Your question is very important and merits a very detailed response. The Islamic perspective on mental illness cannot be satisfactorily explained in a short answer, and this forum is not meant for long explanatory responses. However, I will attempt to clarify a couple of points you have raised.
How does healing through Qur’anic verses work? Does it even work?
Muslims understand the holy Qur’an to be the word of Allah (swt). It is meant to provide guidance for daily life, clear indications of what is right and wrong, what is desirable and undesirable, what is safe and what is risky, what is dangerous and clearly harmful, and what is good and evil. Its words, phrases, and verses are also believed to have the power to cleanse and heal from the filth and diseases of body and soul by the will of Allah (swt), the Almighty.
The last phrase of this last sentence is very important to remember. What it essentially points out is that the holy Qur’an is not a book of spells and charms or a prescription book for various diseases that may be tested in a laboratory or in the field through scientific research. It is simply because the effects of the independent variable (the verses of Qur’an) are determined by many other independent variables that may not be controlled. Such as are the spiritual enlightenment of the healer, the beliefs of the person being healed, the environmental conditions, and ultimately the Will of Allah (swt). This is not much different or unique than measuring the effects of a psychiatric, psychological or medical treatment, which also depend on similar independent variables – the knowledge and experience of the professional, the psychological and biochemical make-up of the patient, the patient’s willingness to follow the treatment regimen, and various other environmental conditions.
So, does this healing work? We, Muslims believe it does, but the effects and length of time it takes varies based on some of the independent variables I mentioned above.
Islam does not specifically address the issue of schizophrenia or, for that matter, any other mental or physical disease. Islam is a faith, and like other faiths, it is meant to provide guidance and principles for a healthy, meaningful, and successful life. In this vein, the holy Qur’an and the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad (saw) provide hints to factors that may provide guidance about prevention and healing. As I mentioned in my introductory sentence above, it will take a lot of explaining to clarify all the concepts, beliefs, causes and effects of these factors.
To help us understand further, Dr. Abdul Lateef Krauss Abdullah comments:
What is important to emphasize is that using the Qur’anic verses in treating psychiatric patients is a form of religious psychotherapy which can help believers only. In fact, not all believers but those who can understand the meaning of the verses.
Then, in which form of psychotherapy could the meaning of Qu’ranic verses be put, the answer is surely in the cognitive form. For this reason, we can’t use it with an actively psychotic patient (one who is deluded or hallucinating). So, for using the holly Qur’an in treating a chronic schizophrenic Muslim could only be helpful when cognitive psychotherapy could be applied to help him restructure his cognitions in a way that is compatible with his religious culture.
The use of Qur’anic verses in treating a schizophrenic Muslim patient thus needs:
– The healer who knows what schizophrenia is
– The patient who is a suitable candidate for cognitive psychotherapy
When we search for the healer in the Arab world, we can only talk of psychiatrists, advanced psychologists or social workers who carry at least a master degree. However, most of such healers neither practiced nor talked about treating schizophrenics using Qur’anic verses, simply because most of them have a western way of thinking!
Then the person who was treating your patient in Morocco was a traditional healer. Whereas Western science looks into the etiology of schizophrenia, Islam says „Allah knows” for it is a multi-factorial disorder that has its origin in the total psycho-bio-social constitution of the patient which needs management with scientifically qualified persons – the psychiatrists and their co-workers.
Hope this helps,
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