What Does Islam Say About Mental Health?
For a long time, the Muslim community has neglected mental health. However, in recent years, there have been more open and honest conversations that brought this matter to light within our community.
We have been brave enough to open the door. Yet, at the same time, whilst a transformation has been happening, I have always felt uneasy about the approach some in our community had about mental health. It was presented as though mental health could only be discussed from a secular or western paradigm and that, somehow, our religion had nothing to offer or say on the important matter.
But it should. In the past six months, I, and many others, received news of Muslims – members of our very own community – committing suicide due to their poor mental health. I am in conversations with WhatsApp circles centred around the lack of mental health coping mechanisms taught to our youth in ‘Islamic Schools’.
But despite this, there is this constant insinuation within the community that Islam has nothing to do with mental health. That western psychological paradigms are the only source of knowledge to overcome mental health issues.
I detest this approach. I think there is much to learn from the Islamic approach to mental health that has, unfortunately, been lost in our history. Muslims are pioneers in this field. From identifying symptoms to diagnosis to short and long-term remedies and cures, our Deen had been a vital part in understanding and looking after our mental health.
Our values as Muslims will never be found in western psychology, as Professor Malik Bari explains in his book ‘The Dilemma of Muslim Psychologists’:
"Likewise, Muslim educational psychologists in the lizard's hole parrot many Western educational theories which are based on un-Islamic doctrines and practices of the contemporary materialistic society. For example, some of them give lip service to such vague terms as 'sex education' and 'the true spirit of the university life'. They openly advocate co-education at the secondary and university levels as the only way to teach sex-education and to get rid of 'sexual repression and complexes' which 'psychologically cripple' our Muslim young people!"
This is not to say that we should write off western psychology. However, at the same time, we cannot throw the baby with the bath water. Islam has answers to these issues.
Watch this video produced by Islamic Media as I sit down with two brothers to discuss anxiety. Hear about them explain their ailments and hardships and how Islam has helped them live with their anxiety.
If you are going through some issues with your mental health, reach out to a Muslim-trained professional at Invictussolutions.com.au. Likewise, for more information about the history of Islam and mental health, visit Maristan.org.
May Allah SWT give us strength in the trials of this life and guide us on the straight path. Ameen.
Assalamu Alaykum Wa Rahmatullah