How Can I Help My non-Muslim Friend Fix Her Life?

11 June, 2020
Q I have a friend from the US.

These past few days we stopped talking.

When I asked her about it she told me that her husband is so depressed with this life and that he's leaving the house.

Now she is more depressed than him. She doesn't want to see anyone around her.

She doesn't want to talk to me either. She started to drink alcohol again.

I know ,that the only way one can become calm is praying to Allah.

But they aren't Muslims. What should I do now?

Answer


In this counseling answer:

You may want to talk to her about praying.

Getting professional help at this point of depression and a possible alcohol relapse may be the number one step that can have the most impact.

Insha’Allah she’ll give you permission to contact someone who does live near her in the u.s. who can provide more support in the form of a physical presence if she so desires. 

Call her to see how she is doing and feeling. If she does not want to talk, just assure her of your love and friendship, and that you are there for her.

If you feel she is in danger, call the authorities in her area. 


As salamu alaykum, 

Shokran to write to us with your most important concerns.

I’m so sorry to hear about your friend. It must be very painful for you as you care about her. As I understand the situation her husband is depressed and he has left the house. As a result, your friend is now very depressed as well.

May Allah bless you for your care and concern for your friend. It is obvious that you have a great white heart that is loving and concerned. 

Allah is our Healer and Comforter

As Muslims we know that Allah is our comforter and healer. We find refuge in Allah from life’s trials and tribulations. When we are tested with things that are hurtful, scary, or tragic, we know that we can pray to Allah and feel better.

How Can I Help My non-Muslim  Friend Fix Her Life? - About Islam

People from the religions of the books also pray to Allah when they face tests and trials in life. While they may not call God Allah, the same God that they are praying to, is Allah that we pray to. As we know there is only one God.

You stated that your friend is not Muslim but I am wondering if she is Christian or Jewish? If she is, you may want to talk to her about praying. If she is not, nor her husband, then that will not be an option at this moment. 

Depression and Alcohol

The real crisis in this situation is that they are both depressed, and from what I can gather from what you stated either your friend or her husband has started drinking alcohol again. There is a danger in both of these things.

Insha’Allah the best thing you can do at this moment is to be supportive as a friend, listen to her, encourage her in the good things, and provide support as you can- if she asks. You may want to suggest that she goes for counseling for depression.

Getting professional help at this point for depression and a possible alcohol relapse may be the number one step that can have the most impact.

Reaching out to Family-Friends with Permission

As you stated that she lives in the US, I am not sure where you live. However, if you are close to her family or friends you may wish to ask her if it’s okay if you talk to them about her situation.

In this way, if you know somebody who lives close to her, perhaps they are at a better advantage to help- such as providing support by visiting her, offering to take her out for lunch, shopping, or just coming over for tea and conversation.

Perhaps even offering to go to counseling with her. As you do not live near her sister, this may be a good resource if she agrees-in addition to the support you can provide. Please do ask for her permission however before involving others. As she is your friend, she has a great trust in you.

What she confides in you should stay between you and her unless she is a threat to herself or others. From what you have written it does not seem to be the case. Insha’Allah she’ll give you permission to contact someone who does live near her in the u.s. who can provide more support in the form of a physical presence if she so desires. 

Trying to Help from Afar

Insha’Allah sister, even though she is resistant to talking to you, try to maintain phone contact with her. Try not to use judging words or be upset (though of course you naturally are).  Be encouraging and see if she would be willing to go to counseling.

Be supportive, listen more than talk. Call her to see how she is doing and feeling. If she does not want to talk, just assure her of your love and friendship, and that you are there for her.

If she begins to speak of suicide however, you must contact and inform one of her family/friends as well as the give her the suicide prevention hotline number in her area. Please do seek a promise from her that she will not harm herself. If you feel she is in danger, call the authorities in her area. 


Check out this counseling video:


Sharing Experiences

Sister, you may wish to share your feelings or experiences with her that may be similar to what she may be feeling. Sometimes we go through stages in life where we feel down or experience depression.

If this has ever happened to you, perhaps you may want to share this in a supportive way to illustrate that there is help available and that depression can be treated. By sharing similar experiences, this may provide a window of hope for someone who is going through depression. Shared experiences may also help to reduce feelings of guilt, shame, and feeling helpless.

Praying

Insha’Allah if you keep reaching out to your friend in a loving, non-judgmental way she will begin to let her guard down and share her feelings.

When this happens, you may ask her if it is okay if you pray for her and ask if she would like to pray with you. If she agrees alhumdulilah. If she does not, don’t push it but please do pray to Allah for her.

Conclusion

Once a foundation of communication has been established and it feels safe to her, see who is close to her that is in a better position to offer assistance- with her permission. You may ask her about contacting a family member or friend in US who can be more supportive as they live closer to her.

When you ask her about this please do assure her of confidentiality between you. Insha’Allah recommend counseling and let her know that many people have depression and have been successfully healed by going to counseling and applying the treatment recommendations.

If she is the one who has started drinking, a counselor will assess for this also and make an appropriate referral.

Should she express suicidal ideation please do give her the number for suicide prevention hotline, have her make a contract that she will not harm herself, and notify one of her family/friends. This is one of the exceptions to confidentiality. If you feel she will harm herself, call the local authorities where she lives.

Sister, we wish you all the best in helping your friend. Please do take care of yourself as well, and realize that you can only do so much. People who are depressed or in relapse need to be supported, but ultimately it is their choice to engage in getting help to heal and recover. May Allah bless you for your efforts.

Salam,

***

Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, its counselors or employees are liable for any damages that may arise from your decision in the use of our services.

Read more:

https://aboutislam.net/counseling/youth-q-a/pre-marital-relationships/how-to-deal-with-my-friends-depression/

https://aboutislam.net/counseling/ask-about-islam/11-tips-on-how-to-tell-your-non-muslim-best-friend-about-islam/

https://aboutislam.net/counseling/ask-about-islam/friendship-sake-allah/

About Aisha Mohammad
Aisha received her PhD in psychology in 2000 and an MS in public health in 2009. Aisha worked as a Counselor/Psychologist for 12 years for Geneva B. Scruggs Community Health Care Center in New York. Aisha specializes in trauma, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, marriage/relationships issues, as well as community-cultural dynamics. She is certified in Restorative Justice/ Healing Circles, Conflict Resolution, Mediation, and is also a certified Life Coach.
Aisha works at a Family Resource Center, and has a part-time practice in which she integrates healing and spirituality using a holistic approach. Aisha plans to open a holistic care counseling center for Muslims and others in the New York area in the future, in sha' Allah. Aisha is also a part of several organizations that advocate for social & food justice. In her spare time she enjoys her family, martial arts classes, Islamic studies as well as working on her book and spoken word projects.