On a cold winter day, I left the house for work while I really wanted to get back into bed. Cursing the heavy traffic, the crowded subway, and the noisy girls laughing loudly next to my ears, I finally arrived at my workplace, where my colleagues were talking about a thing called “Coronavirus.” At that moment, I never thought the issue might be so important. So, I ignored my colleagues and started to work.
A few days later, we heard about the lockdowns, the increase in the number of deaths caused by Covid-19, aka coronavirus. People were losing their dear ones, and they were afraid to participate in their burials and funerals. I could see with my own eyes the verses of the Holy Quran that say, “The day when a man will evade his brother, his mother and his father, his spouse and his sons, each of them will have a task to keep him preoccupied on that day.” (80: 34- 37)
We experienced days where everyone was worried about him/herself. Trying our best to buy and compile masks, soaps, and alcohol-based cleansers, we still thought that one of those Hollywood superpowers or the armies that save the world during the Armageddon would come and save the world. But, no one could do anything against these small viruses. That was where I could feel these verses of the Quran: “He had no party to help him, besides Allah, nor could he help himself. There, all authority belongs to Allah, the Real. He is best in rewarding, and best in requiting.” (18: 43-44)
Gradually, we stopped fighting the situation. We stopped panicking. We stayed home. Works and businesses were shut down. Schools and universities were closed. Visiting relatives and friends were forbidden. We were given some time for seclusion, some time to contemplate and come up with “what if” questions.
What if going to work and school and university are no more important? What if the isolation continues forever? What if the hospitals won’t let you in, even if you pay a significant amount of money? What if fame and wealth would no more be important?
Do we still care about what to wear in front of others or how to talk to present ourselves as high-class people?
All our routine acts become meaningless. Our social norms and behaviors are questioned. We realize that none of our worldly habits were worthy enough to hurt ourselves or others. Things should change.
In Coronavirus days and nights, we see ourselves so close to death. Any moment we may be diagnosed with Covid-19. When it attacks us, the worldly longings and belongings are not worthy anymore.
If we are influenced by the signs and messages that God is sending us through this disease, we don’t care about collecting more wealth. We don’t think about becoming more famous. The only One left for us is God. He is the one that won’t leave us alone in the hardest situations: the one “who created me, it is He who guides me and provides me with food and drink, and when I get sick, it is He who cures me; who will make me die, then He will bring me to life” (26: 78-81).
By these little viruses, as coronavirus, Allah (SWT) teaches us the most important lessons of life. He reminds us that we were not brought into this world to take the game so seriously since we should keep in mind that “The life of this world is nothing but diversion and play, but the abode of the Hereafter is indeed Life (itself)” (29: 64), and that we live in this world for a small amount of time to be prepared for our real life in the hereafter. So, Allah tells us: “…And whatever good you do, Allah knows it. And take provision, for indeed the best provision is God wariness. So be wary of Me, O you who possess intellects!” (2: 197)
The best provision is not what we keep compiling in our daily life. Money, positions and promotions, university degrees, social popularity, followers and likes on social networks, etc. are not what we have come to this world for. If they become our life priorities, we may become among those that Prophet Noah (PBUH) mentioned them as the one “… whose wealth and children only add to his loss.” (71: 21)
In many chapters of the Quran, Allah tells us the story of people of different nations who disobeyed their prophets, and the punishment of God destroyed them. However, Allah also mentions that to get out of the hardest situations you need to turn toward God: “If the people of the towns had been faithful and Godwary, We would have opened to them blessings from the heaven and the earth. But they denied, so We seized them because of what they used to earn.” (7: 96)
Therefore, the only way to escape the current situation is to return to God and live the way He wants us to live, for the best life in this world and the hereafter.
Returning to God does not mean to pray to him and ask for forgiveness and keep on having the same behavior as we had. To return to God is to try to quit our bad habits, revise our false behaviors, stay away from the forbidden acts, and stay committed to the obligatory commands and orders of Allah.
“Whoever is wary of Allah, He shall make for him a way out [of the adversities of the world and the Hereafter].” (65: 2)
When my nephew was about two years old, he experienced his first meet up with a cockroach. My sister and I found him sitting very close to a cockroach, looking at it, smiling and enjoying his discovery. As soon as we saw the cockroach, we started screaming out of fear of the cockroach. In a way that the poor little kid ran away and started crying. From then on, whenever he saw a cockroach, his first reaction towards the poor insect was to start screaming and running away.
We, unwantedly, passed on our fear and hatred of the insect to that little kid. This hatred was shaped in us when we were kids and is passed on to next generations. Hostile actions are being shaped against cockroaches. Different poisons are made to destroy them. And still, they are the biggest enemies of people of some nation. The same story exists with British people and their spider enemies.
We never even start asking ourselves, if we can have a different attitude towards these insects. In our understanding, they are dirty, aggravating creatures that should be destroyed. Yet, it has happened to me to watch some well-made documentary films about insects. And think to myself why I am so ignorant and hostile towards these beautiful creatures of God.
Prejudice, as described in Merriam Webster dictionary, is a “preconceived judgment or opinion; an irrational attitude of hostility directed against an individual, a group, a race, or their supposed characteristics.”  Prejudice is usually based on ignorance. For example, using the following phrases: ‘all men, all women, all Christians, all Muslims, all uneducated people, all youths, all poor people, all rich people, all Americans, all Arabs, etc.’ are signs of having prejudice toward a specific gender, religion, social level, or nationality.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) says: “Avoid prejudice, as it begins with ignorance and ends up in regression.” 
In this article, we are going to analyze prejudice in Islam. And find out how much the definition of Merriam Webster dictionary is compatible with Islam’s view towards prejudice.
Imam Ali (AS) states that one of the main reasons for prejudice is “ignorance”. He explains that “As for Satan, he felt proud over Adam because of his origin and taunted him about his creation since he said, "I am of fire while you are of clay." And in the same way “the rich among the prosperous communities have been feeling vanity because of their riches, as (Allah) said: And said they: "We are more (than you) in wealth and in children, and we shall not be chastised." (Qur'an, 34:35)” 
In the Arabic text, the word that is used for “vanity” is Al-asbiyyah and Al-Lijajah, which means prejudice in Islam. Indeed, most of the times it is vanity and pride that makes people think they are better than others. As a result, they classify people and discriminate between different groups of people.
Prejudice in the following cases is blamed according to Islamic teachings:
“Among His (Allah) signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the difference of your languages and colors. There are indeed signs in that for those who know.” (30:22)
“Do not marry idolatresses until they embrace faith. A faithful slave girl is better than an idolatress, though she should impress you. And do not marry [your daughters] to idolaters until they embrace faith. A faithful slave is better than an idolater, though he should impress you.” (2: 221)
This verse emphasizes on the fact that the only thing that elevates people in the eyes of God and should be noticed in human classification is one’s faith and wariness of God. “Indeed the noblest of you in the sight of Allah is the most Godwary among you.” (49:13): unlike many people who may choose their spouse based on appearance, wealth, education, family lineage, etc.
“O mankind! Indeed, We created you from a male and a female and made you nations and tribes that you may identify yourselves with one another. Indeed the noblest of you in the sight of Allah is the most Godwary among you. Indeed Allah is all-knowing, all-aware.” (49: 13)
As it is clear in the above verses, that differences in nationality, race, color, or social class should not make a group of people feel that they are superior to others and that they have the right to insult or assault them.
Since prejudice is followed by mocking, insulting and humiliating others, Allah clearly detains people of such acts; “O you who have faith! Let not any people ridicule another people: it may be that they are better than they are, nor let women [ridicule] women: it may be that they are better than they are. And do not defame one another, nor insult one another by [calling] nicknames. How evil are profane names subsequent to faith! As for those who are not penitent [of their past conduct]—such are the wrongdoers.” (49: 11) and He emphasizes that “Indeed the noblest of you in the sight of Allah is the most Godwary among you.” (49:13)
From definitions that we usually read about prejudice, we may think that prejudice in Islam is always an indecent attitude. But, in Islamic teachings, prejudice is not always a negative manner. Rather, in some cases, it is known to be admirable.
As Imam Ali (AS) points out, people should have prejudice for “good qualities and in praise-worthy habits like the protection of the neighbor, the fulfillment of agreements, obedience to the virtuous, opposition to the haughty, extending generosity to others, abstention from rebellion, keeping aloof from blood-shed, doing justice to people, suppressing anger and avoiding trouble on the earth.” 
With what we have discussed so far, we realize that prejudice comes from ignorance. And every one of us may have a negative prejudice against some people. Simply because we do not bother to gain more knowledge about other people, other religions, other cultures, etc. If we try to know other humans better and try to put ourselves in their conditions and empathize with them, and do not judge them based on what we’ve heard about them, but expand our knowledge by the sufficient studies, then there is a chance that we can help each other in the way of growth and improvement.
In the first part of the article, some stress relieving practices were discussed. Here we complete the list with other advises proposed for facing stress in Islam.
Isolation is undoubtedly the worst way to deal with depression, although some have a completely opposite view on this matter. In general, upholding kinship with relatives and visiting them regularly, benefits one from their social and emotional support . And particularly, in the case of having a problem as serious as depression, they will not leave their loved ones alone and will help to find the resources to get him/her treated. That’s why keeping family ties is strongly emphasized and recommended in Islamic teachings .
Gathering frequently with supportive friends can also play a big role in making depression more manageable and relieving stress in Islam. In Islamic resources, trustworthy friends are known to be like one’s eyes and hands, and family and properties of a person; they are rare and invaluable , and they can help a lot to deal with such disorders.
It is stated in Surah Rum that God has created mates for the human beings which are the source of solace and comfort to them (30:21). Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said that after Islam, nothing is more beneficial than a righteous, kind, Muslim wife who brings a smile to the face when looking at her . That is within a lawful (Halal) marriage that both sides receive pure affection and emotional support from each other; respond safely to their sexual urge; help and encourage each other to achieve their goals, promote their social statue and get a better economic situation. Moreover, the researchers suggest that marriage provides the companionship and emotional support needed to help alleviate depression . Hence, many of one’s worries might fade in a successful marriage .
Looking clean and nice is one of the manners of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). It makes one look good, feel good, be confident and attract the company of people and their respect which consequently helps one’s stress to be healed. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) used to put on perfume and always advised others to do so . On the contrary, looking disheveled has always been blamed in Islamic teachings and narrations since it is believed that one should make the most of the blessings of life . The effect of having a clean and nice appearance and smelling good manifests itself in a healthy, joyful individual .
Doing sport and healthy entertainments are highly advised in Islam due to its wonderful benefits on one’s peace and success. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said that a wise person divides his daily schedule to four parts and dedicates one of them to lawful (Halal) and healthy entertainment which comforts heart and mind . Imam Ali (AS) has emphasized the impacts of cheerful moments and the state of being happy on one’s soul and mind, too [11, 12]. However, entertainment should not be confused with useless activities. Doing sports especially horse riding, shooting and swimming are encouraged in Islam [13, 14]. On the contrary, playing marbles, gambling or any kind of activity with the intent of winning money or material goods , and any entertainment which is a waste of time (like sitting in front of the TV all day and doing nothing else) are absolutely forbidden. That is due to the fact that one gains nothing for doing such activities but loses time and energy, and Muslims are warned neither to lose nor to cause damage.
One of the psychological impacts of giving charity is the joy that the donor will experience in his/her heart. Acts of charity and helping others might happen in several forms, like watering a plant, teaching, helping deaf (without nagging and complaining) to communicate with others and being tolerant towards people . In Surah Baqara, it is said that those who spend their wealth in the way of Allah, will be surely rewarded by their Lord. Moreover, they will not fear, nor will they grieve (2:262).
- A. Javadi Amoli, “Mafatih al-hayat”, p. 216.
- what does islam say about maintaining family ties
- M. al-Kulaynī, “Al-Kafi”, vol. 2, p. 248.
- Shaykh Tusi, “Tahdhib al-ahkam fi sharh al-muqni'a”. vol. 7, p. 278, T. 4.
- Frech, A. and Williams, K., 2007. Depression and the psychological benefits of entering marriage. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 48(2), pp.149-163.
- stress in life
- M. al-Kulaynī, “Al-Kafi”, vol. 6, p. 510.
- A. Javadi Amoli, “Mafatih al-hayat”, p. 164.
- H. F. Tabarsi, “Makarim al-akhlaq”, p. 42.
- Shaykh Sadouq, “Ma'ani l-akhbar”, p. 334.
- “Ghurar al-Hikam wa Durar al-Kalim”, T. 3992.
- “Ghurar al-Hikam wa Durar al-Kalim”, T. 3993.
- Al Suyuti, “Jami al-saghir”, vol. 1, p. 38.
- Al Suyuti, “Jami al-saghir”, vol. 1, p. 627.
- Ibn Babawayh, “Al-Khisal”, p. 331.
- A. Javadi Amoli, “Mafatih al-hayat”, p. 547.