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What Does Islam Say About Mental Health?

by in Soul on 28th July, 2021

islam mental health

TRIGGER WARNING: This post discusses mental health and mental illness. Please reach out to organisations where you can discuss issues you have and seek help.


Islam has always validated mental health concerns – addressing the causes and symptoms of mental distress and even providing solutions. We tuned in to a few lectures by scholars of Islam who address the topic of mental health by providing us with Quran and Sunnah backed stories and advice and summarised them for you in this post. 

Each of the scholars emphasise on not stigmatising mental health issues and providing support to our loved ones who need it. The scholars provide evidence on spiritual and even physical remedies the Prophet ﷺ used and advised us on, while stressing on the importance of seeking professional help when needed. So even as we adopt a more holistic lifestyle: including dua and dhikr into our routine, eating and sleeping better, it serves us to remember that Islam encourages us to seek remedies, even those that can not be seen by others. 

1. Islamic Perspective on Mental Health – Khutbah by Shabbir Hassan

There is no shame in asking for professional help: 

  • We have been created by Allah to be tested on our strength:

Who has created death and life, that He may test you which of you is best in deed. And He is the All-Mighty, the Oft-Forgiving – Surah Al Mulk, Ayah 2

  • While dua and prayer is the number one solution for our trials, there is no problem in seeking help from others when needed.
  • Mental health issues are real illnesses and treatments should be sought.

2. Prophet Muhammad’s Approach to Mental Health | Holistic Healing with Dr. Rania Awaad 

The prophets (may peace be upon them) were not immune to grief, sorrow and anxiety:

  • The Prophet acknowledged and addressed psychological challenges and lay the groundwork for generations of Muslims to recognize and deal with them.
  • While the prophets were the best of people, they, too, experienced grief, sorrow and anxiety in their lifetimes. 
  • Prophet himself experienced grief so intense after the passing of his beloved wife Khadijah (R.A.) and his uncle, Abu Talib, paired with the social and economic boycott of Mulims in Makkah, that the entire year was coined The Year of Sorrow. 
  • Prophet Yaqub (A.S.) suffered prolonged period of grief such that his eyesight weakened, some scholars even say to the point of blindness – 

“And he turned away from them and said: “Alas, my grief for Yusuf (Joseph)!” And he lost his sight because of the sorrow that he was suppressing.” – (Surah Yusuf, Ayah 84)

  • In the Quran, Allah mentions the importance of managing grief and coping with stress. The Prophet experienced a decline in his health as he was affected by concern for those who opposed Islam in Makkah and so, Allah revealed the ayah:  

“Perhaps, you, would kill yourself (O Muhammad SAW) in grief, over their footsteps (for their turning away from you), because they believe not in this narration (the Quran).” – (Surah Kahf, Ayah 7)

How the Quran and Sunnah teach us to deal with grief: 

  • Suffering can be a blessing from Allah with many benefits: 

Hadith 1: Abu Huraira reported: the Prophet ﷺ said, “If Allah wills good for someone, He afflicts him with trials.”

  • This cognitive reframing reduces the stigma associated with suffering:

 Hadith 2: Suhayb ibn Sinān Ar-Rūmi (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet  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 Prophet also taught us the importance of embracing and acknowledging our emotions even as he highlighted the importance of being careful with our words: 

Hadith 3: We went with The Prophet  to the blacksmith Abu Saif, and he was the husband of the wet-nurse of Ibrahim (the son of the Prophet). The Prophet  took Ibrahim and kissed him and smelled him and later we entered Abu Saif’s house and at that time Ibrahim was in his last breaths, and the eyes of The Prophet  started shedding tears. `Abdur Rahman bin `Auf said, “O Allah’s Apostle, even you are weeping!” He said, “O Ibn `Auf, this is mercy.” Then he wept more and said, “The eyes are shedding tears and the heart is grieved, and we will not say except what pleases our Lord, O Ibrahim ! Indeed we are grieved by your separation.”

  • Our focus should be on coming to terms with Allah’s will, that contentment itself can make space for healing. 

Practical advice for dealing with emotions:

  • There is situation specific advice in the sunnah for regulating emotions: 

Hadith 4: The Prophet ﷺ  said to us, “If one of you is angry while he is standing, let him sit down so his anger will leave him; otherwise, let him lie down.”

  • The Prophet ﷺ also taught us the importance of holistic self-care including healthy eating and sleeping and moderation in everything: 

Hadith 5: Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said, “O `Abdullah! Have I not been formed that you fast all the day and stand in prayer all night?” I said, “Yes, O Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ)!” He said, “Do not do that! Observe the fast sometimes and also leave them (the fast) at other times; stand up for the prayer at night and also sleep at night. Your body has a right over you, your eyes have a right over you and your wife has a right over you.”

  • Do not suffer in silence, but look for solutions. Aisha (RA) was from the earliest Muslims to diagnose and treat illnesses with herbal remedies.

Hadith 6: Abu Darda reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “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.”

  • She would often prepare Talbeenah, a soup made of barley, milk and honey to treat those who were experiencing anxiety, depression and even bereavement induced psychosis. The hadith on Talbeenah is proof that physical remedies can be used to treat emotional ailments. 

Hadith 7: It was narrated from Aishah, the wife of The Prophet ﷺ, that if a member of her family died, the women would gather together, then they would depart, except her own relatives and close friends. She would order that a pot of talbeenah be cooked, then some thareed would be made and the talbeenah would be poured over it. Then she would say: Eat some of it, for I heard the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) say: “Talbeenah soothes the heart of the sick person, and it takes away some of the grief.”

  • We are taught to reduce anxiety through dhikr and prayer:

Seek help in patience and prayer (Surah Baqarah, Ayah 45)

Hadith 8: It is also said that whenever an event of difficulty or hardship comes to the Prophet ﷺ, he would ask Bilal RA to call the adhan by saying, “Bilal, relieve and soothe us through salah (prayer).” – Stories of the Sahabah

  • The Prophet would recite the Quran alone, pausing in between each of the verses in order to internalize the meanings within it because the Quran speaks of peace.

Verily, in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest (Surah Ra’ad, Ayah 28)

  • The sunnah morning and evening dua routines include duas about anxiety and worry: 

اللّهُـمَّ إِنِّي أَعْوذُ بِكَ مِنَ الهَـمِّ وَ الْحُـزْنِ، والعًجْـزِ والكَسَلِ والبُخْـلِ والجُـبْنِ، وضَلْـعِ الـدَّيْنِ وغَلَبَـةِ الرِّجال

“O Allah, I seek refuge in You from worry and grief, from incapacity and laziness, from cowardice and miserliness, from being heavily in debt and from being overpowered by men.” 

3. Mental Health and Suicide – Mufti Menk

Our trials are temporary, our deeds are for eternity:

  • Every time that Allah tests us is an opportunity for us to prove ourselves as persevering and patient believers. 
  • Allah has clearly prohibited suicide in the Quran:

And do not kill (each other or) yourselves. Surely Allah is ever Merciful to you. (Surah Nisa, Ayah 29)

  • In the above ayah, Allah makes it clear that his mercy takes over any problem we might have.
  • Even when we have major issues, we have to thank Allah for what we have, make effort on our own part and trust Allah to do the rest.

And He gave you of all that you asked for, and if you count the Blessings of Allah, never will you be able to count them. Verily! Man is indeed an extreme wrong-doer. (Surah Ibrahim, Ayah 34)

  • If the world was free of problems, Paradise would lose its value, only in Paradise will we have everything that our soul desires. 
  • To be patient means to have conviction and to understand the plan of Allah. Part of sabr (patience) is to surrender to the decree of Allah and understand the limitations of our own capacities. 

We will certainly test you with something of fear and hunger, and loss of wealth and lives and earnings; but give glad tidings to the persevering and patient. (Surah Baqarah, Ayah 155)

  • Allah describes those who are truly patient even further:

 Who, when afflicted with calamity, say: “Truly! To Allah we belong and truly, to Him we shall return.” (Surah Baqarah, Ayah 156)

  • Allah reminds us that to be blessed, we have to think about where we came from and where we are headed. If we live our lives in accordance with Allah and seek forgiveness for our shortcomings, we will earn His Mercy. 

Seek and provide support as a community:

  • Through the Prophet ﷺ, Allah teaches us the importance of being kind to one another, to reach out to each other, to develop our characters and conduct and to speak to each other respectfully as community makes it much easier to deal with trials and tribulations.
  • In Surah Hujurat, Allah teaches us how to live life and how to conduct ourselves with other people, for example: 

O you who believe! Let not a group scoff at another group, it may be that the latter are better than the former; nor let (some) women scoff at other women, it may be that the latter are better than the former, nor defame one another, nor insult one another by nicknames. How bad is it, to insult one’s brother after having Faith. And whosoever does not repent, then such are indeed Zalimun (wrong-doers, etc.). (Surah Hujurat, Ayah 11)

    • If you live by the teachings of Surah Hujurat, you will empower those around you and in turn, yourself as well. 
    • The Prophet ﷺ taught us the importance of balance between hope and fear, not to give someone so much hope that they begin to feel ease in sinning or so much fear that they develop anxiety in everything that they do. 
    • A lot of anxiety stems from comparing ourselves with others and in the age of social media, it helps to remember that most of these images are curated and photoshopped to look perfect, that every person has their struggles. 
  • Hadith 9: The Prophet ﷺ said: “Whoever relieves the hardship of a believer in this world, Allah will relieve his hardship on the Day of Resurrection. Whoever helps ease one in difficulty, Allah will make it easy for him in this world and in the Hereafter. Whoever conceals the faults of a Muslim, Allah will conceal his faults in this world and in the Hereafter. Allah helps the servant as long as he helps his brother.

4. Also watch: Mental Health – A Guide for Muslims with Mufti Menk and Dr TK Harris

We end this piece by once again linking the organisations and services you can get in touch with for support. May Allah allow us to be part of a supportive community and may he grant us ease in our troubles. May he reward us for all our struggles and patience. May Allah grant you healing. Ameen. 

Amaliah Team

Amaliah Team

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