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IslamQA: What to do when you feel distant from God

I’ve been starting to feel disconnected from Allah (SWT), and I don’t know what to do. I keep trying to pray, understand, stay close, but I feel that I’m drifting. My life has been going down an unfortunate path and I feel that God isn’t answering my pleas for help. I don’t know what to do. I want my bond to go back to the way it was and be even stronger, I just keep feeling it fade away.

I have been in similar situations and I have learned that the point is to learn to worship God, submit to Him and rely on Him regardless of how we feel. If your life feels meaningless and lacking in spirituality then the first thing to realize is that God can change your state in an instant if He wants. God could give all of His believers a constant warm fuzzy feeling of spiritual connectedness with Him if He wanted, but that is not the point of religion.

The point is to learn true submission and reliance. God wants us to live and act as if nothing can harm us or benefit us except through God. The path of spirituality in the Quran is not about seeking spiritual highs, it is about becoming God’s ideal servants and representatives. An ideal servant of God is a person whose will is completely submitted to God’s will. This does not require feeling spiritual or connected with God. Whether you are happy or sad, whether your life feels meaningful or empty, you can be an ideal servant and act according to what that means and gain God’s rewards.

Feeling spiritual and close to God is something that comes and goes. Our emotions are unstable and cannot be relied on. A person who is genetically predisposed to depression, for example, is going to feel bad during their depression episodes regardless of how hard they try to erase this bad feeling through spirituality. Religion is not meant to be a happiness drug, it is meant to be a program that is followed regardless of whether we are happy or sad. It can give us happiness and moments of feeling spiritually close to God, and these are great, but they never last.

So I have realized it is a waste of time and effort to worry about how I feel spiritually. I know my duties and I do them. I serve God regardless of how I feel, similar to a loyal servant of a king who serves the king loyally and devotedly regardless of how they feel and regardless of how the king seems to be treating them. We do not prove our loyalty to God by getting upset when we do not feel blessed or close to Him. We prove our loyalty by serving Him during all of life’s moments.

Rather than seeking a particular feeling (i.e. feeling close to God), seek to become the ideal servant and leave it to God to take care of you emotionally. He can solve your problems and bring you great joy. But none of this is meant to last since this world is not meant to be Paradise. There will always be moments of sadness and moments of feeling distant from God. It is during these moments more than any others that we can prove our true loyalty and dedication toward God.

Many believers are unfortunately “fair weather friends” of God, thinking that God only deserves dedicated worship and thankfulness when they feel good inside, and when things are bad they get upset and feel that God is not there for them. That is not how the ideal servant acts. God’s ideal servants are with Him during the good and the bad, during spiritual highs and during the deepest misery and depression.

When you feel distant from God, do your duties, worship Him, patiently wait for His support and relief, and express gratitude. And once this passes and you feel close to God again, do the same while realizing that this too will pass.

I recommend reading or listening to the Quran for an hour every day for a Muslim who wishes to be extraordinary. This is something that I do regardless of how I feel; I do not stop when I feel distant from God. It is a duty, a way of keeping God’s remembrance alive in my heart, and perhaps the times when I need it the most are exactly those times when I am least desirous of doing it. When I listen to the Quran for an hour even though I do not want to, I prove my loyalty to God, I prove that I am willing to stand up for my principles regardless of how life is treating me.

And God knows best.
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