Feel Depressed: How to Increase My Faith?

Question and answer details
As-salamu `alaykum. I recently have become extremely depressed. Up until 2 weeks ago I was living my carefree life and doing the bare minimum like trying to pray 5 times a day. I also fast during Ramadan and offer zakah. However, I do not wear hijab, recite the Qur’an or really practice Islam. I've had some dreams about death and dying the past 2 weeks. Maybe I've dreamt about them because of what I see in my daily life (a friend’s father passing away, neighbors young daughter's death) all very recently. Sometimes, I think it’s a sign from Allah (swt). I've become very depressed fearing that if I were to die suddenly tomorrow, I'd go straight to hell. I feel all of a sudden that I've not done enough good deeds. I feel lost and am wallowing in self pity for having wasted my life. I do not know what to do. No amount of praying, or making du`aa’s, brings me any comfort. I just feel afraid of what were to happen to me if I died. I feel ashamed to meet my Lord. I do want to change. The past week I’ve been deciding to go for hijab. Every night I decide I'll start covering and then when the next day arrives, I can't bring myself to do it. I feel like a hypocrite. I feel so afraid. I've realized that life on this earth is not permanent. And I feel that I have no good deeds to show for. I want to do hijab. I want to be a better Muslim. I've not been sleeping well the past week. I've been crying and just being miserable about my level of Iman. I want to please my Lord. Please, guide me. I just moved to Canada. I have no friends or family to speak to. I feel restless and disheartened. Also, I fear that this maybe just a phase of depression I'm going through and tomorrow I'll forget all about it and revert to my carefree life doing the bare minimum. Please, help. Jazak Allah.
Ahmad Kutty

Wa `alaykum as-salamu wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh.

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.

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Dear sister, thank you very much for your question that emanates from an Allah-loving heart and that shows your commitment to your faith.

We also appreciate your feelings that reflect your strong faith, as the true Muslim is required to highly observe his/her faith and beliefs making sure not to excessively estimate his/her state to block the way in front of Satan and prevent him from dragging him or her to self-conceit.

So, your case is not a bad one providing that it does not reach the state of depression.

Responding to your question, Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and an Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, states,

It is natural for a believer to feel anxious for one’s own destiny and state in the Hereafter, especially while reflecting upon the transient nature of life as we see people dying all around us.

This is a sign of sound faith. However, one should not allow it to develop into a state of depression. Rather, one should benefit from it by setting goals to achieve stronger faith and practice of Islam.

As for the tips to develop strong faith, I cannot do any better than citing from one of my earlier answers:

The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Hell is paved by things that are pleasing to the carnal soul, while paradise is paved by those things that hard on the carnal soul." (Al-Bukhari).

Let me, however, list some of the ways of enhancing our faith:

1) As mentioned in a hadith qudsi, in order to increase our iman (faith), we need to be diligent in performing our religious duties, while doing our best to do as much supererogatory acts of worship or virtue that we can.

2) Recite the Qur'an and seek solace, healing and inspiration in the divine speech. Recite it while reflecting on its lessons, and seeking to practice them.

3) Keep the role model of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) in front of you and try to emulate his beautiful examples.

4) Seek to purify your soul of its vices and impurities by engaging in introspection; ask yourself whether you are guilty of the things which you abhor in others, and see if you have those qualities which you admire in others.

5) Keep track of the way you spend your time and energy; ask yourself if the efforts you are expending energy are worthwhile when you visualize the spectacle of your own death, when all of your life's work will be played in your mind's screen as if in a movie.

6) Make dhikr (remembrance of Allah) your second habit and keep the company of those who would help you to remember Allah. Avoid friends who would make you heedless of Allah and run away from them as if from a plague.

7) Read and reflect on the hadith and the seerah (biography) of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and the life-stories of as-salaf al-ssalih (pious predecessors) reflecting on them for inspiration. If possible, choose the early morning hours to do so. Imam `Abdul-llah Ibn al-Mubarak was asked, "Why don't you entertain visitors in the early morning hours?" He replied, "This is because I choose this time to be in the company of the as-salaf al-ssalih!" They asked, "They are dead a long time ago; so how could you be in their company?" He said, "By reading and reflecting on their life-stories!"

Finally, you need to shun wavering, and decide to wear hijab, solely to please your Lord, and not to please anyone else. As reported by `Aishah, the beloved wife of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), the Prophet said, “Whoever seeks to please Allah, Allah will take care of people for him or her. However, whoever seeks to please people, while displeasing Allah, Allah will abandon him or her to people.” (Al-Bayhaqi, Ibn Hibban and Al-Bazzar from `Aisha)

Allah Almighty knows best.