|Imam Zijad’s Corner: MENTAL HEALTH AND MUSLIMS: IS STIGMA STILL THERE?
I am well aware of the place of stigma in the Muslim community in relations to the mental health issues. It is real!
How do Muslims in these modern times handle issues related to mental health? For example, how do Muslims deal with depression, anxiety, and even schizophrenia?
It is common for mental issues to be dismissed as simply a lack of religion or presence of the jinn in our bodies. Muslims of the golden era have made major strides in medicine when it comes to diagnosis and treatment of physical ailments. No longer are headaches thought to be jinn trapped inside our heads trying to escape.
Allah, in The Qur’an acknowledges mental stability and mental health but, we are not told in a precise manner how to cure it. That is why the Almighty has given us many tools so that we develop them as we progress and as our communities/societies evolve.
The current approach of pointing only to jinn or lack of religion in the lives of people, as pointed above, is an approach that needs more development, research and more cooperation and hard work between scholars of Islam and the professionals in the field.
We are well aware of the advancement in physical health and prevention, the same way, we should also be able and be allowed advancement to do the same with mental health.
We live in an age where social workers, therapists, psychologists, and other human service workers are available and are ready to work together with the spiritual care providers including Muslim scholars.
The availability of these workers would be useful only if the stigma in utilizing their services is chipped away.
Using these services is not a turn away from Allah or Islam but, a step towards a healthy lifestyle and integrating Islamic knowledge with the knowledge of medicine of our own time.
In short, these services paired with a healthy relationship with Islam knows no limit to success and thus reduction of the stigma and challenges we may face in life.
It is the job of Muslim scholars and our intellectuals as well as all Muslims of our contemporary times to move past the fog of dishonor hovering over mental illness and be in constant search for the clear skies of an overall healthy lifestyle by combining the sacred and medical knowledge as it was done in the bright times of Islamic civilization when the knowledge was a shared endeavour.