What is Mental Health?
Mental health is a person’s emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It determines how a person thinks, feels, and acts. A person with good mental health is able to navigate through stressful situations and challenges in everyday life. They can make sound decisions, and build and nurture healthy relationships, all while contributing positively to their society.
On the contrary, a person with poor mental health finds it difficult to function daily, is prone to stress and anxiety, and develops mental disorders in extreme cases. Different factors cause mental health issues, such as genetics, life experiences, family concerns, and environmental factors.
What does Islam say about Mental Health?
Islam is more than religion; it's a complete lifestyle guiding every aspect of human life. It stresses the importance of psychological and spiritual health. Islam offers nourishment and emotional well-being by encouraging servitude, surrender, and submission to the Divine. Islam guides the life purpose of its followers and liberates them from the traps of the material world. Muslims can elevate themselves from the trials and tribulations of this world in hopes of attaining the pleasure of their Creator in Akhirah (eternal life).
This concept is actualized in Islamic practices in the form of Salah, Idhkar, and supplications which are the most common acts of worship to the extent that they become second nature of a Muslim. Islam stresses finding peace in Allah’s remembrance and daily acts of prayers but does not close the door to seeking professional help in cases where applicable.
The Prophet SAW also experienced grief, sorrow, and anxiety in his lifetime. He experienced the loss of his beloved wife, friend, and the first person to accept Islam, Khadija (R.A). Soon after her death, the Prophet’s protector and uncle, Abu Talib, also died, creating even more sadness. The year became known as the ‘Year of Sorrow.’ The enemies saw an opportunity, causing further discomfort and a social & economic boycott. These extreme events from the life of our Prophet SAW and stories of other prophets mentioned in the Quran contain clear signs of the significance of mental health and how our religion guides us to recover from poor mental health states.
Guidance from the Quran and Sunnah on Mental Health
Let's examine some of the excerpts from the Quran and Hadith to cope with mental distresses.
Putting our hopes in Allah and engaging in His remembrance helps us deal with negative emotions. As Allah mentions in the Holy Quran:
"Verily in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest." Quran 13:28
An important perspective is to look at trials and tribulations as tests from Allah and a means to attain closeness with the Al-Shāfi (The Healer). As the Quran mentions,
“We will certainly test you with a touch of fear and famine and loss of property, life, and crops. Give good news to those who patiently endure.” Qur’an 2:155
Abu Huraira narrates that the Prophet SAW said:
“If Allah wills good for someone, He afflicts him with trials.”
Instead of thinking, “why do I have to go through these hardships?” focus on the lessons Allah wants you to learn from these experiences and submit to His Divine plan, which is better than anyone else’s.
Submitting to Allah’s will makes way for healing. Suhayb ibn Sinān Ar-Rūmi (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet ﷺ said:
“How wonderful the affair of the believer is! Indeed, all of his affairs are good for him. This is for no one but the believer. If something good happens to him, he is grateful to Allah, which is good for him. And if something bad happens to him, he has patience, which is good for him.”
The importance of seeking physical treatments is reflected in the Prophet SAW's saying, as Abu Darda reported:
“Verily, Allah sent down the disease and the cure, and for every disease, he made a cure. Seek treatment, but do not seek treatment by the unlawful.”
Community support is another means of seeking help. Islam encourages close and compassionate ties among the members of a Muslim community. It also guides us on how to navigate through it with God-consciousness. Sayyiduna Abu Hurairah R.A states that the Prophet SAW once said:
“Whosoever removes a worldly grief from a believer, Allah will remove from him grief on the Day of Judgment. Whosoever alleviates [the] lot of a destitute (deprived) person, Allah will alleviate his lot in this world and the next. Whosoever conceals the faults of a Muslim, Allah will conceal his faults in this world and the next. Allah will aid a servant (of His) so long as the servant aids his brother.”
Become a Mindful Muslim to Avoid Mental Health Issues
Mindfulness (Muraqabah) is a great practice to keep our thoughts in the right direction and deal with negative thoughts and trauma-inducing situations in life. It’s a state of awareness of the presence of Allah at all times, and letting this awareness guide our thoughts and actions to the best of our abilities.
It empowers you to follow your thoughts and desires or abstain and act accordingly. Mindfulness is linked to decreased stress, reactivity, and depression and increased focus, empathy, memory, and healthy relationships.
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