), may Allah allow us to always be grateful for His favors upon us, and May He allow us to uplift each other using the best, most tender and powerful reminders of His Love and Generosity. May Allah heal the aching hearts and soothe them with His Ever-encompassing Mercy. Ameen.

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