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Emotional Detox During Ramadan

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As you are in the midst of the last days of Ramadan you need to make sure that you are completely cleansed in every aspect.  Many of you have prayed long rakats sincerely asking  for forgiveness,  read Quran while shedding many tears and engaged in many acts of charity feeling renewed.  The one area that you may have overlooked is your emotional baggage. Many times you are so consumed with worship and acts of charity that it is easy to overlook your emotional issues.  So what is so important in dealing with them?  As long as you just fast, pray, read Quran & give sadaqah (charity) it’s enough right?  WRONG.
As a psychologist I recognize that your  emotional and psychological states have a huge impact on your spiritual well-being.  If you are depressed, anxious, holding a grudge or feeling jealous then you will be in an emotional turmoil – your focus and attention will shift toward your problem and you will not be wholeheartedly attentive to your acts of worship, only your issues.  In order to free yourself from the toxins of the emotional  hazards you need to  do an EMOTIONAL DETOX to rid yourself of all harmful and potentially deadly baggage.  Think of it as spring cleaning of your mind and heart before completing Ramadan.

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TOXIN # 1    HOLDING A GRUDGE

Is there someone in your life that has hurt you, lied to you, cheated on you or abused  you  and you are holding a grudge?  Are you angry and feeling depressed because of it?  Whenever you are in some way oppressed you have the choice to either play the victim role and feel sorry for yourself or you can accept it and move on.  Grudges are like heavy suitcases you carry with you everywhere you go, weighing you down.  Learn to let go and liberate yourself.

No matter how negligent you have been, how selfish or decadent you have lived your life there is always hope in making a change. First forgive yourself of past mistakes- there is no limit to Allah’s forgiveness- the door of repentance is always open.

Hadith Qudsi : “O son of Adam, were your sins to reach the clouds of the sky and were you then to ask forgiveness of Me, I would forgive you” (Al-Tirmidhi)

Forgive your parents, your spouse, your siblings and anyone else who has ever oppressed you.  Instead of being angry at people, realize that there is divine wisdom in everything that happens. It is the difficult tests in your life that shape you and make you a stronger person.  Embrace your past and your present so that you can truly liberate yourself.

Whoever suffers an injury and forgives , God will raise his status to a higher degree and removes one of his sins” (Al-Tirmidhi).

It is like a wrestling match with your nafs (ego) – fighting the evil within to purify  your hearts.  Overcome your innate desire to hold a grudge.  The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) inspired us with this practice when he said to his followers:

“God had ordered me to maintain ties with those who sever ties with me to give to those who deprive me and to forgive those who oppress me.”

The Prophet and his companions went beyond altruism.  They had immeasurable generosity towards people who had tortured them and they were forgiving and merciful to the worst oppressors.  The essence of true forgiveness is to forget.  Not bringing up the past mistakes of others is one of the most dignified and mature things you can do.

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Think about the man who was promised paradise because he forgave everyone before he slept – how easy is that?  It doesn’t cost anything and it doesn’t take any effort.  You only need to make a decision to forgive.

TOXIN # 2  ANGER

Anger is a natural human emotion which can motivate you to take action.  If anger is not channeled properly  it can be the leading cause of health & psychological problems, violence and even divorce.  Learn how to control your anger  or else it will control you.

The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said, “The strong is not the one who overcomes the people by his strength, but the one who controls himself while in anger.” (Bukhari).

Several things are attributed to overcoming anger.  When you accept  your destiny and truly realize that everything that is happening to you right now is the best for you, then you will gain more control over your anger.  Another very important ingredient to overcoming anger is having emotional leadership and acting like an adult at all times.  It is critical to take ownership of your feelings and stop blaming others.  You are the only person who has the power to decide whether you will be angry or not.  If you have a long list of buttons that people can easily press – DEACTIVATE YOUR BUTTONS. Don’t show sensitivity so that people will stop pressing your buttons.

 

When the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) was asked for  advice he said Don’t get angry – he was asked a second and third time and he repeated don’t get angry.  The reason he put so much emphasis on not getting angry is because anger leads to many problems and sins.  When a person gets angry they can hurt other peoples’ feelings, gossip, physically hurt others or take part in other destructive behavior.  The best way to prevent anger is to take time out, do deep breathing, make positive affirmations while doing istaghfar (asking for forgiveness).

TOXIN # 3 ANXIETY

The danger of having anxiety is that it consumes you and makes you feel overwhelmed.  When a person is feeling overwhelmed they no longer can focus, feel at peace or have trust in their heart.  This can really effect peoples’ faith and their productivity.  Many times people feel immobilized when they are overcome with anxiety.
Most people live in the remorse of the past or the fear of future which creates an excessive amount of anxiety.  The only way to prevent the anxiety is to live in the here and now.  If you are focused on the present without worrying about the past or future then and only then can you start living a fulfilling and meaningful life.  In order to achieve this you really have to believe that Allah is al-Hakeem (the most wise).  Everything He does is for a reason and if you trust Allah and accept your destiny then you will have no anxiety.  Take control of what you are saying to yourself because your self-talk can either help you to attain peace or lead you to massive anxiety.  Instead of saying, “ Oh no, I don’t know what is going to happen to me”  say:  “I know that everything will work out for the best and I will be able to cope with whatever happens inshaAllah.”

I have had clients with extreme anxiety disorder and individuals who have had nervous breakdowns who have learned how to cope with their anxiety in order to live a peaceful  lives. As the saying goes:  it’s all in your head -so if you think you are going to lose it you will and if you think you will be in control and remain calm you will be equipped to deal with the worst catastrophes.  The best way to ease your heart is to seek Allah’s help in prayer to help you be patient.

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And seek help through patience and prayer, and indeed, it is difficult except for the humbly submissive [to Allah] Surat al Baqara 2:45

TOXIN # 4 DEPRESSION

Usually people are depressed because things did not work out the way they had planned.  They feel somehow hopeless or helpless for not having control over their lives.  When a person experiences depression they are overwhelmed with grief, hopelessness and apathy. They are incapable of doing anything for themselves and they no longer can contribute to society.  The depression takes complete control over the persons’ life and they can’t be productive in any way.

Majority of my clients suffer from depression and the way I help them overcome it is by focusing on the many blessings they have and increasing their daily gratitude.  As they become more grateful I teach them to accept their circumstances.  No matter how difficult the situation, I tell them that it is a test that they have to accept in order to pass.

Some of the best ways to combat depression is to push yourself to take part in activities even if you don’t feel like it.  Get together with friends, exercise daily and attend classes.  This way you can ensure that you will avoid the downward spiral of depression.  The quickest way to overcome depression is to help those in need.  The more you are involved in tending to the needs of the less fortunate the more you will feel gratitude for your life.

TOXIN # 5  PESSIMISM

If you choose to look at life with pessimism it will prevent you from appreciating all the blessings that you have and make you a chronic complainer which will in essence make you and everyone around you miserable.  When you are pessimistic you will search for what is wrong in everything and everyone, you will lose all hope and lack enthusiasm for the future.  A believer can only be optimistic because they believe in the power of their creator and they are certain that everything that happens is for the best.  They don’t question the past or the present because they know that the Most Wise would not have them suffer in vain.  Always search for what is good about your situation and reframe to look for the wisdom in each event.

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The Messenger of Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him): “How wonderful is the affair of the believer, for his affairs are all good, and this applies to no one but the believer. If something good happens to him, he is thankful for it and that is good for him. If something bad happens to him, he bears it with patience and that is good for him.” (Narrated by Muslim, 2999).

TOXIN # 6 JEALOUSY

When you feel jealous it is like fire inside your heart that prevents you from being peaceful or content.  The problem of jealousy arises when you start comparing yourself to others.  This comparison can leave you feeling inadequate, unattractive, poor, unfortunate and miserable.   Anyone who feels jealousy does not understand the concept of predestination (qadr).   Allah is the one who distributes wealth, health, status & everything else; therefore, if you feel jealous wishing you had what another person has or wanting to look like someone else, then you are implying that you know more than Allah (authobillah).  No one would have the audacity to question Allah, but if you constantly complain & think it’s not fair then you are doing just that.

Jealousy is a disease of the heart that needs to be overcome.  Focus on the many blessings that you already have and stop comparing yourself to others.  The only people you should be comparing yourself to are the ones who are worse off so you can fill your heart with constant gratitude.

And [remember] when your Lord proclaimed, ‘If you are grateful, I will surely increase you [in favor]; but if you deny, indeed, My punishment is severe.’ ” Ibrahim 14:7

gratitude

Realize that every blessing is a test.  If there is something you don’t have then it is a form of mercy.  Start showing gratitude for all the things you don’t have because if you had them you could have gone astray.

TOXIN # 7 LOW SELF-ESTEEM

Low self-esteem can effect your life tremendously.  If you don’t feel good about yourself you will feel depressed and you will not be able to achieve your goals.  Sometimes you can be your own worst critic.  Try to minimize destructive thinking.   People talk to themselves 600 words a minute which 85% is negative.   Give your thoughts a makeover.  Start thinking positively and surround yourself with positive people.  Provide yourself with opportunities to have small accomplishments and celebrate your successes.

TOXIN # 8 BEING JUDGMENTAL

Being judgmental of others is the quickest way to push them away and create distance.  Each time you look at a person with judgmental eyes evaluating their level of commitment, their clothes, the way they choose to wear the hijab or the activities they take part in you create a barrier.  The person being judged will feel extremely rejected and they will have very negative emotions towards you and Islam.  The only way you can be an effective representative of Islam is by being accepting and non-judgmental.  Don’t look for spiritual clones of yourself & label others as losers.  Try your best to be accepting and tolerant of all people.

Unfortunately, the more religious people become the more critical and  judgmental they become.  It is really a shame if you start feeling arrogant because you are more religious than someone else.  This is only from the mercy of Allah that you are on the right path and He could take you off that path in an instant if you continue to look down on others and turn them away from Islam with your harsh, judgmental style.

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TOXIN # 9 TOXIC RELATIONS

There are certain people you may be in contact with which are toxic for your life.  These individuals may be pessimistic, heedless or completely oblivious to their purpose in life.  As you spend time with individuals like this you will be effected by their poison and slowly but surely you will be completely infected.  Try to avoid them if you can or limit your time with them.  Counterbalance the negative effect by spending time with highly positive and committed people.  If the toxic people in your life are your family members try to understand the wisdom in having them in your life and limit your time with them as much as you can without offending them.

TOXIN # 10 HATRED

If you have hatred in your heart it is best to cleanse yourself from it this Ramadan. Harboring feelings of hatred releases poisons, kills your spirit & makes you cynical.  Understand the reasons behind your hatred and try your best to overcome it by accepting your destiny and trusting in Allah’s plan.  Remember that when the hating ends the healing begins.  Fill your heart with love and make supplications for the people you dislike in order to soften your heart and earn rewards.

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Make it your goal this Ramadan to rid yourself of all the toxins by doing the emotional detox so that your heart will be fully cleansed and ready for the rest of the year.  If you put forth the effort in ridding yourself of one toxin at a time you will improve your overall spiritual and emotional state while enhancing your relationships with others insha’Allah.

 

 

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Haleh Banani has a Master degree in Clinical Psychology with 20 years of experience working with couples and individuals. She was a featured expert on Al-Jazeera international, Huda TV, Islamic Open University, Mercy Mission and Bayinnah TV. Haleh is an instructor for Ilmflix and Qalam Institute. She is an international speaker and writer.

16 Comments

16 Comments

  1. Avatar

    A

    August 4, 2013 at 4:04 PM

    Subhanallah. I have all of these…. Jazakallahu khair for writing….

    • Avatar

      A

      August 4, 2013 at 4:19 PM

      I don’t know how to let go of grudges…I keep walls up because I feel if I let them down or let go of the grudges, those people will hurt me again (pessimism)…can you advise please?

      • Avatar

        Re:A and B

        August 5, 2013 at 1:49 PM

        walls are good, but in time they evolve and continue to grow bigger and bigger. what you should do is forget about their past mistakes, and do what is right. Try not to get in situations in which previously they deceived you. And if they do hurt you again, punch ’em, and punch ’em really hard.

  2. Avatar

    Berserk Hijabi

    August 4, 2013 at 10:20 PM

    I have to agree with A. Alhamdlillah I am young and the only problem I have is a grudge which I am slowly learning to let go of,but like this commenter said I have this fear that if I do I am giving this persons he chance to take advantage of me,cut me down and bully me again.

    • Avatar

      Re:A and B

      August 5, 2013 at 1:44 PM

      you should punch that person in the face, and if he/she is still bullying you punch him/her again. Btw, it is better to forgive but if you can not you can take revenge if you want. Allah doesn’t like people who doesn’t stand or speak against oppression.

      • Avatar

        m

        June 18, 2015 at 10:51 AM

        I’m not sure if your trying to be funny or give advice. What ever it is, its really ignorant. if someone continuosly hurts you, why are they still in your life? Or better yet, some self reflection… are you too sensitive? are you setting yourself up for expectations of other people that they themselves have not given you reason to expect?

        have an open and honest conversation… don’t set yourself up for dissapointment. The choice is yours.

  3. Avatar

    iMuslim

    August 4, 2013 at 11:39 PM

    It’s very sad that I am afflicted with many of the diseases listed. But alhamdulillah one of them that has been made easier for me is jealousy.

    In one of Sh Yasir Qadhi’s recent Ramadan videos he mentioned a Sunnah dua to say whenever you feel the sting of jealousy: “masha’Allah, barakAllahu lak, la hawla wa la quwwata illa billah”.

    It means that you acknowledge that Allah is the One who granted the person their gift; you pray that He blesses them with more; finally, you remind yourself that all matters and power to change them are under Allah’s control alone.

    Not only is this incredibly therapeutic, but because it is a dua you are making for your brother or sister, the angel will say “ameen and for you also”, so you are in effect also making dua for yourself!

    It has really helped me as before, not only was I burdened with jealousy, but then I was burdened with the guilt of being such a horribly jealous person! Instead I now turn to Allah immediately and shut the door to both crippling emotions insha’Allah.

    Now I just have to work on the rest of my demons… :/

  4. Avatar

    Nadia Shah

    August 6, 2013 at 2:08 AM

    Very well written. I agree with everything and wish more people would try to deal w/these issues before they consume their life. Although there should be a disclaimer with depression: there are some that may need medication in conjunction w/therapy to deal with major depression.

  5. Avatar

    M. Aslam

    August 6, 2013 at 5:00 AM

    Subhan Allah. I have all of these…. Jazakallahu khair for writing…. You post is very informative and very useful….

  6. Avatar

    Fatima Ariadne

    August 6, 2013 at 8:28 AM

    Thank you for this article. But now in this time the definition of extremism itself has shifted. In the time of Prophet, extremism is exaggeration in practicing religions, but now those who are against the Western imperialism in Muslim lands are deemed “extremists” by mainstream Western media.

    Agree too that now Muslims are greatly divided because of extreme polarity of love/hatred. It’s sad really when a muslim treat his brothers and sisters with vile namecallings, “may you burn in hell” or such just because they don’t share the same view.

  7. Avatar

    Fatima Ariadne

    August 6, 2013 at 8:37 AM

    Subhanallah :O my bad. I apologize for comment above in the wrong place :O. I open multiple windows tabs and there goes the mistake….

    thank you for this article. The list are sooo spot on, but may I add a little that a lot of heart diseases came from too much attachment to dunya or past pain. Letting go of grudges or forgiving is about giving yourself permission to release the past, release yourself from the victim mentality, and to accept that Allah arranges yourself to cross path with certain things, places, and people so they could exchange some lessons with you.

  8. Avatar

    Tahir Farooqui

    August 12, 2013 at 12:28 AM

    A wondreading article I have every read.. Subhanallah.

    A document every one should read it, reflect it on every point, pray to Allah Swt, offer 2 rakaat taubah & Saltul Hajaat and then practice the same inshaAllah.. You shall starting loving your life, your parents and family inshaAllah.

    May Allah Swt guide us on a right path, forgive our sins and make us a valubale asset for the Ummah ameen.

    Jazakallah khair and thank you very much to the writer and the muslimmatters.

    Wassalamu Alaikum,
    tahir farooqui

  9. Avatar

    Laila Ali

    August 12, 2013 at 5:31 AM

    I agree with Mrs. Banani’s views and studies except for toxic relations. She did not support this with any Hadith. Our religion teaches to get closer to a person who is moving away from us. We are expected to maintain relations and not break the ties. We are not supposed to not talk to a person for more than three days. Islam teaches on bringing people together not getting away from them. Imagine if you have a toxic person as a spouse, then what is the option. If any of the options that Mrs. Banani suggested are implemented then it is against Islam and will lead to divorce.

    • Avatar

      m

      June 18, 2015 at 10:55 AM

      I believe her view of “toxic people” is very well informed. Something does not become toxic overnight, it is not toxic in one altercation.. toxic people are usually recognised over a long period of time and not just by one person. If you are bringing yourself closer and they continue to take advantage and move away or contiuously be negative then i believe they are of the people allash has chose not to guide. those people can only be helped by Allah. I dont think it takes hadith to support this situation specifically but by recognising the negative traits of that person that are not within the realm of our religion. the onus needs to be put on that person after so much work and effort is put in them. if you approach them within 3 days and they are still toxic.. the onus to be better is their’s, not your’s.

  10. Pingback: EMOTIONAL DETOX DURING RAMADAN | Houghton Muslim Jamaat (West Street)

  11. Avatar

    Bekim

    January 1, 2015 at 5:25 AM

    Looking forward to the biweekly news letter…

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#Life

How Grandparents Can Be Of Invaluable Help In A Volatile ‘Me First’ Age

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I grew up in a small rural village of a developing country during the 1950s and 1960s within a wider ‘extended’ family environment amidst many village aunties and uncles. I had a wonderfully happy childhood with enormous freedom but traditional boundaries. Fast forward 30 years, my wife and I raised our four children on our own in cosmopolitan London in the 1980s and 1990s. Although not always easy, we had a wonderful experience to see them grow as adults. Many years and life experiences later, as grandparents, we see how parenting has changed in the current age of confusion and technology domination.

While raising children is ever joyous for parents, external factors such as rapidly changing lifestyles, a breath-taking breakdown of values in modern life, decline of parental authority and the impacts of social media have huge impacts on modern parenting.

Recently, my wife and I decided to undertake the arduous task of looking after our three young grandchildren – a 5½-year old girl and her 2-year old sibling brother from our daughter, plus a 1½-year old girl from our eldest son – while their parents enjoyed a thoroughly deserved week-long holiday abroad. My wife, who works in a nursery, was expertly leading this trial. I made myself fully available to support her. Rather than going through our daily experiences with them for a week, I highlight here a few areas vis a vis raising children in this day and age and the role of grandparents. The weeklong experience of being full time carers brought home with new impetus some universal needs in parenting. I must mention that handling three young grandchildren for a week is not a big deal; it was indeed a sheer joy to be with these boisterous, occasionally mischievous, little kids so dear to us!

  1. Establish a daily routine and be consistent: Both parents are busy now-a-days earning a livelihood and maintaining their family life, especially in this time of austerity. As children grow, and they grow fast, they naturally get used to the daily parental routine, if it is consistent. This is vital for parents’ health as they need respite in their daily grind. For various practical reasons the routine may sometimes be broken, but this should be an exception rather than a norm. After a long working day parents both need their own time and rest before going to sleep. Post-natal depression amongst mums is very common in situations where there is no one to help them or if the relationship between the spouses is facing difficulty and family condition uninspiring.

In our trial case, we had some struggles in putting the kids to sleep in the first couple of nights. We also faced difficulties in the first few mornings when our grandson would wake up at 5.00am and would not go back to sleep, expecting one of us to play with him! His noise was waking up his younger cousin in another room. We divided our tasks and somehow managed this until we got used to a routine towards the end of the week.

  1. Keep children away from screens: Grandparents are generally known for their urge to spoil their grandchildren; they are more relaxed about discipline, preferring to leave that job to the parents. We tried to follow the parents’ existing rules and disciplinary measures as much as possible and build on them. Their parents only allow the children to use screens such as iPads or smartphones as and when deemed necessary. We decided not to allow the kids any exposure to these addictive gadgets at all in the whole week. So, it fell on us to find various ways to keep them busy and engaged – playing, reading, spending time in the garden, going to parks or playgrounds. The basic rule is if parents want their kids to keep away from certain habits they themselves should set an example by not doing them, especially in front of the kids.
  2. Building a loving and trusting relationship: From even before they are born, children need nurture, love, care and a safe environment for their survival and healthy growth. Parenting becomes enjoying and fulfilling when both parents are available and they complement each other’s duties in raising the kids. Mums’ relationship with their children during the traditional weaning period is vital, both for mums and babies. During our trial week we were keenly observing how each of the kids behaved with us. We also observed the evolution of interesting dynamics amongst the three; but that is a different matter. In spite of occasional hiccups with the kids, we felt our relationship was further blossoming with each of them. We made a habit of discussing and evaluating our whole day’s work at night, in order to learn things and plan for a better next day.

A grandparent, however experienced she or he may be, can be there only to lend an extra, and probably the best, pair of hands to the parents in raising good human beings and better citizens of a country. With proper understanding between parents and grandparents and their roles defined, the latter can be real assets in a family – whether they live under the same roof or nearby. Children need attention, appreciation and validation through engagement; grandparents need company and many do crave to be with their own grandchildren. Young grandchildren, with their innate innocence, do even spiritually uplift grandparents in their old age.

Through this mutual need grandparents can transfer life skills and human values by reading with them, or telling them stories or just spending time with the younger ones. On the other hand, in our age of real loneliness amidst illusory social media friends, they get love, respect and even tender support from their grandchildren. No wonder the attachment between grandparents and grandchildren is often so strong!

In modern society, swamped by individualism and other social ills, raising children in an urban setting is indeed overwhelming. We can no longer recreate ‘community parenting’ in the traditional village environment with the maxim “It needs a village to raise a child’, but we can easily create a productive and innovative role for grandparents to bring about similar benefits.

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#Life

Our Struggles – Mental Health And Muslim Communities | The Family and Youth Institute

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mental health
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By Elham Saif, Sarrah AbuLughod and Wahida Abaza

Fariha just started her freshman year at university. Overnight, she was separated from her support system of family and friends and thrust into a foreign environment. She was facing many new challenges, including a heavier workload, new friends, student clubs and organizational responsibilities. She was drowning in endless assignments, exams, and meetings.

Fariha never thought much about mental health issues beyond the few “mindfulness” posts that she’d scroll through on her Instagram feed, but recently she was starting to feel out of sorts. She started to feel anxious as a hijab-wearing woman on campus especially after hearing about anti-Muslim incidents on the news. All of the possibilities of what could go wrong played over and over again in her head–and kept her up at night. Everything was beginning to feel overwhelming. She started having trouble getting out of bed in the morning and was losing motivation to complete her assignments. She felt confused and at times, even afraid. 

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, close to 50 million Americans suffered from mental health issues in 2017. One in 5 adults in America is living with a mental health illness at this very moment. American Muslims are not an exception to these statistics. According to different studies, like Fariha, 15-25% of American Muslims report suffering from anxiety disorders and 9-30% report mood disorders. Many of these mental health issues in the Muslim population go unaddressed and unresolved because of lack of knowledge, stigma and shame experienced in many Muslim households and communities. 

When these issues go unaddressed, people report that the pain and suffering they experience rises and that overall their problems tend to get worse. Sadly, their struggles can snowball into additional illnesses that were not present before, such as self-harm or addiction. According to the research, mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder are sometimes not considered to be “real” illnesses. Community members often see mental illness as a sign of weakness, a mark of poor faith, or something that doesn’t affect Muslims. They may also see it either as a “test from God” or sometimes as possession by evil spirits. Even when there is an awareness, many of these illnesses and issues are culturally stigmatized as shameful and kept hidden within the person or family. People may be concerned about the reputation of their family or their marital prospects should a psychiatric diagnosis be disclosed. 

The irony is that Islam ought to be more of a protective factor given how intertwined Islamic history is with the fields of psychiatry and psychology. The contribution of Islamic scholarship to the field of psychology is documented in our history and legacy from health promotion in the Quran and Sunnah, to early scholarly diagnosis, treatment, and intervention. Alaa Mohammad, FYI researcher and co-author of the chapter “Mental Health in the Islamic Golden Era: The Historical Roots of Modern Psychiatry” in Islamophobia and Psychiatry points out that,

“there was a lot of focus on concepts like ‘sanity’ and the significance of mental capacity as well as the general mental/emotional state in many of the early Islamic texts especially in regards to Islamic rules and law.”

Early Islamic scholars described the “cognitive components of depression and sadness, anxiety and fear, obsessions, and anger in detail and suggested a variety of therapies and treatments.” Learning more about this rich history and pulling from these stories in the Prophet’s (SAW) seerah is a key step towards opening the way for people to get the help they need and learning how to support one another. 

Fariha knows that she needs help. She was considering seeing one of the mental health workers on campus, but she’s afraid of what her parents would say if they found out she shared so much with a stranger, especially one that is not a Muslim.Click To Tweet

What can parents do?

Research has found that in the face of rising Islamophobia, supportive parenting serves as a protective factor and helps strengthen young Muslims’ sense of identity while unsupportive parents who don’t help their children navigate their experiences end up weakening their identity, which then increases their chances of participating in more risky behavior. 

When Fariha finally shared her fears and anxieties with her parents, she was surprised and relieved to hear that they took her seriously. They listened to her and she didn’t feel like they were ashamed of her, only concerned for her well being. They were eager to find her the help she needed to feel like herself again. 

As Muslims, we need to shift our mindset around mental illness and the effects of Islamophobia. Like Fariha’s parents, it is imperative that we listen carefully and look more deeply at the issues facing our youth. It is through this openness that we can reduce the stigma and encourage more people to seek help. 

The Family and Youth Institute recently released an infographic that talks about some of the struggles facing our American Muslim communities. They teamed up with Islamic Relief USA to get this infographic printed as a poster and will be sending them to over 500 masajid/community centers around the United States in the coming months. 

What can you do to help?

  • Reduce the stigma by sharing this article and infographic and starting a conversation with your friends and family members. The more we talk about it, the more we normalize and destigmatize mental illness and move towards mental health. 
  • Organize a community conversation around the issue of mental health. Invite a mental health specialist to come speak to your mosque youth group or parent group. 
  • Seek therapy when needed. Connect with SEEMA and the Institute of Muslim Mental Health for a list of Muslim therapists. If you are seeing a clinician who is not Muslim, share this book Counseling Muslims: Handbook of Mental Health Issues and Interventions with them to give them a better sense of the specific religious and cultural needs of their Muslim clients. 
  • Educate yourself – There is a plethora of information out there about mental wellness and wellbeing. For help navigating through it all, sign up for The FYI’s daily article share to receive vetted infographics, articles and videos on this topic. Mental health affects our whole life. Whether you are struggling with bullying, helping a loved one with depression, living with and caring for an elder or wanting to build the best environment for your new baby, we have a resource for you! 
These steps are just small ways we can begin to shift the conversation away from shame and stigma and towards help and healing.Click To Tweet

These steps are just small ways we can begin to shift the conversation away from shame and stigma and towards help and healing. Mental illness and mental health issues can be scary, but they do not need to be faced alone and in isolation. As the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him)said, “The parable of the believers in their affection, mercy, and compassion for each other is that of a body. When any limb aches, the whole body reacts with sleeplessness and fever.” Together, we can fight the existing stigma and misconceptions, provide support, educate the community and advocate for our brothers and sisters suffering with mental illness and their families. 

Sources:

Aftab A., & Khandai, C. (2018). Mental Health Facts for Muslim Americans. APA Division of Diversity and Health Equity, Washington, DC. 

Basit A, & Hamid M. (2006). Mental health issues of Muslim Americans. The Journal of Islamic Medical Association of North America, 42(3), 106-110.

Ciftci A., Jones N., & Corrigan, P.W. (2013) Mental health stigma in the Muslim community. Journal of Muslim Mental Health, 7(1), 17-32.

Hodge, D.R., Zidan, T. & Husain, A. (2016). Depression among Muslims in the United States: Examining the role of discrimination and spirituality as risk and protective factors. Social Work, 61(1), 45-52.

Zong, X., Balkaya, M., Tahseen, M., & Cheah, C.S.L. (2018). Muslim-American Adolescents’ Identities Mediate the Association between Islamophobia and Adjustment: The Moderating Role of Religious Socialization. Poster session presented at the biennial meeting of the International Society for the Study of Behavioural Development, Queensland, Australia. 

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Raising a Child between Ages 7-12

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From a cognitive-development standpoint, this is called a concrete operational period, according to Jean Piaget.

(N.B: Some adults never progress beyond this phase, while 15% of kids may reach the following formal-operational phase at age 9!)

The child now (7-12) may factor in two dimensions of an object simultaneously. So, the longer cup may have less water because it is thinner. However, this is still hard for him/her to perform in the abstract realm, so, they are still uni-dimensional in that respect. Concepts and behaviors are still black and white. It is also hard for the kids in this stage to imagine and solve the structure of a mathematical problem. They cannot think contrary to facts. In other words, you can’t get them to use as a basis for an argument a question like what if the sky rains sugar instead of water?

Socially, Erikson felt that in this period kids develop industry or inferiority. According to his theory, from age six to puberty, children begin to develop a sense of pride in their accomplishments. If encouraged, they feel industrious and confident in their ability to achieve goals.

Based on these observations, we may recommend:

1- Using a lot of hands-on teaching, since they still have limited ability with conceptualization and abstract reasoning.

2- Continue the focus on memorization. If you want them to finish the Quran in 1-2 years, 12 and/or 13 seem to be the prime years for that. This suits some children and some families, not all. If you like a more gradual approach, you should have them start serious memorization at 7, accelerate at 10, and finish by 15-17. Not all kids are meant to memorize the whole Quran though; they can still be educated and pious. Invest in their strengths, not your dreams.

3- Use concrete props and visual aids, especially when dealing with sophisticated material. Use story problems in mathematics.

4- Use open-ended questions that will stimulate thinking and help the child reach the following stage faster. Example: “What do you think about the relationship between the brain and the mind?”; “What do you think about the relationship between prayful-ness and piety?” Make sure you know the right answers!

5- More explanations will be needed, but keep them simple, and even though they should be more detailed than the last stage, they still need to be uni-dimensional. Examples: we obey God because he created us; if we disobey Him, we get punished, and if we obey Him, we get rewarded in this life and in the hereafter. Too early to teach him that “the brokenness of the disobedient is better than the haughtiness of the obedient.” Break it down. Humbleness and obedience are good, while haughtiness and disobedience are bad.

6- Encourage and praise their accomplishments, while making them aware that there is always room for improvement. Continue to encourage initiative-taking and leadership qualities, yet you may also set limits, and make them aware that they will have to always report to someone. Even if there are no people above them, Allah always is. They have to adapt to being leaders and followers at the same time, because that is the reality of all people.

7- This is still a stage of belonging and affiliation to the group, and the child will develop more or less attachment to Islam through his or her experience at the masjid and with the community.

Parenting: Raising a Child from Age 0 to 2 | Dr. Hatem Al Haj

Raising A Child Between Ages 2-7 | Dr Hatem Al Haj

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