By Zarmeen Ghoor
There are times in life when no earthly comfort can lift the weight of a heavy burden or heal the ache of a sad heart. In times like these, seeking solace in God’s divine words can provide some of the comfort and healing that is so desperately needed. The Quran is the ultimate source of wisdom and guidance, and among its verses there are many places that offer solace and inspiration to overcome sadness. Here are some of the best surahs to read when you feel sad and need some consolation:
1. Surah Duha (Surah 93)
Surah Duha is an especially gentle and comforting surah. Among the shorter surahs of the Quran, it was revealed at a very difficult time for the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). Several accounts mention that there was a pause in revelation, in which the angel Jibraeel (Gabriel) stopped visiting Muhammad (pbuh). Muhammad (pbuh) was beset with worry, wondering if he was no longer worthy of receiving revelation – and his opponents wasted no time in taunting him, crying “Muhammad’s Lord has bidden him farewell!” According to Sayyid Qutb, this surah was revealed in response to these circumstances.
The surah opens with an oath:
“By the morning hours, and the night when it grows still still and dark, your Lord has not forsaken you, nor is he displeased.” [Surah Duha, 93:1-3]
God speaks directly to the Prophet (pbuh) to assuage his fears and ease his heart. These words can, in turn, offer comfort to those who also fear they are alone in their struggles, by reminding them that God never forsakes those who rely on Him.
The rest of the surah continues with:
“Surely the life to come will be better for you than the present life. And certainly, in time your Lord will be bounteous to you and you will be well pleased. Has he not found you an orphan and given you shelter? And found you in error, and guided you? And found you poor and enriched you?”
[Surah Duha, 93:4-8]
These verses remind us of some very important, but often forgotten principles that can provide grounding in times of distress:
- This life is temporary, and our struggles in this life pave the way for rewards in the next.
- While we may struggle now, in time things will get better and we will see God’s bounty in our lives.
- Remembering the ways in which God has already helped us through previous hardships can help us cope with current difficulties, hopeful that His help will come again.
The surah concludes with:
“Therefore do not wrong the orphan, nor chide away the beggar, but speak of your Lord’s favours.”
[Surah Duha, 93:9-11]
After offering comfort and assurance, the surah comments on one’s responsibilities, a gentle reminder that even in our own hardship, we should be kind and generous to those in need and remember God’s favours. Sometimes our burdens grow lighter when compared to the struggles of others.
2. Surah Inshirah (Surah 94, also called Surah Sharh)
This surah was revealed soon after Surah Duha, and just as they are situated side by side in the Quran, they are as near in content and tone. Like the previous one, this surah shows the immense care and love that God has for the Prophet (pbuh).
It begins by asking:
“Have we not opened up your heart, and relieved you of your burden, which weighed heavily on your back? And have we not given you high renown?”
[Surah Sharh, 94:1-4]
These verses comfort a troubled Muhammad (pbuh) by reminding him of the help God has especially given to him, while also acknowledging the heaviness of the load that burdens him.
The surah continues with the assurance that:
“With every difficulty, there is ease.
Certainly, with every difficulty, comes ease.”
[Surah Sharh, 94:5-6]
These are amongst the most reassuring verses of the Quran. As they reminded the Prophet, so too can they remind us that hardships are never absolute. For with every difficulty we are given something that makes it a little easier, a little more bearable. Looking for that thing that makes a difficulty easier, and fully realising just how helpful it is can turn the tide of one’s sadness, allowing gratitude and even hope to flower. To alleviate any doubt, the refrain is repeated – certainly, there will be ease.
3. Surah Yusuf (Surah 12)
Surah Yusuf (Joseph) stands apart from the other surahs in this list, both in length and content. Comprising 111 verses, it largely narrates the story of Prophet Yusuf’s (pbuh) life – a remarkable tale of resilience and triumph over adversity.
The insights and lessons from this story can provide solace to those experiencing sadness by reminding them that trials and tribulations are part of a greater plan, and that patience and trust in God’s wisdom can lead to unimaginable success.
Some parts of this tale that can help overcome sadness are:
Yusuf’s resilience and patience:
From the time he is a child, Yusuf faces impossibly difficult situations – from being abandoned by his jealous older brothers and torn away from his beloved father, being sold into slavery, being falsely accused and being wrongfully imprisoned.
Throughout these trials he is patient; he relies on his faith and it takes him through. The determined perseverance of Yusuf can inspire us to be patient and resilient in our struggles too.
Yaqub’s faith through his sadness:
Yusuf and his father the Prophet Yaqub (Jacob) shared a special bond and the father loved his son dearly. Yaqub knew that his older sons held a grudge against Yusuf. When they threw him in a well and returned to their father with a bloodstained shirt, crocodile tears and a fictional tale about a wolf having devoured Yusuf, Yaqub knew it was a falsehood. Heartbroken, he exclaimed,
“Sweet patience! It is to God alone that I turn for support in this misfortune that you have described.”
[Surah Yusuf, 12:18].
Allah’s plan and miraculous triumph against all odds:
The story of Yusuf contains so many different kinds of struggles – dishonesty, betrayal, losing loved ones and being in tough situations without knowing when and how (or if at all) help will come.
Every event in this story was part of God’s ultimate plan, and each event played its part in the astounding conclusion of the story: not only does Yusuf gain honour and prominence by interpreting the King’s dream and telling of a coming drought, thereby earning him a high position of authority in the land, he also reconciles with his brothers and reunites with his dear father, who miraculously regains his eyesight.
This story reminds us that even in the darkest of times, there is a greater purpose at play, that God’s wisdom surpasses our limited understanding and that no matter how impossible a situation seems, things can turn around in a way one would never expect.
In the depths of sadness, turning to the Quran can provide solace, hope, and guidance. The above-mentioned surahs are just a few among many treasures the Quran holds for those seeking comfort during difficult times.
Their powerful messages of trust, patience, and the temporary nature of sadness serve as beacons of light, reminding us that God is always there for us, ready to lift our burdens and guide us towards serenity.
By pausing in our sadness and turning to the Quran’s boundless wisdom, we can find the strength to navigate through life’s challenges with renewed faith and hope.
May we all find comfort in the divine words and experience healing through the recitation and contemplation of these surahs.
What do you think? Share your favorite surah for sadness below.
- Translation and commentary: Sayyid Qutb (2015). In the Shade of the Qur’an (Fi Dhilal al-Qur’an). Islamic Foundation.