Mental health has become a huge issue for the past few years. It has been reported that 20% of all Americans suffer from a mental health condition yearly.
Worsening mental health has reached crisis levels. One in every five children experiences mental health issues with debilitating symptoms.
While suicide is the 11th leading cause of death among the general population, it is the third leading cause among individuals between the ages of 15 and 24. The mental health crisis has further intensified due to the global pandemic and the resulting worsening of economic conditions all over the world.
It is times like these that the light and guidance of Islam can help us. Faith and belief in Allah are a source of hope and strength. It is our conviction that can help us out of the fog of mental distress.
Islam And Mental Health
Islam is a religion of peace and harmony. As a believer, we must fulfill our obligations to Allah Almighty. However, at the same time, faith helps to heal us and make us whole.
The calmness and peace Muslims derive from prayers, supplications, and other offerings are liberating. Islam feeds into a fundamental spiritual need. It gives out life direction, purpose, and meaning.
Many people who suffer from mental health problems despite appearing successful report feelings of inadequacy. The feeling of emptiness can be all-consuming if there is nothing to guide us. Islam is that guide.
Islam liberates us from worries and stress since there is a belief that everything that happens is due to Allah’s plan. Muslims feel content in Allah’s plan no matter how difficult times may get. We believe that there is good in it that we cannot know.
Tips For Muslims Dealing With Mental Health Issues
Even if you are a practicing Muslim, there can be times when you experience mental health problems. We all are human, after all. Even Prophet Muhammad (SAWW) was not immune to depression.
Allah’s Messenger (SAWW) became depressed when he did not receive a revelation for over six months. In response, Allah revealed Surah ad-Duha. The following verse, in particular, references the condition of the Holy Prophet (SAWW) at that time:
“Your Lord O Prophet has not abandoned you, nor has He become hateful of you” [93:3]
The above verse shows that anyone can experience stress, anxiety, and depression. The answer to dealing with these, aside from modern medical intervention and therapy, lies in Islam.
There are many helpful tips from the Holy Quran and the Holy Prophet (SAWW)’s Sunnah that we can follow to help deal with mental health problems.
Here are some tips from the Quran and Sunnah to help you overcome mental health problems:
Using Prayer To Find The Light
Prayer in Islam is not just an obligation. Sure, praying five times daily is a fundamental pillar in Islam, but prayer goes beyond fulfilling our duties towards Allah.
Prayer and supplications are not limited to the five obligatory prayers in Islam. A Muslim can call upon and seek Allah’s help anytime and anywhere. This is because Allah is Omnipresent and Omniscient. As a believer, it is our faith that Allah is hearing us at all times. This is why we can seek His help and protection at any given hour.
Allah says in Surah al-Baqarah the following:
“When My servants ask you O Prophet about Me: I am truly near. I respond to one’s prayer when they call upon Me. So let them respond with obedience to Me and believe in Me, perhaps they will be guided to the Right Way” [2:186]
The Quranic verses referenced above clearly show that we are not alone. The hopelessness and helplessness accompanying mental health problems can be kept in check if we have faith that our prayers are being heard by Allah Almighty Himself.
There is clear evidence that helping others makes us feel better. Being of assistance to others provides us with a sense of purpose. Selfish behavior may be rewarding in the short term. It, however, does not make us feel fulfilled.
In Islam, giving back by paying alms is an obligatory part of our faith. Aside from this, Muslims are encouraged to help those in need whenever possible.
The life of the Holy Prophet (SAWW) is filled with examples of Allah’s Messenger going out of the way to help others. A tradition narrated by Hazrat Abu Hurairah (RA) goes as follows:
“The Messenger of Allah (SAWW) said: ‘Whoever relieves s Muslim of some worldly distress, Allah will relieve him of some of the distress of the Day of Resurrection, and whoever conceals (the faults of) a Muslim, Allah will conceal him (his faults) in this world and the Day of Resurrection. And whoever relieves the burden from a destitute person Allah will relieve him in this world and the next. Allah will help His slave so long as His slave helps his brother. Whoever follows a path in pursuit of knowledge, Allah will make easy for him a path to Paradise. No people gather in one of the houses of Allah, reciting the Book of Allah and teaching it to one another, but the angels will surround them, tranquility will descend upon them, mercy will envelop them and Allah will mention them to those who are with Him. And whoever is hindered because of his bad deeds, his lineage will be of no avail to him. ‘” [Sunan Ibn Majah, Hadith 225]
Reciting The Holy Quran
The tradition quoted above also indicates how calming reciting the Holy Quran is. Quran is written in beautiful Arabic. Even listening to the recitation has a wonderful effect on the mood.
The saying of Allah’s Messenger (SAWW) points out the soothing quality of the Quran. Daily recitation uplifts our mood and makes our connection with the Almighty that much stronger. Reading the Quran, even a few words each day, like Allahu Akbar, is blind to having a positive effect on our mental health.
Recognizing The Reality Of Suffering
Mental Health brings along with it suffering that is hard to explain. Unlike physical ailments, mental problems have few obvious symptoms. Yet, despite this, mental health problems are very real and cause a great bit of distress.
As Muslims, it should be our belief that Allah is All-Merciful. He will not make His servants suffer unnecessarily. A tradition narrated by both Hazrat Abu Said al-Khudri (RA) and Hazrat Abu Hurairah (RA) goes:
The Prophet (SAWW) said, “No fatigue, nor disease, nor sadness, nor hurt, nor distress befalls a Muslim, even if it were the prick he receives from a thorn, but that Allah expiates some of his sins for that.” [Sahih al-Bukhari, Book 75, Hadith 2]
The above tradition clearly shows that while suffering is unavoidable, Muslims must recognize that every kind of suffering has a silver lining. There is good in everything, even distressing circumstances.
We are truly blessed. Allah has given us simply too much that we must be thankful to Him day and night. Being mindful of Allah’s blessing and thanking Him makes us appreciate everything in life.
\Negative thoughts and emotions usually accompany Mental Health problems. Counting our blessings keeps us grounded and helps us realize how irrational negative thinking is.
We must always be grateful to Allah for His many blessings and be mindful of everything we have. Instead of focusing on the things that are missing, we should live enjoying and being thankful for all the things we have.
Exercise is very important for improved mental well-being. An active lifestyle has numerous benefits for our physical and mental health. We must work out at least five times weekly to maintain good fitness. Exercise is known to improve mood and have a positive impact on stress and depression.
You can incorporate exercise into your daily life with very little effort. If you pray five times a day in a mosque, make an effort to get to the mosque by walking or running there. This way, you fulfill your duties towards Allah while staying healthy and active.
Ask For Help
Asking for support and help during difficult times is not just allowed; it is encouraged. The Holy Prophet (SAWW) is a shining example of community building. He created a harmonious society in Madinah after he migrated there from Makkah. The mosque in the times of the Holy Prophet (SAWW) was not just a place of worship, it was a place for communal gathering.
There is no doubt that there is strength in numbers. Seeking help and assistance from those in society or professionals can be very effective. Getting good advice can help change your perspective and help you realize irrational thoughts and feelings. Doing so helps to improve your mental health.
Achieving Mental Well-Being
Improving mental health is a constant process. There are no shortcuts to achieving better mental health. It can be a long journey. However, Islam can help fulfill spiritual needs and provide a sense of self and purpose, which can be of tremendous help.
Having a strong faith, along with other kinds of therapies and treatments, can be very beneficial. This is why believers must turn towards Allah and the teachings of His Holy Prophet (SAWW) to improve their mental well-being.