Home>Posts>Religion & Culture>Imam Ali (as) on Why Anxiety and Depression Happen

Imam Ali (as) on Why Anxiety and Depression Happen


According to Imam Ali (as), ambitions and goals in life are important to keep our morality and spirituality in check.

According to Imam Ali (as), ambitions and goals in life are important to keep our morality and spirituality in check.

By Rayhan al-Safawi

Perhaps the greatest plague of the modern world is anxiety and depression. There is no one factor that explains why this is happening. From love of the world to one’s upbringing, or from abuse to chemical imbalances in one’s brain, the problem is there.

The Ahl al-Bayt (as) offer us one reason why this may be happening which has to do with the frame of mind and goals we set for ourselves.

In a tradition from Imam Ali (as), it is said that:

بقدر الهمم تكون الهموم

Translation: “Worries are proportionate to the extent of one’s ambition”

He also said:

على قدر الهمة تكون الحمية

Translation: “Enthusiasm is proportionate to the extent of one’s ambition”

In another tradition, he also said that:

شجعة الرجل على قدر همته

Translation: “The bravery of a man is proportionate to his ambition.”

In another telling hadith, he also explains: من صغر الهمة حسد الصديق على النعمة meaning that “he whose ambition is short will envy a friend in his blessings.”

Goals in life make us strong and brave. They anchor us in the world and prompt us up to meet any challenge.  We set ourselves for a disaster when do not set any goals in our lives. In life, we become aimless wonderers and subject to the vicissitudes of time not knowing when the next tragedy and disappointment will come.

Having ambitions and goals in life reorient us and anchor us in the world. When the winds of tragedy befall us, if our goals our strong enough, our anchoring will make sure that we aren’t displaced too hardly. The loftiest of these goals are spiritual goals.

Perhaps one reason why people are so rude today is because there is a lack of serious goals and anchoring in their lives (other than worldly gain). Lack of goals lead to a sense of loss and nihilism and hence despair. This is when extreme anxiety and depression are born thus triggering all the symptoms of ill behavior: anger, jealousy, hatred and so on.

This is why Imam Ali (as) said: من صغرت همته بطلت فضيلته

“He who has low ambition, his virtue ceases”

Yet on the other hand, ambitions make us generous, sober and tolerant because of the relaxation they give us.

Imam Ali (as) said: الكرم نتيجة علو الهمة

Translation: “Generosity is the product of high ambition”

He also said: الحلم والأناة تو أمان ينتجهما علو الهمة

Translation: “Tolerance and sobriety are twins, and high ambition produces them”

If we are to survive in this world and thrive, we must set out goals and have ambitions, act on them and stick by them. It is only in this way that we can fight the creeping but overwhelming nihilism of the age and become truly dignified people.

Rayhan al-Safawi is a blogger at the World Shia Forum. He lives with his family in the West Coast, United States.


Share This Story, Choose Your Platform!


Latest From Twitter