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The Importance of Mental Health in The Muslim Faith

posted on: Apr 24, 2021

By: Yaseen Rashed/ Arab America Contributing writer

There’s always been a stigma surrounding Mental Health, regardless of where in the world you are. Topics like depression and anxiety are rarely ever mentioned in discussions or in pop culture, therefore only furthering its stigma and effects on an individual. These practices aren’t unheard of in the middle east were in fact, there’s less of an emphasis on mental health due to the stigmas surrounding it. However, in the Islamic faith, there are readings, prayers, and exercises designed to help deal with mental health and its surrounding stigmas. From Quranic verses to saying of the Prophet, the religion encompasses a rather progressive view on mental health and its prominence in the Islamic world. It’s important to mention that mental illness isn’t a tangible issue with a centered solution, rather is unique in the way everyone deals with it. Mental illness looks different for everyone and there is no one “right” way in dealing with it. 

Islam came centuries ago, at a time that predated any notion of “mental health” in society. However, the religion holds aspects that help people experiencing mental health issues deal with its effects. One example could be Islam’s emphasis on personal hygiene. One of the main side effects of mental illness is a sudden drop or discouragement of personal hygiene. This can be in the form of simply struggling to get up and out of bed in the morning, let alone wake up early to take a shower and brush your teeth. Although simple, this could greatly impact one’s life in the way they interact with others and in the way they present themselves to the world. In Islam there’s an emphasis on personal hygiene, being closely aligned with the faith. This could encourage some to win what might be the biggest challenge of the day; getting out of bed. 

Another fairly common side effect of mental illness is drug, substance and sexual abuse. Many people who suffer from mental illness seek a way to escape out of their realities and the issues they are facing. This escape can oftentimes come in the form of alcohol and drug abuse. However, this only further manifests one’s own problem in a different form. Leaning on substances and alcohol to cope with mental health is similar to lighting hay with a match; it will only intensify the damages. In Islam, there are clear injunctions against the consumption of alcohol and drugs of any kind, as the faith emphasis the importance of “clear thinking”. This could encourage many in the faith dealing with mental health issues to refrain from using alcohol and drugs as an emotional crutch. This could also encourage people to actually go seek professional help to get out of their dark places rather than relying on temporary inebriation to escape their pains

Islam also requires the followers of the faith to participate in 5 daily prayers. During these prayers, one must thank god and seek a greater meaning to life through reflection. This allows someone to introspectively look at their lives and their daily activities and reflect upon them at least 5 times a day. The practice could be a great help to those dealing with mental health issues as it gives them a peaceful time and space to reflect upon their lives.  Reflection and gratefulness are both scientifically linked to helping cope with mental illness and daily prayers are associated with reduced depression. 

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, Islam offers perhaps the greatest antidote to mental illness which is a community. The very essence of the religion is centered around a supportive backing community where there is established trust and brotherhood/sisterhood. At the end of the day, simply finding a place where you belong and are loved and supported is more than one could ask for. Islam offers a community and a naturalized love that begins with the words “Asalamu alakom”. Whether you find that community in a mosque, church, synagog, or temple, in the end, it’s about finding where you belong.


Arab America would like to mention that if you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, please do not hesitate to reach out to someone you trust. Please remember that you are not alone in this fight. If you’re thinking about suicide, are worried about a friend or loved one, or would like emotional support, call 1-800-273-8255. The Lifeline network is 100% confidential and available 24/7 across the United States. 



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