In recent years, the rise in anxiety and depression has been apparent. Many factors can play into reasons why one person is more susceptible than another to a particular illness: biological factors, environmental factors. Yet, many cultures and societies today still carry countless stigmas toward mental illness. Therefore, I will use these terms interchangeably in challenging our perception of the term “mental” illness and how we have been trained to stigmatize when this term is heard.
So, what does Islam say concerning this issue?
Islam does not negate mental or psychological illness; throughout the Quran, there are many examples of the prophet’s hardships, Mary’s (may God be pleased with her) hardship and the birth of Jesus, and of past people and civilizations.
First, Islam says that mankind was created to worship God; therefore, we must do our best to care for our physical and mental health in order to worship properly. The prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “Make use of medical treatment, for God has not made a disease without appointing a remedy for it, with the ex-ception of one disease, old age.” All diseases have a cure and we must strive with our knowledge to find those cures — and yes, old age has no cure; no matter what we do to our outside, our organs are still aging.
So, what can help me combat my illness in addition to seeking help? When God tells me in the Quran that mankind was given a high status, I understand that there is no one who can now tell me otherwise (here is my self-esteem and my honor).
In my five daily prayers, at appointed times, I let go of the world and its worries, and connect with the One who has created me. I give my worries to the One who is greater than all that He has created, and relax knowing that everything is with Him.
Allah tells us in the Quran: “Say: ‘Nothing shall ever happen to us except what Allah/God has ordained for us. He is our Protector.’ And in Allah let the believers put their trust.” As much as I would like to believe, I am not self-sufficient and I cannot control everything, but I do my best and put my trust in God.
God encourages us to give charity (monetary, our time, etc.), the smallest being removal of harm from the way, and even a smile is charity. We are in a time where people are trying to get a “buzz” or high through alcohol and drugs; and yet, the best high is when we help each other.
In addition, the prophet (pbuh) said: “Be optimistic for good and you will find it.” We need to surround ourselves with optimistic friends who see the glass as half full; who look at life and see that yes, there is a silver lining in every cloud.
Another aspect is the Muslim belief that the stronger your faith, the greater your test. I know as a Muslim that if I am tested it is because God loves me and wants to raise my level in heaven. The prophets, who were the closest to God, were tested the most. So, even in times of hardship, I am still able to thank God.
There are so many aspects of Islam that help in keeping with a healthy mental state, all of which are benefits that come with one’s submission to God. And with that, I would like to wish all a healthy mind, body, and soul.
This Voices column was written by Jenan Jondy, who has a degree in biology and is a student of occupational therapy. She resides in Hampden with her husband and is the mother of four children. Columns on Islam are published in cooperation with the Islamic Center of Maine in Orono. Voices is a weekly commentary by Maine people who explore issues affecting spirituality and religious life.