Islam is a way of life. It defines the purpose of our lives; it’s an answer to every problem. Allah has said in the Quran that he has perfected this religion for us. We only need to approach it with a mindset of curiosity and belief that Allah is well aware of every difficulty we are going through
Since its inception, Muslims who have lived and practiced Islam have shown that it is inherently compatible with the modern world’s challenges. Practicing Islam gives us the ability to build mental strength and use self-control in countless ways. Our physical and psychological health is an Amanah from Allah, and it’s an obligation to look after it.
The recent shootings of the whole family by a teenager have shocked the whole world. In a world where issues around mental health are still taboo, there is an increased need to make ourselves aware of ways to improve our mental health.
As parents, we have to be more aware of the various challenges our children are facing in their day-to-day life and find solutions to them.
Below is a list of practices in the Quran and Sunnah that can help you maintain your mental health and that of your family.
The five pillars of Islam
For every Muslim, understanding and following the five pillars forms their faith foundation. Let us look at each one and understand how these can help improve one’s mental health.
- Shahadah: “I bear witness that none is worthy of worship except Allah, and I bear witness that Muhammad(PBUH) is the messenger of Allah” The Shahada declares belief in the oneness (tawhid) of Allah and the acceptance of Muhammad as Allah’s messenger. Accepting Allah as the only supreme authority helps us in understanding that we are not in control of everything and Allah has created you for a purpose.
2. Salah: Praying the five obligatory prayers five times a day helps us to disconnect from the world and connect with our creator. In the daily hustle of life, the daily prayers help us slow down and reflect and think that we need to pause and connect with the creator no matter where we are in life. Salah is a connection one can have with the Lord of the worlds. If done with khushoo, it provides incredible benefits to both body and soul.
3. Fasting: Fasting has proved mental and medical help benefits. Not only is it beneficial it is an excellent way of self-control. Fasting helps you get closer to Allah, a time of the year where you think more about nourishing your soul rather than your body.
The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Allaah said: “Allaah said: ‘Every deed of the son of Adam is for him except fasting; it is for Me and I shall reward for it…’”
4. Zakat: is one of the pillars of Islam. It is a way of giving others what Allah has given you. Zakat is just not giving the poor to help them. It’s the right of the poor. It allows you to get unattached to the material wealth of this world. Being generous and kind has tremendous proven mental and physical health benefits.
The Messenger of Allah (saw) said,
“Charity is due upon every joint of the people for every day upon which the sun rises…” (Bukhari).
- Hajj: Hajj is a ritual that an eligible individual does. Shunning all our worldly pleasures behind and taking on the most simple attire, we go to Makkah to replicate the prophet Muhammad’s ritual (PBUH).
Hajj helps you realize that you are a traveler in this world, and when you meet your Lord in the hereafter, none of the worldly accomplishments matter. It breaks you free from the worldly chaos of consumerism. Because in the end, we only take our deeds to our graves.
Importance of being mindful
Mindfulness exercises are a great way to gather both mental and spiritual strength. Islam teaches us to seek life, which comes, by all means, Allah grants us, not to neglect our rightful share in the world and to live in harmony with others. This slice of life is what will help all who aspire to live through thick and thin.
Regretting about the past, being anxious about the future won’t let us focus on our present. We can never control our past and future. We can control our present, and one of the ways to improve our mental health is to focus on the present.
What has gone by in the past was a part of Allah’s plan, and he will take care of the future too. If your present moment is challenging, be patient and show gratitude for what you have.
“How wonderful is the affair of the believer, for there is good for him in every matter and this is not the case with anyone except the believer. If he is happy, then he thanks Allah and thus there is good for him, and if he is harmed, then he shows patience and thus there is good for him” (Muslim).
Showing gratitude for what we have and what is good in our lives and being patient about our difficulties helps us improve our mental health.
Taking care of our physical health. Good mental health brings in good physical health.
Four steps for improving physical health
- A good sleep routine
- Exercising daily
- Less screen time
- Eating a healthy diet
What can be considered a healthy diet which improves once mental health
So eat of the lawful and good food which Allah has provided for you, and be grateful for the favor of Allah…” [Qur’an 16:114]
The food we eat affects the way our brain works. Even a minor deficiency can make you tired, anxious, or sad.
Here are a few essential tips from the bestselling book Food: Your Miracle Medicine by Jean Carper:
- Fruits and Nuts are high on Boron, and they improve your mental alertness.
- If you get anxious, avoid caffeine and eat food rich in carbohydrates.
- Carbohydrates boost serotonin in your brain and lift your mood, even if you feel depressed.
- Foods that are rich in protein and low on fat, such as fish, energizes your brain.
- Folic acid, which is found excessively in legumes and green leafy vegetables, makes you less depressed, irritatable and also found to improve sleep patterns.
You might have noticed how most mental health problems can be cured using “The lawful and good food Allah has provided.”
Foods mentioned in the Sunnah, such as dates, lentils, and honey, can all do wonders on your physical and mental health.
You should always keep in mind that if your anxiety or depression is severe, lifestyle changes won’t be enough; you need to consult a medical professional.
Remembrance of Allah:
“Verily, in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest” (Qur’an, 13:28).
The entire universe is constantly praising Allah, from the tiny ants to the enormous mountains. So praising and remembering him is the only way to bring peace and tranquility to our hearts.
The various mental health issues that might be bothering us like anxiety, jealousy, stress, indecision, anger, hurt, grief. Remembering Allah through Zikr, dua, and Salah will help to alleviate it. Hence it is only through this remembrance that brings restfulness and peace to our hearts. Depression and anxiety often lead to a feeling of hopelessness and lack of connection with Allah.
But don’t feel overwhelmed and sad. Keep on remembering Him because being consistent brings out results. As Allah himself mentioned in Surah Dhuhaa
By the morning brightness, and by the night when it covers with darkness, your Lord has neither forsaken you nor has He become displeased. And surely the hereafter is better for you than the first life. And surely your Lord will give to you, and you shall be well-pleased.” [Qur’an, 93:1-5]
Being grateful and positive:
You live in a world of social media where people’s lives are portrayed as perfect and glossy. It’s crucial to focus and be thankful for what you have than what you don’t.
“And if you would count the graces of Allah, never could you be able to count them” (Qur’an, 14:34).
These are the two things that one can implement to get an effect on one’s mental health.
Firstly when you feel lost, remember the blessings of Allah and be grateful.
Secondly, you can use your blessing as a way to bring about positive change in someone’s life, even if it’s just a small act.
Keeping akhira as your end goal:
Every action you do should be done keeping the akhira in mind. Whatever you do question yourselves, what would you be attaining in the akhira by this deed?
As Muslims, our afterlife has far more significance than our day-to-day lives.
“Indeed, the rewards of his actions and good deeds that will reach a believer after his death are: knowledge which he taught and spread; a righteous child whom he leaves behind; a copy of the Qur’an that he leaves as a legacy; or a masjid that he built; or a house that he built for wayfarers; a canal that he dug; or charity that he gave from his wealth in his good health and life. [These deeds] will reach him after his death” (Ibn Majah).
The acts we do for our hereafter create a positive ripple effect and creates a positive mindset. Simple acts of charity, showing kindness, spreading knowledge can lead to countless rewards.
Keeping good company:
Just like good food impacts your mental health so do people around you. They can either make you happy or anxious.
If you are around people who are hurtful, bad-tempered, critical, your mood will be affected. Sometimes you can’t remove these people altogether from your Surroundings, and these people won’t change even if you confront them. All you could do to keep your mental health intact is to ignore them and not value their opinion.
“The servants of The Compassionate are those who walk upon the earth in humility. When the ignorant address them, they say, ‘Peace'” (Al Furqan, 25:63).
On the contrary, it is also important to surround ourselves with positive people; they bring the best out.
“Verily, the parable of good company and a bad company is only that of a seller of musk and a blacksmith. The seller of musk will give you some perfume, you will buy some, or you will notice a good smell. As for the blacksmith, he will burn your clothes, or you will notice a bad smell” (Bukhari).
Staying the company of positive, accepting people rubs of their positive effect on us. Such people help you feel calmer, happier, and balanced in your mental health.
For indeed, with [every] hardship, there is a relief. Indeed, with [every] hardship, there is relief” (Qur’an, 94:5-6).
These verses are so beautiful, especially when you are experiencing difficult emotions and situations. You never have to go through any hardship alone if you feel you can’t care for your mental health. You should know when to ask for help.
Informing family and friends may be the first step to taking care of your mental health, but asking Allah for help should be your primary goal.
Understand there is no shame in seeking medical help if you feel your mental health is worsening. Always look for a good psychiatrist and follow the instructions. As Muslims, we should know that we are all tested by Allah and that we all have difficulties in life. Clinical practice has shown that a healthy and loving bond with Allah can be phenomenally resilient in times of need.
This article has just scratched the surface of how spirituality can increase resilience. Still, there are many aspects of the practice of Islam that promote good mental health. Islam provides a general framework for life, and within its teachings, we find many recommendations for promoting mental health.
It offers Muslims a code of conduct, ethics, and social values that help them deal with stressful life events and develop adaptation strategies. It means that differences of opinion are accepted in Islam and legitimized by the higher authorities of Islam. Islam advocates etiquette and emphasizes etiquette to perfect the “Muslim personality” and create harmony among people.